For those three of you who are out of the loop, you lot truly are a blessed people. Everyone else can get in line. You’ve had to have heard the drama surrounding, following, modifying — choose your adventure — the U.S. News and World Reports rankings of law schools.
As ubiquitous as U.S. News’ ranks are, they aren’t the only evaluative team in town. Complaints with their methodology abound; some say they weigh prestige and entrance scores too heavily, others say that important factors like attention toward equity and gainful employment don’t make large enough of a splash. Such critiques have spawned beautifully crafted attempts at reworking how and where schools rank — namely ours. Other folks have made attempts too, but you’re here reading this and not there reading their hot take on U.S. News, so clearly your priorities are in the right place. All that said, it is hard to deny that U.S. News’ rankings are a staple you’d be negligent to not check in with. Oddly enough, it is largely the same.
In a surprise move, U.S. News on Tuesday released the top 14 schools on its latest law and medical school rankings. The big reveal comes one week ahead of the planned release of the full rankings, which cover all 199 American Bar Association-accredited law schools.
The fun part? The U.S. News was able to rank the schools despite widespread non-cooperation:
Nearly a quarter of law schools this year declined to provide U.S. News with any internal data for its rankings, including 12 of the top 14 schools, which said the publication’s methodology hurt student diversity and affordability. In response to the boycott, U.S. News overhauled the methodology of the law schools ranking to rely largely on ABA data, place more weight on bar passage and employment, and reduce the emphasis on Law School Admission Test scores.
The law schools in the top 14 remain largely unchanged from last year, though the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law pushed Georgetown University Law Center out of the No. 14 spot, as it did two years ago.
Here are the results:
- Stanford (+1)
- Yale (-1)
- U Chicago (+0)
- Harvard (+0)
- UPenn (+2)
- Duke (+5)
- NYU (+1)
- Columbia (-3)
- U Virginia (+0)
- Northwestern (+3)
- UC Berkeley (-1)
- U Michigan (+0)
- Cornell (-1)
- UCLA (+1)
The resultant rankings have ruffled some feathers. Take that, Georgetown! Columbia’s drop in the rankings will definitely have some folks with blue robes and expensive JDs wanting to crack open the black box of U.S. News’ ranking metrics. In the meantime, the data crunchers of you could just calculate the rankings on your own.
Or you could just, I don’t know, default to our rankings as the end all be all. It would be very cool of you if you did.
Overhauled US News & World Report Rankings Leave Top Law Schools Largely Unchanged [Reuters]
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.
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