PreLaw - Back to School 2010 - 23
U.S. News’ annual rankings are powerful but imperfect. Experts warn against placing too much emphasis on them when selecting a law school. Instead, there are other rankings that, while not as sexy, could be more helpful for the smart consumer.
BY JACK CRITTENDEN AND KAREN DYBIS
very spring, law students, professors and deans run to the newsstand to find out where their school ranks compared to other law schools. While many say they loathe the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the top law schools, the vast majority of people in legal education still pay attention. And over the years, the rankings have been the catalyst for deans getting fired, school’s changing policies and students flocking to one school over another. But is all the hype justified? “You can complain about it until you are blue in the face, but if U.S. News is the only game in town, people will refer to it,” said Brian Leiter, a law professor at University of Chicago who compiles his own rankings based on single metrics. “There are a lot of publications that rank business schools. But for law
schools it is me and U.S. News, and one of us is getting rich off of this.” Actually, there are other rankings of law schools. But U.S. News is the only one that aggregates multiple data to determine an overall ranking of the best law schools. And for that reason, U.S. News has garnered far more traction and attention from prospective law students. But most experts agree that prospective law students would actually be far better served by focusing on the rankings that use single metrics — such as employment data or rankings of best public interest law schools. And the good news is that there are plenty of rankings and data available — even if they are not as widely known. Still, most agree that rankings work best when they are the starting point in what should be a lengthy and detailed search process.
Back to School 2010
PHOTO BY STUART HANDY