Announcing the Moss Law School Rankings: Harvard #1, Yale #2!

Congratulations to Harvard on ranking #1 in the newly minted Moss Law School Rankings! Below are the raw statistics, which I explain below:

#1: Harvard (7 points)

#2: Yale (4 points)

#3: Tulane (3 points)

#4: NYU (2 points)

#5: Georgetown (2 points)

#5: Cincinnati (2 points)

#5: Rutgers (2 points)

#5: Pepperdine (2 points)

#5: Louisiana State (2 points)

#10: Fordham (1 point)

#10: Washington & Lee (1 point)

My ranking is unorthodox, I admit, but all the great statistical innovations yield unintuitive outcomes, no? Let me explain my methodology.


Law schools accrue points by having alumni who were high public officials convicted, or simply forced to leave office, following criminal or otherwise serious unlawful misconduct they allegedly committed while in office in the 1990s or 2000s. [Footnote: I carefully say “alleged” so nobody on this list should sue Dan Solove, Concurring Opinions LLC, or (especially) me.] A law school gets four points for a President, two points for a Governor or Senator, and one point for a member of Congress or non-Gubernatorial high statewide official. Here is the list I compiled:

• Harvard: Gov. Elliot Spitzer (NY) (prostitution; possibly abuse of state police resources); Rep. William Jefferson (LA) (bribes); Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) (bribes); Sen. Brock Adams (WA) (sexual harassment)

• Tulane: Sen. David Vitter (LA) (prostitution); Rep. Robert Livingston (LA) (prostitution)

• Yale: Pres. Bill Clinton (perjury, and a number of other things that may or may not have been illegal)

• NYU: Sen. Bob Packwood (OR) (sexual harassment)

• Georgetown: Gov. Don Siegelman (AL) (bribery)

• Washington & Lee: Chief Judge Sol Wachtler (NY) (criminal threats related to extramarital affair)

• Fordham: Rep. Vito Fossella (NY) (DWI while visiting child from extramarital affair )

• U.Cincinnati: Gov. Robert Taft (OH) (illegal campaign contributions)

• Rutgers: Sen. Bob Toricelli (NJ) (illegal campaign contributions)

• Pepperdine: Gov. Rod Blagojevich (IL) (bribes; misuse of government funds to try to punish political opponents; etc.)

• Louisiana State: Gov. Edwin Edwards (bribes)

Kudos for such strong showings not only to Harvard but also to the Louisiana schools (alleged crimes by three notable public officials who attended law schools in the state), which reminds me that I’m surprised no New Jersey schools ranked higher. Condolences to Stanford, Columbia, and U.Chicago for lacking any presence on this list; I’m sure there are many other fine ranking systems that reflect some other strengths of your schools.

This is just a comparative ranking among law schools, not evidence that law schools produce public corruption. Here is a short list of non-lawyers who otherwise would qualify: Gov. John Rowland (CT); Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham; Rep. Rick Renzi; Rep. Dan Rostenkowski; Rep. Mark Foley; Rep. James Traficant; Sen. Larry Craig; Gov. Fife Symington (AZ).

A final note: by gerrymandering the criteria (a) to include only 1990-present illegality and (2) to cover only statewide or federal officeholders, I spared by former employer, Marquette University Law School, a high spot on the list based on Sen. Joe McCarthy (whose 1950s antics do not qualify) and recently convicted Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci (who never has held federal office despite sufficient popularity to get elected after a conviction for assaulting a man with a lit cigarette, an ashtray and a fireplace log). Were I to stress these two alums, the school slogan — “We are Marquette!” — might take on a somewhat different meaning than intended.

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20 Responses

  1. dobe gulia says:

    This ranking has been totally rigged to favor the author’s alma mater. The correct ranking would adjust the number of points by the size of the graduating class, taking Yale back to the top where it belongs. On the other hand, the truly correct ranking would adjust the points by the total number of a school’s alums in top echelons of the government — because it’s not hard to avoid getting points if no matter what you do, you are not in the position where the points are assigned. Which means Tulane first, then, Cincinnati and Pepperdine. On the third hand, Yale will still be on top if correct weights are assigned to positions — a US president should get 100 times more points than a US senator and 50 times more points than a state governor. One might further adjust for the differences in the duration of a term, but I can’t think of a way to make it advantageous to Yale, so I’ll stop here.

