The National Jurist has just released its ranking of the best "value" law schools. The top five are: (1) North Carolina Central; (2) BYU; (3) Univ. of Nebraska; (4) Georgia State; (5) Univ. of Mississippi. For a full list of the best value rankings, click here.
Perhaps because my home school (the Univ. of Utah College of Law) is left off the list, the rankings seem screwy to me. The reason Utah is off the list is that only those schools with bar pass rates above the state average are included. Utah is a two-school state, with most bar applicants coming from either Utah or BYU. Accordingly, one school is above average and one below. The Univeristy of Utah has a bar pass rate of 86%, slightly below the state average of 87% — so Utah is not included in the rankings.
For other states, apparently ALL law schools are above the state average. I notice that, for example, all of the North Carolina law schools have bar pass rates above the state average. (For a school-by-school listing of bar pass rates. click here.) Perhaps North Carolina has a large number of unaccredited law schools pumping out weak applicants for the bar, that allow accredited law schools - like North Carolina Central — to have bar pass rates clearly above the state's average.
Finally, the rankings seems to give undue weight to tuition price. Perhaps the rankings should be "cheapest" law schools, as the value component doesn't seem very well thought out. The rankings also don't consider debt that students end up carrying at graduation. That seems like an important fact that should be considered, although apparently the data is not widely available.