Ranking Law Schools
I was just looking over the Yale Law School faculty list. My impression is that Yale has slipped drastically over the past twenty years compared to Harvard, in particular, but also Chicago, Virginia, and other law schools. I took a look at Leiter Law School Reports. Professor Leiter publishes lists of the top-cited faculty in various fields of law. I just looked at the most recently published ones:
Antitrust: Yale has 1 of 18, Harvard 2, Chicago 1.
Torts and Insurance, Yale has 0 of 16. Harvard 2. Chicago 2.
Intellectual Property, Yale has 0 of 28 Harvard 0, Chicago 2.
Health Law, Yale has 1 of 18, Harvard 2, Chicago 0.
Family Law, Yale has 1 of 15, Harvard 3. Chicago 0.
Evidence, Yale has 0 of 15, Harvard 0, Chicago 1.
Adding these up, Yale has 3 top professors, Harvard has 9, and Chicago has 6.
It would be good for someone to do this for all the fields Leiter provides; I don't have time right now. Citation counts are a crude measure, of course, but they're a good place to start, and better for looking at aggregates like schools than for rating individual professors, since measurement errors tend to decrease when data is grouped.
Yale does rank number one in citations per professor, with Harvard second, Chicago third, and New York University fourth. Citations per professor is, of course, not the right measure for a law school's impact, since it would say that a law school could increase its impact by firing all but its very best professor. (It is a better measure for scholarly attractiveness to students, since students should care more about the average quality of professors than the total quality.) Yale does well in citations per professor because it is small. But Yale also does well there because its strength is in Constitutional Law. I looked that up, and Yale has 5 of the top 25, Harvard has 3, and Chicago has 4. Con Law gets cited a lot more, because the student editors of law reviews find it glamorous and publish lots more con law articles. The Number 10 professor in that field has 970 cites, compared to 190 for Antitrust's 220 for Torts's, and 150 for Evidence's. Thus, Yale Law's apparent high citations per professor may entirely be from Con Law. Someone ought to work out what would happen if Con Law were removed from the data and schools were just ranked on All Other Kinds of Law. My own belief is that not only is Con Law a narrow field, but it is a particularly low-quality one, the furthest removed from the Rule of Law, with lots of politics and hand waving as opposed to serious application of legal principles. But even if you think that Con Law is just as rigorous as Tax Law and Contracts, it wouldn't be good for a top law school's reputation to be based entirely on one field.