17 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 14, 2017
The U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Schools Rankings” define the market for legal education. Law schools compete to improve their standing in the rankings and fear any decline. But the U.S. News rankings incite contention, because they rely on factors that are poor proxies for quality like peer reputation and expenditures per student. While many alternative law school rankings exist, none have challenged the market dominance of the U.S. News rankings. Presumably the U.S. News rankings benefit from a first-mover advantage, other rankings fail to provide a clearly superior alternative, or some combination of the two.
This article assumes that the purpose of ranking law schools is to help students decide which school to attend. Accordingly, it describes an approach to ranking law schools based entirely on the revealed preferences of students. Law schools admit applicants based almost entirely on their LSAT score and undergraduate GPA, and compete to matriculate students with the highest possible scores. Our de gustibus approach to ranking law schools assumes that the “best” law schools are the most successful at matriculating those students. This article concludes with a “best law schools ranking” based exclusively on the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of matriculating students.
Keywords: Rankings, US News & World Report, Law Schools, Legal Education
JEL Classification: D11, K10, K40, I20, I23, I29, P46
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Ryan, Christopher J. and Frye, Brian L., A De Gustibus Approach to Ranking Law Schools (March 14, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2933274