Law School Deans in a Tizzy, and Other Rites of Spring

Published: Apr 16, 2010

Topics: Education       Grad School       

Every April, amidst flowering trees, chirping birds, and that cloying music the IRS plays when you’re on hold, a whole subset of the academic world gets its knickers in a twist. And now that my taxes have (finally) been accepted by the IRS and my euphoria about my new bike has (slightly) abated, there seems to be no better time to join the fray of law school deans, applicants, and bloggers: What is up with those U.S. News & World Report?!

The USNWR rankings have been the subject of criticism for years. Take, for instance, Daniel Solove’s condemnation of , published earlier this month. Or even the 2007 survey by The National Jurist that “asked students on a scale of one-to-five, to indicate how they would weigh a variety of factors if they were putting together a rankings system.” Of those considerations with the five highest ranking averages among students, three (quality of teaching, practical skills training available, and faculty student relations) don’t factor in to the USNWR ranking system at all, while the other two (Bar passage rate and placement rate at 9 months) only account for 2% and 14% respectively.

Of course, there are some schools, listed below, who found they had little reason to complain this year.

2010 U.S. News & World Report Top Ten


  1. Yale University
  2. Harvard University
  3. Stanford University
  4. Columbia University
  5. University of Chicago
  6. New York University
  7. University of California--Berkeley
    1. University of Pennsylvania
    1. University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
    2. University of Virginia

    In spite of all the controversy, the USWNR can seem to many law school deans like the mangy, irritable goose that lays the golden eggs. The fact is, anyone at all concerned with law school standings will look to USNWR as one of their first sources. This is especially true for newcomers, who may not even be aware of how… let’s just say questionable… the methodology is in the first place.

    Nor can I pretend that I wasn’t curious when I heard the rankings were out. Of course, with my shiny new bike waiting for me at home and the best law school rankings in the whole wide world one easy click away, I find it hard to get too worked up.

    --Posted by Madison Priest


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