Super lawyers, super schools?

November 17, 2009
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Move over U.S. News and World Report law school rankings, there’s a new list in town, and it’s from the same people who pick Super Lawyers.

According to Super Lawyers magazine, the University of Notre Dame Law School ranks 43; right behind is Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis at 44; Indiana University Maurer School of Law at 59; and Valparaiso University School of Law at 151.

How did Super Lawyers come up with the top 180 law schools in the country? By taking a look at professional excellence, i.e. the number of “Super Lawyers” graduates by school as opposed to measures of facilities or faculty. The rankings are based on the number of “top attorneys” they pick and what schools those “top attorneys” come from.

If you click on a school’s link, it shows you the “Super Lawyers” who when to that school. Notre Dame has 617; lU – Indy has 567; Maurer School of Law has 552; and Valpo has 139.

That’s it. There are no other reasons listed as to why Notre Dame is a better school than IU – Indy or why Harvard is the best beyond the fact it has 3,568 “Super Lawyers.”

Excuse me if I come across suspicious of this new form of ranking, but when it seems more than just the “top 5 percent” of attorneys are touting that they are “Super Lawyers,” I don’t know how credible the list can be. Add that there’s no other criteria listed to explain the rankings, and it’s just one big advertisement for Super Lawyers. At least the U.S. News and World Report rankings looked at faculty, research, student ratios, and other factors.

“We reward schools that produce the greatest number of outstanding attorneys, period,” says the publication’s Web site about the methodology of these rankings.

Apparently outstanding attorneys are only measured by the “Super Lawyer” recognition.

How much clout can this list carry with future and current law students? Is this going to be something law schools tout to prospective students, or try to sweep under the rug (especially if they didn’t have too many “Super Lawyers” from their school)?
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