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Despite law schools’ widespread criticism of the rankings by U.S. News & World Report, it seems unlikely � at least for now � that they will band together in a boycott that would follow the lead set by a group of liberal arts colleges. Even law schools in the higher tier blast the publication’s annual rankings as imbalanced and unfair, but they apparently are not waging any broad efforts of their own to pull out of the rankings, the way an association of liberal arts colleges did on June 18. At most, a “handful” of law schools may follow suit, said Saul Levmore, dean of University of Chicago Law School and a board member of the Association of American Law Deans. Many of the organization’s members have signed letters criticizing the rankings as inaccurate. Also panning the rankings through their own letters or endorsements of other groups’ letters have been the Association of American Law Schools; the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar; the Law School Admission Council; and NALP, formerly the National Association of Law Placement. On June 18, members of the Annapolis Group, an association of independent liberal arts colleges made up of about 125 colleges and universities, announced that a majority of its members would not participate in the annual survey of liberal undergraduate colleges and universities. A decision about whether to participate or not was left to each individual school, but the move marks the first concerted effort from institutions ranked by U.S. News & World Report to refuse participation. Methodology issues The complaints about the rankings are numerous. Many of them relate to the methodology, which includes a peer-review component designed to gauge a school’s reputation among other schools. Another concern is that because Law School Admission Test scores play a significant role in the rankings, schools may be rejecting applicants with diverse backgrounds or valuable experiences in favor of those with higher scores. Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News & World Report, said he was open to adjusting the ranking methodology based on input from schools. “One of the propositions that we’ve laid out is that if you’ve got a better idea, let’s hear it,” Kelly said. Nancy Rogers, president of the American Association of Law Schools, said that her group was not considering a move similar to that of the Annapolis Group. “While the AALS believes that any composite rankings system is inherently flawed, the AALS supports the efforts of magazines or other entities to provide information to those interested in pursuing legal education,” she said in an e-mail message. Law schools generally fear the consequences of not participating, Levmore said, especially because the publication could go ahead and include much of the information that is available from the American Bar Association, absent input from the individual schools. “I’m not sure what they would gain,” he said. Any abandonment of the rankings would need to be large scale, which is unlikely, said Michael Schill, dean of University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. “We shake our heads and we say how having U.S. News & World Report has harmed law schools,” he said. “Despite all that, I’ve never heard of a serious effort to have law schools band together to do this.” But at least one academic sees the move by the Annapolis Group as perhaps a precursor for a similar decision from law schools. Eileen Kaufman, president of the Society of Law Teachers, said that, up to this point, law school leaders have only talked about resisting the rankings. “The fact that this Annapolis Group has issued its statement could prompt the deans to take it more seriously,” she said.

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