Ranking Law Schools: Using Ssrn to Measure Scholarly Performance

57 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2005


There are several methods for ranking the scholarly performance of law faculties, including reputation surveys (U.S. News, Leiter); publication counts (Lindgren and Seltzer, Leiter); and citation counts (Eisenberg and Wells, Leiter). Each offers a useful but partial picture of faculty performance. We explore here whether the new "beta" SSRN-based measures (number of downloads and number of posted papers) can offer a different, also useful, albeit also partial, picture. Our modest claim is that SSRN-based measures can address some of the deficiencies in these other measures and thus play a valuable role in the rankings tapestry. For example, SSRN offers real-time data covering most American law schools and many foreign law schools, while citation and publication counts appear sporadically and cover a limited number of U.S. schools. The SSRN measures favor work with audiences across disciplines and across countries, while other measures are more law-centric and U.S.-centric. SSRN is relatively new and thus favors younger scholars and improving schools, while other measures favor more established scholars and schools. At the same time, the SSRN measures have important field and other biases, as well as gaming risks. We assess the correlations among the different measures, both on an aggregate and on a per-faculty-member basis. We find that all measures are strongly correlated; that total and per faculty measures are highly correlated; and that SSRN measures based on number of papers are highly correlated with measures based on number of downloads. Among major schools, all measures also correlate with school size.

For commentary on this article and the role of SSRN in law faculty rankings, see:

• Lawrence A. Cunningham, Commentary, Scholarly Profit Margins and the Legal Scholarship Network: Reflections on the Web, 81 IND. L.J. 271 (2006).

• Theodore Eisenberg, Commentary, Assessing the SSRN-Based Law School Rankings, 81 IND. L.J. 285 (2006).

Keywords: Law Schools, Legal Education, Rankings, Corporate, Tax

JEL Classification: K22, K34, K49

Suggested Citation

Black, Bernard S. and Caron, Paul L., Ranking Law Schools: Using Ssrn to Measure Scholarly Performance. Indiana Law Journal (Symposium on The Next Generation of Law School Rankings), Vol. 81, 2006, U of Texas law, Law and Econ Research Paper No. 52, U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 05-14, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=784764

Bernard S. Black

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-2784 (Phone)

Paul L. Caron (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
310.506.4266 (Phone)

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