Alfred Brophy has some interesting thoughts about the Hylton rankings at PropertyProf. Prof. Brophy likes citations to a school's main law review as a measure of prestige and cites the high correlation of US News peer rankings to that for the top 50 as a reason to think US News peer assessments are better than I gave them credit for yesterday.
I'm unpersuaded on two counts. First, I agree that there is "some validity" to the peer assessment scores - we can all agree that most of the schools in the top 20 in USN or the peer rankings, say, belong in the top 25 at least. But that's not saying that the numerical scores US News generates are valid for comparing schools within the top 20 (or anywhere else). That we could sort schools into reasonable tiers doesn't mean we can sort them into an ordered list within the tier. Both the peer assessment scores/US News and Hylton do exactly that.
Second, I don't think citations to a school's law review tells us anything about the quality of the school. The Arewa-Dau-Schmidt-Henderson-Morriss empirical analysis of legal scholarship I mentioned Monday will give us some numbers at some point in the next year or two on who is publishing where and what's getting cited, but I don't think citations to Harvard articles compared to Chicago articles tells me anything about Harvard vs. Chicago. Citations to Harvard articles vs. citations to University of South Dakota articles does tell me more about Harvard vs. South Dakota, but we're debating the relevance of ranking distinctions at the Harvard-Chicago (and SD-ND) level, not Harvard vs. South Dakota. (I don't mean to pick on South Dakota here.) Lots of the same people publish in Harvard and Chicago and the differences in citations will be more likely the result of noise than anything else. The "A-DS-H-M" conglomerate (which is going to have to develop a catchy "McNollgast" handle) should be able to test this once our dataset is completed. But I don't see any reason to think that citations to a school's law review are a sufficient proxy for faculty quality capable of supporting distinctions between Harvard and Chicago.