The Great Law School Rankings Debate

The U.S. News law school rankings draw more attention and controversy than any of our other graduate school rankings. They've even been the subject of academic symposia. Two examples are the Association of American Law Schools "Workshop on the Ratings Game" and the Indiana University School of Law's "The Next Generation of Law School Rankings".

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The U.S. News law school rankings draw more attention and controversy than any of our other graduate school rankings. They've even been the subject of academic symposia. Two examples are the Association of American Law Schools "Workshop on the Ratings Game" and the Indiana University School of Law's "The Next Generation of Law School Rankings".

Many blogs also regularly write about law school rankings. Some of my favorites are: MoneyLaw, TaxProf; Agoraphilia, and Brian Leiter's Law School Reports. For those interested in staying informed about law school rankings these blogs are worth reading.

Some law school academics even weigh in with journal articles. William Henderson and Andrew Morriss's piece in The American Lawyer has created a stir. It contends that U.S. News's success is driven by the lack of information provided by law schools. Henderson and Morriss write, "U.S. News is influential among prospective students at least in part because the magazine does what the law schools don't: give law students easy-to-compare information that sheds light on their long-term employment prospects. Law schools could easily supply that information themselves, but they choose not to. In fact, as the collective head shaking about the rankings has increased, the growth of the large law firm sector—which pay salaries that justify the rapidly escalating cost of legal education—has made the rankings more important."

The authors challenge law schools to become more accountable saying, "By facilitating transparency and accountability, the legal academy and the ABA can end the tiresome annual ritual of abusing U.S. News, and focus instead on creating incentives that work to the long-term benefit of students and the bar."

U.S. News agrees: The need to provide prospective law school students and those that hire them with information that is not available from other sources will continue to be the main purpose of our law school rankings.