American Bar Association to Investigate Law School and Law Firm Rankings

The American Bar Association has decided to take a close look at both law school and law firm rankings.

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Earlier this week at its midyear meeting, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates passed a resolution to study rankings of law firms and law schools. The measure was approved by a narrow margin and was hotly debated. The ABA's resolution reads: "RESOLVED: That the American Bar Association examine any efforts to publish national, state, territorial, and local rankings of law firms and law schools."

It's not a secret that two main factors triggered the ABA's resolution:

1. The annual U.S. News Best Law School rankings, which are widely followed by prospective law school students, legal academics, and prospective employers of law school students.

2. The announcement last year that U.S. News and Best Lawyers, the leading survey of lawyers worldwide, have teamed up for an expansion of U.S. News's signature "America's Best" series to include new rankings of "America's Best Law Firms" and "America's Best Law Firms to Work For." The overall rankings, including the highest-ranking firms by practice area nationwide and the highest-ranking firms in each state, are scheduled to appear in the October issue of U.S.News & World Report. All of the "Best Law Firm" rankings and accompanying data will be posted online in September. For more details, check out my recent post: America's Best Law Firms' Rankings Are Coming in 2010

What is our take on the ABA resolution?

U.S. News and Best Lawyers welcome the opportunity to discuss both our law school and law firm rankings with the ABA. U.S. News has had a long-standing offer, which has never been acted upon, to regularly meet with the ABA or other legal organizations that represent law schools to discuss all issues relating to our law school rankings. The offer to meet was documented in this 2008 article by the ABA Journal .

Best Lawyers President Steve Naifeh said, "I think the resolution is extremely reasonable. At Best Lawyers, we have long felt that transparency is extremely important. "

The bottom line is that U.S. News believes that the law school rankings provide much-needed consumer information for prospective law students, especially in light of the ever rising cost of earning a J.D. degree and the current tough market for new law school graduates. Both U.S. News and Best Lawyers think that it's important for the public to have as much information as possible on the relative merits of law schools and law firms.

Numerous articles have been written about the ABA resolution, including those listed here:

  • National Law Journal
  • Law 360
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Above the Law
  • ABA Journal
  • Wall Street Journal Law Blog
  • TaxProf blog
  • Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of America's Best Colleges.