UC Berkeley Law School joins Harvard, Yale in ditching US News rankings

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Students walk on the UC Berkeley campus Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

UC Berkeley Law School joins Harvard, Yale in ditching US News rankings

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The University of California at Berkeley School of Law will no longer participate in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings, becoming the latest institution to abandon the prestigious collegiate rankings resource.

UC-Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky announced Thursday that the California law school would no longer participate in the rankings, the day after the law school deans at Harvard and Yale, two of the highest-rated law schools in the nation, did the same.

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“After careful consideration, Berkeley Law has decided not to continue to participate in the U.S. News ranking of law schools,” Chemerinsky said. “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.”

Chemerinsky echoed many of the same criticisms leveled at the rankings by Yale Dean Heather Gerken and Harvard Dean John Manning, saying the rankings, as currently structured, “penaliz[e] schools that help students launch careers in public service law” and inappropriately consider student expenditure data, despite “no evidence that this correlates to the quality of the education received.”

“Rankings have the meaning that we give them as a community. I do not want to pretend they do not. And rankings will exist with or without our participation,” the dean said. “The question becomes, then, do we think that there is a benefit to participation in the U.S. News process that outweighs the costs? The answer, we feel, is no.”

“Nothing about Berkeley Law is fundamentally changed by this decision,” Chemerinsky continued. “We will be the law school we’ve always been, and we will strive to improve — in accordance with our values. Now is a moment when law schools need to express to U.S. News that they have created undesirable incentives for legal education. Accordingly, Berkeley Law will not participate in the U.S. News survey this year.”

UC Berkeley School of Law is currently ranked ninth in the U.S. News rankings.

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In a statement to the Washington Examiner following the withdrawal of Harvard and Yale law schools from the rankings, U.S. News CEO Eric Gertler defended the rankings as an important part of the magazine’s reporting.

“The U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings are for students seeking the best decision for their law education,” Gertler said. “We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mission of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information in making that decision. As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students and that mission does not change with these recent announcements.”

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