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U. of Mich. Law Produces Most Influential Federal Judges

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on April 06, 2016 4:13 PM

It looks like the University of Michigan Law School produces the most influential federal judges -- by a large percentage. A recent study conducted by the legal analytics firm Ravel Law shows that the graduates of the law school wrote more opinions and were cited more times than any other law school in the nation.

Even the co-founder of the company who conducted the study said it was "a bit of a surprise."

Breaking the Stereotype

Daniel Lewis, co-founder of Ravel Law quipped that the expected stereotyped winners of the study would be Harvard, Yale, and Stanford since these schools are generally thought of as the schools that produce the clerks who eventually fill judges' seats. He, like everyone else, had no idea what the experiment would reveal.

Who Gets Sampled?

The company looked at written opinions of federal judges over the past 80 years as well as the number of times a judge's opinion was cited. In order to filter out the results a bit, only judges who'd authored ten or more opinions were included in the study. Additionally, law schools had to have had at least ten alumni either currently on the bench or who had sat on a federal bench before.

Number crunching and ranking was based on the Hirsch Index method, the same technique used to determine how influential a scientist is based on his publications.

The Results

Scores are non-dimensional and do not correspond to units, but they are linear.

  • University of Michigan Law: 41.43
  • University of Chicago Law School: 35.47
  • Yale Law: 29.29
  • Harvard Law: 27.87

Notice how University of Michigan's score is nearly double that of Harvard's. This goes to show how prejudices can obscure reality in very insidious and unexpected ways concerning law school rankings.

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