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« NBC's "The Apprentice" | Main | Tyco mistrial »

April 01, 2004



And the law school I am going to in August fell like 20 spaces to about #100. You know what I say? So what? I may not be getting a call from Clarence Thomas to clerk for him, but down the road, the school I went to isn't going to determine my career, my efforts are. If someone wants to hire a Havard failure over a {I am not saying until I start, lest they read my views and change their minds!) success, then there wil be nothing I can do about it.

Case in point: I know 3 people my age who graduated law school: 1 went to Temple, works for some firm, makes a nice living. 1 went to Widener, which is always at the bottom of these rankings, and he is a hard-core corporate attorney in Delaware, raking in the cash. The 3rd guy is a Penn graduate. He is trolling the traffic courts for cases.

If these rankings were the be all-end all, then they should just close up shop in about 140 law schools. These rankings are a waste.


Oh, and let me add this professor. You know where I am going, I told you in a personal e-mail. For me, I am hapy because my newborn's grandparents are here, and the entering class last year had only 110 students. While USNWR sees where I am going as "only" bottom second-tier, I see a small class as a huge advantage for me, since 1L is divided into 3 sections, I will have only 30 people in my classes, as opposed to over 100 in each class at some other places. To me, being a somebody at this school rather than a nobody at some top 40 school is much more desirable.

The only thing these rankings do is onstill a sense of inferiority to those not going to Yale, Harvard, NYU, etc, which is, I think, the ranking's purpose.

Tung Yin

Brian, there is a lot to what you say. I was quite happy to go to Berkeley because I liked the Bay Area, I had an inexpensive education (I still can't believe how expensive law school has become), and I got to know some terrific professors well. It sounds like you'll have that opportunity, and the desire to be close to your parents for your newborn can't be underestimated.


Not to mention the tuition is under 7K a year. Not to brag, but I am going to leave law school with zero debt!! How many self-sufficient adults whose parents don't have much money can say that? With no debt, I don't have to take a corporate job where I have to account for every 6 minutes, like my friend (who went to Temple), who needs to pay back $88,000 in debt!!!

About 20 minutes ago, I was in a forum that someone set up for this year's accepted 1L's. One of the posts concerned someone choosing between my school, the U of Kansas, (40 spots or so higher than us) and Syracuse (lower ranking, 3rd-tier, undefined). All he worried about was the latest rankings. He is from this city, and I kind of felt sorry for him, feeling that he needs to base his decision on that.

In sum, Professor, I wonder how many people there are like me, perfectly happy with going to a low 2nd tier law school, with the perfect family and financial situation. (I also got accepted to U of Kansas and Arizona State, which are about 40 and 50 spots respectively, higher)

Contrast that with how many people are leaving their homes, families, taking on crushing debt, and moving far away over one thing: An arbitrary ranking in the USNWR. I am quite sure there are 10 of these people minimum, for every 1 of me.

Berkeley, Professor? Wow. Are you upset, like a few bloggers I read tonight, about their drop to #13? There is the perfect example of the idiocy of the rankings. Berkeley is Berkeley, nothing can change that. Nothing.


The rankings aren't "arbitrary," even if they might be oft abused.

You might disagree with their choice of evaluative points, and you certainly might balk at those obsessed over minor differences (like a three-position drop or a five-position gain), but to suggest that they are just conjured forth out of thin air is to ignore that they do reflect underlying data. There is a real difference between the #1 school and the #100 school. Although that difference may not be important to a particular student deciding where to go, the rankings, taken as generalities, do reflect actual information.


I'm an alum of the school that's been at #5 for a number of years and that our former dean liked to refer to as "one of the four or five school that could justifiably claim to be #1." And, yeah, rankings made a difference in where I applied. Are there Penn graduates trolling the traffic courts in some places while University of Memphis grads make the big money and have the respect? Absolutely. But getting in the door at these places is (at least in part) a function of your law schools rank.

