The 2012 Maclean’s Law School Rankings

From the Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue

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The 2012 Maclean’s Law School Rankings

  1. Why does the magazine only consider the top 5 US firms in its Elite Hiring ranking? Arguably every firm in the top 15 is more selective and/or ranks higher in global rankings than any Canadian firm.

    • “Arguably”….blah blah blah. Um. No. Take a look at the US legal climate, and the Canadian firm climate. Who is doing the hiring? Who still has an economy to stand on? Also, there are many areas of great importance, such as Mining Law, where almost ALL of the top firms in the world, are in Canada, and this is a further burgeoning area. Furthermore, many and most graduates naturally tend to want to stay in their home countries, and might only be drawn to foreign soil by the glint of a top 5 foreign firm.

      If you are going to say “arguably”, then you may want to actually present an argument.

      • Whoa, calm down there. Look at what Sanders says: “Arguably ever firm in the top 15 is more selective and/or ranks higher in global rankings . . .” I take it he is arguing that, in two respects, US firms in the top 15 best “ any Canadian firm,” and, implicitly, those are the criteria one should appeal to in ranking schools by firm placement. (And hence he begins by asking why Maclean restricts consideration to only top 5 US firms.) Your argument seems to call into question whether it makes any sense to consider firm placement in the US at all, but that’s not a question Sanders is putting on the table.

  2. National Reach is sort of bizarre. It’s very hard to understand what it means, but it looks like it is trying to address the degree to which graduates are concentrated in one place. So the schools that do best are the ones that are outside of major centres, so that they can some go to those major centres and some stay in-region. The schools that do worst are the ones that are really in major centres, especially when they’re the only major centre around. So in Quebec, if most of your graduates stay in the only major city in the province, you lose — you want them to fan out to the Chibougamaus of the world.

    “Elite” (actually: large) firm hiring is equally weird. Here the law schools that lose are the ones whose graduates go and work for the employer that advertises itself as the country’s largest law firm, DOJ. So the way you do well is by having your graduates article at large firms — no boutiques, guys — and encouraging them to delay going to government until a year or two down the road. I guess the idea is that this indicator is really easy to do by harvesting website info, so why not use it. Not sure convenience is a substitute for accuracy, though.

    And then there’s faculty journal citations, which are all sourced from a single, American, English-language database. So here what you want to avoid is having much faculty who publish in French, because that database doesn’t index most of the major French-language journals. Sorry, McGill — you might want to pull an Ottawa and segregate out your common and civil law programs so that all that Frenchety stuff doesn’t drag down your commmon law score.

    How do they fix it? First, drop national reach. It’s utterly silly. Second, fix elite firm hiring by adding more U.S. firms and, for the Canadian firms, replacing largest firms with firms with the best ratios of lawyers to ranked lawyers (Lexpert, Chambers, whatever). Third, improve faculty journal citations by working to find additional databases with complementary coverage, and base rankings on a blended score from among them.

    But, you know, Supreme Court Clerkships and Faculty Hiring seem like okay indicators as is. So that’s something.

  3. Dear Sir:

    Whomever thinks that a law school’s worth is based on 5 statistical irrelevancies deserves the law school they choose.

    Windsor law school, for example, pushes and promotes civil advocacy, not Bay Street, and deals heavily with the reality that 50% of lawyers do not practice law within 5 years; they are prepared to have extremely successful careers with the most flexible degree on the planet. I am sure this revered National Top 5 institution (on anyone else’s list) is not the only victim of this gross misuse of statistics.

    Osgoode is referred to as “Wasgoode” in the legal community, yet somehow they manage 2nd.

    Can someone please get these journalists to take a couple of basic statistical courses. Their lack of categories, choice of categories, and weighting of categories could be better executed by a chimpanzee on heroin.

  4. National Reach is absolutely no indicator of how “good” the law school is. For example, because University of Saskatchewan or University of Manitoba only has one law school in the province they seek local students from the province, or students with a strong connection to the province. This is a means of trying to keep graduates in-provinces as a method to meet the demand for young lawyers in a booming economy. Therefore students are often local and have absolutely no problems finding local work and have no desire to apply for jobs in other areas. Had it not been for this absurd “national reach” category great schools like University of Saskatchewan would have the better ranking it truly deserves.

  5. To summarize everyone’s comments; *ahem* Waaaaaaah!

  6. The methodology for this ranking is garbage.

    Elite Firm Hiring – it’s too geographically dependent (UNB is #2) and doesn’t value the many different career paths for lawyers outside of the largest firms, which many law students want to end up in.

    National Reach – many schools cater mostly to markets in and around their cities. This is an unnecessary category.

    Supreme Court Clerkships – why not count all clerkships? there are only 27 SCC clerks every year, while there are many more clerks at other courts. 10% of a school’s performance should not be based on the few outliers who make it as clerks on the SCC. It’s not a sufficiently representative measure of the school’s performance – adding more clerkships would make it more representative and thus useful for prospective law students.

    Faculty Journal Citations – why is 50% of the whole ranking devoted to this? this doesn’t assess the quality of the faculty’s work, just raw citations.

    why don’t they count how hard it is to get into each school (number of applicants vs. number of acceptances, gpa and lsat requirements?)

  7. What really matters is what you do with the degree…

  8. Honestly, it’s just an article. Get over it.

  9. Are you idiots going to continue to publish such garbage every year? Elite firm hiring? Why not do that right?

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