Ranking of Patent Law Programs for 2011: Perhaps Six Junk-Science Ratings Are Better Than One

US News & World Report has released its updated rankings of intellectual property (IP) programs for 2011. The ranking is created by polling a subset of law professors who teach at least one intellectual property law course. The professors then list up to fifteen programs with good IP programs. Those "votes" are then used to create a ranking. Of course, most IP professors are not patent law professors. 

Despite problems with the voting procedure, it is clear that every program on this list has an excellent IP program. And, although the list is not a "patent law program" list, all of the listed law schools employ at least one full-time faculty member whose primary teaching and research interest is patent law. Likewise, although you may quibble about individual rankings, there is no question that Berkeley's program deserves to be very highly ranked.  

The US News list:

Rank

Law School

1. 

University of California–Berkeley 

2. 

Stanford University

3. 

George Washington University 

4. 

Boston University

5.

New York University

6.

Columbia University

7.

University of Michigan

8.

University of Houston

9.

Duke University

Franklin Pierce Law Center
(Soon to be University of New Hampshire School of Law)

Three schools were dropped from this year's USNews top-ten: Santa Clara University; Yeshiva University (Cardozo), and Chicago-Kent (IIT).  These three schools all have strong patent law programs and have recently hired additional new patent-focused faculty members.  Other schools with hefty patent-focused programs did not make the list. These include schools like George Mason, John Marshall, Suffolk, William Mitchell, etc. (See curriculum ranking below).

Boston University, Michigan, and Duke were all added to the USNews list this year, although each had previously been on the list at some point during the past decade. 

Patently-O Rankings: I have redone my list of "the top thirty law school patent programs" based solely on the number of Patently-O visits received from the associated university in the past year. There are many problems with this "study." In fact, at first glance, I would tend to take this ranking as a complete joke except for the fact that it is probably at least as good as the US News IP Specialty ranking. Perhaps six junk-science ratings are better than one. Some of the problems with my ranking include: Many schools may not use their name in their IP address — making them lose their ranking. This appears to be true of Franklin Pierce Law Center (soon to be University of New Hampshire Law School). Larger schools naturally perform better because the scores are not corrected according to the number of students. Likewise, the measure that I used allows for a few intense users to change the result. Thus, I placed an asterisk beside the University of Missouri because my own visits to Patently-O likely altered the results. Schools where students (and professors) primarily study away from campus building may also rank relatively lower.  Finally, many of the visits to Patently-O may come from other departments – such as the Technology Transfer and corporate counsel – rather than the law schools.

Rank

School

Relative Score (Based on Visits from School Domain to Patently-O)

George Washington University

100% 

Columbia University, University of Missouri*

65%

4

Santa Clara University

60%

Stanford University

55%

6

University of Texas, University of California Berkeley

45%

8

Duke University, Harvard University, University of Wisconsin-Madison

40%

11

New York University, University of Virginia, Boston University, George Mason University, University of San Diego, Georgetown University, Cornell University

35%

18

Ohio State University, Indiana University (Bloomington), Washington University

30%

21

University of Pittsburgh, John Marshall Law School, University of Minnesota, University of Washington

25%

25

University of Illinois, Northwestern University, Suffolk University, Fordham University, University of Maryland. University of Connecticut, Rutgers University, University of Arkansas

20%

 GWU tops this year's list as it did in my 2010 ranking. Overall, the schools in the top-ten have been relatively stable. Richmond fell off the list; Berkeley, Duke, and Wisconsin moved into the top-ten.     

To add an additional layer of ranking, remember that almost 20,000 individuals access Patently-O through the free daily e-mail service. The following list ranks law school's according to the number of Patently-O e-mail subscribers. In addition to the biases mentioned above, we may have an additional bias if subscribers from some schools tend to use personal e-mail account (such as gmail) instead of the university account.

Rank

School

Relative Score (Based on the Number of Patently-O E-Mail Subscribers from School Domain)

1.

Franklin Pierce Law Center (University of New Hampshire Law School)

100% 

2.

University of Michigan

60%

3.

Harvard University, Stanford University

45%

5. 

George Washington University, Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, Chicago Kent Law School

40%

9.

Case Western Reserve University, University of Utah, Washington University, Elon University, Michigan State University

35%

14.

New York Law School, University of Washington, New York University, St. Louis University, University of Chicago, University of Denver, Yale University

25%

Franklin Pierce again tops this list (as it did in 2009). Harvard moved dramatically upward in the ranking.

