Faculty Rankings of Empirical Legal Studies:

Tracey George of Vanderbilt has another article on rankings from the same symposium that Andy Morriss has been blogging on the past few days. Her paper is "An Emprical Study of Empirical Legal Scholarship: The Top Law Schools" and is available on SSRN. The paper uses a variety of measures to compile a rank the "top" law schools in terms of their commitment to and intellectual leadership in the field of Empirical Legal Studies. Table 6 of her article reports her summary overall ranking of an unweighted average of the criteria she uses to come up with the "Overall Ranking of All Law Schools in Study":

ELS Ranking Law School

1-tie University of California, Berkeley

1-tie George Mason University

1-tie Northwestern University

4-tie University of Pennsylvania

4-tie University of Southern California

6 Cornell

7-tie University of Chicago

7-tie Stanford University

9-tie University of Michigan

9-tie Yale University

Interesting how the section of the ELS rankings you posted, with a couple of exceptions, seems to demonstrate a negative correlation with overall law school quality.
8.10.2005 7:48pm
none (mail):
Observation from another Guest: the methodology of the ranking is very odd. You should perhaps mention that.
8.10.2005 9:18pm
Justice Fuller:
Would this be newsworthy, but for the identity of the school in bold?
8.10.2005 10:08pm
Hey, Dartmouth trustee AND a professor at the #1 Empirical Legal Scholarship school? Wow! You've arrived!
8.10.2005 10:21pm
frank cross (mail):
Well, it's not really a ranking of empirical legal studies overall. It's in part a ranking of publication in selected journals, which has some value, I think, though I would question the journals. In fact, many of the articles in those journals are not empirical. Yet empirical articles in other journals are not counted, even though they may have a higher impact factor. And just counting the number of social science PhDs is a pretty silly factor. Some of these social science PhDs don't even do empirical work. Some may not do any research. There's some information here but not much basis for the rankings.
8.10.2005 10:25pm
frank cross (mail):
Oops, I forgot the most important information contained in the study -- the enormous bias it appears to evidence. The majority of Chicago publications are in journals published out of the University of Chicago. The majority of Cornell hits are in JELS, published out of Cornell. I think SCER is now out of George Mason and, lo and behold, that's where their publications predominate.

The traditional law review process has been criticized, fairly, for its home court advantage for professors. These data would seem to reveal a larger home court advantage for the peer-reviewed journals.
8.10.2005 10:31pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Also, the people who did these numbers can't count. Cornell should sixth, not fifth. That itself casts doubt on this "study." Perhaps GMU was added by the author of the post as a joke? And forgot to change some of the numbers?
8.11.2005 1:00am
Paul Gowder (mail):
What in the name of all that is holy is "empirical legal studies?" Political science, with cases?
8.11.2005 10:28am
Zywicki (mail):
CrazyTrain--That was a typo by me when I typed this in. Thanks for catching that.
8.11.2005 10:48am
Larry (mail):
Well, Paul, you could try reading some of the articles. SSRN would be a good place to start before you condemn an entire subdiscipline. See Cary Coglianese, "Empirical Analysis and Administrative Law" (September 2002). University of Illinois Law Review, 2002

I hope professor Zywicki soon realizes his goal of increasing the presence and influence of frats everywhere. I know they are special to him.
8.11.2005 10:52am
Paul Gowder (mail):
I didn't condemn it, I just mocked it a little. Glancing over that Coglianese article, it does sound rather like political science, but that's not necessarily a condemnation...
8.11.2005 12:14pm
Larry (mail) (www):
Another, rather simplistic use of empirical legal studies would be to conduct a survey of the law in multiple jurisdictions. This could be used to show what is "usual" or unusual for 8th amendment purposes (and is completely invalid if you like executing children, but completely good if you don't). Interestingly, for 8th amendment purposes, in Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361 (1989), Scalia seems to have demanded that someone making an "unusual" 8th amendment argument engage in such a study and indeed addresses such studies on the merits..

As far as the primary and most reliable indication of consensus is concerned - the pattern of enacted laws - petitioners have failed to carry that burden. *** Given the undisputed fact that a far smaller percentage of capital crimes are committed by persons under 18 than over 18, the discrepancy in treatment is much less than might seem. Granted, however, that a substantial discrepancy exists, that does not establish the requisite proposition that the death sentence for offenders under 18 is categorically unacceptable to prosecutors and juries. To the contrary, it is not only possible, but overwhelmingly probable, that the very considerations which induce petitioners and their supporters to believe that death should never be imposed on offenders under 18 cause prosecutors and juries to believe that it should rarely be imposed.

Anyway, Scalia seems to have been advocating just that -- a political science approach to the 8th amendment.

Of course, he backtracked on this in Roper v. Simmons, when people actually listened to him, but what can you do?
8.11.2005 1:27pm
Paul Gowder (mail):
I'm not sure how a survey of the law in multiple jurisdictions qualifies as "empirical." My understanding of empirical work as different from theoretical/analytical work is that empirical work relies primarily on analysis of self-gathered data rather than published work. (This isn't a formal definition of course.) If analysis of various jurisdictions' published opinions/statutes is empirical, then all doctrinal work is, since they operate on the same form of evidence.
8.11.2005 3:47pm