Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

How Do Rankings Work?

My friend is deciding between Loyola in Chicago and Chicago- cheesecakes77702/26/18
Loyola's law degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on. isthisit02/26/18
In general, yeah, more or less. But in terms of the Chicago rubbersoul1402/26/18
What about their tier rankings? cheesecakes77702/26/18
The first thing to understand with law school rankings is th malletofmalice02/26/18
tier rankings are a made-up concept to sell overpriced law s wolfman02/26/18
Makes sense. Is there any scenario where it’s a good idea cheesecakes77702/26/18
Did he get a full-tuition scholarship? purrito02/26/18
plus cost of living dingbat03/01/18
I think he got like 85% of tuition covered by his scholarshi cheesecakes77702/26/18
Kent is at 92 and Loyola is at 82. There is no meaningfu onehell02/26/18
"At Kent, the 75th percentile salary is 83k, and at Loyola, wutwutwut02/26/18
At 100k debt, it is at least somewhat justifiable even if yo onehell02/26/18
Are there stipulations to the scholarship? (i.e. must be in purrito02/26/18
This is a great question, but to add to it. Does your frien lilgub02/27/18
I went to UIUC and while not in Chicago, I was able to get o khazaddum02/26/18
What's your friend's LSAT/UGPA? I had a 3.82/164 and got in purrito02/26/18
Here are the scenarios where going to either school is a goo pisces21302/26/18
I've got a friend whose dad is a judge who nonetheless ended onehell02/27/18
Any prestigious employer will have anti-nepotism laws. I dingbat03/01/18
"I went to law school with the daughter of the named partner dogdaypm03/01/18
Some firms strictly prohibit relatives from working at the s dingbat03/02/18
Well I know at least one large southern firm where a partner triplesix03/02/18
Obviously I was generalizing, but I was also focusing mostly pisces21303/02/18

cheesecakes777 (Feb 26, 2018 - 2:34 pm)

My friend is deciding between Loyola in Chicago and Chicago-Kent.

In what tier would they be ranked? Tier 2? Tier 3? I want to show him what the general consensus is for these schools.

Thanks for your help!

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isthisit (Feb 26, 2018 - 2:49 pm)

Loyola's law degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Chicago-Kent's law degree is only good for making expensive paper airplanes.

This holds true for the majority of students at both schools, especially Chicago-Kent.

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rubbersoul14 (Feb 26, 2018 - 2:59 pm)

In general, yeah, more or less. But in terms of the Chicago legal market, Loyola/Kent/Depaul are all pretty much identical.

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cheesecakes777 (Feb 26, 2018 - 3:06 pm)

What about their tier rankings?

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malletofmalice (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:16 pm)

The first thing to understand with law school rankings is that rankings become increasingly more meaningless as you go down the chain.

To illustrate, the difference between rank 3 (Harvard) and rank 4 (Columbia) is greater than the difference between rank 50 and rank 100.

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wolfman (Feb 26, 2018 - 3:31 pm)

tier rankings are a made-up concept to sell overpriced law school seats

the top 14 (I would argue top 6) schools in the US (going by US News and World Report yearly rankings, also known as USNWR) are really good/give you good exit opportunities

there are some really terrible for-profit and bottom-dwelling schools (unranked, mostly)

everyone else is in the same boat and small differences largely depend on the local market and local reputation

technically, USNWR rankings 1-50 are tier 1, 50-100 tier 2, over 100 tier 3 or unranked (do they still publish rankings above 100? this has changed over the years and means nothing... there used to be a tier 4)

it has about as much relevance as my saying I am a tier 1 person because my username is all letters and you are a tier 3 because you have 3 numbers in yours... look at the tier 3 guy with his 3 numbers hahahaha lol he better pay me for a better username... meaningless drivel to sell you/your friend stuff

law school admission officers are worse than used car salesmen btw

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cheesecakes777 (Feb 26, 2018 - 3:46 pm)

Makes sense. Is there any scenario where it’s a good idea to go to Loyola or Kent?

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purrito (Feb 26, 2018 - 3:51 pm)

Did he get a full-tuition scholarship?

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dingbat (Mar 1, 2018 - 3:24 pm)

plus cost of living

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cheesecakes777 (Feb 26, 2018 - 3:57 pm)

I think he got like 85% of tuition covered by his scholarship. But don’t know for sure.

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onehell (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:15 pm)

Kent is at 92 and Loyola is at 82.

