U.S. News extends a warm welcome to the Green Bag, a law journal that says that it intends to start its own law school rankings. The "Deadwood Report...will assess a law school's faculty using various measures." The journal's editors expect the first results to be published sometime during 2009.
Is another set of law school rankings really necessary? In an abstract of an article titled "Fair Warning to Law Schools...and an Invitation to 1Ls, 2Ls & 3Ls," Ross Davies, faculty member at George Mason University School of Law and editor-in-chief of the Green Bag, says:
Aspiring law students and professors should have more and better information about the relative quality of law schools. Unfortunately, the people in the best positions to provide that information—the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and American Bar Association (ABA)—have powerful reasons to avoid doing so. The void has been filled in part by the U.S. News rankings. Enter the Deadwood Report, in which the Green Bag will provide rough and admittedly partial but transparent measures of law school faculty quality by measuring teaching, scholarship, and (eventually) service.
I spoke to Davies directly about the challenges and reasons behind the Deadwood Report, and he told me that "On their websites and in other publications, law schools make impressive claims. The question is: How accurate are these claims? Getting that answer is going to be a difficult and perhaps painful exercise, although it needn't be. It would be nice if the AALS and the ABA would just tell us."
U.S. News and the authors of the Deadwood Report agree on one key point, which is the importance of providing prospective law school students with valid information to use in their choice of the best law school for them. We look forward to seeing the first Deadwood Report rankings. However, we doubt that law school deans and faculty members feel the same way.