Education

Gulags: the 10 worst ABA-accredited law schools

Whittier Law School in Orange County, California is, officially, the worst law school in the United States. Appalachian School of Law edges out the University of Law Verne College of Law and several other richly deserving candidates for second-worst place.

Whittier, Appalachian and La Verne essentially tied for the uncoveted bottom spot, but Whittier “won” the tiebreaker, thanks to a pitiful 17.1 percent employment score. In addition Whittier’s 61 percent under-employment score is the highest among all ABA-approved schools.

Appalachian School of Law in the rural, westernmost reaches of Virginia appears very close to the bottom in all but two categories: under-employment and cost. Also, the number of students that ASL does not categorize for employment purposes (the “unknown employment” score) is notably high.

The third-place University of La Verne College of Law ranks dead last among the 194 law schools that “U.S. News” ranks by academic peer reputation.

Fifth-place Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego is the most expensive among the schools on this list. If you depend wholly on student loans and pay full sticker price, you’ll pay more at Thomas Jefferson than you would pay at the University of Michigan or Duke University (“U.S. News” Best Law Schools #10 and #11, respectively).

The Daily Caller ranking of the worst law schools simply tracks schools based on how many times they appear in the very bottom in eight categories related to admissions data, bar passage, employment data, cost, and U.S. News peer ranking. All data is purely objective, except for the peer rating. (VIEW TheDC’s LAW SCHOOL GULAG RATINGS TABLE)

California is home to four of the worst 10 law schools in the country: Whittier, La Verne, Thomas Jefferson and Golden Gate University School of Law (#4). A brutal state bar exam is a contributing factor. The Golden State’s terrible economy looms large as well. However, even in the best of times, California has been home to several bottom-feeder law schools.

Florida is the state with the second-highest number of bad law schools: Ave Maria School of Law (#8) and Barry University School of Law (#10). In addition, Thomas M. Cooley Law School (#7) maintains a branch campus in the Tampa Bay area. Three other schools in The Sunshine State (Florida A&M, Florida Coastal and St. Thomas University) fall just outside the bottom 10 in The Daily Caller’s ranking of lousiness.

Several law schools on this list received their ABA accreditation within the last decade. The ABA provisionally approved La Verne Law in 2012. Phoenix School of Law received its full accreditation in 2010. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (which is in no way related to the John Marshall Law School in Chicago) was fully accredited in 2009. Ave Maria and Barry were accredited in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

The handful of law schools around the nation that the American Bar Association has not (yet) deigned to approve may be even worse than the schools on this list. On the other hand, no national, powerful, quasi-official organization is holding them out as worthy of three years of your time and a ton of your money.