Yes, there are great and underappreciated scholars that teach at non-first tier law schools. Yes, you'll get a damn fine legal education at just about any law school (and maybe you'll get a more PRACTICAL one at a lower-ranked one), but getting in the door, yeah, that name matters.

And yes, debt, especially at top-tier law schools, is monstrous. I nearly opted for a lower-ranked school (though still top 10) where my tuition would have been lower, but decided that the extra debt was "worth it" in terms of the doors that would be opened. Fortunately, my debt got taken care of by an external event, but if I'd had the debt, it could have easily caused problems.

Tung Yin

I think I'm somewhere in between Brian on the one hand and Craig and Matt on the other. The rankings -- though I should be clear here to mean rough rankings (i.e., top 5 or top 10 or top 25, as opposed to #14 or whatever) -- are a factor to consider, but there are other factors as well. Different people have different goals, and therefore different circumstances, and what's appropriate for one person may not be the best for another.


From the admissions research I've seen, the US News rankings are important to a very tiny minority of applicants--although the number is higher for grad schools than for the undergraduates. The two most important factors that students consider when selecting a college are cost and, like real estate, location, location, location. Other factors, too, played a larger role than the USN rankings--things like academics (do they have a program I want to major in?) and campus culture (are people friendly? are there things to do besides study?). Granted, it's been a few years since I've last seen any of this research, but I can't imagine it's changed too drastically in that time. A good USN ranking is actually much more helpful in two areas besides student recruiting--building morale among faculty, staff and students ("we're up to number 6 in the US News rankings! Woo hoo! We rock!"), and development ("we're up to number 6 in the US News rankings! Woo hoo! We Rock! And if every donor were to increase their gift to the annual fund by $10, we could move up to number 5!").


I am an alum of boalt, actually from tung's year. It is clear that Boalt needs adult supervision and pronto. Bad enough that Herma Hill Kay nearly bankrupted the school - she was dean all three years, i said hi to her in the hallways, and she never even said hello back - how the hell does an autistic person get to be a dean?

Well, I guess Dean's term ended prematurely and they appoint Dwyer, a clearly reckless homegrown fellow with open political aspirations - not too surprisingly, he crashed and burned in what seemed to me to be a near rape, which was then of course used politically by the racial and gender therapeutic arm of the faculty (swift, schultz, et al). Having gotten rid of dwyer, the left was now in control and got this fellow edley appointed.

he and his wife are clinton era staffers, he of the extremely critical race era and her of the clearly unqualified nature.

neither have any connections to money in california, neither are interested in raising money for boalt, and both are interested in making political hay.

You want a better ranking for Boalt, bring in a real dean in the mold of jesse choper or kadish, who concentrated on one thing and one thing only, making boalt the most academically rigorous place it could be without making political/diversity statements.

I know that I will never give a penny to boalt so long as it is run as a political laboratory of the left or the right. ANd i have a feeling running it as a leftist lab will kill its rankings quicker as the more bona fide technical areas of the law, such as tax, IP (although somehow boalt manages to hold on here), corporate, and to some degree litigation are left in the dust in favor of using the law school to fashion political careers and agendas.

I dunno, but if i was dean of boalt, i would care about one thing, boalt. Its rankings on the USNWR survey would be posted on my front door a la elliot ness, and i would make it a priority to move the ranking up to at least 8 by raising money in every way possible and increasing the amount of hard coursework so that people know boalt as a place with great resources and asscracking coursework.


WOW Jannol. That was some strong stuff. I am sure you and the good Professor care very much about Boalt, and wish it to be what it should be.

I look at Berkeley and I say, "too liberal for me." (I guess that's why I've sent a few Paypal donations to the California Patriot after reading a blurb about them in Time or US News at my barbershop, I forget which) But, when I think of Berkeley, I also thing, "damn, what a terrific university in almost all respects. I would be happy if my daughter went there when she grows up."

I felt your passion for your old school in your post. I hope I feel the same about my alma mater long after I graduate in 2007.

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