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Most Underrated Law Schools in America

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 12, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Remember the cliquish stereotypes of high school -- jocks, nerds, etc.?

They seemed to form naturally, as kids gravitated to their own kind. It is not so different in college, what with fraternities formalizing the divisions. But law school?

Perhaps we matured by then, but student groupings become a science in graduate school anyway. And that could be a good thing. This becomes relevant when discussing law school rankings. Where do the best students go? And which schools are the most underrated?

Rankings by Student Quality

U.S. News & World Reports pretty much owns the law school rankings, publishing its annual list of top rated schools based on peer assessment, admissions, employment placement, and more. It typically places Yale, Harvard, and Stanford in the top three spots.

But researchers Christopher Ryan of Vanderbilt University and Bryan Frye of the University of Kentucky have another way of looking at law schools. They rank them based only on GPA and LSAT, or "Student Quality" rankings. In other words, it's where the smart students go.

It's a fair and useful segregation because the rankings suggest the best testers know what's best for them. But there's another level of analysis that serious law students should consider.

Where will they get the best value for their six-figure education?

Most Underrated Law Schools

Based on a comparison of the U.S. News ranking and the student quality rankings, a handful of law schools rose to the top. Paul Caron, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, says these are the "Most Underrated Law Schools in America."

BYU, Pepperdine, and Nebraska fall into the top positions on the list. In other words, the brightest students chose those law schools, which also ranked in the U.S News top 50.

It is a subjective ranking, Caron acknowledges, but notes that "law students' choices may be a leading indicator" of overall law school rankings. Factors such as tuition, student debt, and employment opportunities may also factor into their decisions.

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