  2. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Very funny. But, seriously, could you explain what breaks the tie among schools earning 2 points each, so that 2-point NYU is #4 whereas 2-point GT et al are #5? Perhaps it is inherently obvious to those more familiar with NYU, but it may not generally be obvious why poor Cincinnati, Rutgers, Pepperdine and Louisiana State should suffer. Another technical point, is the Rutgers earning top rankings Newark or Camden?

  3. anon says:

    The “convicted or forced to leave office” standard is rather vague, especially as to Clinton. Clinton, of course, was “forced” to leave office only by virtue of the 22nd amendment. Is there a causation requirement, or does the formula really encompass allegation+term-limit within its scope (in which case your methodology might require some adjustment).

  4. Jason Wojciechowski says:

    Maybe Clinton meets the “forced to leave” requirement with a special “his successor and VP wasn’t elected in 2000” dispensation?

    Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms!

  5. Jonathan H. Adler says:

    You forgot Case Western. We deserve a point for Marc Dann . . . he was forced to leave office as state AG, and there are rumors that indictments could be forthcoming.

    JHA

  6. Pacific Reporter says:

    What about judges that are forced to step down? Maybe you can add them to next year’s rankings.

  7. frankcross says:

    Go back a little farther in time, and Duke surely wins (Richard Nixon).

  8. Mike says:

    What about “Scooter” Libby? Where is Columbia law school on this list?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Notre Dame should be on that list because of Esther Slater McDonald and her involvement in the DOJ scandal. And as for Harvard, you forgot to include Bill Kelley, former White House Counsel and Notre Dame professor who is eyeball deep in the US Attorney firing debacle.

  10. Duke Law 85 says:

    Lucky old Duke! Richard Nixon (third-rate burglary, obstruction of justice, etc.) predates your 1990-2008 window. But why no David Addington (kidnapping, aggravated assault, etc.)?

  11. tim says:

    Duke offers not just Tricky Dick… Claude Allen never held elective office, but as a top GWB aide, he comes close, and sure deserves points for style:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Allen

  12. tony smith says:

    This is great – as long as I do not think while reading it.

  13. bob says:

    what about Scooter Libby (Columbia Law)?

  14. Alex says:

    As a G’Town grad I want to dispute the points we got for Siegelman. As widely noted (see citations on wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Siegelman) Siegelman’s conviction was highly politicized and may in fact be overturned.

    Also, Buddy Cianci is worth A MILLION POINTS!

  15. John N. Mitchell says:

    what about G. Gordon Lilly’s and John N. Mitchell’s involvement in Watergate? Another point for Fordham?

  16. Andrew says:

    Siegelman shouldn’t count

  17. A.J. Sutter says:

    “convicted, or simply forced to leave office, following criminal or otherwise serious unlawful misconduct they allegedly committed while in office in the 1990s or 2000s”: Clinton was “forced to leave office” by the term limits in the US Constitution; post hoc isn’t propter hoc. You’ve inflated Yale’s grade.

  18. A.J. Sutter says:

    apologies — I just noticed that anon already made a more profound comment based on the same observation.

  19. Scott Moss says:

    Mea culpa — my apologies to multiple schools for mis-ranking them: (1) NYU should be tied with (not ahead of) the next several schools at 2 pts each; (2) Clinton should not qualify based on my criterion of not just scandal but conviction or being forced from office (in an earlier draft list I was just collecting political scandals, but frankly there were just so many that I had to narrow it, and I shouldn’t have left Clinton on the list); and (3) I did over-rank large schools and under-rank small schools by not adjusting for school size. I now have a newfound respect for the US News rankings; this is tricky business.

  20. Freddy Mac says:

    I think Chicago-Kent would be on the list somewhere, too. Seems like Otto Kerner, Jr. who was convicted would get at least a point…and I seem to remember some other alum-judges who were impeached.