CanadianWolf wrote:You're correct. I adjusted my post above.
Nevertheless, easy to criticize, but difficult to devise a ranking & rating system.
The system gets folks talking & analyzing--which is a good thing.
It's not that difficult.
If you want to measure prestigious top-tier outcomes, look at Article III clerkships (possibly in combination with Skaddens and some other elite outcomes). You could probably put together a list of several well-published elite post-grad outcomes like clerkships and Skadden fellowships that'd give you a pretty good sense of how well these top schools do at placing grads in the most sought-after positions. Hell, you could even include Bristows and SCOTUS clerkships, effectively double-counting folks who reach the highest level of early career legal success. The problem with using only SCOTUS clerkships is that the numbers are too small and vary too much year-by-year to yield much statistically useful (especially when we're talking about comparing schools outside of HYS--where the difference between placing 2 clerks and 3 clerks over a five-year span might make a real impact on rankings but reflects nothing more than noise and a small sample size). And the problem with using Article III judgeships is that they're a lagging indicator more representative of political factors than the quality or even reputation of a school. I'm sure that all things being equal, going to a substantially better law school helps get an Article III nomination (so I'm sure HYS folks are more likely to get nominated than GW folks), but that effect is rough at best and it is foolish to assume that differences in Art. III judgeship numbers between Michigan and UVA and Cornell represent anything meaningful about the schools today.
If you want to measure effective cost, look at indebtedness on graduation (which I believe is generally available data). There's no reason why a school with a low sticker should have an advantage over a school with a high sticker if the latter school ultimately ends up actually costing less to most students. (See below, also, for why I don't think that we should be including cost in these rankings.)
I think it's hard to come up with a weighting that everyone will agree measures what is important. Some folks will argue that employment should be emphasized over prestige, or that alumni satisfaction deserves more or less overall weight. For example, I would argue that LSAT/GPAs are useful in evaluating the differences in quality between schools: the quality of the education that one receives in law school is at least in part a function of the quality of your fellow students, and LSAT/GPAs are probably the best indicators of this quality that we have available. If I was designing my own ranking, I don't know that I'd weigh things like LSAT/GPA as heavily as USNews, but I would definitely include them as ranking factors. Others might disagree with this decision.
What's not as hard is coming up with a ranking system that actually measures what it sets out to measure. ATL may have done an ok job of the former--correctly identifying what factors are important in differentiating between schools--but they have done an abysmal job of the latter--actually measuring those factors.
(Incidentally, I don't think that ATL has done a good job of weighing what's important. Cost, for example, is incredibly important, but only insofar as it influences each individual student's debt. I think it's wrong to say that USC, for example, is a worse school than UCLA because its students graduate with more debt on average--but that's exactly what ATL's survey does. For an individual decision making student, your fellow students' debt loan shouldn't matter. The only number that should matter is *your* anticipated indebtedness on graduation.)