Cooley (one campus)Hamline or Mitchell (the two merged)Indiana TechWhittierCharlotteSavannahValpoArizona SummitCooley (a second campus)Thomas Jefferson (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)La Verne (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)ConcordiaCooley (a third campus)Florida Coastal
*** NONE ***
Comments: Formerly occupied by a handful of schools, this tier has been vacant for years and is likely to remain that way until the second half of the century. Not for nothing is it named Tier 0.
TIER 1: Excellent choices for trust-fund babies. Others should seriously consider them while bearing in mind the very real risk of a bad outcome. You cannot, after all, eat prestige for breakfast.
Comments: No, Stanford, your jive ass is not in the same league as Harvard and Yale. Petulant Californian demands for representation in Tier 1 don't sway me one bit.
TIER 2: Rich kids should feel free to attend these. Others should not enroll without a substantial discount and should weigh the risk of a bad outcome carefully.
Comments: Formerly this category also included Michigan and Penn.
TIER 3: Rich kids are likely to consider these insufficiently prestigious. Others should not even apply without a fee waiver and should not enroll without a large discount, probably at least 50% off; even then, the risk of a bad outcome would loom large.
Comments: This category, which has shrunk considerably since 2010 or so, is the end of the group that, as of the last time that I checked (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2014/12/guest-post-by-old-guy-which-law-schools.html), saw at least 50% of the graduating class get jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships. I advise against attending any school below Tier 3. Even Tier 1 is questionable nowadays.
TIER 4: Expect a disastrous outcome at these unless you get tuition waived, have local connections, and intend to build your career in the vicinity of the school (no farther away than, say, an adjacent state). As always, rich people can go to one of these schools if they really want to.
Washington and Lee
Washington University in St. Louis
William and Mary
Comments: Many of these are what Paul Campos has called trap schools. Others are toilets with employment figures that are better than those of typical toilets. All are best avoided, from the faux-prestigious outskirts of Tier 3 to the toilety outskirts of Tier 5.
TIERS 5 & 6 (combined): Tier 5 was originally described as follows: "Don't go near these unless you are independently wealthy, crave a little wind-up-toy law degree, and are too dumb to get into a school in a higher tier even after exploiting your rich connections." Tier 6: "The survival of these into 2017 offers an argument against the existence of a just god. Anyone who enrolls at one of these should not be allowed to roam the streets unsupervised." Now, in 2022, Old Guy's ranking of law schools merges these into one tier: "Hell, no."
District of Columbia
Lewis and Clark
Mitchell | Hamline
New York Law School
North Carolina Central
Pennsylvania State—University Park
Western New England
Comments: The distinction between Tiers 5 and 6 was not meaningful in practice, except for a handful of rich kids. None of these schools is worth attending: all are very likely to lead to atrocious outcomes. Anyone with potential in the legal profession can do better than these. If the best that you can get is a school in this tier, do not go into law; find something else to do with your life. By the way, any new law school that may be opened—and it seems that three or four are in the works—will presumptively start in this tier and will probably never get out. Special circumstances that are unlikely to be repeated allowed Irvine to get into Tier 4, and even its scam-dean never aimed for Tier 3.