Thursday, April 07, 2005

On legal writing rankings

The U.S. News ranking of legal writing programs lists this top ten:

1. Mercer, Seattle
3. John Marshall (IL), Stetson
5. Temple
6. Brooklyn
8. Boston College, Villanova
10. Northwestern, Michigan

I know very little about the legal writing programs at any of these schools. I bet they have good programs. I bet I could find out about their programs with a little effort--perhaps I will. And I bet their program summaries sound great. (In case you didn't know, when the idea of rankings was discussed on the LWI listserv, someone suggested that we all post a summary of our programs to a website, so those who received surveys from U.S. News could read about the programs.)

I set up that background to make clear that what I'm about to say does not mean I think that these schools' programs are overrated. Their programs may be great.

But I will point out that at least 5 and perhaps 7 of the schools listed there have a writing professor--sometimes two--who are nationally known and who are highly visible in legal writing circles.

Does this mean strong programs attract great people?
Does this mean great people build strong programs?
Or does this mean that name recognition and visibility are the keys to getting ranked?


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