So its another year and we are faced with another round of law school rankings from the so-called “experts.” The 2008 law school rankings are no different from any other year – they are virtually meaningless to the average student and should be largely ignored by you.
Unfortunately, if you are planning on applying to law school this year, or applying to law school anytime in the near future, I know that you will have a very hard time ignoring the law school rankings. In fact, if you are anything like me, you’ll buy copies of every magazine, book, newsletter, or crayon drawing that purports to rank law schools in any way. And you’ll probably pay much more attention to them than you should.
I did. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t even consider applying to any law school below the second tier of the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings. I guess I got lucky, because I was admitted to every law school where I applied, but in hindsight, I wish I had considered things differently and paid less attention to the popular law school ranking publications.
As I discuss in another article about law school rankings, you have got to view the popular published law school rankings skeptically. These rankings are untrustworthy and mislead students into thinking they need to attend a highly ranked school or they will be second rate lawyers due to their “substandard” law school education. This is simply not true.
It should tell you something that many schools have now decided not to cooperate with the publishers who compile these rankings, despite the enormous pressure they have to not only participate, but to inflate their statistics in order to appear more attractive to potential students.
What you will eventually learn, whether you go to Harvard Law School, or a night law school in your local metropolis, is that the legal education you will receive will be substantially the same – regardless of which law school you attend. In addition, within five years of your graduation from law school, virtually no one – including employers, colleagues, judges, and most importantly clients – will care at all where you went to law school.
All of that being true, you should consider all sorts of things other than law school rankings when deciding where to go to law school. More important considerations include cost, attractiveness of the location, weather, where you want to live after law school, the social scene, and the programs offered. Then, if there’s a tie, you might want to consider the 2008 law school rankings.
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H. Jefferson, Jr.