TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Legal Ed In the Absence of Rankings (Should AccessLex Buy U.S. News?)

U.S. News Law (2019), Legal Ed in the Absence of U.S. News Rankings:

We've asked some experts what law schools would look like without the annual U.S. News rankings looming over them.

  • Danielle Conway (Dean, Maine; Incoming Dean,  Penn State-Dickinson:  “Absent the spectre of [the U.S. News ranking], I believe that legal education could flourish under a more placed-based model, allowing law schools to be more responsive to the specific opportunities and challenges facing their respective communities."
  • Kyle McEntee (Law School Transparency):  "The U.S. News rankings play a direct role in increasing legal education costs and decreasing the commitment schools can have to access, affordability, and innovation. If U.S. News went away tomorrow, the impact would be between ‘some’ and ‘a lot.’ It depends on whether schools really want to change."
  • Dan Rodriguez (Former Dean, Northwestern): "In the absence of U.S. News, law schools will continue to compete hard–for students, for faculty, for accolades. The prestige race didn’t begin with U.S. News and it wouldn’t end with its demise. However, the fine-grained character of the competition, focusing on some matters which are only tangentially related to educational quality (such as expenditures-per-student) and others which are honestly beyond the law school’s control (such as reputational surveys) would change."

Kyle McEntee suggested that someone with deep pockets (in this case he suggested AccessLex Institute) buy up the U.S. News rankings and shut it down. ...

The takeaway: Let’s be real. The U.S. News rankings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. (Sorry Kyle.) But I think it’s useful to think about how law schools might function differently in their absence. That might provide some inspiration for more modest initiatives that improve the educational experience without necessarily torpedoing a school’s ranking. I don’t expect any law school to shoot itself in the foot by making changes that sink its U.S. News ranking, which would only drive down applicants.

Legal Education | Permalink


For guardians of our freedom, constitutional rights, and diversity, these law admins sure don't think much of prospective students' ability to put statistics in perspective!

(Nor, I'd guess, the claims they'd make without U.S. News as a check.)

Posted by: Anand Desai | Mar 12, 2019 8:59:01 PM

I suspect AccessLex will want to save its pennies for the time - and it's coming, one way or the other - when GradPLUS loans are either given a major haircut (Democrats) or done away with altogether (GOP). They were a private student lender once, they likely will be again - particularly if the GOP plan to cut back graduate federal student lending to $28,500/year passes muster, which it might. (private law schools cost anywhere between $70k and $96k/year when including living expenses, as one must).

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 12, 2019 10:04:12 PM