Friday, April 3, 2009

Top Ten "Mormon Friendly" Law Schools Announced Monday

The 2009 top ten most "Mormon Friendly" law schools will be revealed Monday! The long wait is almost over. Below is an explanation of the point system used to create the list.

Neither Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark School of Law or the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law were considered for the top ten most "Mormon Friendly" law school list. This was not done as a slight to either school but simply to make the list more exciting. (And unlike when I joked last year Utah wasn't excluded from the list along with BYU simply so they wouldn't be ranked #1) If BYU and the U had been included they would have ranked #1 and #2 respectively.

The top ten list was created to help "Mr./Mrs. Mormon Pre-Law Student" develop a better sense of what law school might be interested in attending. For the purposes of the top ten list it is assumed that the law student is married with one child.

How is "Mormon Friendly" defined? Taking the totality of the circumstances into consideration what would be the best law school for "Mr./Mrs. Mormon Pre-Law Student" to attend?

Why include the cost of living and tuition in the Top Ten list? After last year's top ten list was published several commenters expressed their opinion that the cost of attending a law school shouldn't have anything to do with how "Mormon friendly" it is. I disagree. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has taught the benefits of frugality and the heavy burden of debt for decades. In fact this is one of the reasons that tithing funds are used to subsidize the cost of tuition and some housing at Brigham Young University. This leads to my premise; the cheaper the cost of tuition + the cheaper the cost of living = less debt = Mormon friendly.

The first element measured was the number of LDS law students at a particular law school. Each Mormon law student was worth 1 point. The University of Idaho School of Law had the most students of any single law school with 82.

The second element measured was the cost of living. The lower the cost of living the more points a particular law school received up to a maximum of 100 points. Any school that cost less than $12,000 received all 100 points. The more expensive the cost of living the less points the law school received down to 0 points. Any school that had a cost of living more than $22,000 received 0 points.

The cost of tuition was the third element measured. The less expensive the law school the more points they received up to a maximum of 100 points. The more expensive the law school the less points they received down to a minimum of 0 points. Any school that cost less than $19,000 per year received all 100 points. Any law school that cost more than $44,000 per year received 0 points. From every $250 increase in tuition above $19,000 a law school lost 1 point.

The fourth element measured was the distance of the nearest LDS Temple to the law school. Each school started out with 100 points and lost 1 point for every mile they are from the nearest temple. For law schools more than 100 miles from the nearest LDS Temple they received 0 points.

The fifth element measured was the law school's US News and World Report Ranking. Each law school started out with 100 points and then lost 1 point for its distance from the first place. For example the law school ranked 25th in the US News and World Report Ranking would receive 75 points. Why include the US News and World Report Ranking? For good and bad the law school ranking can have a very big impact on how many job offers a graduating law student has and it what income bracket.

The sixth element measured the percentage of LDS students that made up a schools overall population. This is the only new element to be added this year. By weighing the percentage of LDS law students at a given school to the school's general population this levels the playing field for smaller law schools. For example Harvard has roughly 4x's the student body of Yale and so to not take this into consideration unjustly benefits the larger law schools. To come up with the points possible we took the school's percentage of LDS students and then multiplied that percentage by 4. For example if the LDS students made up 10% of a law school's total population they would receive 40 points.

Any guesses as to who is number one? I will give a hint and say that last year's Champion has been "de-throned"!