Ranking the Academic Impact of 100 American Law Schools
60 Jurimetrics 1 (Fall 2019)
39 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2019 Last revised: 4 Mar 2020
Date Written: December 4, 2019
U.S. News & World Report and rankings-minded scholars have constructed several measures of faculty impact at U.S. law schools, but each has been limited in a variety of ways. For instance, the U.S. News “peer assessment” rankings rely on the qualitative opinions of a small group of professors and administrators and largely mirror the overall rankings (correlations of 0.96 in 2016). While the scholarly rankings improve upon U.S. News by using the quantitative measure of citation counts, they have relied on the Westlaw database, which has notable limitations. Additionally, these rankings have failed to capture the component of scholarly impact on the broader legal community. We overcome these limitations by offering citation-based rankings using the more comprehensive Hein database and impact rankings based on Social Science Research Network (SSRN) download counts, as well as a combination of the two metrics. Notably, we find a high correlation with the previous scholarly rankings (about 0.88), but a significantly lower correlation with the U.S. News peer assessment rankings (about 0.63). Specifically, we find that many law schools in dense urban areas with large numbers of other law schools that are highly ranked in the U.S. News survey are underrated in the U.S. News peer assessment rankings relative to our faculty impact metrics. Given the relatively low correlation between our rankings and the U.S. News peer assessment rankings—and the fact the U.S. News peer assessment rankings largely track its overall rankings—we strongly support U.S. News’s plans to rank schools on the basis of citation counts and recommend that U.S. News adopt a quantitative-based metric as a faculty reputation component of its overall rankings.
Keywords: law school rankings, citations, bibliometrics, us news rankings, ssrn, HeinOnline
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation