Grand prize winners of the 2015 U.S. News law school rankings

Sound the victory music! Three grand prize winning schools have been selected! What do they win? Honor, prestige, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

How did we make our selections? It was simple. We chose the three schools with the largest ranking increases within the top tier of law schools. Behold, the grand prize winners:

William and Mary University (+9 spots)

Brigham Young University (+8 spots)

University of Illinois (+7 spot)

You may be wondering, “what factors go into the U.S. News law school rankings?” Fantastic question! The rankings are based on quality assessment (40%), selectivity (25%), employment statistics (18%), school resources (15%), and bar passage rates (2%). (1)

The rankings are not perfect. I think they should increase the weight of employment statistics. But still, they are a nice law school measuring stick and some employers do use them in interviewing and in hiring decisions.

William and Mary University

Moving from the 33rd ranked law school to the 24th, William and Mary increased a fantastic 9 spots. This is the best they’ve been ranked in the last 6 years. One neat distinction that they will never lose is that they are the oldest law school in the US having been established in 1779. (2) Congratulations are in order for William & Mary as they now hold the distinction of having the largest ranking increase within the top tier!

Brigham Young University

Already known as one of the best deals in legal education (3), Brigham Young University has risen 8 places and is in a 4-way tie for the 36th spot. In stark contrast with William & Mary, BYU’s law school is relatively young having been established in 1973. It is impressive to see how well the law school has done in such a short time frame.

University of Illinois

It is interesting to see how highly ranked the University of Illinois once was. 2011 saw them ranked as the 21st law school in the nation. 2014 saw them ranked as the 47th. They now are on the rise occupying the 40th spot. I think they are an undervalued law school with strong employment numbers. My guess is that they will continue their climb up the rankings.