US News and World Report overhauls law school rankings formula after top schools jump ship

Yale Law School
New Haven, Connecticut, USA – July 25, 2016: Sign in front of Yale Law School on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Building located at 127 Wall Street. sshepard/Getty Images

US News and World Report overhauls law school rankings formula after top schools jump ship

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U.S. News and World Report announced it would substantially modify its methodology for ranking law schools after a number of the nation’s most renowned law schools said they would no longer participate.

In a Monday letter to law school deans, U.S. News Chief Data Strategist Robert Morse and Senior Vice President for Data and Information Strategy Stephanie Salmon said they heard complaints from numerous deans that the existing ranking methodology was flawed and they would make important changes to the methodology for the 2023-2024 edition.

MORE LAW SCHOOLS ABANDON US NEWS IN LATEST BLOW TO RANKINGS

“In recent weeks, we have had conversations with more than 100 deans and representatives of law schools,” Morse and Salmon wrote. “Based on those discussions, our own research and our iterative rankings review process, we are making a series of modifications in this year’s rankings that reflect those inputs and allow us to publish the best available data.”

The changes come after a number of highly ranked law schools, including Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, and Georgetown University, announced they would no longer participate in the rankings, which are widely recognized as the gold standard for ranking institutions of higher education. The schools cited a number of factors for the decision, but a common theme was that the rankings were unfair because the methodology rewarded schools with higher per-pupil expenditure rates and penalized schools that encouraged students to pursue public service legal careers through legal fellowships.

“One of the most troubling aspects of the U.S. News rankings is that it discourages law schools from providing critical support for students seeking public interest careers and devalues graduates pursuing advanced degrees,” Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken said after announcing her institution’s decision to no longer participate in the rankings.

In their letter to the deans, Morse and Salmon said the next edition of the rankings would treat all fellowships equally and give “full weight” to those who pursue further graduate studies in their employment outcomes.

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The magazine has vowed to continue ranking the law schools that would no longer participate, but the lack of cooperation from institutions could adversely affect the rankings, which heavily rely on data collected through surveys completed by each institution. And while the changes to the methodology may have been an attempt to entice the schools that left to once again cooperate, at least one law school dean was not impressed.

“Having a window into the operations and decision-making process at U.S. News in recent weeks has only cemented our decision to stop participating in the rankings,” Gerken told the Wall Street Journal.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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