Paul L. Caron

Friday, March 10, 2023

More Commentary On The U.S. News Law School Rankings Op-Ed

Mike Spivey (Spivey Consulting), Some Commentary on the U.S. News Op-Ed:

US News (2023)U.S. News & World Report is not sitting idle while its rankings come under fire. The CEO published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal offering his views on the rankings boycott. ...

We have been paid money over the years to help law schools understand their U.S. News rankings. It's against our interests as a firm, from a revenue standpoint, for schools to boycott the rankings, and for applicants to stop paying attention to them. But we're telling you that is the best outcome for everyone.

U.S. News has no expertise in law or legal education. They have no expertise in education in general. Imagine if a bunch of lawyers got together and decided to rank the best immunology programs. That's the absurdity of what U.S. News does. At least when Above the Law publishes its rankings they come from actual lawyers and law school graduates.

U.S. News' methodology is nonsensical at times. LSAT and GPA are five times as important as bar passage. Career outcomes account for 18% weight, while the reputational surveys of law professors and deans account for 25%. No offense to any law professors or deans reading this, but prospective students care a lot more about whether they'll have a job than how prestigious you think some other school (that you probably know very little about) is. The GRE sub-scores get weighted at different amounts, because... reasons? And so on. Their secret-sauce formula isn't complicated; a reasonably intelligent college freshman could replicate it.

U.S. News has generally ignored criticism for decades, because it could. It was perfectly secure in its position. Now, it's scrambling to address the biggest threat it's ever faced. U.S. News talks a lot about the recent conversations it had with 110 law school deans. Want to know why they had those conversations? Damage control. That wasn't a good-faith effort to engage with the community. Want to know why U.S. News is calling for an increase in publicly available data? Because they can use that to create rankings without being reliant on schools. They've learned that needing schools to give them data directly leaves them too vulnerable.

Don't buy it. If U.S. News genuinely cared about the things they claim they do, they'd leave the rankings behind and operate a data warehouse. They don't, because the motive isn't helping applicants. It's money.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

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