Thursday, November 15, 2007
U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of law schools are a lot more fickle than you may realize, and don't measure what law students say are the most important factors. ...
[Theodore] Seto, a tax law professor at Loyola Law School in los Angeles, recently completed an 80-page paper that looks in-depth at the mathematical equation of the rankings to determine the factors that impact law school placement the most [Understanding the U.S. News Law School Rankings, 60 SMU L. Rev. 493 (2007)]. His study shows how fickle the rankings can be, and it provides a guide for law schools that want to improve their standings. Seto said two aspects of the U.S. News system account for this sensitivity.
First, the fact that U.S. News assigns an overall score of 100 to the top-scoring school and an overall score of zero to the bottom-score school. "No matter what, [this] means that any change in one of those schools' numbers will shift the entire scale against which other schools are measured," Seto said.
In addition to the rankings fickleness, law students themselves report in a recent survey that other factors are more important -- including quality of teaching and practical skills training.