Enduring Hierarchies in American Legal Education
University of California, Irvine School of Law
Andrew P. Morriss
Texas A&M School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center; George Mason University - Mercatus Center
William D. Henderson
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Indiana Law Journal, Forthcoming
UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-141
Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 269
U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2343381
Although much attention has been paid to U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of U.S. law schools, the hierarchy it describes is a long-standing one rather than a recent innovation. In this Article, we show the presence of a consistent hierarchy of U.S. law schools from the 1930s to the present, provide a categorization of law schools for use in research on trends in legal education, and examine the impact of U.S. News’s introduction of a national, ordinal ranking on this established hierarchy. The Article examines the impact of such hierarchies for a range of decision-making in law school contexts, including the role of hierarchies in promotion, tenure, publication, and admissions, for employers in hiring, and for prospective law students in choosing a law school. This Article concludes with suggestions for ways the legal academy can move beyond existing hierarchies and at the same time address issues of pressing concern in the legal education sector. Finally, the Article provides a categorization of law schools across time that can serve as a basis for future empirical work on trends in legal education and scholarship.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 137Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 2, 2013 ; Last revised: November 26, 2014
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