Thursday, November 30, 2023
Scott Rempell (South Texas), A Blueprint to Reclaim Legal Education from U.S. News:
The U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”) law school rankings impact the perceptions and behaviors of everyone in the rankings ecosystem, from law school administrators and law professors to prospective students and legal employers. Despite decades of near universal condemnation, these ordinal rankings continue to significantly influence the legal education market, often in highly detrimental ways.
This Article presents a blueprint for how the law school community can reclaim legal education from U.S. News. The blueprint concerns the features of an alternative product that would deliver substantial value in an efficient manner. Regulators like the ABA would have to play a role because they can mandate the types and forms of data that law schools produce. The alternative product should include data categories that consumers would find helpful based on the reasons why various constituencies assess information about law schools to begin with. A comprehensive set of relevant data points is necessary, but not sufficient. The relevant information must be presented through an easy-to-navigate interface that allows consumers to efficiently acquire, arrange, and internalize the data to meet their objectives.
The attributes of this blueprint would mitigate U.S. News’s influence because they would add considerable value to ranking consumers’ assessments of law schools—value that should provide an incentive to create the product even if U.S. News did not exert such influence. The benefits of the alternative product could also positively impact the law school community in other ways. Moreover, a valuable alternative product can be a model for undergraduate institutions and other entities that feel shackled by U.S. News’s commercial interest in reducing complex institutions to a single composite score and ordinal rank.