"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Leak of the 2017 U.S. News Law School Rankings: What Does Rank Really Mean?

At Above the Law, Stacy Zaretsky has The 2017 U.S. News Law School Rankings Leak: The Top 100.

It is always of general interest to examine the new annual law school rankings by U.S. News, but frankly, very little seems to change over the years.

We note that The Faculty Lounge Historical Data (relying on WSJ data) notes that there were 138 law schools in 1968-1969 and 201 law schools in 2012-2013.  None of the newer (or older) schools has broken into the upper echelons.

U.S. News started its rankings in 1987 and as noted by Christopher Zorn, Law School Rankings Churn , www.lawyermetrics.com via JDSupra in 2014:
"[W]ith the exception of one or two years in the late 2000s — the top 14 schools in U.S. News’ annual law school rankings have been the same since its inception in 1987."
And the basic pattern goes back much further than 1987.

When we applied to law school for the 1968-1969 academic year, i.e. nearly 50 years ago, law school rankings were not in vogue yet but long-standing university reputations were. We sent out applications to our selection of 10 law schools (in addition to our undergraduate alma mater), and were accepted by all them. Our list of 10 law schools way back then included 7 of the top 8 law schools (and ties) now found in the 2017 U.S. News rankings and all 10 of those schools are still in the "modern" top 20.

Not only have the top schools stayed pretty much the same, but our experience suggests that the precise law school chosen is not as important as performance in the law school that one attends.

We refer here to a personal example. We chose Stanford Law School from our short list (at that time Stanford, Harvard, Chicago and NYU), while one of our closest friends from childhood days, who had been an undergraduate at an Ivy League school (Yale), chose the University of Chicago Law School.

Three years later found both of us as associates for BigLaw firms in New York City. Indeed, we lived only a few streets apart in midtown Manhattan.

The law school and law firm gauntlet had brought us together again in spite of very different pathways down the preceding road.

Our "career" results at that time were quite similar, as they -- objectively seen -- should have been, since we also went to the same elementary and high schools in the same middle-size Midwestern city in our younger days and had very similar classroom grades, activities, etc.

But how did the law school and law firm selection processes filter us out so similarly, and yet completely independently? We presume that this occurred because law school and law firm ranking and selection processes are successful in what they are designed to do, in spite of the criticisms sometimes levelled against them.

They seem to work, and they do not change that much from year to year.

Most Popular Posts of All Time

Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.


    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically
    in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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