Law Schools of the South

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crazywafflez

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Law Schools of the South

Post by crazywafflez » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:29 am

Hey all,

I was bored at work this morning (slow time) and decided to make a tier list for law schools of the South (including Texas, even though I don't personally consider it Southern, hah). The list is obviously not even close to perfect and fails to take into account: debt, PI, unemployment, median salary, or national/regional placement. This is just a for fun list using BL + FCs from 2018-2020 based on https://i.redd.it/hgr2618rwkv61.png
I broke them into 5 tiers as I felt that doing a 1,2,3, etc., ranking was just silly since they changed from year to year, and sorry if I missed something somewhere!

Tier 1: UVA and Duke. In this tier, schools needed to have Biglaw + FCs at a combined total of 75% or over. I think it is pretty much recognized that these are the undisputed national southern schools.

Tier 2: Vandy and UT. BL+FCs needed to be above 50%. I was surprised how consistently well Vandy placed- it was always around the 60% mark, whereas UT seemed to hover around the 50% mark.

Tier 3: Bama, Emory, UNC, W&L, UGA, Wake, W&M, Tulane, and SMU. These schools consistently placed around 25-35% or more of their class into BL or FCs.

Tier 4: UH and UF. These schools are super close to being in tier 3, and I think in their respective markets they do plenty fine. They seemed to have more variation over the 3 years than the other schools and didn't always hit that 25% BL+FC rate, but did get to 30% on one year. I was surprised at how low UF was frankly due to its ranking on US news. I think it'll continue to emerge though as a stronger school soon?

Tier 5: Baylor, UTk, Miami, Richmond, FSU. These schools were fairly consistent between 16-25% BL+FC placements.

Some other key things: Some schools were doing a lot of amazing PI work. W&M, Tulane, and Bama all roughly placed at least 20% of their class into govt roles or public interest.
Even though Emory placed really high on this list, it had a really staggering unemployment rate compared to the others, as well as amount of debt.
When looking at placement numbers I'm kind of surprised SMU, Tulane and UH are all not within the T1 anymore (I know Tulane and SMU have both been placed within it at various times though). They seem to perform really well, and places like UH are a bargain. Along those lines, I was pretty surprised how weak UF's numbers were given their ranking in US news, but I'm sure I'm missing something.
Finally, Bama just seems really strong and a great option, especially considering the debt and no homefield big market.
I think this list also might show some folks that there really isn't a tangible difference between say UF (US news ranked 21 now), UGA (27), W&M (35), Wake (41), and SMU (52) and that folks should be aiming for market and recognize that these are all regional schools and place into their respective markets/cities. Moreover, really only the first two tiers have a real significant shot at biglaw outside the top 1/3 of the class (and only tier 3 and tier 4 offer it for those in the top 1/4 or top 1/3, which is still steep competition and doesn't guarantee biglaw).
And that there is no difference between a school ranked 25 and one ranked 45 on BL+FC placements necessarily. (I will say though that ND, and BC/BU respectively do indeed have significantly better numbers than Minnesota or Arizona or UGA and might be considered their own 'tier' for their respective regions/markets and a cut above the rest. However, this list only considered the South and Texas, so ND and BC/BU are irrelevant!)
As stated earlier, the list is flawed, but hopefully at least either reconfirms what you already knew about the legal market or is somewhat insightful for newer folks looking at going to law school and considering paying 100k more for Emory over UGA or something like that.

lavarman84

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by lavarman84 » Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:21 pm

I would say that after Tier 2, your rankings go a bit haywire. You're putting far too much emphasis on biglaw and federal clerkship percentages, especially when you're talking about relatively small differences. When you're talking about 30% versus 25% or something along those lines, I think overall employment numbers (how likely are you to be a lawyer and employed generally) and cost should play a much bigger role. I won't bust your balls on Texas not being Southern. :wink:

If you ask me, I'd put UGA, Alabama, and UNC on their own in Tier 3. All have strong overall numbers and are relatively cheap for in-state students. I'd drop the others into Tier 4 with UF and UH. Of course, as you noted, it more matters where you want to work. Going to Bama or UGA if you are set on staying in Florida doesn't make much sense if the cost of attending UF is equal or less. These schools all do their best in their home states.

crazywafflez

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by crazywafflez » Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:44 am

lavarman84 wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:21 pm
I would say that after Tier 2, your rankings go a bit haywire. You're putting far too much emphasis on biglaw and federal clerkship percentages, especially when you're talking about relatively small differences. When you're talking about 30% versus 25% or something along those lines, I think overall employment numbers (how likely are you to be a lawyer and employed generally) and cost should play a much bigger role. I won't bust your balls on Texas not being Southern. :wink:

