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Sunday, March 25, 2012
Law School Rankings 2013
This week, US News & World Report released its 2012 Law School Rankings and the fanfare is rather ambivalent. The top five schools jockeyed for new positions (Stanford scooped up Harvard's #2 spot), but very little changed. Perhaps the most notable slip came for the University of Illinois (down 12 spots from last year's position to #35). This ignominious drop came upon the heels of the revelation that U of I falsified admissions data in an (ultimately ironic) effort to improve its rankings.
While few would argue that U of I's data-tampering is acceptable, its dramatic fall represents one of the biggest quandaries of the entire law school ranking system. Schools are ranked, in part, based upon the quality of their candidates. Candidates, in turn, chose schools based on the quality of their ranking.
Every year, US News & World Report releases information on their rankings methodology, some of which is highly subjective. For example, the report surveys law school faculty, admissions deans, judges and attorneys about the quality of the various campuses. It's hard to believe that even the most qualified respondent would have enough knowledge of the more than 195 schools to give reliable feedback. Peer review is always valuable, but rarely impartial.
Rankings are also based upon more objective data, such as LSATs and GPA, post-graduate hiring statistics, bar passage rates and faculty resources.
However, with tuition price tags starting at $40,000 annually, rankings are arguably as important to the law schools as they are to the students. And while this year's list may be no more than an ego bruise for Harvard, U of I's great topple should be a warning sign to all about the dubious power of rankings.
Labels: Law School Rankings 2013
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