Reputation Ranking of Patent Law Faculty: Part of the "reputation" of an IP program is based on the scholarship of its faculty. To create a ranking of faculty-member patent-law reputation, I searched for the number of law review citations associated with each IP-professor using the Westlaw JLR database. To ensure that the citations focused on patent-law reputation, the search looked for articles that somehow related to patent law.  It takes some time for citations to begin to build-up, so it is not surprising that all of the professors on this list have been teaching for at least ten years. 

Citation Rank

Faculty Name

School

1

Mark

Lemley

Stanford University

2

Robert

Merges

University of California, Berkeley

3

Rebecca

Eisenberg

University of Michigan

4

Dan

Burk

University of California, Irvine

5

Edmund

Kitch

University of Virginia

6

Rochelle

Dreyfuss

New York University

7

Paul

Goldstein

Stanford University

8

Pamela

Samuelson

University of California, Berkeley

9

Richard

Posner

University of Chicago

10

John

Duffy

George Washington University

11

Janice

Mueller

University of Pittsburgh

12

Arti

Rai

Duke University

13

Martin

Adelman

George Washington University

14

Julie

Cohen

Georgetown University

15

Maureen

O'Rourke

Boston University

16

A.S.

Oddi

University of Akron

17

Gerald

Mossinghoff

George Washington University

18

Polk

Wagner

University of Pennsylvania

19

Michael

Meurer

Boston University

20

Louis

Kaplow

Harvard University

21

Mark

Janis

Indiana University

22

Lawrence

Lessig

Harvard University

23

William

Landes

University of Chicago

24

James

Bessen

Boston University

If I had included Federal Circuit Judges in this listing, Judges Moore would jump into the top-ten. Likewise, if Donald Chisum was still teaching, he would be the clear #1.  Four GWU faculty members are listed in the top-25 and BU have three ranked faculty members. Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and Chicago all had two.

IP Law Journal Ranking: Many law schools have created IP-focused law journals. Using data collected by the Washington & Lee Law Library, I created the following ranking of student-edited IP Law Journals. The ranking is based on how often articles published in each journal are cited in other journals or court cases.  I only included journals with titles that include the terms "Intellectual property", "patent", or "technology." Thus, the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts is not included in this list.

Rank

School

Journal

Relative Rank

1

Harvard University

Harvard Journal of Law & Technology

100

2

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley Technology Law Journal

69

3

University of Michigan

Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review

54.6

4

Fordham University

Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal

39.5

5

Stanford University

Stanford Technology Law Review

37.7

6

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal

37.4

7

Duke University

Duke Law & Technology Review

36.3

8

Albany Law School

Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology

36.1

9

Boston University

Boston University Journal of Science & Technology Law

35

10

Columbia University

Columbia Science and Technology Law Review

33.7

11

Marquette University

Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review

31.3

12

Franklin Pierce Law Center

IDEA: The Intellectual Property Law Review

30.5

13

University of North Carolina

North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology

29.4

14

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology

29.2

15

University of Virginia

Virginia Journal of Law & Technology

28.9

16

University of Texas

Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal

28.6

17

University of Colorado

Journal on Telecommunications & High Technology Law

26.8

18

Yale University

Yale Journal of Law & Technology

25.7

IP Curriculum: Finally, William Mitchell College of Law has compiled a "Report on Intellectual Property Curricula" at the various law schools and used that to create a ranking based on course offerings.  

Ranking

Law School

Total Points

1

Santa Clara University School of Law

19.5

2

Suffolk University Law School

19

3

Whittier Law School

18

4 (tie)

Franklin Pierce Law Center

17

  

Georgetown University Law Center

17

  

Seton Hall University School of Law

17

  

The George Washington University Law School

17

  

William Mitchell College of Law

17

9

The John Marshall Law School

16

10 (tie)

Chicago-Kent College of Law Illinois Institute of Technology

15

  

The University of Akron School of Law

15

12

DePaul University College of Law

14.5

13

Vanderbilt University Law School

14

14

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law-Yeshiva University

13.5

15 (tie)

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

13

  

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

13

17 (tie)

George Mason University School of Law

12

  

Michigan State University College of Law

12

  

New York Law School

12

  

University of Houston Law Center

12

  

University of Illinois College of Law

12

  

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

12

  

University of San Diego School of Law

12

24

University of Richmond School of Law

11.5

25 (tie)

Arizona State University-Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

11

  

Golden Gate University School of Law

11

  

Pepperdine University School of Law

11

  

Seattle University School of Law

11

  

Stanford University Law School

11

  

University of California-Berkeley School of Law

11

  

University of California-Hastings College of the Law

11

  

University of San Francisco School of Law

11

  

Washington University School of Law

11

  

53 thoughts on “Ranking of Patent Law Programs for 2011: Perhaps Six Junk-Science Ratings Are Better Than One

  1. “I got to U.C. Davis School of Law and am saddened that neither our school or any of our professors made any of these lists : (”

    Don’t worry BE, I was a Davis grad and had no problem getting a job. The specialty rankings are mostly s**t. Davis has a good enough rep, particulary in California, that you should be fine.

