June 19, 2021

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Beyond law

US News releases its 2022 law school rankings; which schools had lowest student debt?

Law Schools

Five law schools repeated last year’s results when they snagged the top spots in rankings released Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report.

No. 1 is Yale Law School, followed by Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School and, in a tie for fourth place, Columbia Law School and the University of Chicago Law School, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 rankings.

The same schools took the top spots in the 2021 rankings, but there were some small changes in the top 14 list.

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School moved up from the No. 7 spot to No. 6, tying with the New York University School of Law. The Duke University School of Law moved up from the No. 12 spot to No. 10, tying with the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor, which was tied for No. 9 last year with two other schools. And the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, tied at No. 9 last year, has dropped to No. 12.

There is a new change in methodology. For the first time, the rankings take into account the average debt incurred in obtaining a law degree and the percentage of law school graduates incurring law school debt. But the weight given to both factors in the rankings is small, at 0.03% and 0.02%, respectively.

The schools’ debt numbers were calculated by comparing the schools’ average debt value with the median debt value for all schools. Schools whose values were farthest below the median scored the highest on each indicator, and schools that were most above the median scored the lowest.

But U.S. News & World Report scrapped a plan to release a stand-alone law school diversity ranking after deans from 162 law schools asked for a revision, report Law.com and Reuters Legal.

The deans complained that students of more than one race were wrongly excluded from the calculation. U.S. News & World Report plans to publish the diversity ranking at a later, undetermined date, Bob Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News & World Report, told Law.com in an email.

The top 14 law schools, along with the average indebtedness of their 2020 JD graduates who incurred law school debt, are:

1) Yale University, $135,680

2) Stanford University, $146,235

3) Harvard University, $170,866

4) Columbia University (tie), $190,141

4) University of Chicago (tie), $191,117

6) New York University (tie), $174,780

6) University of Pennsylvania (tie), $163,383

8) University of Virginia, $165,911

9) University of California at Berkeley, $139,251

10) Duke University (tie), $153,276

10) University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (tie), $129,791

12) Northwestern University, 154,844

13) Cornell University, $150,089

14) University of California at Los Angeles, $125,167

Some law schools had considerably lower average indebtedness, including these schools coming in below $70,000:

• University of Alabama, ranked No. 25, at $64,271

• Brigham Young University, ranked No. 29, at $51,048

• University of Arizona, ranked No. 46, at $67,014

• Florida State University, ranked No. 48, at $63,773

• Pennsylvania State University, ranked No. 60, at $54,503

• Wayne State University, ranked No. 72, at $67,832

• University of Cincinnati, ranked No. 81, at $66,163

• Rutgers University, ranked No. 91, at $62,210

• University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, ranked No. 96, at $68,877

• Texas Tech University, ranked No. 102, at $56,898

• University of South Dakota, ranked No. 134, at $53,253

• University of Arkansas at Little Rock, ranked No. 141, at $69,143

• Florida A&M University, unranked, at $61,500