US News Alters Law School Rankings After Yale, Harvard Quit (1) – Bloomberg Law

By Francesca Maglione
US News & World Report pledged to modify its law school rankings after a growing number of institutions, including Yale and Harvard, called the rankings “flawed.”
In a letter to law school deans published on its website Monday, US News & World Report said it would make a series of changes to this year’s rankings. They’ll be based on “conversations with more than 100 deans and representatives of law schools,” along with “our own research and our iterative rankings review process,” the company said.
“We realize that legal education is neither monolithic nor static and that the rankings, by becoming so widely accepted, may not capture the individual nuances of each school in the larger goal of using a common set of data,” according to the letter by Robert Morse, the company’s chief data strategist, and Stephanie Salmon, senior vice president of data and information strategy.
US News & World Report said it would give “full-weight to school-funded full-time long-term fellowships where bar passage is required or where the JD degree is an advantage, and we will treat all fellowships equally,” one of the main concerns expressed by law schools. The company said it also needed more time to address complaints related to “loan forgiveness/loan assistance repayment programs, need-based aid, and diversity and socio-economic considerations.”
Read More: Yale, Harvard Law Schools Exit ‘US News’ Rankings Over Flaws
Several top law schools, including the University of California’s Berkeley, Columbia Law and Georgetown, had said they would no longer be participating in the rankings. Yale Law School, top in the rankings for years, started the exodus when it withdrew on Nov. 16, with Dean Heather Gerken calling the criteria “profoundly flawed.”
Despite the proposed changes by US News, Yale still has no plans to participate in the rankings. “Having a window into the operations and decision-making process at US News in recent weeks has only cemented our decision to stop participating in the rankings,” Gerken said in a statement.
“We simply don’t know enough at this stage to respond,” University of California’s Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinksy said in a statement Tuesday. “Bob Morse’s letter did not say how they were addressing, if at all, most of the concerns we raised.”
In November, Chemerinksy claimed the ranking “penalizes schools that help students launch careers in public service law,” and “discounts graduates who are pursuing advanced degrees.” It also creates incentives to diminish “things we think are critical to our profession and role in society,” such as focusing on per-student expenditure and student debt, he said.
That same month, Gillian Lester, the law school dean at No. 4-ranked Columbia, claimed the US News methodology “creates incentives that work against schools’ interest in attracting and retaining classes of students with a broadly diverse set of qualities and experiences” and in supporting diverse career choices for graduates, “whether in the private sector, in public interest and government organizations, or in academia.”
Georgetown still has no plans to participate in the surveys, but Dean William Treanor said Tuesday he was “very pleased” by some of the changes made US News. “These are steps forward, but there is more they have to do before the rankings are good rankings,” Treanor said. US News should be more transparent on what its algorithm is, should consider factors that increase student diversity such as loan forgiveness, and reassess the team that works on ranking the schools, he said.
US News said Monday it will rely on publicly available data that law schools disclose annually as required by American Bar Association. For school that respond to the company’s survey, US News said it will provide a more detailed profile.
(Updates with statements from deans at UC Berkeley, Georgetown law schools.)
To contact the reporter on this story:
Francesca Maglione in New York at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Amanda Cantrell at
Steve Stroth
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
To contact the reporter on this story: Francesca Maglione in New York at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Amanda Cantrell at
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