Academic stature is the characteristic that is most important in evaluating law schools, according to the polled opinions of Brian Leiter's Law School Reports blog readership. Here are the top five factors:
- Scholarly distinction/quality of the faculty
- Students numerical credentials (LSAT, GPA)
- Emphasis on legal doctrine & analytical skills
- Emphasis on legal research & writing skills
- Small class sizes
What this tells us is that readers of Leiter's blog are, as he himself says, kind of an academic bunch. That explains why "percentage of graduates employed in legal profession" and "quality of career services office" ranked 13th and 14th, respectively. Honestly, that is somewhat surprising. I see how academics might not value employability as much as a typical law school student or aspirant, but shouldn't they at least think it more important than the US News rankings in assessing a school's value? Graduate employability comes in just above "curriculum emphasizing public service & pro-bono" and two spots below "modern & technologically equipped facilities." That's just wrong.
When Vault asked law school students and alumni what influenced their decision to attend their chosen school, we found, as you probably guessed, that "employment prospects" was the most cited factor, chosen by every applicant.
What influenced your decision to attend your school?
The questions may not be the same, however, the results are useful in pointing out the fact that students tend to choose law schools based mostly on location and employability, and, to a lesser extent, prestige, while the teachers seem to have little respect for the employability of their students as a factor in assessing a law school's overall quality. Don't you think the divergent motivations of the professors and students characterizes a lot of the problems people have with graduate school programs these days?
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