They’re all hard to get in to. Which one will you get the most out of?
This is the second year that Maclean’s has ranked Canada’s law schools, and this year’s methodology follows the same approach as last year—with a few improvements. The goal remains the same: to objectively assess each school against recognized measures of faculty quality and graduate employment quality. Are a law school’s professors significant contributors to the intellectual life of their discipline? Do a law school’s graduates land the most sought-after jobs in government, the private sector and—new this year—academia?
The methodology behind the Maclean’s law school ranking was created in co-operation with professor Brian Leiter, the John P. Wilson Professor of Law and director of the Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago. Leiter is also America’s most prominent critic of that other, well-known law school ranking: the U.S. News and World Report ranking of American law schools. Leiter has long criticized U.S. News’s methodology as misguided and open to gaming. One of his blogs, at www.leiterrankings.com, features his own alternative rankings of law school quality, focusing on outcomes rather than inputs, and using data that cannot be manipulated by institutions. That’s why, in 2007, we asked Leiter to work with us to build a Canadian law school ranking based on his criticisms of and alternatives to the U.S. News approach. “My central motivation for undertaking this task,” says Leiter, “was to show that it’s actually possible to evaluate law schools in ways that are meaningful.”
All of the data used in the Maclean’s law rankings are publicly available. All focus on law school outputs. Fifty per cent of the overall ranking is determined by faculty quality, and 50 per cent by graduate quality. The four measures of graduate quality look at the success each law school has had producing graduates able to land the most competitive public and private sector jobs. The four indicators are:
Elite Firm Hiring: We calculated how many of each school’s graduates are serving as associates at law firms on Lexpert’s list of the largest firms in nine Canadian regions, or at one of the five leading New York firms, according to the employment website Vault. This was done by examining the online biographies of thousands of lawyers at dozens of law firms. To scale this measure to the size of each law school, the tally was divided by the size of each school’s first-year class, averaged over the past two years. This measure is worth 20 per cent.
National Reach: This indicator, based on the Elite Firm Hiring measure, is worth 10 per cent. It measures the proportion of each law school’s grads at leading firms who are working at firms other than the three that hired the most grads from this school. It’s a measure of the extent to which leading firms outside a school’s region hire its graduates.
Supreme Court Clerkships: A measure of how many of a school’s graduates have served as clerks at the Supreme Court of Canada—there are 27 clerks each year; it is one of the most competitive positions open to graduates. We looked at the last six years’ worth of clerks. As with the other measures of graduate quality, the tally was divided by each school’s average first-year enrolment.
Faculty Hiring: This new indicator is worth 10 per cent. It looks at how many of a school’s graduates are professors at Canadian law schools, with extra weight given to grads hired by faculties other than their alma mater.
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