Thanks to our friends over at Spivey Consulting, we have an advanced look at the 2018 US News Law School Rankings. And, for the first time in a while, there have been some unprecedented changes at the top!
We’ll break down some of the big news from the new rankings in a moment, but first, here’s our standard disclaimer about rankings: please keep in mind that these rankings are just numbers put through an arbitrary formula that was created by a magazine that makes millions of dollars off of them, so use them at your own risk!
Let's start by looking at the new top 25 for 2018 (yes, that’s right, even though it's only March 2017, the 2018 version is out somehow). The list below is numbered according to the new rankings, then a column showing the position change (if any) from the 2017 rankings, and then columns thereafter show the rankings for each of the prior five years (2013-2017).
The US News Law School Rankings - Top 25
|2017 Ranking||2016 Ranking||2015 Ranking||2014 Ranking||2013 Ranking|
By far, the most notable change came at the bottom of the vaunted Top 14: Texas moved up into the #14 position and Georgetown dropped out of the Top 14 for the first time ever, down to #15. The reason the Top 14 was so well-known was that those 14 schools had been in the top 14 positions in some order since the inception of the rankings (although some years other “outsider” schools might tie for 14th). There’s already been some discussion online of the demise of the T14, and banter about the new “Top13.” That may be premature since next year Georgetown could be right back in the top 14, but the impenetrable wall around the 14 schools has now been breached.
The next biggest change at the top centered on Berkeley, which tumbled four spaces down to 12th. Considering that as recently as 2009 Berkeley was as ranked as high as 6th, this is a notable drop. We can’t yet see the numbers behind these rankings, but when we do a close examination of Berkeley’s rank, we will hopefully yield some insights into the cause of the drop. The remaining changes in the T14 were minor, with Harvard and Columbia dropping a spot, Duke moving up one spot, and Northwestern jumping up two positions.
While we only have the T25 listed above, outside that group the rankings tend to move in a more volatile manner. The biggest positive movers were Rutgers, moved up 30 spots to #62, Marquette, which moved up 23 spots to #100, and Penn State, which moved up 21 slots to #65. The big negative movers were New Hampshire, which dropped 18 positions to #100, and Miami and New Mexico, which both dropped 17 positions down to #77. Other notable changes were W+L jumping 12 spots to #28, Davis dropping 9 spots to #39, William and Mary moving down 8 spaces to #41, and Florida moving up 7 spaces to #41. These broad moves outside the Top 25 or so highlight some of the concerns about rankings, and show that using absolute rankings as a benchmark of where to go to school is risky at best.
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Image: "25" courtesy of Brian