Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The Society of American Law Teachers has called on law schools to boycott the U.S. News rankings
Each spring U.S. News & World Report issues its rankings of American law schools, exerting enormous pressure on deans and faculties to reshape admissions practices and divert scarce resources. One Dean, Alfredo Garcia from St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami Gardens, FL, refused to submit statistical data this year, becoming the first to boycott the rankings.
The Society of American Law Teachers—SALT—issued a statement today urging law school deans and faculty members to work with the American Bar Association—ABA—to reduce the influence of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Download a pdf of the full Statement. Briefly, SALT states:
- Chief among the rankings’ ill effects is their impact on admissions decisions in general, and on diversity in admissions in particular. Because LSAT scores figure so prominently into the computation of a school’s rank, few schools are willing to compromise their ranking by accepting “nontraditional” students whose merit is measured in ways other than a single test score. ...
- The U.S. News rankings’ emphasis on LSAT scores directly undercuts a school’s ability to admit a diverse class. Given the well documented but little understood performance gap on standardized tests, the emphasis on LSAT scores necessarily impacts members of groups who under-perform on such tests. ...
- The U.S. News rankings’ emphasis on the LSAT also affects how law schools conceptualize merit in determining which of their applicants will be successful and proficient lawyers. Although the LSAT correlates to some small degree with first year performance in law school, neither the LSAT nor undergraduate GPA are indicators of ultimate success in the profession. Recent research reveals that there are alternate ways of assessing who is likely to be a successful attorney.