Thursday, March 26, 2009

Avvo Looks at Law Schools, the lawyer directory and rating site, now takes a look at law schools.

The page is called Law School Rankings, but that might be a little misleading. It's not ranking the schools per se: it's taking all the lawyers in its database who list a law school and seeing how they're rated, what areas they practice in, and whether they have been disciplined. The quality of the law school is only one factor in attorneys' subsequent performance.

Avvo's database includes basic directory information for all lawyers in 30 states and the District of Columbia -- but it only has the law school attended and other biographical information if a lawyer chooses to post it.

It's interesting that there isn't all that much difference (in raw numbers) between the top-ranked school (Yale's attorneys average a 7.7 rating) and the lowest (Florida Coastal's average 6.1). So it appears that most lawyers score more than 5 out of a possible 10.

The schools with the highest average rating among their grads are the usual suspects in any list of top law schools: Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Chicago, Columbia.

Most of the schools with the lowest average attorney ratings are fairly new: It seems likely that the average ratings would be higher for schools with more attorneys in mid-career or later -- you don't get as many awards, press coverage, and recommendations when you're a rookie -- so Yale, Harvard, and so on have a big advantage over the newer schools. In particular, I'd expect Chapman and Florida Coastal lawyers to average higher ratings in five or ten years than they do now.

What about the University of Washington? Our 1,747 alumni who are listed average a rating of 7.36. Most are in Washington and California, but they are scattered throughout the states Avvo covers. Practice areas include
  • Business (29%)
  • Lawsuits / Disputes (13%)
  • Real Estate (10%)
  • Estate Planning (7%)
  • Employment / Labor (7%)
(Remember, these figures reflect only the lawyers who choose to post information.)

1 comment:

Josh King said...

Thanks, Mary - note that the Avvo law school dataset is larger than just what users add. It also includes data from state bar licensing records (CA, FL & TX, among others, provide law school information with bar records) and data found on lawyer websites.