  2. “including a brief stop in Indianapolis in ’06″

    A bit too brief perhaps, but otherwise a great showing from the Patriots.

    Thanks for the input.

  3. Well Indianapolis is outside the NOVA/DC area.

    (Jules is clearly not a college basketball fan…)

  4. “including a brief stop in Indianapolis in ’06″

    What does this have to do with getting around the world? Is this supposed to be an exemplary place where all people who travel the world make brief stops in? I honestly don’t get it. Maybe you could elaborate.

  5. “a degree from Mason is not as portable/respected…once you leave”

    Nonsense.

    My Mason degree, plus my own hard work, has gotten me around the world, including a brief stop in Indianapolis in ’06. Get real anon.

  6. To xmnr – If you know that you’ll likely be spending your entire career in DC/NOVA, then save the money and go for Mason. If, however, you think may want to someday work in NY, LA, Houston, Dallas, etc. (i.e. anywhere outside DC/NOVA), then I’d personally go for GW. A degree from Mason is not as portable/respected as GW once you leave DC/NOVA.

  7. If you can afford GW, by all means go. That being said, you will never regret a decision to go to Mason. Its not so much where you go, its what you do when you get there.

  8. I got to U.C. Davis School of Law and am saddened that neither our school or any of our professors made any of these lists : (

  9. “As a GW grad myself, I recommend George Mason”

    The conflicting advice here worries me since I am going to have to decide SOON between George Washington and George Mason, both full-time.

    $44k/yr versus $20k/yr, ranking 20 versus ranking 42, higher placement success versus poor placement, liberal versus libertarian

    Uhg. Anyone want to just decide for me? I’m about to flip a coin, any advice is greatly appreciated.

  10. “To think that Mason is somehow a better school than Tulane (according to USNWR), is laughable”

    You need another drink my friend. And how many beads would it take to make you change your mind?

  11. “Mason is a great and grossly underrated school/program.”

    Mason is a master at gaming the USNWR rankings. It is a *very* regional school with very little reach/recognition beyond DC or Northern Virginia. To think that Mason is somehow a better school than Tulane (according to USNWR), is laughable.

  12. Franklin Pierce – hands down – dominates Patent curriculum. GW is a close second.

    USNWR rankings are based on all IP – including TM and (C). That being said, you want to be a patent practicioner – consider Franks!

  13. Mason was among the first in leading the way to establishing an IP focused law program (before anyone/everyone else was doing it). Mason is a great and grossly underrated school/program.

  14. “It appears that GWU has the best program, but shelling out over $120k for a degree is a bit nauseating. Is it really worth it, compared to paying 1/2 that price at George Mason?”

    As a GW grad myself, I recommend George Mason. The finances make a lot more sense, and you’ll crush the curve in the night program at Mason. GW might give you a little more entry at biglaw and/or in lit, but really not that much. I see about equal numbers of practitioners, associates and partners alike, from the two schools across the DC IP shops.

  15. EV: It appears that GWU has the best program, but shelling out over $120k for a degree is a bit nauseating. Is it really worth it, compared to paying 1/2 that price at George Mason?

    Consider going straight to the horse’s mouth. Check the websites of some firms where you would like to work, and look at where their more junior IP-specialized lawyers went to school. Phone up recruiting contacts at those firms and ask them how much of a difference the name of your school makes in the selective process. If your school correlates with your suitability to practice in any way, chances are it’ll be an important factor during recruiting.

    Whatever information you manage to obtain this way, it’s guaranteed to be more reliable than you’d get from strangers on a blog.

  16. “Glad to see both my schools University of Houston (JD) and George Washington (LLM) are up there. Did I really choose right over 35 years ago?”

    And I’M glad to see that you gave yourself your annual self-congratulatory pat on the back the same as you do each year when Dennis posts this lamea$$ “ranking” list.

