Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 25, 2008

Deans React to Call for U.S. News Rankings Boycott

Following up on Case Dean Gary Simson's call to boycott the U.S. News rankings (blogged here and here): National Law Journal:  Deans Say Call to Boycott Law School Rankings a Good Idea — But Only in Theory, by Leigh Jones:

  • Andrew M. Coats (Oklahoma, #68):  "As long as they tell us that we need to do that, we don't have a hell of a lot of choice."
  • Lawrence Ponoroff (Tulane, #44):  The notion of getting rid of the rankings "is whistling in the wind.  I have serious problems about ranking law schools and the methodology, but it's a fact of life."
  • Michael Schill (UCLA, #16):  "I have repeatedly asked judges and lawyers in New York and Los Angeles if they have ever had their view solicited [by U.S. News & World Report].  I have yet to meet one person who received a ranking form."  (Schill supports a boycott.)
  • David Van Zandt (Northwestern, #9):  "Rankings are for consumer information.  None of them are perfect, but we need to treat our potential students with respect. I just don't think we should be trying to hide information from consumers.  I'm at a law school ranked by No. 9. I think we should be ranked higher than that. I'm hurt by the rankings."
  • David Yellen (Loyola-Chicago, #82): "The change would mean that the publication would have to rely almost exclusively on the ABA data, which would intensify the gaming among schools that already occurs. Not participating not only wouldn't accomplish getting rid of the rankings, it could be worse than it is now."

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This argument that the U.S. News ranking is for consumer information is hogwash. You can get the exact same consumer information at FOR FREE. No, it's not perfect. Yes, the ABA should ask for more information and make more of the information they gather public. But the information is already out there and it's overlooked by a frighteningly high proportion of prospective law students.

Posted by: Mark Ackerman | Jul 28, 2008 11:49:49 AM


Even with the rankings, you DID go to the Grenada School of Law and Actupuncture because you didn't go to Stanford.

You think #40 means something? Keep on hoping for that pony. I don't mean to be mean; I am mean because it is reality.

There are only a few real classes/tiers of law schools:

Top 10 (which is a little more than 10, but you know what I mean);

Top 25 (which is a little more than top 25, but means you are not top 10);

The bottom of the barrel;

Everyone below the Top 25 and above the bottom of the barrel.

As I stated in a previous post, tiers (whatever you want to call the groupings of law schools) matter and if US News only classified schools by tier it would be RELEVANT and INFORMATIVE while at the same time eliminating gaming for, jockeying for, and reveling in a bump of +1, +2, or +3 up the numerical ladder.


Posted by: Adjunct Law Prof | Jul 25, 2008 9:03:01 PM

The problem with eliminating rankings is, it would help the most prestigious schools far more than it would help to lesser known schools.

Get rid of the rankings, and:

Big firms and other top employers will STILL go out of their way to staff with graduates of Harvard, Yale and Stanford.

Top students at very good, but not as well known nationally, schools will have a harder time marketing themselves outside of their local regions.

As a graduate of a middle of the pack, but rising, school (Oregon 2006), I'd just as soon keep the rankings. Perhaps in 10 years my alma matter will crack into the top 40, making my education a tad more marketable. Take away the rankings, and I may as well have gone to the Grenada School of Law and Actupuncture if I didn't go to Stanford.

Posted by: Gullyborg | Jul 25, 2008 11:24:14 AM

Since rankings create wrong incentives and lead to gaming behavior, I presume that Dean Simson will also promptly end his own school's "unsophisticated" ranking of students by class rank or GPA?

Posted by: LZ | Jul 25, 2008 8:21:52 AM