Monday, July 23, 2012
The U.S. News “Best Law Schools” rankings are the most prolific tool for making application and enrollment decisions. Such decisions are often made under the belief that the U.S. News rankings serve as a proxy for employment opportunities. Such beliefs are mistaken. U.S. News rankings bear almost no relationship to placement in the legal profession, and compare schools on a national scale that does not reflect the significantly more important regional hierarchies. A prospective student primarily concerned with entering the legal practice after graduation is worse off for having been exposed to the U.S. News rankings.
In this article, we explain the methodology and form of Law School Transparency's Law School Score Reports -- a tool designed to improve prospective student decision making. Employment outcomes are (and should be) one of the most important considerations for a prospective student. Because students typically have a narrow range of locations they’d like to practice in, and schools are generally limited to regional placement, we dispense with the irrelevant national ranking in favor of regional sorting based on geographic placement.
A state or regional report can be used to compare schools based on our three scores, a legal employment metric, an underemployment metric, and a reliability indicator. These broad displays of employment outcomes are then supplemented with more detailed information about each individual school. The data is both thorough yet presented in an intuitive manner, allowing prospective students to easily make more informed decisions about which schools, if any, match their career objectives.