The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Posts Tagged ‘US News’

USD Law Slips Back to 67th in 2012 US News Law School Rankings

Posted by demkid on March 16, 2011

Despite recent gains that saw USD Law rise 26 spots in the past two editions of the US News Law School Rankings, the 2012 numbers weren’t as kind, as the school dropped to #67, from it’s all-time high of #56.  USD’s part-time program fell slightly from 10th to 12th, and it’s tax law specialty ranking fell out of the top-10.  Perhaps it’s all my fault, as I wasn’t paying attention to this year’s release date, so I couldn’t participate in helping leak the rankings as I did the previous two years.  Seems like a reasonable explanation!  I didn’t expect that the 2012 rankings would be released a full month earlier this time around.  At this pace, the 2013 rankings will be released in December, 2011!  Well, at least I don’t feel obligated to post screen shots or go through a thorough analysis this year, but I will list the biggest risers and fallers from the 2011 rankings.

Biggest gainers are: Indiana-Bloomington (23rd from 27th), UC Davis (23rd from 28th), Washington (30th from 34th), Washington & Lee (30th from 34th), Maryland (42nd from 48th), Florida State (50th from 54th – Tier Change), Baylor (56th from 64th), Penn State (6oth from 72nd), Illinois Institute of Technology (61st from 80th), Seton Hall (61st from 72nd), Temple (61st from 72nd), Richmond (67th from 86th), Northeastern (71st from 86th), Catholic (79th from 98th), DePaul (84th from 98th), Santa Clara (84th from 93rd), Buffalo-SUNY (84th from Tier 3), Nebraska (84th from 93rd), Marquette (95th from Tier 3), Michigan State (95th from Tier 3), and Louisville (100th from Tier 3).

Biggest fallers are: Emory (30th from 22nd), Georgia (35th from 28th), Wisconsin (35th from 28th), Colorado (47th from 38th), USD, Miami (77th from 60th), Kansas (79th from 67th), New Mexico (79th from 67th), Villanova (84th from 67th), St. John’s (95th from 72nd), Hawaii (95th from 72nd), Syracuse (100th from 86th), Chapman (Tier 3 from 93rd), Missouri-Columbia (Tier 3 from 93rd), and William Mitchell (Tier 3 from 98th).

So, USD Law’s 11-rank fall isn’t the worst of the bunch, but it’s still notable, and 67th is noticeably behind both Pepperdine and Loyola (both at 54).  I don’t have the full rankings, so I can’t compare numbers and try to guess what caused USD’s drop, but recent lackluster Bar performances surely don’t help.  The US News rankings are pretty arbitrary once you get into Tier 2 territory, as many schools are tied, and a 1-2 point drop in a school’s raw score can send it falling by double-digits in the rankings.  This arbitrariness is clearly demonstrated by USD’s recent rankings, as the school has been in the 80’s, 50’s, and points in between.

As far as other California schools are concerned, Davis sure looks impressive at 23rd.  I remember when Davis and Hastings were comparable rankings-wise, but Davis now has a 19-rank advantage on it’s UC counterpart.  Also, poor Chapman just couldn’t hang onto it’s surprising Tier-2 rank from a year ago, falling to 104th.  Hopefully we’ll see them up there again in coming years.  (It’s interesting to note that US News is now ranking Tier 3 schools individually, so now a school like the University of New Hampshire can say, “We’re the 143rd-best law school in the country!”  Perhaps they won’t say that.)  Alas, fellow San Diego schools Cal Western and Thomas Jefferson are still Tier 4 schools, with no published ranks.

That’s about all I have for now.  If I find out anymore interesting details about the rankings, I’ll update this post.  I still highly recommend a legal education at USD, no matter where the rankings roulette ball may fall each spring! (I mean, late winter.)

Update: I feel a little better now about my lack of attentiveness to the rankings this year.  Dan Filler at the Faculty Lounge states: “The most surprising thing about this year’s U.S. News law school rankings is that the magazine (if you can properly call it that) managed to embargo the list right up until its release on the web.  They did so by deferring sale of the hard copy version of the rankings until April 5 – thus denying thieves, snoops and other crafty characters a chance to score a photocopy of the new rankings prior to the moment of formal release.”  For the record, I consider myself to the third type of person in that group!


Posted in Education, USD Law | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Rankings Game

Posted by demkid on April 16, 2010

I’m glad so many of you have enjoyed viewing the new 2011 US News Law School Rankings that were posted on Tuesday, some 30 hours before they showed up on the US News site.  Yet again, someone in NYC managed to purchase a hard copy of the magazine well before its official release date, although the time between leak and confirmation was a bit less than last year. 

