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The Seven Most Underrated Law Schools in the U.S.

published February 13, 2018

( 466 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)

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Summary: If you’re studying petroleum-related eminent domain, which needless to say, can be a very lucrative practice field in corporate law, there’s a strong chance a middle-tiered regional law school located in Texas, Louisiana, Utah or Colorado, might be a better choice than Yale or Stanford.
The Seven Most Underrated Law Schools in the U.S.
  • No doubt about it, LSAT scores and the so-called “prestige” of a law school can make the difference between a law school graduate securing a good or not-so-good law firm job.
  • But what about the mid-tier more regional law schools that lack the pedigree of Yale, Harvard or Stanford?
  • Are they worth looking into as well?
  • According to this article, they certainly are.

Rankings, Rankings and More Rankings

For anyone to tell a law student that the rank of their law school has little to do with them netting a good job once out of law school would either be lying directly to that student, or simply not know what they’re talking about.

Law school ranking can be paramount to a newly graduated attorney’s future. In fact, depending upon where an attorney decides to practice can be greatly influenced by law school prestige, and of course one’s LSAT scores.

To be sure, very few prospective attorneys would refuse an opportunity to attend a Yale, Harvard or Stanford law school.

But more likely than not, particularly if you aren’t sporting an incredibly flawless undergraduate GPA, or an astronomical LSAT score, the chances are slim that you’d hear word-one from one of these schools should you apply to them.

Conversely, there is a likelihood you may instead hear from lower-tiered schools, which in and of itself is nothing to throw shade on.

Sure, it may feel as if you’re “settling,” but in the long run, there might be a stronger force out there that has already determined the best law school for you. From that point on, it’s up to you to take the next step.

Dispense with the law school rankings hub-bub.

No one on this site has said, is saying or will ever say law school rankings aren’t important. On the contrary, they are very important within certain circles of prestigious firms, which for a portion of any law school graduating class heading toward BigLaw, has its bearing.

But then there’s the rest of us; us who
  • May not have the stellar grades.
  • Who might not have been granted the clerkship we tried so hard for at L2.
  • Us, who believe it or not, aren’t interested in BigLaw law and the high-end perks, for better or worse, therein.
  • Us, who don’t want to reside in an L.A., New York, or any other big city marketplace, and instead feel smaller practice areas within smaller markets are our legal calling.

Taking these academic and personal traits of a budding lawyer into consideration may also completely dismiss the entire importance of a top-tier law school, as well as top-notch LSAT scores from one’s law school achievements.

If you’re studying petroleum-related eminent domain, which needless to say, can be a very lucrative practice field in corporate law, there’s a strong chance a middle-tiered regional law school located in Texas, Louisiana, Utah or Colorado, might be a better choice than Yale or Stanford.

Energy, technology and real estate can be industries that not only attract workers, but large businesses and/or law firms that really don’t care where you or anyone else went to law school, nor care what your LSATs score were. All these quickly evolving industries want to know is if you’re interested in their particular practice field, and if you can win in their best interest, period.

To a lot of regional businesses, law firms and people in general, that East Coast/West Coast prestige and all, is something that’s simply not worth thinking about. Whether or not you can satisfy those regional businesses legal demands is all that needs consideration.

The Magnificent (yet Underrated) Seven

The above argument leads to this: the underrated.

Just in the way many law firms throughout the country don’t receive the same amount of glitz and glamour cases as would a high-profile Hollywood lawsuit, or a Wall Street corporate shakedown that has the financial world clutching its pearls, underrated law schools tend to face the same dilemma.
  • These law schools may not have the glitz.
  • They may not educate then provide the New York/Wall Street/DC-type firepower, which in any event, might be completely out of place anywhere other than New York, Wall Street or DC.
  • These underrated law schools and their curriculums might cater less to business-attired firms and clients as opposed to a Wrangler and Doc Marten crowd who…
  • … Are no less relevant to corporate-economic success than anyone or anything out of Washington, DC, New York or Los Angeles.

Secondly, while new methods and standards of law school rankings may have come out, there will still be one or two schools that simply do not get a fair shake in the ratings game.

Systems, however, are in place that can measure the popularity of a law school based on its location and the practice areas to which that school caters.

The methodology to rank law schools which in turn identifies the 7 most underrated law schools utilizes a simple process where the schools with the largest differential between how their LSAT/UGPA rank are identified and then compared with their US News and World Report (USNWR) ranking.

The ranking is as follows:
The Top 7 Most Undervalued Law Schools
School LSAT/UGPA Rank US News Rank Difference
BYU Law 20 46 26
Pepperdine 47 72 25
University of Nebraska 37 57 20
College of William & Mary 24 41 17
Northeastern University 48 65 17
Southern Methodist University 35 46 11
George Mason University 32 41 9
According to sources close to the publication of this chart, the seven listed schools are poised to make a charge throughout the USNWR rankings.

What this means to you as a law student and eventual graduate.

While important, the practice of law isn’t, shouldn’t be, and in the end, can’t only be about the prestige of your former law school, or an outstanding LSAT score.

What the above chart reveals is that mid-level law schools can emerge as prestigious within certain industries and locales throughout the US.

What this also shows is there’s still opportunity out there for the law student who does not go to a top-tier law school, or has outstanding scores on their LSAT. It reveals that there are practice areas affiliated with these seven law schools which while not exactly prestigious in the traditional sense, are nonetheless challenging and can eventually evolve into a fulfilling legal career.

For example:
  1. BYU (Brigham Young University) is in Utah, where there is a strong oil and natural gas presence, as well as family, environmental and entertainment, and an enormous tech sector law in the Utah Valley section of the state. These are regional fields in which there is strong demand for attorneys. 
  2. Pepperdine’s main campus is located in Malibu, Ca., with other smaller campuses situated throughout Metropolitan Los Angeles. While Pepperdine does not have the size and possibly not the cache of UCLA or USC, Pepperdine’s law school is frequently mentioned as of equal caliber to both world renown universities.

In Conclusion

The adage of not judging a book by its cover almost perfectly explains law school rankings. After all, to whom are these rankings intended? Prestige-loving money-chasing lawyers who lack any sense of human compassion, and are only out for themselves? Or are these rankings organized and listed for attorneys who seek positions within practice areas that may not be as prestigious, but in terms of real-life importance to a large number of people, can easily eclipse the legal concerns within so-called more significant law firms?

This is the beauty of the underrated and/or mid-tier law school, particularly when an underrated and/or mid-tier post-undergraduate with so-so LSAT scores applies to one of these schools. It’s very likely that these schools are more apt to represent local interests, which without a doubt have their importance.

As for you as a law student who attends one of these underrated schools, there stands the strong chance your presence and participation within the local on and off-campus culture will be appreciated as much, if not more, than any law institution that touts itself as being top-tier or prestigious.

See the following articles for more information:
( 466 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.