Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Dan Solove: Slaying The U.S. News Law School Rankings Dragon

Daniel Solove (George Washington; Google Scholar), Slaying the US News Law School Rankings Dragon:

US News (2023)The battle against the US News Law School Rankings has finally begun. After decades of groaning and grumbling about how bad the rankings are, many top law schools have said they are withdrawing from the rankings, including 7 out of the top 10. I applaud this move, but I fear that law schools might break out the champagne too early. The battle might be won, but the war might ultimately be lost unless law schools do more than just withdraw.

Law schools aren’t really dropping out of the rankings; they are just pledging to refuse to submit certain data that US News wants. US News issued a statement declaring that it will continue ranking whether law schools cooperate or not. The dragon hasn’t been slain; it’s just not going to get some of the food it wants. ...

Reductive as rankings are, people crave rankings, and there is money in ranking for US News. Thus, don’t expect US News to fold.  Rankers gonna rank.  US News will just use whatever data it can get their hands on. ...

I fear that although the battle will be won, the war will be lost when we see the new US News rankings based on other data. To use a metaphor, the rebel is fine while rebelling, but often has no plan for governing if the rebellion turns out to be victorious. I fear that this is where law schools might end up. US News will quickly regroup and will be back with something new. Will the new US News rankings be better or worse? The cynic in me says worse.

The bottom line is that there is no way to fully vanquish rankings. If schools stop submitting data, US News will find other data, and the rankings might be better but could also be worse. There will be rankings, and there won’t be a void. I thus think the best options would be (1) to see if US News would willing to be more cooperative and develop a formula based on the input of figures in legal academia and the profession; or (2) for a group of law schools to take the lead and hire a firm to help them produce a better ranking (or set of rankings). Otherwise, come ranking time next year, the legal academy will find itself saddled with an even more shallow and damaging ranking system by US News.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink