Northwestern Law School was pleased by the recent National Law Journal report that showed that it was the #1 law school in the U.S. in terms of placing students at the NLJ 250 firms. On a per capita basis, no school did a better job of getting its students into these Big Law firms. There may be many reasons for this - things that range from substantive (e.g., aggressively seeking applicants with work experience) to silly (I haven't seen NLJ's methodology, and we all know the rankings devil is in the details.)
Professor Steve Lubet at NU has another explanation. He's decided to throw down, making the bold claim that “Of all the top law schools, we’ve got the strongest curriculum in skills training.” Two things to think about here. First, David Van Zandt's vision of the world has trickled down to faculty. Recall how Van Zandt previously spun the Super Lawyers ranking (in which NU ranked 18th) by noting that the school was #11 among the U.S. News Top 14 (and even higher, when you changed methodology.) (Van Zandt's appropriation of the concept of a "U.S. News Top 14", as a relevant construct, led to Brian Leiter's memorably titled post, Is Northwestern Dean Van Zandt the First Adult to Refer to "the top 14" in Public?) Clearly, Lubet's comment about top schools was far less controversial than Van Zandt's frame. But when Lubet refers to "top law schools", I wonder which schools he includes? And does the very act of limiting the subgroup in this fashion suggest - as I think is fair - that the best skills curricula aren't found in the highest ranking law schools?
But I also think it's interesting that he'd make this claim at all. I suspect that several other schools in the Top 14 - and their skills faculty - would take issue with his perspective. Perhaps this is just standard puffery to be expected when the Daily Northwestern calls for a quote.