AccessLex Institute Research

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date

11-2022

Keywords

law school rankings

Abstract

U.S. News & World Report rankings and tier groupings are often used as proxy measures of law school quality. But many of the factors that contribute to both law school outcomes and U.S. News rankings (e.g., undergraduate GPAs [UGPA], LSAT scores, admission rates) do not reflect the impact law schools have on student outcomes, such as bar passage and employment. We propose a method for measuring institutional quality that is based on a school’s ability to improve its graduates’ likelihood of first-time bar passage while controlling for those students’ preadmission characteristics. Using a value-added modeling technique, we first isolate each law school’s expected bar performance for the 2013–2018 bar takers given those cohorts’ entering characteristics and the school’s attrition and transfer patterns, then identify the degree to which this prediction overperforms or underperforms the school’s actual bar performance. Additionally, we utilize a bar pass differential rather than a school’s first-time bar pass rate, allowing us to account for variation between jurisdictions’ grading and cut scores. Finally, we provide a ranked list of law schools based on their added value for each entering cohort.

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