Paul L. Caron

Friday, June 5, 2020

Bob Morse Discusses The U.S. News Law School Rankings Today At Texas A&M Virtual Conference

2020 US News Law SchoolI am delighted to be speaking on a U.S. News law school rankings panel today at Texas A&M University School of Law's virtual Conference for Associate Deans (at 11:30 am - 12:45 pm ET). Robert Morse, Chief Data Strategist at U.S. News, will make a presentation on The U.S. News Law School Rankings: All Things Considered. After Bob's presentation, Gary Lucas (Senior Associate Dean, Texas A&M) and I will ask Bob some questions, followed by Q&A with the audience. Among the issues I hope we will discuss are:

  • In light of this current moment in our nation, is US News going to add a diversity component to the rankings (as it does in its college rankings using Pell Grants)?
    • If so, would U.S. News use its existing stand alone Law School Diversity Index?
    • Why does U.S. News use national diversity data rather than data from the state in which a law school is located, like it does for the bar exam component of the rankings?
    • Would U.S. News consider other measures, such as the percentage of students who are first-generation students (law school or college)?
    • UPDATE: Bob said U.S. News is open to perhaps including a diversity component to the rankings. U.S. News is working with LSAC on getting appropriate data (such as Pell Grants received by law students during their undergraduate years).
  • Is U.S. News considering suspending the law school rankings due to COVID-19, as it has been asked to do for the college and business school rankings? 
    • What does U.S. News think about Businessweek's decision to suspend its business school rankings due to COVID-19?
    • UPDATE: Bob Said U.S. News is considering the issue but it is too early to make a determination.
    • If U.S. News does not suspend the law school rankings:
      • How will U.S. News adjust the bar exam component of the rankings in light of the decision by states to permit graduate to practice law prior to passing a bar exam under diploma privilege and supervised practice systems?
      • How will U.S. News adjust the job placement component of the rankings?
        • How will U.S. News define jobs at graduation for schools that have not yet held graduation ceremonies due to COVID-19? Do virtual graduations matter?
        • How will U.S. News define jobs ten months after graduation for law schools located in states that have delayed their July bar exams? Will U.S. News adjust the 10-month period for law schools located in those states?
        • UPDATE: Bob recognized the problem and said U.S. News likely would follow the lead of the ABA and NALP.
  • When will the stand alone U.S. News scholarly impact rankings (FAQ; Update #1; Update #2; Update #3) be published?
  • UPDATE: Bob said 2020. 
    • How does U.S. News respond to the many criticisms of the scholarly impact rankings (e.g., here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here)?
    • Will U.S. News ever include the scholarly impact rankings in the law school rankings?
    • UPDATE: Bob said U.S. News has no current plans to do so.
  • U.S. News ranks universities in several different categories (e.g., national universities, liberal arts colleges), based on Carnegie classifications.
    • Would U.S. News ever consider ranking law schools in different categories rather than in a single ranking?
    • What categories might U.S. News consider?
    • Might law schools opt-in to a category?
  • U.S. News reported that 32 schools (16% the total) reported GRE scores for their Fall 2019 entering class.
    • How does U.S. News weight the three GRE components: quantitative, verbal, analytical writing?
    • UPDATE: Bob said 40%/40%/20%.
    • ETS reports percentile equivalents for the quantitative and verbal GRE components for each of the forty-one 130-170 scaled scores (as LSAC does for each of the sixty-one 120-180 scaled scores on the LSAT). But ETS only reports percentile equivalents for the analytical writing GRE component for the thirteen of the 0.0-6.0 score points in 0.5 increments, resulting in huge percentile differentials:
    •    GRE
    • For example, there is 24-percentile gap between the two 4.0 (57th percentile) and 4.5 (81st percentile) analytical writing scores, which encompasses the eight 153-161 LSAT scores. How, if at all, does U.S. News account for these huge differentials?
    • UPDATE: Bob said U.S. News would look into this.

Following our panel is a panel on Current Topics in Legal Education (1:00 pm - 2:15 pm ET):

  • Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Berkeley)
  • Marc Miller (Dean, Arizona)
  • Nancy Staudt (Dean, Washington University)
  • Gary Lucas (Moderator) (Senior Associate Dean, Texas A&M)

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