Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ranking Law Schools by "Service to Society"?

Washington Monthly has published a ranking of colleges based on "service to society":

While other guides ask what colleges can do for students, we ask what colleges are doing for the country....

The first question we asked was, what does America need from its universities? From this starting point, we came up with three central criteria: Universities should be engines of social mobility, they should produce the academic minds and scientific research that advance knowledge and drive economic growth, and they should inculcate and encourage an ethic of service. We designed our evaluation system accordingly.  [The methodology is explained in detail here.]

Here is Washington Monthly's ranking of the Top 30 National Universities, and how it compares with U.S. News' ranking:



















In his contribution to our Indiana symposium on The Next Generation of Law School Rankings, Harnessing the Positive Power of Rankings, 81 Ind. L.J. __ (forthcoming 2005), and in an earlier article, In Praise of Law School Rankings: Solutions to Coordination and Collective Action Problems, 77 Tex. L. Rev. 403 (1998), Russell Korobkin has argued that rankings should encourage the production of public goods that law school are uniquely competent to produce.  Although he concludes that the production of legal scholarship best meets this criteria, he also discusses the role that the public interest can serve in law school rankings:

The practice of public interest law is arguably a public good, and it is arguably within the special competence of law schools to either provide this good directly or to encourage its production by law school graduates. Consequently, either the number of public interest clients served by a law school's clinic, or its faculty, or the percentage of a school's graduates who pursue careers in public interest law might be appropriate for consideration in law school rankings

For press coverage of the Washington Monthly rankings, see:

(Thanks to Verna Williams for the tip.)

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