U.S. News & World Report has released its 2010 law school rankings: Cue griping from a chorus of the publication's detractors who maintain that the list undermines law schools' focus on providing quality legal education.
The latest rankings -- which some in the law school world love, and some just love to hate -- don't reveal any major upheavals among the nation's most prestigious schools. Predictably, Yale Law School maintained its stranglehold on the top spot. Harvard Law School edged out Stanford Law School for the No. 2 spot after tying for that position last year. Duke Law School snuck up two spots and into the top 10 this year, tying Northwestern University School of Law and University of Virginia School of Law for the No. 10 spot.
Along with Stanford's fall to No. 3, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Northwestern and Virginia were the only top 10 schools to drop one spot from last year. The University of Chicago Law School moved from No. 7 last year to No. 6 this year.
The biggest change in this year's list is the addition of a separate ranking for part-time law schools. According to the list, the greater Washington, D.C., area is home to four of the top 10 part-time law programs in the country. Georgetown University Law Center snagged the No. 1 part-time ranking, followed by George Washington University Law School, Fordham University School of Law, American University Washington College of Law and George Mason University School of Law.
The U.S. New & World Report rankings are based on a variety of factors, including quality assessments by peer institutions, judges and attorneys; selectivity; employment and bar passage rates; and faculty resources. Outside the top 10 full-time programs, there was a handful of notable changes. Indiana University-Bloomington Maurer School of Law shot up 13 spots from No. 36 last year to No. 23 this year. George Washington University Law School slipped eight spots to No. 28 this year, while the University of North Carolina School of Law moved up eight spots to No. 30. The University of California, Davis School of Law also rose nine spots to No. 35.
The U.S. News & World Report rankings have been criticized in years past for spurring some law school administrators to game the system in order to move higher on the list. Former Case Western Reserve University School of Law dean Gary Simson called for administrators to boycott the peer assessment portion of the rankings in a National Law Journal editorial last year, but the idea fizzled.