Paul L. Caron

Friday, April 24, 2009

U.S. News Is Looking Into Possible Errors in 2010 Law School Rankings

U.S. News

From Robert Morse, Director of Data Research at U.S. News:

It has come to our attention, since the law rankings were published, that a few schools might have submitted incorrect data to U.S. News. We are studying these situations very carefully and will have more to say next week.

Possible errors include:

Brooklyn (#61, up from #63 last year):  Did Brooklyn Law School Game the Rankings?

As many of our readers noted, Brooklyn’s part-time program was missing from the new Part-Time Rankings. Our readers further claimed that Brooklyn’s LSAT spread did not match up to the school’s combined program LSAT spread.

Our readers were correct. The LSAT spread found on the US News Rankings (162-165) matches the full-time spread found on the Brooklyn Law website (162-165). It does not look like the part-time spread (158-160) was factored into the new rankings. According to the latest LSAC data sheet, Brooklyn’s full-program LSAT spread should have been 159-164.

Currently, Brooklyn is sharing the 61 spot with a cluster of other schools. A one or two point shift in their overall score would drop the school 5-10 places in the rankings.

So, did Brooklyn game the rankings by not including their part-time program for consideration? Probably. We emailed every dean listed on the Brooklyn website; we will update this post if any respond.

Nebraska (Tier 3, down from #73 last year):  Nebraska Dean Claims that New Ranking is “Wrong”:

Nebraska just sent this email out to all current and admitted law students:

If you follow the U.S. News and World Reports rankings, you might have noticed that the most recent ranking places the University of Nebraska College of Law much lower than it has been in recent years. Before I go any further, I want to alert you to the fact that this ranking is wrong and was based on incorrect data used by U.S. News.

Last year, Nebraska ranked in the top tier of law schools in the U.S. News rankings. U.S. News recognizes that it used incorrect data in ranking the University of Nebraska College of Law this year, and we are working to get an estimate of where we would have been if the correct data had been used. We have no doubt the estimate will place us in the top tier again.

Unfortunately, despite the mistake, the ranking has been published. But, again, our ranking in that list is simply wrong. And while we continue to work with U.S. News to get more information on our corrected, estimated ranking, we want you to know the University of Nebraska College of Law is the same great place it was last year – and that we will be next year.

We understand how this incorrect information could be confusing and very much encourage those with questions to feel free to contact us. As always, we would be happy to personally answer any questions you may have about these rankings or other questions at the Law College.

Very truly yours,

Sarah Gloden, J.D.

Dean Willborn replied to our first email with:

The short story is that our ranking was based on incorrect data. US News is willing to help us determine where we’d rank using the correct data. They are probably as interested in accuracy as we are. I’ll be surprised if that doesn’t place us very close to our general, historic location somewhere in the 70’s in the top tier.

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Tracked on Apr 27, 2009 12:07:14 PM


As far as I can tell, there's no evidence that Brooklyn did anything wrong. And here we go . . . a learned professor's blog has become a forum for elitist anti-Brooklyn trolls. Tsk tsk.

Posted by: sp | Apr 29, 2009 10:21:04 PM

Brooklyn has a long history of allegedly being extremely aggressive in trying to game USNWR numbers. I'm not really surprised by this behavior.

Posted by: lawyer | Apr 28, 2009 2:33:06 PM

Brooklyn Law School is a TTToilet and steals money from its students leaving them with no job after graduation

Posted by: BLS is TTT | Apr 26, 2009 5:11:22 PM

unl gives usnews wrong info and then blames the mag for the incorrect calculation?!

Posted by: whoops! | Apr 24, 2009 9:18:05 PM

Well these news will actually change all the results! Also, what about Canadian Top 10 Tax universities?
Raphael S. Barchichat LLB, LLMcl, LLM Taxation

Posted by: Raphael S. Barchichat | Apr 24, 2009 11:10:48 AM

It is borderline irresponsible to quote an accusation of that magnitude against Brooklyn Law School. There is no indication that Brooklyn lied to U.S. News. Information about its part-time program is all over the U.S. News profile for the school. While it's possible that the 25/75 LSAT spread U.S. News printed is for the full-time program only, we don't know if, let alone why or how, this is the case.

Posted by: sp | Apr 24, 2009 9:15:24 AM

It's interesting that errors always result in schools being lower than they should have been, and never the other way around. Unless, of course, they are reported by outsiders. But the use of mechanical rankings virtually demands cheating, and will continue as long as people continue to play this very entertaining but ultimately silly game.

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