najumobi wrote: there could probably be small gradations (i do trust wustl's ability to place students a little more than i trust emory's) but wustl's placement isn't head and shoulders above those other schools. i think we currently and will continue to disgree about wustl's "national placement". my take is that only the students at a few schools have almost no barrier to working in any region in the country (yale, harvard, stanford, chicago, columbia). for instance, i think the average student coming out of penn can expect to get a well paying job, but the average penn student shouldn't expect get a well paying job in california. i'd rather stick to grading schools on their ability to place their students into well paying jobs. wustl's geographical placement of students is larger than that of uiuc, but it's students are also more geographically diverse. if we grade schools by also looking at geographical placement it introduces more variables which makes it harder to strictly measure a school's placement ability, especially since we all know being from a particular region gives a student a better chance of gaining valuable employment in that region. going by the salary placement of schools' grads (and cost of living of grads' location) is probably a more accurate way to grade schools placement ability.
I wouldn't say it's head and shoulders above, but I think it's a hair above. WUSTL still hasn't closed the gap between itself and the T17, but it's leading the rest of the pack by a nose. I think eventually they will end up closing that gap. That's why I think they are correctly ranked at 19.
Also, I think raising a law school's stature is somewhat of a feedback loop:
high USNews ranking ---> more national appeal to the applicant pool ---> more geographicaly diverse class ---> more geographically diverse placement ---> even more national appeal to the applicant pool ---> more higher numbers applicants taking the school seriously ---> better medians ---> higher USNews ranking
With all the competition around, it's hard to keep that cycle rolling, as everyone else is competing for the same students. But there is kind of a line at the T17 where above that, schools have pretty much broken the "regional" mold (some more than others). This makes them a plausible choice for applicants all around the country. There's only so many 167+ applicants in one region, but there's many more to draw from if you can attract a national applicant base. Once WUSTL starts differentiating itself from the rest of the pack, it will begin that feedback loop. In fact, it may have already begun.