US News World Report Law schools
The U.S. News rankings of 196 law schools fully accredited by the American Bar Association are based on a weighted average of the 12 measures of quality described below. Data were collected in fall 2015 and early 2016.
Specialty rankings are based solely on nominations by legal educators at peer institutions.
Quality assessment (weighted by 0.40)
• Peer assessment score (0.25): In fall 2015, law school deans, deans of academic affairs, chairs of faculty appointments and the most recently tenured faculty members were asked to rate programs on a scale from marginal (1) to outstanding (5). Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know."
A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed responded.
• Assessment score by lawyers and judges (0.15): In fall 2015, as in previous years, legal professionals, including the hiring partners of law firms, practicing attorneys and judges, were asked to rate programs on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know." Names of those surveyed were provided to U.S. News by the law schools themselves.
A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it in the three most recent years of survey results. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school.
Assessment data were collected by Ipsos Public Affairs.
Selectivity (weighted by 0.25)
• Median LSAT scores (0.125): These are the combined median scores on the Law School Admission Test of all 2015 full-time and part-time entrants to the J.D. program.
• Median undergraduate GPA (0.10): This is the combined median undergraduate grade-point average of all the 2015 full-time and part-time entrants to the J.D. program.
• Acceptance rate (0.025): This is the combined proportion of applicants to both the full-time and part-time J.D. program who were accepted for the 2015 entering class.
Placement success (weighted by 0.20)
Success is determined by calculating employment rates for 2014 grads at graduation (0.04 weight) and 10 months after (0.14 weight), as well as the bar passage rate, explained below.
In recent years, enhanced American Bar Association reporting rules have led to a great deal more information becoming available from law schools about the many types of positions law students take after they graduate. Each year, the schools are required to report to the ABA how many of their most recent grads had various types of jobs lined up after graduation. For the class of 2014, the ABA increased the time frame to measure post-graduation employment to 10 months from nine months, which had been the previous long-standing ABA standard.
The ABA standards require the law schools to go into a great deal of detail by reporting 56 different job types, as well as employment status and duration. That includes, for example, whether each graduate's employment was long term – defined as lasting at least a year – or short term; was full time or part time; and whether it required passage of a bar exam.
U.S. News collected these same statistics when we surveyed the schools for our annual rankings, and we gathered the same data on members of the class who were employed at graduation. U.S. News also collected data on students' jobs when the law school was unable to determine length of employment or full- or part-time status, as well as when employment status was unknown.
U.S. News has incorporated this rich data into our computation of the employment measure for the class of 2014 at graduation and 10 months later. Placement success was calculated by assigning various weights to the number of grads employed in 43 of these different types of post-J.D. jobs, employment statuses and durations.