It’s been a week since Yale Law School announced it would no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report education rankings. Since then, nine other law schools have followed suit, with more likely on the way.
Law.com has been and will continue to be at the forefront of covering these developments. We’ll be updating this page regularly with news and analysis as more schools announce their decisions and these highly-influential rankings undergo potentially profound changes.
“Since its founding, our school has prided itself on preparing lawyers to work for the public good while expanding access to the legal profession and justice for underserved communities,” UW Law Dean Tamara F. Lawson wrote, adding that the rankings undermine those efforts.
“Having said that, the rankings system needs reform, especially the subjective reputational survey,” Dean Ken Randall said.
“Prospective law students need accurate information as they consider which school best fits their goals in pursuing a legal education,” Troy McKenzie, dean and Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, wrote in a letter to the NYU Law community. “At one time, U.S. News may have provided information that could not be found elsewhere” but “[t]hat has changed.”
The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School announced Friday that it would no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report education rankings.
UGA, which was ranked 29th on the most recent U.S. News list, is the fourth law school to say that it has no plans to withdraw from the process.
“Prospective law students should have multiple robust sources of information about law schools, and I am generally in favor of making information available,” WashULaw Dean Russell Osgood told Law.com. “School websites can be incomplete, misleading or simply hard to compare.”
UC Davis Law Dean Kevin R. Johnson cited “major flaws” with the rankings, adding that law schools have made a good-faith effort to work with U.S. News on improvements, but “U.S. News has failed to meaningfully change the rankings methodology.”
“The reality is that U.S. News & World Report is a journalistic enterprise, and they don’t need anyone’s permission, including mine, to publish a ranking, and they have ready access to information from the ABA and other public sources to construct their rankings,” Cornell Law Dean Jens David Ohlin wrote in his statement.
“The rankings of academic institutions clearly have a readership, and we wish to prevent the use of inaccurate information,” Dean Thomas J. Miles said.
“The response by U.S. News to recent announcements by other law schools that have also chosen to withdraw—without responding to the substance of any of the significant issues raised—has caused greater concern, contributing to our decision,” University of California, Irvine School of Law Dean Austen Parrish wrote in a statement to the community Wednesday.
“We are under no illusion that UCLA Law’s decision will have a substantial impact on how law schools are evaluated by U.S. News,” Interim Dean Russell Korobkin continued. “Approximately 80 percent of a law school’s U.S. News ‘score’ is based on publicly available data and the surveys of reputation that U.S. News itself conducts, so U.S. News undoubtedly will continue to rank all of the law schools, perhaps with only minor methodological adjustments.
“[W]e believe that the U.S. News law school rankings” have become detrimental to legal education since “the rankings rely on flawed survey techniques and opaque and arbitrary formulas, lacking the transparency needed to help applicants make truly informed decisions,” Dean Kerry Abrams told the Duke Law community Monday.
“[W]e are troubled that U.S. News relies in part on unverified data reported by law schools that can significantly impact outcomes,” Northwestern Law Dean Hari Osofsky wrote. “This approach has implications for the accuracy and fairness of the rankings,” further pointing out that law schools can only gain access to specific data by paying U.S. News.
“At its inception, U.S. News law school rankings provided valuable information for consumers—most importantly, students—that had not previously been widely available,” but “[t]his is no longer true” since “many more consumer information resources are available today,” Dean Mark West said in a letter to the Michigan Law community.
Half a dozen law schools have now announced that they will no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report education rankings, with Stanford Law School publicizing its decision late Friday night.
“The potential benefits to be gained from continuing to share data with U.S. News are far outweighed by the constraints the rankings place on our ability to freely pursue our core scholarly, pedagogical, and programmatic objectives,” Columbia Law Dean Gillian Lester said.
The Georgetown University Law Center announced Friday that it will cease participating in the U.S. News & World Report education rankings, becoming the fourth law school to do so this week.
“Although rankings are inevitable and inevitably have some arbitrary features, there are aspects of the U.S. News rankings that are profoundly inconsistent with our values and public mission,” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law at Berkeley, said in a statement emailed to Law.com on Thursday.
“We at HLS have made this decision because it has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect,” Harvard Law Dean John F. Manning said in a statement.
“I wanted to give U.S. News a chance to change and they didn’t,” Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken told Law.com. “Now is a time to take a step back—especially because this is a moment when economic equity is at the center of conversations at every university about the role university play in society—it is a time to reflect.”
This week, we’re continuing to analyze the law schools that have pulled out of the U.S. News education rankings—and looking at the reasons some have given for continuing to participate.
This week, we’re reviewing the T14 law schools that have declined to continue participating in the U.S. News education rankings.
Observers remain split on whether these moves will inflict any lasting damage on the highly influential publication.
Previous US News Coverage
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This week, we’re exploring what law schools had to say about the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings released Tuesday.
U.S. News & World Report has unveiled its 2023 Best Graduate Schools rankings. And while Yale Law School continued its long-running streak at No. 1, there were still plenty of significant changes near the top of the list, including Harvard Law School being bumped out of the top three for the first time since 1990.
The new rankings have some familiar names at the top, a new student debt metric and the first-ever HBCU law school in the top 100.
Problems with a metric related to law librarian teaching prompted U.S. News to change the overall law schools ranking just two days before its official release.
Legal educators are decrying what they see as multiple missteps by U.S. News & World Report in its handling of the upcoming law school rankings.