Make of them what you will, but these 2010 US News law rankings seem like they may well be real. They include the Top 100, Evening Programs, and Diversity rankings. Our earlier report on this was here. This blog evaluates up and down moves among the top 100. Assuming this stuff is right, the most intriguing news to me (shock!) is that Alabama's faculty reputation rating seems to have moved up to 3.0. It's extremely difficult to move in this highly stable category, and as recently as a 2007 Bama was a 2.7. Hard to know whether this shift was produced by quality, reputation of faculty, or the iterative process of rankings, but Dean Ken Randall will surely be very pleased.
Students deciding on law schools should use this information with caution. Small distinctions in faculty and/or lawyer reputation are probably not very meaningful. More importantly, outside of the very top echelon of schools, one reality remains true: only the very best students will get jobs in the most competitive firms. And for choice public interest jobs, proof of commitment will trump US News rankings again and again. The bottom line: a "top 35" school may have no better placement success than a "top 125" school. Much depends on location, local reputation, and the experiences you accumulate during your three years in law school.