A De Gustibus Approach to Ranking Law Schools

17 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017  

Christopher J. Ryan Jr.

Vanderbilt University, Peabody College - Higher Education Law & Policy

Brian L. Frye

University of Kentucky - College of Law

Date Written: March 14, 2017

Abstract

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

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

Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University, Peabody College - Higher Education Law & Policy ( email )

Nashville, TN
United States

Brian L. Frye

University of Kentucky - College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

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