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The law school rankings "are profoundly flawed". OMG! Why someone tell me why!

If the Dean at Yale Law School is pissed, I'm pissed. Where does the US News get off ranking the schools incorrectly!! Did you know that Yale is ranked as the best law school by that POS publication? No wonder Yale is screaming mad!


Hey, WTF? What in the wide world of sports is going on here. Is that Yale guy gunning for an Academy Award? Is he going to slap Chris Rock?



U.S. News & World Report to Revamp Parts of Its Law-School Ranking

Publication to make changes in wake of public rebuke by top-ranked schools


Yale Law School said late last year that it would no longer provide information to help U.S. News compile its list.


By Melissa Korn, WSJ



Jan. 2, 2023 9:00 am ET


U.S. News & World Report is revamping some elements of its law-school ranking, capitulating to pressure after deans at more than a dozen top law schools publicly challenged the value of the closely followed list.


In a letter sent Monday to deans of the 188 law schools it currently ranks, U.S. News said it would give less weight in its next release to reputational surveys completed by deans, faculty, lawyers and judges and won’t take into account per-student expenditures that favor the wealthiest schools. The new ranking also will count graduates with school-funded public-interest legal fellowships or who go on to additional graduate programs the same as they would other employed graduates.


U.S. News said its rankings team held meetings with more than 100 deans and other law-school administrators in recent weeks. They embarked on the listening tour after Yale Law School—perennially ranked at No. 1—said it would no longer provide information to help U.S. News compile its list.


“The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed,” Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken said at the time. “Its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress.”


Harvard Law School followed suit the same day, and by the end of that week the law schools at Georgetown, Columbia, the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford joined in the movement to disengage from the rankings.


Ultimately, 12 of the top 14 schools said they wouldn’t provide U.S. News with any additional information it might use to run the rankings. Some law schools that said they would continue to share the requested information also offered sharp criticism of the existing system.


Robert Morse, U.S. News’s chief data strategist, and Stephanie Salmon, senior vice president for data and information strategy, spent much of December in Zoom meetings with scores of deans.


“Based on those discussions, our own research and our iterative rankings review process, we are making a series of modifications in this year’s rankings that reflect those inputs and allow us to publish the best available data,” they wrote in Monday’s letter.


The shift in methodology may be due in part to necessity. Though U.S. News pulls much of its data from the American Bar Association and said it would rank schools whether or not they cooperated, it relies on schools to provide the spending figures and to complete peer-review surveys.


The survey completed by academics counted for 25% of the total score last year, while another for judges, law-firm hiring partners and other attorneys made up another 15% of a school’s score. A U.S. News spokeswoman declined to say what weight those would carry in the coming ranking.


Mr. Morse and Ms. Salmon said they also heard concerns in their meetings about how U.S. News considers diversity and loan forgiveness and potentially encourages awarding scholarships based on LSAT scores rather than on financial need. They wrote in the Monday letter that those issues “will require additional time and collaboration to address” so won’t be overhauled now.


U.S. News said it would offer more detailed profiles of schools that do provide requested information, a potential incentive for institutions waffling over whether to participate but worried about falling off the radar of prospective students.


Several deans said in interviews with The Wall Street Journal that U.S. News would be in a tough spot if it punished schools that abstained too harshly.


“If the top 15 schools suddenly drop down to No. 50, the rankings don’t have much credibility,” said Russell Korobkin, interim dean of the law school at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Deans from four top-ranked schools who held meetings with Mr. Morse and Ms. Salmon in recent weeks said that the conversations were cordial and that the U.S. News representatives seemed open to criticism but didn’t offer solutions or acknowledge that this was all well-trodden territory.


“I’ve been objecting to these things from U.S. News for many years,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley’s law school. He said he visited Mr. Morse in Washington even before he became Berkeley’s dean in 2017 and had sent letters regarding the publication’s cost-of-living adjustments, as well as how it views graduates who get public-interest fellowships or enroll in Ph.D. or master’s programs.


Seventeen deans, including Ms. Gerken and Mr. Chemerinsky, signed a 2017 letter to Mr. Morse suggesting that U.S. News follow the lead of the American Bar Association, which broke out two categories for graduates with school-funded fellowships to better differentiate between those with public-interest jobs versus those whose schools were trying to goose employment numbers.


Ms. Gerken said after her meeting with Mr. Morse and Ms. Salmon that it was dispiriting to see U.S. News “simply ignored or forgot the solution devised by the American Bar Association” for so long.


She and other deans said they were also troubled by how thinly staffed the law-school rankings operation seemed, and they were told nobody on it had a background in legal education.


“Having a window into the operations and decision-making process at U.S. News in recent weeks has only cemented our decision to stop participating in the rankings,” Ms. Gerken said.


A U.S. News spokeswoman said the publication has analyzed law schools for 30 years, and “to say that journalists need to be lawyers is an argument for a closed profession—which is something we wholeheartedly refute.”


U.S. News informed the deans of the changes a day ahead of an annual gathering for the Association of American Law Schools in San Diego—a conference Mr. Morse and Ms. Salmon are scheduled to attend.


Write to Melissa Korn at Melissa.Korn@wsj.com

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