Is Faculty Impact a Good Measure for Rating Law Schools?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 14, 2019 10:15 AM

Albert Einstein was a brilliant physicist, but not a great physics professor.

He epitomized the common knowledge that researchers often do not make good teachers. That's why you can't really judge a law school by its faculty alone.

Research institutions deserve credit for their experts who publish rather than perish. But if you want to know where to get a good legal education, you have to look at other factors as well.

Law School Rankings

As the go-to source for law school rankings, U.S. News & World Report knows that. The magazine ranks law schools based on peer assessment, admission standards, acceptance rates, and other factors.

This year, law professors' scholarly contributions will not be one of them. Instead, U.S. News will publish a separate ranking for "scholarly impact."

The company is working with William S. Hein & Co. Inc., the world's largest distributor of legal periodicals. They will look at work by full-time and tenured faculty that has been published in the previous five years and available on HeinOnline, a database of more than 2,600 legal periodicals.

They will analyze each law school's scholarly impact based on factors such as "citations, publications and other bibliometric measures." This includes mean citations per faculty member, median citations per faculty member, and total number of publications.

Scholarly Impact

Using such indicators, U.S. News will create a scholarly impact ranking of law schools during the 2019 calendar year.

"Scholarly impact will not be a factor in the overall Best Law Schools rankings published by U.S. News in the late winter or early spring 2019," the company said.

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