US News & World Report released its annual law school rankings
Tuesday, reviewing about 200 schools. The rankings can have a
powerful impact on universities, experts say.
US News & World Report released its annual rankings of the
country's best law schools Tuesday.
The list, which includes the top 145 best places in the US to
start a career in law plus about 50 additional unranked schools,
also includes specialty rankings in areas such as environmental law,
intellectual property law, and tax law. Topping this year's list
were law schools at Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, and the
University of Chicago, which were evaluated using 12 quality
measures such as the school's assessment by current lawyers and
judges, student LSAT scores, and bar-exam passage rates.
But do the news magazine's rankings, which some view as the
arbiter for top-notch academia, really play a large role in college
A 2009 study in the journal Research in Higher Education revealed
that the US News rankings improved the quality of the next year's
admissions pool primarily at institutions ranked in the top 25 or at
schools that moved from the second page of the magazine's rankings
to the first page.
Kevin Cary, policy director of Education Sector, an independent
think tank devoted to improving educational policy, argues the
ranking system is deeply flawed because it favors proverbial
institutions with an elite status.
"Instead of focusing on the fundamental issues of how well
colleges and universities educate their students and how well they
prepare them to be successful after college," Mr. Cary said in a
report, "the magazine's rankings are almost entirely a function of
three factors: fame, wealth, and exclusivity."
When it comes to law schools, law professor Brian Tamanaha writes
in his book "Failing Law Schools" that the US News rankings are
among the most powerful forces driving behavior at law schools
In a New York Times review of the book, Stanley Fish, a professor
of humanities and law at Florida International University, writes
that this behavior is, at times, deceptive.
"A law schools dean who knows that the rank of her school will in
large part determine the faculty it can attract, the quality of the
applicants, the support provided by her university and the job
opportunities of graduates will be tempted to fiddle with the
numbers by (among other things) reporting high salaries for
graduates when the pool surveyed is a tiny fraction of those who
have the school's degree. …