  17. Does anyone else find it hilarious that of USNWR’s “top ranked IP schools”, very few (almost none) actually had much in the way of IP curricula, and the schools with the heaviest IP curricula didn’t make it into USNWR’s “ranking” of “top” IP schools?

    That shows how much the USNWR ranking are really worth — nothing.

  18. I had to chuckle at the “tool” post of Dr. Factor.

    self promotion, trade secret, decide up front.
    very funny.

    Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.
    Look a bit closer at the glove in hand that doesn’t fit. Is it any wonder Johny C kicked your A?

  19. Dennis,

    At least part of the purpose of blogging is self-promotion. I think the next step is to take all your data and combine into a scientific ranking where you ascribe appropriate weight to each relevant parameter. For obvious reasons, the weighting should remain a trade-secret.

    Decide up front what position is the highest that your current academic employers can credibly have, and use that to set the weightings.

    This is a tried and tested academic tool.

  20. Can anyone honestly answer how much ranking does matter? I’m looking into GWU, George Mason and Georgetown. (I’d like to work as a patent examiner while going to law school part time.) My master’s is from a “top 3″ aerospace engineering school- i feel it made me a vastly better engineer, but it did jack for my career (been working as an engineer for a few years now- with 8 patents pending myself). It appears that GWU has the best program, but shelling out over $120k for a degree is a bit nauseating. Is it really worth it, compared to paying 1/2 that price at George Mason?

  21. Dennis – Thanks for the response and explanation. That sounds like a solid methodology. Results are interesting.

    As I think about it, the amount of time professors have been teaching must really compound citations substantially (maybe even too much so). As you noted, no one on that list has been teaching patent law for less than 10 years. But things have changed so much over the last 10 years. I wonder if there might be a way to capture the contributions of younger thought leaders… Have you ever seen anyone look at amicus brief filings, e.g., over the last 10 years? Granted, anyone can file an amicus brief, and I think a lot of names get attached to those that may not have been involved in formulating the positions, but maybe something like that might provide a better picture of which professors are influencing patent law/policy in a way that captures the work of younger professors too. Just a thought…

  22. Regarding the law journal metric, it should be noted that George Washington houses both the AIPLA journal as well as the Federal Circuit Journal (recently moved from George Mason), both of which obviously deal heavily with patent law. The editors are students, so I’m not sure what disqualifies these journals from the list.

    …and I just saw B. Fletcher’s post above making this point already. Go GW.

  23. 6,

    Where was that? If I remember correctly, the lady kicked your assumptions to smithereens.

    Did you ever hook up with her?

  24. @ Jason: Remember back when you were a 2L looking for a summer job. I can think of at least two people who cared about rankings – one was the HR person sorting hundreds of resumes. Not from a top tier school or top ranked in IP, that one goes in the trash.

  25. Are you of the opinion that any other nation has comparable IP educational resources?, or comparable inventing resources & successes?

    I have no significant knowledge of those facts. Neither do you, I’m sure, but it won’t stop you from having an opinion.

  26. “Someone somewhere had a discussion about this, but I cannot remember where. I do remember 6 beign involved, so maybe he can help us out.”

    Yes that was me and NAL where she believed that reopening couldn’t be done practically ever after an appeal was decided. Although nobody said director’s sig was required for a new search, and it is not. That’s up to the examiner.

  27. Dear IANAE,

    Are you of the opinion that any other nation has comparable IP educational resources?, or comparable inventing resources & successes?

  28. Dennis – AIPLA Quarterly Journal not listed? It certainly fits your criteria for “student-edited IP Law Journal.” The journal’s staff office is located at GWU and while the journal staff competition isn’t limited to GW Law students, the vast majority of staff members and editors are GW Law students. It is pretty much a GW Law journal in all but name.

  29. Kevin — You asked about my methodology for the patent law professors.
    I ran two different searches of law review articles in Westlaw. The first search was “focused” in that I looked articles that used the word “patent” near the professor’s name (within 10 words). The second search was broader and looked for any articles that contained both the professor’s name and a term such as “patent law”, “patent infringement”, “patent prosecution”, or “patent act” anywhere in the article. The focused search was intended to pick-up times when the professor had actually written about patent law, and the broader search was intended to pick-up times when the professor’s work had influenced an article that itself was about patent law. I then took the product of these two citation counts as the final score. Using the product meant that professors who scored well on both measures performed relatively better than those with skewed scores.

    Professor O’Rourke has written a number of patent law articles. Her most famous one is one where she suggests that patent law should have a fair use regime.

  30. USA, USA, USA leads the USA in patent-law higher educational facilities – Way to Go USA.

    Fixed that for you.

