Importance of Specialty Rankings

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crockwell
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Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:41 pm

I'm planning on transferring from Cooley. I have a 3.5 after the first semester of 1L (~top 10%). I realize my school doesn't transfer well with T1 schools, but some T3 schools are in the top USNWR rankings for specialty programs. The best example of this is Vermont Law School being a T3 school, but consistently #1 or #2 in Environmental Law. How important are these specialty rankings? If I decided that I might be interested in Environmental Law, would transferring to Vermont be a back door to prestige? Any constructive thought would be appreciated.

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SkepticalHippo
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby SkepticalHippo » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:22 pm

I am wondering about the same thing. Considering U of New Hampshire(Franklin Pierce) for IP.

For whatever it is worth though, anything is better than Cooley. And Vermont Law School is most certain one of the better T3 from what I've heard.

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bk1
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby bk1 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:23 pm

Specialty rankings are a way to drive magazine sales.

champsound
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby champsound » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:29 pm

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Last edited by champsound on Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:33 pm

@SkepticalHippo: I was considering IP as well, however my undergraduate transcript is a train wreck. I was a chemistry major, but I feel that my low undergrad GPA will make me uncompetitive. For what it's worth, I have a friend that graduated from Franklin Pierce and he does nothing but praise it.

@bk1: Yes, specialty rankings are there to drive magazine sales, so are USNWR general law school rankings, but this does not make them less relevant, especially for people on this site.

champsound
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby champsound » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:36 pm

crockwell wrote:@SkepticalHippo: I was considering IP as well, however my undergraduate transcript is a train wreck. I was a chemistry major, but I feel that my low undergrad GPA will make me uncompetitive. For what it's worth, I have a friend that graduated from Franklin Pierce and he does nothing but praise it.

@bk1: Yes, specialty rankings are there to drive magazine sales, so are USNWR general law school rankings, but this does not make them less relevant, especially for people on this site.

I feel like chemistry for a major just drives people to law school.

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traehekat
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby traehekat » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:39 pm

Congrats on the grades. Specialty rankings should be very far down the list of things you should be considering when looking at a school to transfer to. They mean next to nothing, from what I understand. What makes them less relevant than the general rankings is that no one actually cares about them. Generally, you should be considering the same three things you would consider when choosing a school as a 0L - rank, cost (or in this case, the difference in cost from Cooley to wherever you may be looking), and geographic location.

It doesn't sound like you are actually interested in environmental law, but rather finding a "back door" to prestige. If this is the case, then simply aim for the best possible school you can get in to (or the best school in the geographic location you want to work in).

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:40 pm

I feel like chemistry for a major just drives people to law school.[/quote]

I'm not quite sure if this was sarcastic, but if it was I thought having a physical science or engineering background was an advantage (or even a prerequisite) for IP employment.

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:46 pm

traehekat wrote:Congrats on the grades. Specialty rankings should be very far down the list of things you should be considering when looking at a school to transfer to. They mean next to nothing, from what I understand. What makes them less relevant than the general rankings is that no one actually cares about them. Generally, you should be considering the same three things you would consider when choosing a school as a 0L - rank, cost (or in this case, the difference in cost from Cooley to wherever you may be looking), and geographic location.

It doesn't sound like you are actually interested in environmental law, but rather finding a "back door" to prestige. If this is the case, then simply aim for the best possible school you can get in to (or the best school in the geographic location you want to work in).


That is a very accurate assessment of my intentions. I did feel that if the specialty rankings were relevant to employers that this would open more doors, but if they're not relevant than I wouldn't want to graduate from a T3 if I could graduate from a T2. I did want to practice in the NYC area (where I'm from), do you (or anyone) have an idea of where I would be competitive? I know I won't be for CLS or NYU, is Fordham a possibility? How about Cardozo or Brooklyn?

kehoema2
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby kehoema2 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:52 pm

Hate to disappoint but I'm betting everyone on here will say do not go to any of those NYC schools you just listed, and for good reason. They are expensive (plus ridiculous cost of living) and in no way compete with the other schools that send to NYC.

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traehekat
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby traehekat » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:53 pm

crockwell wrote:
traehekat wrote:Congrats on the grades. Specialty rankings should be very far down the list of things you should be considering when looking at a school to transfer to. They mean next to nothing, from what I understand. What makes them less relevant than the general rankings is that no one actually cares about them. Generally, you should be considering the same three things you would consider when choosing a school as a 0L - rank, cost (or in this case, the difference in cost from Cooley to wherever you may be looking), and geographic location.

It doesn't sound like you are actually interested in environmental law, but rather finding a "back door" to prestige. If this is the case, then simply aim for the best possible school you can get in to (or the best school in the geographic location you want to work in).


