Law School Held Back In U.S. News Rankings Just Because No One Thinks It’s Actually A Good Law School

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I don’t knowAfter George Mason University changed its law school’s name to ASS Law in an unintentionally hilarious cash grab, the school set out to become the go-to law school for Federalist Society trolls who couldn’t get into Georgetown because they got a 160 on the LSAT. A phenomenon that they will instead describe as “DEI.”

A solid public university law school before taking a burlap sack full of cash from wealthy right-wingers under questionable circumstances — also known as “pulling a Clarence” — ASS Law has managed the almost impossible task of lifting its U.S. News ranking all the way into the top 30 despite boasting a non-compliance notice from the ABA.

While the school should be celebrating this windfall, one professor isn’t happy:

Screenshot 2024-04-10 at 11.38.28 AM

Who doesn’t pick law schools based on how often its law professors get footnoted? The peer survey that Bernstein laments gives the school 2.7 out of 5 stars, which does indeed undersell ASS Law compared to the practitioner survey, but it’s not like the school is lighting it up on that score with a modest 3.2.

As I noted this morning:

Dear prospective law students: U.S. News rankings are not gospel, but the various professional reputation survey scores are FAR more valuable to your career than “have the professors ended up getting cited in more journals.”

Especially when a not-insignificant number of those precious scholarly citations find themselves at the end of the sentence “Some critics believe X about the law, but those people are willfully obtuse for the following reasons.”

Screenshot 2024-04-10 at 11.38.40 AM

None of us were thinking that.

If anything, cutting ties with the professor who admitted he slept with multiple 1Ls probably boosted ASS Law’s raw peer ranking because most folks probably assumed the school would elevate him to be a newly endowed “Brett Kavanaugh Professor of Law” or something.

Semafor editor Jordan Weissmann added:

According to Law School Transparency, GMU ranks 73rd for the no. of students who graduate with long-term, full-time legal jobs or clerkships. It’s 33rd for clerkships specifically, which seems like a problem for a school that plays up its connections to conservative judges.

Seventy. Third.

Perhaps this is why scholars and practitioners look askance at ASS Law’s reputation. For MOST people involved in legal education, a law school that can successfully graduate working lawyers trumps professors padding their C.V.s. This goes double when those bibliographies are littered with titles like:

  • “DC Injunctions Against The Federal Government Is Cringe, Amarillo Injunctions Against The Federal Government Is Totally Based”
  • “Sometimes [The Founders] Feel Like Everybody Is A Sexy Baby: The Defense of Dobbs
  • “You Know What? Screw It. I Haven’t Seen Joe Biden’s Long-From Birth Certificate Either (published at Volokh Conspiracy)”
  • “Corpus Linguistics Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Distill All Of History To An Off-Hand Remark In A 1768 Letter To The Editor”
  • “The Mount Vernon Outhouse Papers: The Originalist Case For Donald Trump And The Presidential Records Act (forthcoming)”

It’s not all bad news from Law School Transparency, which shows a steady improvement in employment scores and decline in underemployment. But when we’re talking about a top 30 school, 73rd is horrifyingly off the mark.

Bringing us back to the real problem with the USNWR methodology: how is this school so high in the first place?

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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