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Law schools tend to have a limited reach. If you didn't attend a top ranked school, say anything between Yale and Georgetown, your school's reputation is often limited to the immediate geographic area. Cardozo may be a great law school, but not many Angelenos will know that.
So it can be nice to hear that your small school is actually, literally, underrated. Bloomberg Businessweek is here to give a small handful of indebted grads the warm and fuzzies, having just released its list of the 10 most underrated law schools. Who made the cut? Which law schools are the tops when it comes to being underrated?
The list is based off the research of Alfred Brophy, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, who specializes in, among other topics, Cemetery Law (Really? Yes, really.) Brophy looked at only three metrics in evaluating a law school: employment outcomes, median LSAT score, and citations to the school's law review. These three factors, Brophy tells Bloomberg, demonstrate how well a law school prepares its students.
We're skeptical. First, a law school has no impact their students' LSAT scores. None. It might be a measure of a school's selectivity, but that number says nothing about how it prepares students once they've enrolled. Second, there's that law review thing. Law reviews are typically managed by only a handful of students and their content comes largely from law professors from other schools. They don't say much about the school itself and, outside of the academic ouroboros, law reviews are pretty irrelevant to the profession. It's hard to see how a widely cited law review demonstrates that students are well prepared for practice.
But we digress.
And the Most Underrated Law Schools Are ...
Bloomberg determined the most underrated schools by comparing law schools' rankings by U.S. News and World Report with Brophy's. The larger the gap between the two, the higher the school ranked on the underrated ranking. Here are the results:
1. Campbell University: Brophy rank: 112; U.S. News rank: none
2. Drexel University: Brophy rank: 87; U.S. News rank: 127
3. University of Montana: Brophy rank: 73; U.S News rank: 113
4. Mercer University: Brophy rank: 81; U.S. News rank: 118
5. University of South Dakota: Brophy rank: 111; U.S. News rank: 145
6. Albany Law School: Brophy rank: 108; U.S. News rank: 138
7. University of Idaho: Brophy rank: 98; U.S. News rank: 127
8. Louisiana State University: Brophy rank: 65; U.S. News rank: 94
9. Northing Illinois University: Brophy rank: 125; U.S News rank: none
10. Villanova University: Brophy rank: 61; U.S. News rank: 87
Don't mistake underrated for affordable, however. It still costs over $66,000 a year to attend Campbell -- $38,600 in tuition, $27,000 plus in associated costs. If you want a deal, you'll have to stick with a school that doesn't leave grads six figures in debt.