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25 September 2006

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Was that a cynical exploitation of the self-reflecivity of legal scholarship, or noble gesture towards meeting market demand for talk of rankings? You decide.

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Invited to discuss ranking methodologies, I opted to create my own ranking.

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Was that a cynical exploitation of the self-reflecivity of legal scholarship, or noble gesture towards meeting market demand for talk of rankings? You decide.

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“The Next Generation of Law School Rankings” organized by Paul Caron and Rafael Gely of Cincinnati and ELS blog’s own Bill Henderson and Jeff Stake of Indiana. Invited to discuss ranking methodologies, I opted to create my own ranking.

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Also, it is hard to quantify the impact of ELS as a movement and know whether schools took AALS (who had their annual meeting on the topic) up on their explicit suggestion that ELS is worthwhile, without knowing if scholars at the other 150+ law schools do ELS-type work.

Anono

If not, congratulations, you are far healthier than most of your colleagues.

An accurate assessment, but prepare to face the wrath of Brian Leiter!

Tracey George

Frank Cross writes: "I don't think you should punish people (i.e., me) for publishing empirical work in law reviews."

Frank expresses a view held by many others that the original empirical research measure in the ELS ranking was flawed. I've changed this measure dramatically (as will be explained in more detail on Thursday), but shortcomings remain. Please return on Thursday for more discussion on this point.

Corey

Yeah, that article was part of a whole 400 page Indiana Law Journal issue on law rankings last year. Significantly increasing our exposure and almost assuredly our "most cited journal" ranking. Was that a cynical exploitation of the self-reflecivity of legal scholarship, or noble gesture towards meeting market demand for talk of rankings? You decide.

Articles Editor, Indiana Law Journal

Gordon Smith

Jason: "Could a lower ranked school gain a national reputation by focusing on ELS? Like Vermont, Pace, and Lewis & Clark have gained a national reputation in environmental law."

No. Two reasons: (1) ELS is hot, and young scholars doing good work would be snapped up by bigger schools before their home institution has a chance to build a critical mass and a reputation for ELS; and (2) ELS is too diverse to cohere as a specialty.

frank cross

I don't think you should punish people (i.e., me) for publishing empirical work in law reviews. Maybe you could count top twenty publications in the score?

Jason Czarnezki

Due to the costs of collecting even more data, most rankings other than U.S. News focus on the Top 40-50 Law Schools. However, I think we may lose inmportant information as a result. If you want to incentivize ELS, you need to give lower ranked schools credit if they invest in it. Also, it is hard to quantify the impact of ELS as a movement and know whether schools took AALS (who had their annual meeting on the topic) up on their explicit suggestion that ELS is worthwhile, without knowing if scholars at the other 150+ law schools do ELS-type work. Could a lower ranked school gain a national reputation by focusing on ELS? Like Vermont, Pace, and Lewis & Clark have gained a national reputation in environmental law. Having empirical scholars may be too costly for this to occur (hiring stats knowledge faculty or JD/PhDs, costs of continual traning like ICPSR or ELS Wksp, stats software costs, etc.), but I wish I had a better sense outside the Top 50 of who was doing high-quality empirical work. Among the Top 50, the major players seem fairly obvious due to conference affliations, etc. Also, if the costs of ELS are high, it would seem to me that there might be a correlation between ELS rankings and U&S News Rankings or endowment. Is this true?

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