Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Law School Rankings: The Play

Jeff Sovern (St. John's) has posted Rankings: A Dramatization of the Incentives Created by Ranking Law Schools on SSRN.   The abstract is here.  Robert Ambrogi provides a nice review:

His belief, as he writes in the play's introduction, is that "law school rankings encourage schools to shift resources away from improving the quality of the education they provide in favor of investing in improving their standings in the rankings."

The play attempts to dramatize these issues and make them more vivid. Sovern's villain is fictional law school dean "Leslie," who woos potential students with the school's secure spot high in the rankings, then confides to "Lee," a professor, that the school cannot afford to spend more on educating the students who are already there.

Let me spell it out for you. Nobody cares about what the students learn here. OK? We care about them before they get here because the rankings look at their LSATs and undergraduate grades and how we do in attracting them. We care about them after they leave because the rankings take account of how many of them get jobs and whether they pass the bar, but that's pretty much it. OK?

Tragically, the school's rankings falter after all, and both Leslie and Lee head off into the sunset -- but only one does so voluntarily.

Jeff solicits comments on his blog:  "[I]f you get the impression that I want people to read it and comment, you’re right. I’m curious to learn whether writing this was useful or a waste of time."

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