University of Illinois Law School Admits to Submitting Inflated Admission Data

U.S. News will not redo the Best Law Schools rankings.

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In late September, University of Illinois posted a press release on its website that said "in an investigation into the past 10 years of University of Illinois's College of Law test scores and grade point averages (GPA), the ongoing University-initiated review has determined that inaccurate data were reported for four of those years."

The University of Illinois College of Law data that was reported inaccurately to the American Bar Association was for the law school's classes that entered in fall 2008, fall 2009, and fall 2010. This same inaccurate admissions data was also reported to U.S. News by the school and was used to compute our Best Law Schools rankings for the 2010, 2011, and the most recent 2012 edition, which is on our website now.

The inaccurate data was the median LSAT and median undergraduate grade point average for the entering classes, both of which are used in the methodology for the U.S. News law school rankings. The LSAT has a weight of 12.5 percent, and the undergraduate grade point average counts for 10 percent in the overall rankings.

U.S. News will not change our long-standing policy of not revising previously published rankings. This was the same policy we followed when Villanova University School of Law disclosed in February 2011 that it had erroneously reporting admissions data.

[Read about Villanova Law's data inaccuracies.]

Data integrity is very important to U.S. News, and we rely on schools to behave ethically and provide us with accurate information. In the case of law schools, the data at issue is what was reported to the ABA on the school's annual accreditation questionnaire. U.S. News asks law schools to report the same data as they report to their accrediting body, the ABA, so we assume they are reporting accurately. This was not the case for University of Illinois's College of Law.

U.S. News believes that inaccurate data reporting is not widespread among the nation's nearly 200 law schools. However, the trend is troubling. Hopefully, the public outcry from these two cases will serve as a deterrent to other law schools from doing the same thing. It also could be time for the ABA to consider taking strong steps, such as data audits, to restore the integrity of all law school data.

University of Illinois College of Law Dean Bruce P. Smith contacted U.S. News directly and told me about the press release. He said the law school is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation and will tell U.S. News about additional findings once they become available. This investigation is being done with assistance of outside counsel, the law firm Jones Day, and forensic analysts Duff & Phelps.

It's worth pointing out that University of Illinois's current 2012 edition Best Law Schools ranking would change very little, if at all, since the difference in the old and new fall 2010 entering class admissions data is very small. However, we will be checking University of Illinois's fall 2011 entering class median LSAT and GPA data to be used in the upcoming 2013 edition rankings very closely after it is officially submitted to U.S. News.

How the corrected rankings data from University of Illinois Law School compare to what the school had previously reported:

Fall 2008 J.D. entering class


Median LSAT
Actual after correction: 165
As first reported: 166 Median undergraduate GPA


Actual after correction: 3.6
As first reported: 3.6 Fall 2009 J.D. entering class


Median LSAT
Actual after correction: 165
As first reported: 166 Median Undergraduate GPA


Actual after correction: 3.7
As first reported: 3.8 Fall 2010 J.D. entering class


Median LSAT
Actual after correction: 167
As first reported: 167 Median Undergraduate GPA


Actual after correction: 3.6
As first reported: 3.8