There is no meaningful difference between schools ranked this closely together and since both are in the same market, geography is likewise irrelevant.

FWIW, under the "old" ranking system they would have both been considered "tier 2," but USNWR no longer uses tiers and just ranks the top 100.

In any case, you're better off looking at lawschooltransparency.com's "employment score" which is the percentage of grads in full-time, non-school-funded, bar-passage-required jobs which are not solo practice.

Both Kent and Loyola's number is about 56%. Think about that. Barely more than half the graduates secure any sort of real job that really puts their JD to use. And even that tells you nothing about whether that job (or future ones it might lead to) pay enough to justify the investment, which you can also see on lawschooltransparency. At Loyola, a student paying full price 100% with loans would graduate, with interest and living costs, about 275k in debt. At Kent, it's a little less but still about 250k.

finaid.org says you need a starting salary of ideally 100%, but at least 50%, of your total debt to justify cost. So for either school to even remotely make sense, you need a job that pays at least 125-130k out of the gate.

At Kent, the 75th percentile salary is 83k, and at Loyola, it's 110k. Remember, 75% of grads make less than this, usually a lot less, with most non-biglaw entry level positions paying somewhere in the 40-60k range.

So the conclusion is inescapable. These schools are impossible to justify at full price. At a minimum, you'd need a 50% scholarship and some ability to reduce your estimated living expenses by at least the same 50% below the school's estimates, and even then it's a risky bet.

Bottom line: Both USNWR and LST agree: There is little meaningful difference in these two schools. Go, if at all, to whichever is cheaper. But with those employment scores he should know that even if he does have a huge scholarship, his odds of getting a "real" law job are little better than a spin of the roulette wheel putting 3 years of lost income and all that debt on black. And the odds of a job that actually pays enough to cause a positive ROI are even less.

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wutwutwut (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:34 pm)

"At Kent, the 75th percentile salary is 83k, and at Loyola, it's 110k. Remember, 75% of grads make less than this, usually a lot less, with most non-biglaw entry level positions paying somewhere in the 40-60k range."


To put a finer point on what I quoted above from onehell's comments, that's only based on REPORTED salaries. At Loyola, 34% of employed grads did not even report a salary, and of course some 12% were wholly unemployed. Kent had slightly better reporting numbers ("only" 28% of those employed failed report, and "only" another 11% of their grads were wholly unemployed).

Note also the salary skewing that occurs in the median reported salaries, because due to embarrassment it is much more likely for those who do not report a salary to be in a low pay range, while those in the higher pay ranges are more likely to report.


As to the tuition discount, he'll end up owing roughly $95-100K at either school, assuming he doesn't lose the discount after the first year and end up paying full freight thereafter as alluded to by purrito.

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onehell (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:59 pm)

At 100k debt, it is at least somewhat justifiable even if your first job is in that 50ish range.

The trouble, though, is that even based on reported numbers, his odds of getting a "real" law job are little better than a coinflip. And as you rightly said, probably worse if the school is burying its head in the sand and avoiding getting reports of salaries they suspect to be low.

The bottom line for me is that coming out right at 100k = go only if you are absolutely PASSIONATE about practicing law, cannot envision yourself doing anything else, and have a real, non-glorified sense of what practicing law is actually like. Even with that passion paying full price in unconscionable, but with the fat scholarship the decision to go could be justified but only if he is absolutely, fiercely, 100% committed to the idea that this is what he wants to do. Even then, he should also consider the opportunity cost of those lost three years and be prepared for the prospect that he might not get one of those jobs that account for the 56% employment score and if he doesn't the JD will be something of a scarlet letter. This is a big, big risk. Not a completely unjustifiable one, but a huge risk nonetheless.

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purrito (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:22 pm)

Are there stipulations to the scholarship? (i.e. must be in the top half of the class?)

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lilgub (Feb 27, 2018 - 8:47 am)

This is a great question, but to add to it. Does your friend have a job presently? A career?

Consider the costs of:

a) 15% of tuition
b) Room & Board
c) Lost wages
d) time value of money/interest charges on loans.

Assuming some generous figures:
a) 15K over 3 years
b) 30K over 3 years
c) 90K over 3 years
d) 15K over 3 years (extremely low estimate)

The cost is still 150K to go to either law school. That's an entire year's salary in a large white shoe law firm that perhaps 10 total students in those schools (combined) will get.

