by on March 1, 2006 at 7:01 am in Law | Permalink

My colleagues in GMUs school of law can be justly proud of how quickly their program has risen in the rankings.  TaxProfBlog excerpts from a National Review article:

Mason vaulted from 71st place in 1995 to 41st in 2005 — an
impressive achievement given that these rankings tend to remain static
from year to year…

To use a baseball metaphor, Manne was a scout who specialized in the
minor leagues. Whereas his competitors were obsessed with signing
big-name free agents in hot fields such as feminist legal theory, Manne
quietly assembled a team of undervalued unknowns. "If the market
discriminates against conservatives, then there should be good
opportunities for hiring conservatives," says Polsby. This is exactly
the sort of observation one would expect a market-savvy
law-and-economics scholar to make… "Have you read Moneyball?" asks Todd
Zywicki, another one of Mason’s bright young profs, in reference to the
best-selling book by Michael Lewis on how the Oakland Athletics
franchise assembled playoff-caliber teams on a limited budget. "We’re
the Oakland A’s of the law-school world."

Especially interesting is that GMU is probably undervalued relative to its academic achievement.

[GMU] probably would do even better but for the particular ways U.S.
News calculates worth: Forty percent of a school’s ranking is based on
reputation, as determined by judges and lawyers (15 percent) and law
professors (25 percent). "If we had Dartmouth or Princeton’s name,"
says Polsby, picking two well-regarded schools that don’t have law
programs, "we’d be a top-20 school overnight." …

Brian Leiter, a professor at the University of Texas, has created
several ranking systems that rely entirely on objective criteria. It
might be said, for instance, that a school is only as good as its
students. The 75th-percentile LSAT score of Mason’s entering class in
the fall of 2005 was 166 — enough to tie it for 22nd best (with seven
other schools). It might also be said that a school is only as good as
its professors. To measure this, Leiter has created a "scholarly
impact" rating based on faculty per capita citations in scholarly
journals and books. On this scale, Mason ties for 23rd (with four other
schools). Then there’s the Social Science Research Network, which
counts the number of times faculty papers are downloaded from the
Internet; over the last twelve months, Mason professors rank

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