It’s clear to see how much these rankings are like crack when I look at the number of page views this blog has received in the last few days.  We’re a nation that lives on numbers, whether they come in the form of rankings, public opinion polls, restaurant reviews, or fantasy sports statistics.  We find soccer boring because games are low scoring and the most cited stat is time of possession.  We need to have winners and losers, and we need to know how good something is compared to its counterparts.  To many, these law school rankings mean everything.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the rankings game, because they come out each year and matter so much to so many.  Schools whose ranking has gone up are quick to make this fact known on their websites.  Schools whose ranking has gone down discredit the system as being flawed.  No school can ignore the fact that its reputation depends significantly on the yearly ranking it receives, as many students make their selections almost solely on this number. 

Fair or unfair, it’s the way it is.  Many have attempted to challenge US News by coming up with other ways of ranking the schools, and while these methods may, in fact, be better, the US News methodology maintains its monopoly, and will be the big dog for years to come.  I hadn’t really examined the main arguments against the US News system before, so I took a little time to educate myself.  I started over at the TaxProf Blog, where Paul Caron, as he does every year, ranked the law schools solely on the basis of their academic peer reputation scores.  These scores make up the largest component of the total, and are good because they aren’t manipulable by the individual schools.  However, these scores surely depend to a significant degree on the overall US News rankings themselves, and therefore they don’t fluctuate very much, even when there are improvements in a school’s faculty and/or student quality.  I was then curious about the factors that are manipulable by the individual schools, and was surprised to read this piece by Brian Leiter.

Even putting aside the fact that this formula, with its various weightings, is impossible to rationalize in any principled way, the really striking fact about the U.S. News methodology is surely the following: More than half the criteria-over 54%–that go in to the final score can be manipulated by the schools themselves, either through outright (and undetectable) deceit, or other devices (giving fee waivers to hopeless applicants, employing graduates in temp jobs to boost employment stats, etc.).

This year, for example, everyone seems to be talking about Duke’s 100% employment figure at graduation.  That’s right…every single one of Duke’s ’08 grads had jobs when they graduated (and in an economic downturn, no less!).  I guess we’ll have to take them at their word, because US News doesn’t check these self-reported figures.  It’s also interesting that Chapman University entered the Top 100 this year (for I think, the first time ever), and this could be why: “Chapman University reported 91.1% of its graduates employed at graduation, more than any school ranked between 47 and 100 in U.S. News.”  Even the seemingly non-manipulable figures, like academic peer reputation, can have serious issues:

Some readers may recall that Loyola LA took a plunge last year, when their academic reputation score dropped from 2.6 to 2.3, something which almost never happens.  It turned out the explanation was simple:  U.S. News stopped listing the school by the name everyone in the academy knows it by–Loyola Law School, Los Angeles–and simply listed Loyola Marymount University.  After last year’s fiasco came to light, U.S. News agreed to list the school for purposes of this year’s survey as Loyola Law School again and, lo and behold, its reputation score was 2.6 this year.  If such apparently trivial alterations can affect results so significantly, how much confidence should one have in the reputational results?

For more fascinating tidbits on the US News rankings, I’d highly recommend all of the other posts over at Leiter’s Law School Reports.  While I now have a better understanding of the numerous problems associated with the rankings, I still won’t complain if and when my school continues to move up!  A little data manipulation, and it’s sure to happen!

Posted in Education, The Law, USD Law | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

USD Law Jumps to 56th in 2011 US News Law School Rankings

Posted by demkid on April 13, 2010

Well, immediately after my last post, I did a little searching.  It looks like the attempts to prevent leaks of the print version of the 2011 US News Law School Rankings have failed.  This year, I’m going to give credit to Above the Law, as they posted links to the new rankings within the last hour (via Top-Law-Schools).  I’m going to consolidate the scanned pages (from holybartender’s Flickr stream) below, for your enjoyment.  But now, my analysis:

The University of San Diego School of Law has continued its rise in the latest version of the US News Law School Rankings.  In the 2011 version, USD Law has jumped from #61 to #56, and is now on the cusp of Tier 1 status.  This small rise follows a huge jump in the 2010 rankings, when USD had the highest leap of any school, moving up the rankings from the 82nd position. 

For the second time, US News has published separate rankings for part-time JD programs, and USD’s program now ranks 10th, a small drop from a tie for 7th last year.  US News has changed its methodology for part-time rankings in the current version, as they are now “based on a 5.0-scale peer assessment survey, median LSAT scores and median undergraduate grade-point average for fall 2009 entering part-time students, and an exclusive part-time J.D. curriculum index that measures the extent to which a law school offers a rich part-time program to its students.”  Georgetown University still has by far the best part-time program in the country, but USD Law continues to have the best program West of the Mississippi.  USD Law remains in the Top 50 for school diversity, with an Asian American proportion of 17%.  Also, USD has the 6th-best tax law program in the country, as ranked by faculty who teach in the field.

