🏛️Upending The Rankings
What do the law schools of Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown, and Berkeley all have in common? They've all dropped out of the US News & World Report's annual ranking of law schools. The decision began earlier this month with Harvard and Yale, and was quickly buttressed by the American Bar Association, which voted to stop requiring accredited law schools to require the LSAT or GRE for admission. Soon thereafter, several more law schools joined in. "Their concerns were about ethics, equity and mission," the New York Times says. "The rankings, with their focus on test scores, grades and employment, created a perverse incentive to downgrade public service law careers and to award merit aid rather than need-based aid, they said."
Nearly all the schools that dropped out of the ranking were part of the coveted T14—a term for the Top 14 law schools, which has stayed largely the same for decades.
Cornell is a notably holdout of major law schools withdrawing from the rankings. "The reality is that [the] U.S. News & World Report is a journalistic enterprise, and they don’t need anyone’s permission, including mine, to publish a ranking,” Dean Jens Ohlin of Cornell Law wrote in a statement, according to the Cornell Daily Sun. “And they have ready access to information from the ABA and other public sources to construct their rankings.”
US News is not the only publication ranking law schools. Above The Law has been doing so for 10 years. Its current ranking, released in early June, doesn't include the big 3 (Harvard, Stanford, or Yale) in the top 10. Moreover, ATL explains how its ranking differ from US News, mainly that even though "employment represents the bulk of a school’s overall score, we also account for law school cost and debt, since how much you pay — or borrow — for an education affects the return on your investment."
Will Stanford or Harvard law school suddenly become less prestigious? Of course not. However, if it takes pressure off the schools to push graduates into private firms rather than into the public sector, maybe it’s a win-win?