Two years ago, the ranking of law schools by publications such as U.S. News and World Report prompted 164 law school deans to write a letter — entitled “Law School Rankings May Be Hazardous to Your Health” — to thousands of law school applicants. The letter said that such rankings tend to focus on the “arbitrary weighting of numerical factors,” and ignore or downplay factors ranging from specialized faculty expertise and breadth of curriculum to international and interdisciplinary programs. “You are simply being misled if you treat some rankings … as even a competent and conscientious presentation of the limited information they purport to convey,” the letter said.

To shed light on the subject, The American Lawyer magazine did its own “Real World Ranking” of law schools in 1998. The magazine asked firms on the AmLaw 100 list where their first-year associates went to law school. These answers were then adjusted for school size to come up with an index number that reflected the proportion of a school’s graduates who went to one of these top firms. This index number was then used to rank the schools.

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