Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Muller: Did Schools Boycotting The U.S. News Rankings Kill Law Faculty's Golden Goose?

Derek Muller (Iowa; Google Scholar), By Knocking Off Expenditure Metrics and Devaluing Peer Reputation Scores in the New USNWR Formula, Did Law Schools Just Kill the Faculty's Golden Goose?:

US News (2023)As Aesop tells it, there was a goose that laid golden eggs. The greedy farmer saw the goose and thought there must be more gold inside the goose. The farmer kills the goose and finds nothing special inside—but he has now lost the ability to gather any more golden eggs.

It may not be the same story with the USNWR boycott and subsequent rankings changes. Law schools may well have attacked the goose thinking it was a wolf. But upon its demise, it may well be that law schools have permanently lost one of their most significant bargaining chips with central universities in trying to secure more funding for the law school. ...

At the end of the day, then, the rankings formula will have very little to say with anything about the quality of law school faculty or the school’s financial investment in its faculty. An indirect case, of course, including a diminished peer reputation score. And faculty do contribute to bar passage and to employment outcomes. There will still be a faculty-student ratio.

But I think the financial case for law schools may well look very different in the very near future. This will be almost impossible to measure, and the anecdotes coming from these changes may well be wild and unpredictable. It’s also contingent on other USNWR changes, of course. But it’s a question I’ll be trying to watch closely over the next decade.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

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