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06 JAN 2023
Law school rankings in the United States are set to be changed. Following the move by top law schools to not submit data to US News & World Report for its annual rankings issue, the publication has said it will change some of its parameters to reform the way it ranks institutions.
The magazine published a letter - one addressed to law school deans and another to prospective law students - outlining some of the changes it will implement in its methodologies. In the letter, the publication said that its next list would give more credit to schools whose graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees, or school-funded fellowships to work in public-service jobs that pay lower wages, the New York Times reported. The rankings will also rely less on the schools' reputations, indicators of student debt, or spending per student. The publication added that it will continue ranking those institutions that have pulled out, based on publicly available data.
“For the rankings portion, there will be some changes in how we weight certain data points, including a reduced emphasis on the peer assessment surveys of academics, lawyers and judges, and an increased weight on outcome measures,” Robert Morse, the chief data strategist at U.S. News, and Stephanie Salmon, senior vice president of data and information strategy, wrote in the letter.
At least 21 law schools said they will not submit internal data for the rankings — following the lead of Yale Law School, which started the boycott in November. The list of those shunning the rankings includes the law schools at UCLA, UC Irvine, Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, and Stanford universities.
US News will continue to rank the institutions that will not provide data, focusing on publicly available information instead. However, it will publish more detailed profiles of those institutions that respond, providing some incentive for lower-ranked schools looking to attract more students.
College rankings have always been a topic of criticism by many experts, saying they put too much emphasis on standardized test scores and do not take into account a lot of other factors. The methodology has also come under fire, with Columbia University dropping from No. 2 to No. 18 after it was revealed that some of the data, including undergraduate class size and the percentage of faculty with the highest degree in their field, had been inaccurate.