US News unveils revamped law school rankings after boycott

US News unveils revamped law school rankings after boycott | The Hill

US News unveils revamped law school rankings after boycott  at george magazine
(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File)

FILE – Students walk through the Harvard Law School area on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on Nov. 19, 2002. The University of California, Berkeley’s law school on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, joined the law programs at Harvard and Yale in pulling out of U.S. News & World Report rankings over concerns that the rating system punishes efforts to attract students from a broad range of backgrounds. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File)

U.S. News & World Report released its revamped list of law school rankings Thursday after it made changes to its ranking system in response to boycotts of its list from several high-profile universities. 

The rankings placed Stanford and Yale universities’ law schools as tied for the top spot, followed by the University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania. Duke, Harvard and New York University all tied for fifth-best in the country. 

U.S. News said last month that it would delay the release of its annual law and medical school rankings because of an “unprecedented number of inquiries” it received from schools while conducting its review for the best graduate schools for 2023-2024. 

“We are working to address these inquiries. The level of interest in our rankings, including from those schools that declined to participate in our survey, has been beyond anything we have experienced in the past,” the company said, adding that the rankings would be released “when this work has been completed.” 

The rankings are the first to be released incorporating changes that U.S. News implemented in response to criticisms from some colleges that the rankings were not using proper methodology and prioritizing the wrong factors. 

Harvard and Yale announced in November that they would no longer participate in the rankings because they argued that the rankings disincentivize them from prioritizing need-based financial aid and encouraging students to take careers in public service, which usually provide lower salaries than other types of occupations. 

The University of California, Berkeley, law school quickly joined them in exiting, followed by several others. 

Some medical schools have also announced that they would leave the rankings because of issues with the methodology or the principle of rankings in general. 

U.S. News responded to the departures in January by announcing that it would make changes to how it ranks law schools throughout the country. It said it would place less weight on peer assessments of schools from academics, attorneys and judges and provide more attention to schools that offer fellowships for students pursuing public service. 

It also said it would credit schools for students choosing to pursue graduate degrees and was working to develop criteria for loan assistance help, need-based financial aid and “diversity and socio-economic considerations.” 

U.S. News CEO and Executive Chairman Eric Gertler also defended the rankings in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal at the end of February. He argued that students would struggle to find accurate and comprehensive information comparing schools without the rankings. 

“Our rankings don’t capture every nuance. Academic institutions aren’t monolithic or static; comparing them across a common data set can be challenging,” Gertler said. “But we reject our critics’ paternalistic view that students are somehow incapable of discerning for themselves from this information which school is the best fit.”


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