Deans Clash on Rankings Boycott


Competition over the rankings is intense, and many law school deans have attempted to buoy up their rankings in some fashion. One tactic has been to cut the number of students accepted in the first year classes while increasing part-time attendance, such as those in joint JD programs as well as those who take classes at night. This also has the benefit of providing legal education to those with careers or who otherwise cannot take classes during the traditional time.

When US News announced that they are considering changing how they rank part-time students — pooling those student test scores with the full time students' — many law schools raised quite the furor over it.

According to US News, some schools apparently move lower testing students into their part-time programs so as not to impact their rankings. Thus, "one way to prevent gaming of the system is to count [grade and test data of] all students,'' according to Robert Morse. Morse is the director of data research for US News.

Several law school deans have opposed this change, saying that their ranking by US News is so important that they might have to drop part-time programs rather than slip in the rankings. The dean of Case Western Reserve University Law School, Gary J. Simson, called for a boycott by law schools of the US News rankings.

US News gets much of their information directly from the law schools themselves, so this boycott would be designed to cut off access to that data, in theory rendering the US News rankings pointless.

Several deans have agreed on the need to cut down the importance of the rankings, but many state they aren't sure how. The idea of getting rid of the rankings "is whistling in the wind," said Lawrence Ponoroff, dean of Tulane University Law School. Tulane was No. 44 in U.S. News' 2008 rankings of the 184 accredited law schools in the nation.

Why the disconnect? If rankings are so important to the job prospects of the students of those schools, why the resignation and acceptance of a flawed system?

The answer lies in the US News methodology. While law schools provide much of the information, US News gets lots of information from required disclosures to the American Bar Association. If the law schools don't cough up the information, the reliance on the ABA information will increase, leading to even more perceived errors. Law schools cannot prevent anyone from accessing the data from the ABA.

What the boycott would get rid of would be the "reputation" component of the rankings, which in theory ask law professors and deans to rank other schools. That most likely means more gaming of the ABA numbers to influence the rankings.

Simson, the Dean at Case Western, argues that without the deans' participation, the rankings will crumble by causing others to not provide the requested information.

Bob Morse from US News disagrees, taking the understandable view that his process is fair and not flawed, and that a dean boycott would have little impact.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of this, students in lower ranked schools hope the rankings crumble, leading to greater access to legal jobs for them.

Featured Testimonials

The job contact details are really very nice


LawCrossing Fact #208: Even if you’re not looking for a job, regularly checking LawCrossing will allow you to know where you stand in comparison to your competitors.

New Orleans, LA
Title IX Coordinator Duties: Report to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Will lead the University’s Title IX and Clery Act initiatives to reinforce the University’s commitment to the creation of a safe climate for all community members free from sexual harassment and...
New Orleans, LA
Clinical Instructor The candidate responsibilities will include a full time commitment to supervising students representing clients primarily in civil rights and civil liberties cases in federal court. Should have significant civil litigation experience in federal court, including experience in civ...
New Orleans, LA
Clinical Instructor Responsibilities: Will include direct client representation on civil legal matters such as protective orders, custody, other family and poverty law related issues. Will work closely with third-year law students licensed to practice under Louisiana’s student practice rule, an...
Seattle, WA
Commercial Real Estate Attorney The candidate must have 8+ years of practical and progressive experience in the private sector, emphasizing real estate, development, and financing, paired with high rankings from a top law school.



Testimonial of the Week

LawCrossing is great at picking up all of the legal listings everywhere across the internet. I could have gone to three different sites to search, but you had them all on your site. That was extremely helpful. LawCrossing is a one stop shop!
  • Eileen Baca-Penner New Mexico
Job of the Day

Internet E Commerce Attorney in New York City, NY

New York City, NY

Counsel Duties: Will be working on data privacy matters arising out of company's U.S. businesses, such as initiatives r...

Employer: Viacom Inc

Job Search Tip

Unemployed and want to take a month or two off? Don't do it! The longer you're out of the job market, the harder it is to find.