And here are the top 14 law schools per US News & World Report:
|2013 Rank||School||2012 Rank|
|5||University of Chicago||5|
|6||New York University||6|
|7||University of Pennsylvania||7|
|7||University of Virginia||9|
|10||University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||7|
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.