    It’s a list of American schools. What country did you expect would come out on top?

  31. higher educational facilities…

    self-educated ordinary inventors…

    OK Johny Cochran, if it don’t fit, you cannot convict.

  32. And, of course, it goes without saying, “THIS” And self-educated ordinary inventors.

    Like hand in glove – - -

  33. USA, USA, USA leads the World in patent-law higher educational facilities – Way to Go USA.

    THIS is the real wealth of our nation!

  34. Dennis – How did you structure your search to ensure that the citations were somehow related to patent law? I associate a lot of the names on the list primarily with patent law, but there are some names that I associate mostly with trademark or copyright law or just with IP law generally. Surprising to see Maureen O’Rourke with more patent-related law review citations than Michael Meurer…

  35. Even the examiner hasn’t really searched the case, because the Board decided that whatever the examiner did before was wrong. The only thing for it is to have the examiner search the case again, bearing in mind the guidance from above.

    Not quite IANAE. If I may be Supreme, The clue being that the examiner’s reasoning is wrong – not necessarily his search. There is a presumption that the examiner knows how to do that part of his job right (imagine that). I think that “search the case again is a step of examination which requires sign-off prior to undertaking.

    Jules, the need for sig. is correct only for the BPAI rejecting the Examiner – remand is back under full authority of the examiner, so no Director’s signature needed.

    Someone somewhere had a discussion about this, but I cannot remember where. I do remember 6 beign involved, so maybe he can help us out.

  36. All these remands.

    Sadly, that’s how the system works. The appellate board can’t decide the case on the fact record before it, so it remands.

    The best the Board can do for an applicant is overturn the examiner’s rejection. But then what? The Board can’t allow the case, because the Board hasn’t searched the case. Even the examiner hasn’t really searched the case, because the Board decided that whatever the examiner did before was wrong. The only thing for it is to have the examiner search the case again, bearing in mind the guidance from above.

    Courts of appeal work the same way. Either the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court might decide that the case turns on certain facts that the trial court didn’t think were important. The trial court didn’t find those facts because it didn’t think they were important, so they’re not before the appellate panel. What choice do they have, other than to ask the trial court to go find those facts and send the case back up?

  37. Also off topic, question:

    If a case gets remanded to the examiner, does it require a Director’s signature for all actions thereafter?

  38. Continuing off topic: All these remands. Is that what pleases Team Examiner? If not, will Team E take revenge on the Board? And, if so, I take it that this is i) not good news for Inventors, and ii) only a temporary easing of the backlog problem.

  39. NWPA–thank you for your comment. I personally think Arti Rai belongs in that group as well, and wonder what will come of her position at the PTO.

  40. Many of the most successful (and good) patent lawyers I know are graduates of no-name schools. This simply does not seem to be a field in which having blue-chip law school credentials matters much.

    On the other hand, if you are a prospective student and you are contemplating this list, I will make it simple for you: go to the all-around best law school you can get into that personal circumstances permit you to attend, even if it is light on patent courses. If you go at this with an open mind (which you should), you might well decide to do something with your law degree other than patent litigation or preparation, in which case law school rank does have its privileges.

  41. Blah, blah, blah, blah…

    Typical American insubstantial credentialist-driven hierarchical sort.

    THIS TYPE OF THING IS THE PROBLEM.

    HOW ABOUT SOME SUBSTANTIVE CRITERIA?

    NO, THAT WOULD RUIN EVERYTHING!

  42. Glad to see both my schools University of Houston (JD) and George Washington (LLM) are up there. Did I really choose right over 35 years ago?

  43. And, I agree with the posters in the other thread that a fed. cir. judge should have a science background. Rader does not. He is good despite this, but he can be easily snowed. He starts talking like a man with no flotation device and a 30 lb. weight in deep water when he trys to explain technology.

  44. >>Judges Moore would jump into the top-ten.

    Adelman’s book on patent law is about 1,000 times better than anything Moore has ever or will ever do.

    Moore is ditz that figured out how to game the system. Lemley is a ditz that figured out how to game the system. Both of them are the types of people that have destroyed this country and created an empty hollow destroyed mass surrounded by gamers that steal the lime light and money. They are both shameful human beings.

    Adelman is quite the contrary and to imagine that Moore should go above Adelman is an insult beyond reason.

  45. I’m glad to see my law school alma mater (University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law) made one of the lists. A good group of IP law professors there (Jim Gibson, Chris Cotropia and Kristen Jakobsen Osenga).

Comments are closed.