Law Journal Ranking, Spring 2018

Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews (2018, v2)

NOTE: an updated version of this ranking appears HERE.

If a journal doesn’t appear in a particular index, I have scored it as “1000” to allow the table to sort correctly. For a short summary and more detailed notes about method, see below the table.

prRank = US News Peer Reputation score ranking; usnRank = Overall US News school ranking; wluRank = Washington & Lee Law Journal Ranking; gRank = Google Scholar Metrics ranking; wlu(IF)Rank = Washington & Lee Law Journal Impact Factor Ranking.

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Why make the Meta Ranking? (see more information, and the first edition of the ranking here)

In short, as an interdisciplinary scholar who publishes work in both peer-reviewed social science journals and law reviews, it strikes me as odd that legal scholars would discount measures of journal impact completely when choosing where to submit and which offers to prioritize. To be sure, all of the plausible contenders for ranking law reviews have their flaws (in methodology and/or coverage). Regardless, though, it appears important that some measures of citation or impact are taken into account, as direct correlations between US News rankings of law schools and law journal importance seem a bit weak as the primary (or only) measure to evaluate.

So, to get to the point, I decided to create a meta-ranking of the possible contenders for gauging the relative importance of journals and offers: US News Overall Ranking (averaged over ten years from 2010-2019), US News Peer Reputation Ranking (also averaged over 2010-2019), W&L Combined Ranking (at default weighting; 2009-2016), and Google Scholar Metrics law journal rankings (averaging the h-index and h-median of each journal, as proposed here by Robert Anderson). I’ve ranked each journal within each ranking system, averaged these four ranks using a 25% weighting for each, and computed and ranked the final scores. I think this approach benefits from incorporating a couple different forms of impact evaluation (W&L + Google) while not disregarding the general sentiment that law school “prestige” (something involving one or both of US News’ combined rank or Peer Reputation rank, each averaged over the 10-year period from 2010-2019) is an important factor in law review placement decisions. (Note that I have also included a ranking by the Impact Factor reported in the W&L ranking, but I have not included it in the meta rank.)

Additional notes about method:

Google Scholar Metrics are currently based on the most recent Google index (updated to June 2017). Some journals that began after 2009 are effected by W&L’s ranking formula described here. Because the US News Ranking has changed how it reports 3rd and 4th Tier schools over the relevant period, I have done the following: for the 2010 and 2011 editions of the ranking, I gave all “Tier 3” schools a value of 115, and all “Tier 4” schools a 150; for 2012-2017, I assigned all unranked schools (those not ranked 1-149) to 150.

* As some schools were not included in the US News Rankings for all 10 years (e.g. UC Irvine was only in the 2016-2019 rankings), I have averaged the ranks over just the years they appear, rather than by 10.

** The following journals (that appear in the top 100 across any of the rankings) do not appear in the current Google Scholar index:

  • North Carolina Law Review (I used Google Metrics scores from the June 2015 index)
  • University of Pittsburgh Law Review (not in either index, 2015 or 2017; I have used W&L’s rank twice to keep the impact portion of the ranking at 50%)
  • Baylor Law Review (I used Google Metrics scores from the June 2015 index)
  • Mitchell Hamline Law Review (I have used the current metrics for the William Mitchell Law Review)
  • Gonzaga Law Review (used W&L twice)
  • University of San Francisco Law Review (used W&L twice)
  • University of Louisville Law Review (used 2015 index)
  • New Mexico Law Review  (used W&L twice)
  • Willamette Law Review (used W&L twice)
  • Quinnipiac Law Review (used W&L twice)
  • Northeastern University Law Journal (used W&L twice)

*** Rutgers and Mitchell-Hamline both recently consolidated two law journals into one and Penn State now also has two ranked law schools but only one flagship law review. For each of these schools, I have used the rank in each category (W&L/US News, etc.) that is the highest. Similarly (although not appearing in the top 100 reported here), Widener split and was ranked separately in 2017 by US News (each school taking a separate flagship journal). As such, I have used the separate 2017 and 2018 ranks from US News but shared the single Widener school ranking reported in US News in its 2010-2016 editions of the rankings.

**** In the 2019 US News rankings, Pepperdine received a peer score of 2.6, but was listed as unranked after originally submitting incorrect data about incoming JD students (see Paul Caron’s note about this for more about this). As such, I used the 2019 peer score and the 2018 overall rank to for Pepperdine.

Last note: I cannot locate the 2015 US News Peer-Reputation score (or rank) for Loyola-New Orleans (it is missing from Paul Caron’s annual posting at TaxProf, and I don’t have access otherwise). If someone has that information and could pass it along, I would appreciate it.