Why The New US News Law School Rankings Are Still Deeply Flawed

US News Rankings

U.S. News & World Report has released its latest law rankings, and they’re pretty much the same as last year for the top 10 schools.

But this fresh crop of rankings brings with it new critiques of why the U.S. News list is flawed, even though U.S. News did a more in-depth analysis of what kind of jobs law grads get.

Steven J. Harper, a Northwestern Law professor, writes over at the Chronicle of Higher Education that the biggest factor in law school rankings is a “quality assessment,” which accounts for 40 per cent of a school’s score. The quality assessment is just a survey U.S. News sends out to law school deans, scholars, and practicing lawyers.  

“The category itself is a misnomer because it doesn’t reflect quality at all,” Harper writes. “Rather, using statistically suspect samples of scholars and practicing lawyers, it’s a superficial and unreliable assessment of a school’s reputation.”

20-five per cent of a school’s score comes from a survey sent to four people each year at every ABA-accredited school — the dean, the dean of academic affairs, the chair of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty member. 

These people — 63 per cent of whom gave responses for this year’s rankings — rank all the country’s law schools on a scale of 1 to 5, or they can answer “don’t know.” They don’t have to explain whether they know anything about the law school or have set foot on its campus, Harper points out. 

U.S. News & World Report ratings chief Robert Morse explains the changes to his law school rankings methodology in this interview with Bloomberg:

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