Wednesday, October 21, 2015
The crown jewel at Pepperdine Law School is our Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, which has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the #1 dispute resolution program in American law schools for an unprecedented 11 consecutive years.
I received in the mail my ballot for the 2017 U.S. News Tax Rankings (2016 U.S. News tax rankings). As in prior years, the survey is intended "to identify the law schools having the top programs in tax law." The survey is sent "to a selection of faculty members involved in tax law programs. Law schools supplied the names of these faculty members to U.S. News in summer 2015."
The survey instructs voters to "[i]dentify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest-quality alternative dispute resolution courses or programs. ln making your choices consider all elements that contribute to a program's academic excellence, for example, the depth and breadth of the program, faculty research and publication record, etc."
That's right: the tax rankings will be based on the quality of alternative dispute resolution courses or programs! Colleagues receiving ballots in several of the other seven U.S. News specialty rankings (Clinical, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, Legal Writing, and Trial Advocacy) report that those rankings also will be based on the quality of alternative dispute resolution courses or programs. Apparently, the wizards at U.S. News and Ipsos, their market research company, customized the first paragraph in each of the nine surveys but did not realize that the second numbered paragraph contains a reference to alternative dispute resolution. Presumably, U.S. News will soon recognize the error, invalidate the survey, and re-send corrected surveys to voters.
Update: Above the Law, The First U.S. News Law School Rankings Screw-Up