That is a very accurate assessment of my intentions. I did feel that if the specialty rankings were relevant to employers that this would open more doors, but if they're not relevant than I wouldn't want to graduate from a T3 if I could graduate from a T2. I did want to practice in the NYC area (where I'm from), do you (or anyone) have an idea of where I would be competitive? I know I won't be for CLS or NYU, is Fordham a possibility? How about Cardozo or Brooklyn?


If you haven't already, you should check out this thread:

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=82937

Cardozo and Brooklyn seem like they would be very good targets, and you probably have at least a decent shot at either of them. Fordham is most likely out.

kehoema2 wrote:Hate to disappoint but I'm betting everyone on here will say do not go to any of those NYC schools you just listed, and for good reason. They are expensive (plus ridiculous cost of living) and in no way compete with the other schools that send to NYC.


It depends. If OP is already paying sticker at Cooley, I think the difference in COA could be worth it if OP is set on working in NYC. If he/she has a substantial scholarship at Cooley, it becomes pretty tough decision to make. I'm not familiar with how those schools fair in the NYC market, but I have to imagine they fair better than Cooley, even if you are top 10% and have ties to NYC. It COULD be worth it, I dunno. OP will have to do research on the employment situation at those schools.

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:59 pm

kehoema2 wrote:Hate to disappoint but I'm betting everyone on here will say do not go to any of those NYC schools you just listed, and for good reason. They are expensive (plus ridiculous cost of living) and in no way compete with the other schools that send to NYC.


You don't think Fordham is competitive? I was worried that Cardozo and Brooklyn might not compete, but I thought for sure Fordham would. My biggest concern with Fordham was that I didn't have a realistic shot at acceptance. I also look at the NALP directory for firms that did OCI at all of these schools. I was especially impressed with the firms that interviewed at Fordham, but a lot of impressive firms interviewed at both Cardozo and Brooklyn as well. I know that it would be difficult for OCI as a transfer student, but I figured that if these firms showed interest at these schools I would be better placed for employment in NY after graduation.

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:08 pm

@traehekat: Yeah, I already read the posts on the link you provided, but it seems that Cooley is in a class of its own. I have a 50% scholarship at Cooley right now so I'm paying $16k / year. I would be paying an extra $30k per year to go to Fordham, Cardozo or Brooklyn, but I would be willing to do so if I was going to be going from a school that's non-competitive to a school that is competitive in NY. It would be significantly cheaper to go to Rutgers-Newark, so I may apply there as well if I get cold feet about spending an extra $60k for a school that might not give me better prospects.

champsound
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby champsound » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:09 pm

crockwell wrote:I feel like chemistry for a major just drives people to law school.


I'm not quite sure if this was sarcastic, but if it was I thought having a physical science or engineering background was an advantage (or even a prerequisite) for IP employment.[/quote]

Not sarcastic, sorry. I'm a chemistry major also. Some sort of science maybe even a grad degree is probably a prereq for IP, yeah.

transplantedbuckeye
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby transplantedbuckeye » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:23 pm

To answer the question, a specialty ranking is a good reason to go to the school. However, I would not say "I want to be in your #1 environmental law program." Instead, "My career goals and personal interests and experience have driven me to pursue a career in environmental law, and Vermont's excellent reputation and breadth of opportunities in this field would allow me to....." In the end, the school knows its reputation for environmental law, you just have to give them a reason why you are an ideal fit for their school, given your entire application, interests, goals, etc.

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:32 pm

transplantedbuckeye wrote:To answer the question, a specialty ranking is a good reason to go to the school. However, I would not say "I want to be in your #1 environmental law program." Instead, "My career goals and personal interests and experience have driven me to pursue a career in environmental law, and Vermont's excellent reputation and breadth of opportunities in this field would allow me to....." In the end, the school knows its reputation for environmental law, you just have to give them a reason why you are an ideal fit for their school, given your entire application, interests, goals, etc.


Yeah, I figured if I would transfer to a school with a high specialty ranking that my PS would be stressing how good a fit I would be at that school, not for the specialty program. But what makes you say that specialty ranking is a good reason to go to the school? This is what I originally thought, but the general consensus so far has been that specialty rankings are illusory.

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Nicholasnickynic
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby Nicholasnickynic » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:32 pm

transplantedbuckeye wrote:To answer the question, a specialty ranking is a good reason to go to the school. However, I would not say "I want to be in your #1 environmental law program." Instead, "My career goals and personal interests and experience have driven me to pursue a career in environmental law, and Vermont's excellent reputation and breadth of opportunities in this field would allow me to....." In the end, the school knows its reputation for environmental law, you just have to give them a reason why you are an ideal fit for their school, given your entire application, interests, goals, etc.


IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:34 pm

Nicholasnickynic wrote:
transplantedbuckeye wrote:To answer the question, a specialty ranking is a good reason to go to the school. However, I would not say "I want to be in your #1 environmental law program." Instead, "My career goals and personal interests and experience have driven me to pursue a career in environmental law, and Vermont's excellent reputation and breadth of opportunities in this field would allow me to....." In the end, the school knows its reputation for environmental law, you just have to give them a reason why you are an ideal fit for their school, given your entire application, interests, goals, etc.


IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE


Please elaborate.

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bk1
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby bk1 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:44 pm

If you want proof that the specialty rankings are meaningless, look at their changes year to year:

2008 IP Rankings wrote:1 Berkeley
2 Stanford
3 George Washington
4 Columbia
5 Franklin Pierce
6 Duke
7 Houston
8 Santa Clara
9 Boston University
10 Chicago-Kent


2010 IP Rankings wrote:1 Berkeley
2 Stanford
3 George Washington
4 Boston University
5 NYU
6 Columbia
7 Michigan
8 Houston
9 Duke
10 Franklin Pierce


If these things were actually true, there would be relative stability. In 2 years did BU really go from being 9th to being only worse than Stanford, Boalt, and GW? I highly doubt it. The same goes for all the changes. Did Santa Clara used to be the 8th best for IP and now it's no longer top 10? More likely these rankings are a crock of shit.

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bk1
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby bk1 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:46 pm

crockwell wrote:@bk1: Yes, specialty rankings are there to drive magazine sales, so are USNWR general law school rankings, but this does not make them less relevant, especially for people on this site.


USNWR general rankings are irrelevant as rankings. However, they do manage to roughly ape the actual prestige ranking of the top institutions (which matters for job placement power).

The specialty rankings do not even come close to mirroring actual reality.

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AreJay711
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:50 pm

You should stay at Cooley according to this specialty ranking:

http://www.cooley.edu/rankings/overall2010.html

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:05 pm

bk1 wrote:
crockwell wrote:@bk1: Yes, specialty rankings are there to drive magazine sales, so are USNWR general law school rankings, but this does not make them less relevant, especially for people on this site.


USNWR general rankings are irrelevant as rankings. However, they do manage to roughly ape the actual prestige ranking of the top institutions (which matters for job placement power).

The specialty rankings do not even come close to mirroring actual reality.


I'm definitely inclined to believe you, but not as a result of the comparison between IP rankings in 2008 and 2010. Between 2008 and 2010, seven of the ten schools remained in the top 10. The rankings of a school's specialty would be more significantly impacted by one professor leaving than the non-specialty ranking of the school would be overall. I would think that school rankings on specialties should be more volatile because the programs are smaller and more easily affected by changes that the school could more easily absorb in general rankings. As for employers not paying attention to them, I have no idea, so I would have to defer to your information.

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bk1
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby bk1 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:12 pm

crockwell wrote:I'm definitely inclined to believe you, but not as a result of the comparison between IP rankings in 2008 and 2010. Between 2008 and 2010, seven of the ten schools remained in the top 10. The rankings of a school's specialty would be more significantly impacted by one professor leaving than the non-specialty ranking of the school would be overall. I would think that school rankings on specialties should be more volatile because the programs are smaller and more easily affected by changes that the school could more easily absorb in general rankings. As for employers not paying attention to them, I have no idea, so I would have to defer to your information.


FWIW, the USNWR specialty rankings are entirely determined by professors. I would hazard a guess that volatility is due to low response rate.

Legal hiring is prestige driven and prestige isn't something that changes much year over year.

crockwell
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby crockwell » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:12 pm

AreJay711 wrote:You should stay at Cooley according to this specialty ranking:

http://www.cooley.edu/rankings/overall2010.html


I really wish the school wouldn't publish this. It definitely makes the school a target. I could go on about how this isn't an indication of what Cooley is really like, but it would be pointless. Cooley has a lot of good things to offer, but unfortunately decisions like the rankings system will draw negative attention to Cooley, and overshadow the many things that it does do well.

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AreJay711
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Re: Importance of Specialty Rankings

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:15 pm

crockwell wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:You should stay at Cooley according to this specialty ranking:

http://www.cooley.edu/rankings/overall2010.html


I really wish the school wouldn't publish this. It definitely makes the school a target. I could go on about how this isn't an indication of what Cooley is really like, but it would be pointless. Cooley has a lot of good things to offer, but unfortunately decisions like the rankings system will draw negative attention to Cooley, and overshadow the many things that it does do well.

Well, I realized that was a little dickish but my point was that I don't trust any specialty rankings.




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