Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Deans Of Lower Ranked Law Schools Join Boycott And Criticize U.S. News Rankings

Campbell University News, Campbell Law School Withdraws From U.S. News Best Law Schools Ranking:

Campbell LogoThe Campbell University School of Law will no longer participate in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Schools ranking.

Dean J. Rich Leonard announced the decision to faculty, staff and students on Monday in an email. Leonard’s statement cited concerns with both the ranking’s purpose and methodologies, among others. 

The statement follows, “The Campbell Law School faculty has decided not to participate this year in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Schools rankings. We are not opposed to objective rankings, but the reputational aspect of the U.S. News rankings has always undervalued strong regional law schools. Additionally, the rankings do not sufficiently consider factors most critical to prospective students, such as bar passage and employment outcomes. We believe objective evaluations that value factors like these better serve prospective students.

“As an example of the difference between objective and subjective rankings, in 2015 a North Carolina law professor at another school provided an alternative ranking based simply on student employment outcomes, LSAT scores and citations received by the Law Review. As reported in the lead story by Bloomberg Business, that analysis identified Campbell Law as the most underrated law school in the country.

“The U.S. News methodology is substantially flawed, and we are no longer willing to spend the significant administrative time necessary to comply with requests for data irrelevant to the needs of prospective students.”

Leonard and the Campbell Law faculty join a number of other law schools in disagreeing with the U.S. News ranking system. Most recently, University of Virginia (UVA) School of Law announced it will not provide information to U.S. News and World Report partly because its rankings “fail to capture much of what we value at UVA,” said Dean Risa Goluboff in an open letter Dec. 9.

Campbell is #147-#192 in the latest U.S. News rankings.

Update:, Campbell Law First Lower-Ranked School to Boycott US News Rankings

Seattle Times Op-Ed:  Law School Rankings Worsen Profession’s Socioeconomic Gaps, by Jacob H. Rooksby (Dean, Gonzaga),  Johanna Kalb (Dean, Idaho) & Brian Gallini (Dean, Willamette):

US News (2023)A number of law schools have recently announced that they will no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. The announcements from University of WashingtonHarvard, Yale and a slew of others over the last several weeks articulate a number of compelling concerns, including the debt and admissions metrics and law schools’ efforts to support public interest careers for their graduates. We, a varied cohort of leaders and regional competitors in legal education, share those previously articulated concerns and write separately to raise additional concerns as we continue to engage in conversations with our individual communities of faculty, staff, students and alumni about continuing to participate in the rankings.

At the outset, it’s worth pausing to highlight that these rankings reward law schools’ investment in areas that have little, if anything, to do with improving educational outcomes — all while anchoring value to arbitrary measures of quality. The demands of the profession and public we serve have changed, but the ranking methodology has remained fundamentally unchanged for decades. Law schools are therefore incentivized to remain similarly stagnant. ...

[T]he rankings attempt to solve a problem that does not exist. The American Bar Association already requires law schools to transparently share information about bar passage, student demographics, entering class medians and scholarship awards — to name a few examples. The rankings largely overlook these critical topics while ignoring a school’s culture and the relationship between faculty and students. Rather than focus on these critical topics — the ones students care about — this flawed ranking system too often leads prospective students to make under or uninformed decisions simply because one school is “ranked” higher or lower than another. A rankings survey based on inertial reputation might be of some relevance to prospective students, but that’s not how the rankings work in practice.

We are hardly the first to articulate these concerns, but we are the first to make these observations together. By speaking with one voice about this deeply flawed ranking system, flaws that exacerbate the class, race, gender and economic gaps that currently define the legal profession, we hope for a future that rightly incentivizes legal education to further invest in the student experience while strengthening the rule of law and seeking to diversify the profession. 

Gonzaga is #116, Willamette is #129, and Idaho is #142 in the latest U.S. News rankings.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

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