U.S. News Releases Long-Delayed Law School Rankings, With Some Major Shifts

Months-long boycott by leading schools brought about a marked change in methodology in 2023-2024 list

After announcing an indefinite postponement of its hotly awaited law school rankings in April, U.S. News dropped the results last week with a list featuring numerous surprises and major shifts.

As usual, the closely watched Top 14 features a number of ties. However, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Duke, and Northwestern all made notable gains, while Columbia slid four spots down the list.

1. Stanford University (+1)
1. Yale University (0)
3. University of Chicago (0)
4. University of Pennsylvania (Carey) (+2)
5. Harvard University (-1)
5. New York University (+2)
5. Duke University (+6)
8. Columbia University (-4)
8. University of Virginia (0)
10. University of California, Berkeley (-1)
10. Northwestern University (Pritzker) (+3)
10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (0)
13. Cornell University (-1)
14. University of California–Los Angeles (+1)

Following earlier criticism that the rankings overly prioritized prestige and reputation, the closely watched annual list now places a heavier focus on employability.

“Nearly 60% of the rankings methodology evaluated institutions on their successful placement of graduates,” the U.S. News explained in an article accompanying the release.

Employment 10 months post-graduation now accounts for 33% of a school’s ranking score (up from 14% previously), while the value of peer assessment–opinions from lawyers, judges, and law school faculty on overall program quality–was slashed from 40% to 25%.

The importance on test scores has also been inverted. Previously, the LSAT scores of entering cohorts accounted for more than 11% of a law school’s ranking. Now, greater emphasis is placed instead on the bar exam pass rate of graduates.

First-time bar passage now accounts for 18% of a law school’s ranking score (previously 3%), and a new ranking metric–ultimate bar passage, for students who pass on a later try, within two years of graduation–was introduced.

For the complete ranking list, as well as ranking by specialization, visit the U.S. News website.

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