If you ask me, I'd put UGA, Alabama, and UNC on their own in Tier 3. All have strong overall numbers and are relatively cheap for in-state students. I'd drop the others into Tier 4 with UF and UH. Of course, as you noted, it more matters where you want to work. Going to Bama or UGA if you are set on staying in Florida doesn't make much sense if the cost of attending UF is equal or less. These schools all do their best in their home states.
Yeah, I think your criticism is fair. I didn't really have a neat way to cut it off. I'd say there isn't even a huge difference between tier 3-5. For instance, in my tier 5, Baylor places about 21% or so into BL+FC, while SMU averages around 28% or so. I think cutting it off at 32% is fine, which would basically only have Bama, UGA, UNC, and Emory, but that seems arbitrary as well? I think Bama, UNC, and UGA weather the storm better than the others in their tier, and are cheaper/better deals than the other "peers" as well. Its just that Bama isn't so much better than W&L to merit a different tier (arguably), there's less difference between them than there is between Vandy and UT.
Totally agree that BL+FC isn't the best way to do it at all; I'd love to be able to factor in things like mobility, debt, salary, PI engagement. I could easily factor in employment though. I don't think it would shake things up much at the top (obviously) but may relegate places like Emory lower and put places like UTk higher.
I appreciate the comments on Texas, hah! Much to my chagrin, I think my opinion on it not being the South is the minority, thus, it was included in this, hah.

laanngo

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by laanngo » Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:51 am

By the title I thought Sewanee was going to build a law school.

lavarman84

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by lavarman84 » Wed Apr 28, 2021 4:36 pm

crazywafflez wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:44 am
Yeah, I think your criticism is fair. I didn't really have a neat way to cut it off. I'd say there isn't even a huge difference between tier 3-5. For instance, in my tier 5, Baylor places about 21% or so into BL+FC, while SMU averages around 28% or so. I think cutting it off at 32% is fine, which would basically only have Bama, UGA, UNC, and Emory, but that seems arbitrary as well? I think Bama, UNC, and UGA weather the storm better than the others in their tier, and are cheaper/better deals than the other "peers" as well. Its just that Bama isn't so much better than W&L to merit a different tier (arguably), there's less difference between them than there is between Vandy and UT.
Totally agree that BL+FC isn't the best way to do it at all; I'd love to be able to factor in things like mobility, debt, salary, PI engagement. I could easily factor in employment though. I don't think it would shake things up much at the top (obviously) but may relegate places like Emory lower and put places like UTk higher.
I appreciate the comments on Texas, hah! Much to my chagrin, I think my opinion on it not being the South is the minority, thus, it was included in this, hah.
Well, looking at the 2020 numbers, I felt the difference between W&L and the others was the fact that they were all similar in terms of BL/FC numbers, the others were slightly stronger in terms of employment score and underemployment (less of it), and the others were less than half the price for in-state students. Of course, if you're looking at W&L and Bama at equal cost, the question isn't going to be which is better in an abstract sense, the question is whether you want to practice in Virginia or Alabama.

That's the problem with trying to put the schools in tiers after tier two. Yeah, there's clearly a difference between say Florida and Miami or Washington & Lee and Richmond, but trying to compare schools like UNC, UF, Bama, and UGA doesn't make a lot of sense unless you just want to live in the South and couldn't care less where. UNC has better BL/FC numbers than UF by a solid margin, but if you want to live in Florida, UNC isn't going to offer you better odds at a FL BL or FC job than UF.

If you can't get into Duke or Vandy, your best option in GA is going to be UGA (in my opinion, as Emory seems to be declining in recent years and is significantly more expensive on paper), your best option in NC will be UNC, your best option in Alabama will be Bama, and your best option in FL will be UF. So I guess my point is that I'm not sure the tiers are actually adding anything unless a person literally has no preference in terms of which Southern state he or she lives. In that scenario, cost of attendance is probably going to be the most important variable if he or she is picking between the various Southern schools in tiers three and four.
(It also may not be a popular opinion, but I don't think UT-Austin carries anywhere near the weight in the traditional South that Vandy does.)

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crazywafflez

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by crazywafflez » Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:38 am

I fully agree with you. I mean, perhaps UGA is a smidge better than W&L on paper- but it certainly isn't better for VA, nor is Bama better for Atlanta than UGA etc. After tier 2 these schools are all just strong in their state, some slightly stronger than others, but still comparable. COA is huge for some of these places; I personally think a lot of the private southern schools get away with murder (Emory and Tulane are the worst offenders- Wake and W&L aren't as bad but still not great on that front).
Yeah, I agree that UT doesn't have nearly the recognition throughout the South that Vandy has.

Also, could definitely see why one might think by the post name Sewanee was opening a law school, hah. I hope they do not... TN doesn't need any extra law schools...

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hookem7

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by hookem7 » Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:26 pm

In my experience, I don't think UT carries all that much weight (given its traditional spot in national rankings) in the traditional South. Texas isn't really the "South" and I don't think either group likes to be lumped together. Per school employment data, UT is mostly Texas of course (73-77% last 3 years) with NY (3-9%), CA (3-5%) and DC (2-4%) next. The last two classes exactly 0.0% of grads placed in what they define as the East South Central (AL, MS, TN, KY).

I have family in the South and think UVA is fairly clearly the most respected across the board, with Duke second (suffers from a bit of a "Yankee" perception), then Vandy. After that, the next "best" school in each state is usually the flagship. This is because that is where all their graduates are and why it is usually recommended that one attend law school in the state you want to practice in unless you are in the T-14.

legalnovice

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by legalnovice » Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:48 pm

Is Oklahoma part of the South?

laanngo

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by laanngo » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:01 pm

legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:48 pm
Is Oklahoma part of the South?
It fought with the confederacy

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laanngo

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by laanngo » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:07 pm

crazywafflez wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:38 am
COA is huge for some of these places; I personally think a lot of the private southern schools get away with murder (Emory and Tulane are the worst offenders- Wake and W&L aren't as bad but still not great on that front).
How is the housing market the school's fault?
crazywafflez wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:38 am
Also, could definitely see why one might think by the post name Sewanee was opening a law school, hah. I hope they do not... TN doesn't need any extra law schools...
No US State needs a new law school except maybe Alaska, which is rural enough to indict the costs you would save by living at home and commuting to Fairbanks.

crazywafflez

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by crazywafflez » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:13 am

laanngo wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:07 pm
crazywafflez wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:38 am
COA is huge for some of these places; I personally think a lot of the private southern schools get away with murder (Emory and Tulane are the worst offenders- Wake and W&L aren't as bad but still not great on that front).
How is the housing market the school's fault?
crazywafflez wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:38 am
Also, could definitely see why one might think by the post name Sewanee was opening a law school, hah. I hope they do not... TN doesn't need any extra law schools...
No US State needs a new law school except maybe Alaska, which is rural enough to indict the costs you would save by living at home and commuting to Fairbanks.
Sorry if I wasn't clear! By COA, I meant cost of attendance, but I really meant the tuition costs.
Agreed on the law schools, hah.

crazywafflez

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by crazywafflez » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:16 am

hookem7 wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:26 pm
In my experience, I don't think UT carries all that much weight (given its traditional spot in national rankings) in the traditional South. Texas isn't really the "South" and I don't think either group likes to be lumped together. Per school employment data, UT is mostly Texas of course (73-77% last 3 years) with NY (3-9%), CA (3-5%) and DC (2-4%) next. The last two classes exactly 0.0% of grads placed in what they define as the East South Central (AL, MS, TN, KY).

I have family in the South and think UVA is fairly clearly the most respected across the board, with Duke second (suffers from a bit of a "Yankee" perception), then Vandy. After that, the next "best" school in each state is usually the flagship. This is because that is where all their graduates are and why it is usually recommended that one attend law school in the state you want to practice in unless you are in the T-14.
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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Wed May 05, 2021 1:35 pm

hookem7 wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:26 pm
I have family in the South and think UVA is fairly clearly the most respected across the board, with Duke second (suffers from a bit of a "Yankee" perception), then Vandy. After that, the next "best" school in each state is usually the flagship. This is because that is where all their graduates are and why it is usually recommended that one attend law school in the state you want to practice in unless you are in the T-14.
This is about right. Homer pleading for Emory/UT/W&M etc. just muddies the waters unnecessarily. Those schools only come into play for their home state (e.g., you want Atlanta and you're trying to choose between Emory and Duke) and/or when there is a huge price difference.

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Re: Law Schools of the South

Post by unknown94 » Wed May 05, 2021 3:19 pm

UVA Law is the undisputed tops in the South. Duke Law also has an excellent national reputation. Other than that, it does seem to be relatively regional. FL is great for Florida, UT for Texas, and Emory/UGA for the Southeast.

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