Paul L. Caron

Saturday, February 4, 2023

In Defense Of The U.S. News Law School Rankings

Kenneth Terrell (Princeton Alumni Weekend), Why College Rankings Remain Important, If Flawed:

US News (2023)Yale’s recent announcement that it would no longer “participate” in the U.S. News rankings of law schools — despite its place at the top of that list — has renewed talk that the era of these annual lists might be coming to an end, especially when 10 other law schools quickly announced they also would no longer cooperate with the publication. These institutions argue that the criteria U.S. News uses hurts their ability to enroll students of color, students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and those who might want to pursue careers in public service. ...

I believe the rankings are an important, if imperfect tool, for students and families. ...

To improve the education and career outcomes of students in law schools — particularly those who are from lower-income backgrounds, first in their family to go to college, students of color, or all of the above — commitments to meaningful change would be more effective than announcements about withdrawing from rankings.

For example, several studies suggest that dropping the LSAT and GRE from the application process would enable law schools to increase diversity in their enrollment. Building and strengthening recruitment pipelines with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions would enable law schools to identify talented students and give them a head start on building the skills needed to succeed in law school. Giving lower-income students tuition-free/student-loan-free enrollment up front rather than offering them loan forgiveness options after they have accumulated debt might encourage more of them to pursue public service careers.

From an administrative perspective, changes such as these could take years to implement. What I can say more immediately is that based on my experience as editor of the U.S. News education rankings is that the most likely effect of these withdrawal announcements is a significant boost in viewers of the next year’s law school rankings. The debate on ending the rankings ultimately only serves to keep people talking about them.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

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