How we ranked the 50 best law schools in America

Business Insider recently released its ranking of the top 50 law schools in America, with some surprisingly results: Yale and Harvard were dethroned as the de facto No. 1 and No. 2 schools, falling instead to No. 10 and No. 3, respectively. University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago took first and second on our ranking.

How did we arrive at a ranking that so sharply diverged from other popular law school rankings? For starters, we put very little stock in selectivity. We gave small consideration to having a high averate LSAT score but did not factor in acceptance rates. We also gave no weight for past reputation — we cared more about what school is showing the best results right now.

So instead, we based our ranking primarily on graduates’ success in the job market. Law school is expensive, and it’s currently a competitive, oversaturated industry with far worse job prospects than in years past. So we gave extra weight to schools that helped students secure well-paying and highly coveted positions: jobs at big law firms that pay well (those with over 251 employees) and federal clerkships, which are difficult to secure and frequently set up successful careers. We also gave significant credit to a school’s record for setting students up with full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage, and we docked points for schools with higher rates of students who were unemployed but still seeking work. Finally, we factored in the percentage of students that passed the bar on their first try and the cost of non-resident tuition.

All of our data comes from the American Bar Association and is primarily based on job results for the class of 2015.

Here’s the breakdown of how we weighted it:

  • 32% — Percentage of graduates securing a highly coveted position
  • 20% — Percentage of graduates securing full-time, long-term positions requiring bar passage
  • 20% — Percentage of graduates still seeking employment (negatively weighted)
  • 12% — Percentage of graduates who pass the bar on their first try
  • 8% — Cost of tuition for full-time, non-resident students
  • 8% — Median LSAT score for admitted students

Check out the full list of 50.

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