Paul L. Caron
Dean


Friday, March 14, 2014

Chapman Dean: U.S. News Rankings Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools

U.S. News 2015Following up on yesterday's post, Deans Say Rankings Penalize California Law Schools for Bad Economy; U.S. News Rejects Call for State-Adjusted Employment Data:  Tom Campbell (Dean, Chapman) has asked me to post his letter to the editor of The Recorder, U.S. News Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools, on TaxProf Blog:

Your article Deans Say U.S. News Rankings Penalize Schools in the Golden State reported the unanimous position of the California law school deans, who agree that California’s poor employment prospects are a drag on the rankings at all 21 accredited California law schools – even though they are no fault of the California law schools or their students. Put simply, if a law school in Iowa, where unemployment is 4.2%, places 85% of its students, and a law school in California, where unemployment is 8.3%, places 84% of its students, U.S. News ranks the Iowa school ahead of the California school. That is nonsense, if the purpose is to rank the quality of the two law schools. Nevertheless, U.S. News’ Bob Morse responded:

The schools that are underperforming or falling in the ranking, [it's] not because of the state of California's employment woes… but because their students are not in demand, or they're unable to obtain real legal jobs." Mr. Morse pointed to the list for proof, stating: "The top ten schools in California have seen little change in their rankings over the last few years, showing that their graduates are still in demand and they're still getting real legal jobs, despite the California employment status.

Mr. Morse’s statement is false: according to U.S. News’ own data.

Let’s look at the top 10 ranked law schools in California, U.S. News Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools, over the last three years:

#4 USC, dropped 2 positions in the national rankings;
#5 UC Davis dropped 13 positions in the national rankings;
#6 UC Hastings dropped 12 positions in the national rankings;
#8 Loyola dropped 33 positions in the national rankings;
#9 UC San Diego dropped 12 positions in the national rankings; and
#10 Santa Clara dropped 23 positions in the national rankings.

The other four top-ten California schools [#1 Stanford, #2 UC-Berkeley, #3 UCLA, #7 Pepperdine] stayed the same in the national rankings.

The “California effect” on our rankings has nothing to do with the quality of education our schools provide. So we proposed to U.S. News to normalize the employment data on law schools the same way they do for differing state bar passage percentages. If a law school’s graduates pass their state bar at a 70% level, that means something different about the law school’s quality if the overall state bar passage is 80%, or if it is 60%. So, U.S. News normalizes for the bar passage rate of the state. They should do the same for employment. Otherwise, law students in entire states like California will be penalized in the rankings not because a lack of quality of their training, but instead due to economic factors beyond their control.

Below I share the full chart showing the significant U.S. News rankings downtrend in California. May I kindly ask that you share this chart and my comments here with your readers?

School

Name

2012

Rank

2013

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

1 Year

Change

3 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

2

3

-1

0

UC- Berkeley

9

7

9

9

0

0

UCLA

16

15

17

16

+1

0

USC

18

18

18

20

-2

-2

UC-Davis

23

29

38

36

+2

-13

UC-Hastings

42

44

48

54

-6

-12

Pepperdine

54

49

61

54

+7

0

Loyola-L.A.

54

51

68

87

-19

-33

San Diego

67

65

68

79

-11

-12

Santa  Clara

84

96

96

107

-11

-23

Chapman

104

110

126

140

-14

-36

McGeorge

100

101

124

146

-22

-46

San Francisco

100

106

144

Tier 2

-2 +

-46+

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

129

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25+

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/03/chapman-dean-.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

This is probably true, although I doubt the schools would complain if they were boosted by an artificially high market. In general West Coast schools are underrated because most of the rankers are in the East. For example, USC and UCLA are pretty clearly better than some of the Eastern schools usually ranked ahead of them. You get the sunshine: we get the rankings.

Posted by: michael livingston | Mar 14, 2014 4:24:30 AM

Newsflash - people go to law school to get jobs. If a school places more of its grads than another school, that should be heavily weighted into the equation (regardless of unemployment). No matter how good your education is, if you do not get a lawyer job it's next to worthless. The schools may not be able to control the economy, but Iowa has far fewer law schools than California. They did have control over whether or not to open and keep the law school open. Too many law schools/ lawyers not enough jobs. The schools are too blame. The rankings punish them indirectly, and rightfully so.

Posted by: John | Mar 14, 2014 8:58:00 AM

Or, more briefly than John: If you want a job, don't go to law school in California!

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Mar 14, 2014 12:18:11 PM