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khazaddum (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:20 pm)

I went to UIUC and while not in Chicago, I was able to get offers in Chi. I get the allure of Chi when you are young but Univ Chicago and Northwestern are THE Chicago schools, and even in my day they rejected about 80% of applicants.

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purrito (Feb 26, 2018 - 6:31 pm)

What's your friend's LSAT/UGPA? I had a 3.82/164 and got into Notre Dame with money, which is a much better option than either of these schools for the Chicago market.

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pisces213 (Feb 26, 2018 - 8:02 pm)

Here are the scenarios where going to either school is a good idea:

1. Your friend has a job lined up and only needs to earn a jd/license to get the job.
2. If at least one of your friend's parents are judges, preferably in appellate or federal court. But if this was the case, your friend would have probably gotten into a higher ranked school.
3. If your friend is young, is getting full scholarship, and has parents that are willing to help out to steer your friend out of debt. Obviously there is opportunity cost involved, but at least your friend can "afford to fail."
4. Or if your friend really knows what he/she wants to do and knows that he/she can realistically work in that field with a non-top-tier law school diploma. But if this was the case, he/she probably won't be debating between the two and would've just chosen one based on factors other thank ranking.

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onehell (Feb 27, 2018 - 11:02 am)

I've got a friend whose dad is a judge who nonetheless ended up in doc review. I've got another friend whose dad is a tenured law professor at a top 20 school who (no joke) teaches international human rights, consults at the UN, has tried genocide and war crime cases in the Hague, etc. She ended up working as a legal secretary at a small town, rural public defender for several years before finally an actual attorney slot opened up and she was given the job. Both of these kids' parents tried to help, but to no avail.

My admittedly anecdotal experience has been that merely having a well-connected parent isn't even enough in and of itself. The parent has to either have the authority to just hire the kid, or has to be in a position to steer a lot of business to the firm that does hire the kid. Similarly, having such a parent will likewise not get you any leg up in law school admissions if you don't have the #s, unless the parent is a donor to the school at the level where a building is named after him.

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dingbat (Mar 1, 2018 - 3:55 pm)

Any prestigious employer will have anti-nepotism laws.

I went to law school with the daughter of the named partner at one of the biggest law firms in the country, and they would not look at her resume.
(don't worry, she ended up at another biglaw firm, but nowhere near as prestigious)

There are only 3 ways a parent can help:

1 - parent owns a small law firm that will hire child upon graduation
2 - parent is the CEO of a fortune 500 company, or something like that, which will guarantee money coming in

3 - and this is the big one, family connections can help be the tie-breaker. If a firm has 8 openings and 10 eligible candidates, then that's where pedigree/connections make the difference.
Note that this is not as simple as it seems. Good connections will get you an interview, no matter how bad a candidate you are, but unless you'd otherwise qualify, you won't get the job. If you're the best candidate, then you'll get it with or without connections. But if the choice is between two equal candidates and one happens to be a friend of a friend, that one gets the job.

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dogdaypm (Mar 1, 2018 - 4:05 pm)

"I went to law school with the daughter of the named partner at one of the biggest law firms in the country, and they would not look at her resume."

Strange. At a certain size, you'd think they'd evaluate all candidates - just not let the dads interfere.

I know a couple of partners whose daughters got hired into their large firm (ca. 2000 lawyers, 20+ offices worldwide). In both cases, though, they were not hired into the same practice area as dad (and in one case, not even the same office/city).

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dingbat (Mar 2, 2018 - 2:17 pm)

Some firms strictly prohibit relatives from working at the same firm. Some don't allow close relatives in the same practice group. One firm that I'm aware of won't allow relatives to be partners. I thought all big firms have such rules, though the severity varies from firm to firm

The one I went to law school with, she was the daughter of a founder/named partner of a Vault 20 firm

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triplesix (Mar 2, 2018 - 2:22 pm)

Well I know at least one large southern firm where a partner's wife works a staff attorney. She graduated from Cooley.

I also know v100 firm where a daughter of a partner was a summer ass.

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pisces213 (Mar 2, 2018 - 4:11 pm)

Obviously I was generalizing, but I was also focusing mostly on what gets your resume past the "stigma" of a non first tier school.

If you can get an interview, which, I would say you would with connected parents in the industry, you have at least bypassed the biggest hurdle facing any law school grad: getting to the screener or the first round of interviews.

Beyond this it really becomes a question of "why become a lawyer at all."

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