The 2013 Maclean’s Canadian Law School Rankings

From this week’s Professional Schools issue

The 2013 Maclean’s Canadian Law School Rankings

  1. Oh dear. Where to begin?

    1. Any ranking system whose metric places the University of New Brunswick above Osgoode, Western and UBC under “Elite Firm Hiring” in light of obvious public data to the contrary deserves any and all scepticism instils in its readers.

    2. Why are the Civil Law and Common Law schools separated under two ranking categories? No other law school ranking system in the world does this – they all evaluate Common Law and Civil Law schools under the same category, even when they are judging Canadian schools. Separating Common Law and Civil Law into two categories penalizes schools that teach both types of law (namely U of Ottawa and McGill) since some of the points that they earn under Common Law and Civil Law are divided under two separated headings and count towards different “competitions”, meaning their final score is not reflective of what they actually earned as a whole. Since students graduating from there have access to both Common Law and Civil Law markets, it would only make sense to provide a composite score that reflects that.

    3. “Faculty Hiring” as a category is bizarre, because it only looks to where professors have obtained their undergraduate (LL.B/JD) degree, not where they completed their graduate work (PhD or SJD) even though it is the latter that matters for the purpose of obtaining their professorship. Under the current metric, a professor who did an LL.B at Saskatchewan and graduate work at UBC would count as a “Saskatchewan” student, even though it was their graduate work at UBC that got them the job.

    4. “Faculty Quality” is important if you are a professor, but there is virtually no correlation between professor citations and students’ job prospects. Arguably, a metric produced for students would target their interests, namely, job prospects — and do so without the issues pointed out in 1-3.

  2. @Peter, I suspect that the “Elite Firm Hiring” ranking of UNB is a result of scaling for size. Osgoode certainly places more students in total, but perhaps it does not place as well proportionately.

  3. Following on from Peter, this list is basically a citation ranking with minor, likely incorrect adjustments. For example, look how Osgood only excels in 2 items, whereas McGill excels in 4.

    First, citations serve for 50% of the score.

    Second, when I replicate this table and weights, I get Toronto then mcGill then UBC the Osgood.

    Third, if you’re going to overweight to anything, why not elite firm hiring? That’s the measure of the quality of the graduates, the faith the market puts in them and indicator to potential students of where there prospects are the best (except in the case of those wishing to be professors or supreme court clerks).

    • You’re assuming that all, or at least the same proportion of students, at each school applies to the “Elite” firms. Assuming that the same proportion of students at a school known more for clerkships, and public interest practice, than for students interested in corporate practice, does not make any sense. Frankly, the metric used should be the proportion of applicants to hirees when it comes to measurements that rely on job data.

  4. Why do they measure “elite” law firm hires but not placement into public sector positions. Why don’t they measure preparing students for small town or rural practice (something that by all accounts is badly needed)? This aspect of the rankings seem highly biased and I’m sure the numbers would move considerably if we looked beyond Bay Street.

  5. Isn’t it a little unfair to base 50% of U de Moncton’s rating on its faculty citations? It’s hardly surprising that a common law school operating exclusively in french doesn’t get cited that often, and really doesn’t seem like a good indicator of its faculty’s quality.

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