Congrats to the faculty, staff, and students at my alma mater, and continued thanks to Dean Cole, who has made a significant effort to address the criticism associated with our drop to 82nd in the rankings, two years ago.  Last year, I hoped that we would be well into the 50s this year, so with a bit of continued luck, we could find ourselves as a Tier 1 school in the not too distant future. 

As I mentioned, here are the pics of the new 2011 rankings.  Our San Diego counterparts, California Western and Thomas Jefferson, remain in Tier 4.  I will post an update of the big gainers and losers from last year after I have more time to analyze the rankings.  However, here is how California schools faired: Stanford is 3rd (no change), Berkeley is 7th (from 6th), UCLA is 15th (NC), USC is 18th (NC), Davis is 28th (35th), Hastings is 42nd (39th), Pepperdine is 52nd (55th), Loyola is 56th (71st), Santa Clara is 93rd (85th), and USF is 98th (NC).  New to this year’s rankings is McGeorge (98th), and a big congratulations should go to Chapman University, now ranked 93rd, and perhaps ranked in the Top 100 for the first time in the school’s history (but I’d have to verify that.) 

Out of the California schools, the biggest gainer was Loyola, which jumped 15 spots, into a tie with USD, and the biggest drop was Santa Clara, down 8 spots.  More congratulations should go to Pepperdine, and even though they only gained 3 spots, they are now just 1 overall score point away from Tier 1 status.  Similarly, USD Law is 3 overall score points away from the Top 50.  USD continues to have a high peer assessment score (2.9 and the highest of any of the Tier 2 schools.)


Update: After reviewing last year’s rankings, here are the biggest movers.  Biggest gains go to George Washington (20th from 28th), UC Davis (28th from 35th), Georgia (28th from 35th), Wisconsin-Madison (28th from 35th), Arizona State (38th from 55th), Colorado-Boulder (38th from 45th), Florida (47th from 51st, tier change), Miami (60th from 71st), New Mexico (67th from 77th), St. John’s (72nd from 87th), Loyola-Chicago (78th from 87th), and Hofstra (86th from 100th).  There are 7 new additions to Tier 2, including Syracuse University at 86th and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, which gets the award for biggest gainer and is 72nd after not being ranked!

Biggest losses go to Alabama (38th from 30th), Yeshiva (52nd from 49th, tier change), Kentucky (64th from 55th), Seattle (86th from 77th), Richmond (86th from 77th), Santa Clara (93rd from 85th), Missouri (93rd from 65th), and Depaul (98th from 85th).  Clearly the biggest dropper was the University of Missouri.  Schools that dropped from Tier 2 are Buffalo-SUNY, Marquette, and South Carolina.

A quick glance at the top of the part-time rankings shows that the new methodology had a significant impact on the rankings of a few schools.  These would be Yeshiva (4th from 18th), Houston (10th from 18th), Rutgers-Camden (15th from 28th), Santa Clara (16th from 25th), Denver (18th from 9th), Seattle (20th from 12th), and by far the biggest change was the gain made by SMU, moving to 13th all the way from 46th.  Not sure how that happened, but I’m sure they’re particularly happy down there in Texas.

Posted in Education, The Law, USD Law | Tagged: , , , , | 17 Comments »

Happy Birthday to Us!

Posted by demkid on September 30, 2009

This month (September 17th, to be exact) marked this blog’s first birthday, and I think it’s been a particularly fun, entertaining, and successful year.  We launched just in time for the run up to the election, and had an enjoyable time discussing all things political as we watched history unfold.  I didn’t do that poorly in my election predictions, but unfortunately overestimated the voters of California when it came to equal rights for all.  By far our most successful post during the past year (and not likely to be topped) was the one back in April that helped break the 2010 U.S. News Law School Rankings.  That post received thousands upon thousands of hits, and still continues to be popular!  It just goes to show how much those rankings matter to people, and how a blog can get massive hits if linked to by highly-visited sites.  We were lucky that the main point of that popular post was the huge jump in the rankings by our esteemed school, the University of San Diego School of Law.  I’m glad that we were able to bring such positive publicity to the school.

