US News 2013 Law School Rankings

And here are the top 14 law schools per US News & World Report:

2013 Rank School 2012 Rank
1 Yale 1
2 Stanford 3
3 Harvard 2
4 Columbia 4
5 University of Chicago 5
6 New York University 6
7 UC Berkeley 9
7 University of Pennsylvania 7
7 University of Virginia 9
10 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 7
11 Duke University 11
12 Northwestern University 12
13 Georgetown University 14
14 Cornell University 13

Yes, Harvard was demoted to #3. Yes, Michigan moved down 3 notches and Berkeley moved up two, but really the top tier remained very consistent. Larger jumps and changes occurred outside the top schools, as is typical of the rankings.

And how “reliable” are these rankings? Well first you need to understand what US News is evaluating. You can find that information by reviewing its methodology. It’s fairly reliable IF what you value in a law school matches what US News has decided to measure. If they don’t match, the validity of the rankings for you declines sharply.

There are other shortcomings too – potential for manipulation and fraud, survey respondents being uninformed or biased. US News is aware of these shortcomings and when Bob Morse announced the publication date for this year’s rankings, he added a caveat:

It’s important that you use the rankings to supplement—not substitute—careful thought and your own inquiries. The rankings should only be used as one tool to help you choose the right graduate school or program, not as the only factor driving your choice.

Keep all these shortcomings in mind before you rely too much on the rankings. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


  • Ronnie William

    I disagree with regarding adopting a “CORE” unemployment rate as the new comparable rate. Although I agree that using just the USNEWS top line employment rate counts too many positions that should not be counted (part-time Starbucks employees, school funded, etc.), only counting FT “bar passage” positions goes in the complete opposite direction and will undercount positions that should be counted. Here are some recent graduates from KU Law who would not be counted in the CORE rate: a student employed in a JD preferred position at the World Bank, a student with a permanent job offer from a big firm who is taking an LL.M. at NYU, and a student doing athletics compliance at a D-1 school. All three of these students were thrilled to find these opportunities.
    It’s as useful to use the proposed “CORE” rate as it is to use the top-line employment numbers. Both give a distorted picture of the employment situation and will confuse more than clarify.
    Ask for Law Education

    • Linda Abraham

      Thanks for your thoughtful post. What rate or measure of employment or professional success would you propose?