Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Morrison: AALS Should Provide A Law School Guide To Supplant The U.S. News Rankings

National Law Journal Op-Ed:  Law School Rankings: You Can't Beat Something With Nothing, by Alan B. Morrison (George Washington):

AALS US NewsThe verdict is in. [Twenty] law schools have had it with the US News rankings and will no longer cooperate. I am sure the schools that have opted out all feel better, but what is their next step?

US News has announced that it will proceed as before with or without the information that these schools provide, which means that the same flawed rankings with still come out, and prospective students will still lack the information that they need to make informed choices. The answer is quite simple. The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) should fill that void and provide what students really need: a guide that gives applicants a balanced view of what different law schools offer and a discussion of what matters and why.

Among the many reasons why the US News rankings are not useful, and indeed positively harmful, is their conceit that US News’ formula, under which it decides how to combine an array of disparate factors into a single number, is a meaningful measure of quality from 1 to 200. Moreover, the notion of rankings erroneously assumes that what is best for one student is best for everyone. If a student’s goal is to practice law in Washington, D.C., why go to Cornell because it is higher ranked than George Washington, or why should a different student who plans to return home to Mississippi automatically choose GW because it outranks a home-state school? Thus, if a replacement for US News is to help students make better choices, it must abandon the idea of providing an overall ranking. A single number may simplify decision-making, but the law schools owe it to their applicants to reject one size fits all and instead provide a range of information that students actually need to make a sensible choice. ...

Only AALS has a non-economic motive to produce a more informative law school guide, the ability to provide useful information for the full range of law school applicants, as well as to gather the relevant data and produce the essential discussion of the data at a modest cost. There is one more element that is vital to success for an AALS guide: it should be free online as a service to all applicants, just like each school’s website already is.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

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