Speaking of positive publicity, one of our goals is to serve as a quality reflection on the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of USD Law.  We hope that we’ve done that over the past year through our writing and overall quality of the blog, and further hope that The Bright Coast will continue to be a good representation of the institution, at least in small part.  We’re glad to be prominently linked to on the school’s new site, and we realize that prospective students read our posts on a regular basis.  Of course, one of our other main goals is to serve as a sort of progressive counterweight to the views expressed by four of our distinguished professors over at The Right Coast (also linked to on the new site.)  As is easy to surmise, we thought that there was just too much misguided conservatism emanating from Warren Hall, and that the situation needed to be evened out just a bit.  We will improve our efforts to keep Smith, Rappaport, and Co. in check over the next year, and look forward to at least some give-and-take.  (While we have them prominently displayed on our site, they have yet to really acknowledge our presence in any way.  We’re hoping that changes in the year to come!)  Afterall, I sincerely think that people are interested in something more than “Does Obama hate America?”  That kind of stuff quickly gets old and predictable, and I hope that our presence as the “Bright” alternative to the “Right” will improve the quality of the commentary over there.  (I can only keep my fingers crossed!)

So, thanks to the thousands of you who have checked us out in the past year (82,000 hits and counting!)  We hope that you’ll continue to stop by in the year to come, if only to get your fix of intelligent, progressive, usually humorous commentary on issues that may or may not be important to you!  Furthermore, don’t forget to check out our new Twitter page for daily, less meaningful quips on the stories of the day.

Posted in USD Law | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

2010 US News Rankings – Top Colleges Edition!

Posted by demkid on August 19, 2009

In the spirit of this blog being one of the first to break the law school rankings earlier this year, I can do my best to follow suit with the less-thrilling college rankings, even though it’s only 6 hours before they’re officially released online.  Unlike the law rankings, it seems like the college rankings never have position changes of more than 1-2 spots from year to year.  Pretty boring.  Anyway, here’s the thread someone posted earlier this morning on a discussion site called College Confidential.  No big shockers, but I’m pleased to say that my alma mater, the University of California, once again comes in as the number 1 public university in the country.  Go Bears!  By the way, US News is totally biased against publics, and that’s why we’re always hovering around #21 overall with the sixth-best peer assessment score.  The Top 25:

1. Harvard
1. Princeton
3. Yale
4. Caltech
4. MIT
4. Stanford
4. UPenn
8. Columbia
8. Chicago
10. Duke
11. Dartmouth
12. Northwestern
12. Washu – StL
14. Hopkins
15. Cornell
16. Brown
17. Emory
17. Rice
17. Vanderbilt
20. Notre Dame
21. Berkeley
22. Carnegie Mellon
23. Georgetown
24. UCLA
24. UVA

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USD Law Jumps in 2010 US News Rankings

Posted by demkid on April 20, 2009

After some painful years living in the doldrums of the US News rankings, the University of San Diego School of Law has made the largest one-year jump in its history of being ranked.  USD rose from #82 to #61 on the newest list, which has just been leaked online.  This jump is also the largest of any school in the Top 100, and brings the School of Law back to within striking distance of the Top 50.  US News will post the official rankings on their website later this week. 

Also, for the first time, US News has separately ranked the 87 accredited law schools with part-time JD programs, and it’s more good news for USD.  The School of Law now officially has the 7th best part-time program in the country, and the best anywhere west of the Eastern Seaboard!  Finally, USD sneaks into the top 50 for school diversity, thanks in large part to all of my brilliant Asian classmates. 

So, all-in-all, great news (for a change!) when it comes to rankings.  I don’t know what the big jump can be attributed to, but I’m sure we’ll hear more about it in the week to come.  Since Dean Cole took the brunt of the criticism for the huge drop a couple of years ago, I think it’s only fair to thank him for getting our school back to a higher position than before that drop even happened.  So, from the Bright Coast, thanks, Dean Cole!  With any luck, we could be well into the 50’s a year from now.

Here are pics of the 2010 rankings, thanks to  Our San Diego counterparts are both in Tier 4.  Other big gains are Indiana-Bloomington (23rd from 36th), UNC (30th from 38th), Davis (35th from 44th), Lewis & Clark (61st from 73rd), Georgia State (65th from 77th), Penn State (65th from 77th), Louisiana State (75th from 88th), Denver (77th from 88th), and SUNY-Buff (85th from 100).  Significant drops are George Washington (28th from 20th), Boulder (45th from 32nd), Baylor (65th from 55th), Chicago-Kent (77th from 66th), Seton Hall (77th from 66th), and Indiana-Indy (87th from 68th).  Other CA schools are as follows: Stanford (3rd), Berkeley (6th), UCLA (15th), USC (18th), Davis (35th), Hastings (39th), Pepperdine (55th), Loyola (71st), Santa Clara (85th), and USF (98th – congrats on being back in the Top 100!). 

Specialty rankings and tiers 3 and 4 are here and here.  Looks like the three schools ranked 100 are also listed in Tier 3.  Huh??

Thanks to The Faculty Lounge for linking to us!

While you’re at it, be sure and check out the other brilliant things we have to say on our main page!

Posted in USD Law | Tagged: , , , | 43 Comments »