The U.S. News is a couple days away from announcing its newest batch of law school rankings. At best, a ranking helps future students and employers decide which school to attend and who to hire. Rankings can also push schools to improve certain areas. At worst, rankings can cause schools to “game” their numbers to falsely improve stature. They can also lead to schools increasing tuition, which in turn piles on debt for their graduates.
Shannon Achimalbe, a corporate attorney wrote a piece this past week for Above the Law publicly declaring her reasoning for ignoring the U.S. News ranking and why other employers should do the same. Granted, Above the Law does have its own ranking and this was a shot at the competitor. Still, there were some good points made about a ranking methodology that really should be altered.
The U.S. News weights their rankings by quality assessment (.40), selectivity (.25), placement success (.20) and faculty resources (.15). Achimalbe’s beef isn’t with quality assessment and selectivity—it’s with placement success and faculty resources. First, does anyone actually care about faculty resources? When deciding between Harvard, Stanford and Columbia, are future law students really considering which school spends the most per student? It’s probably safe to assume that’s not factored too much in a decision.
On the other hand, some might believe that placement rate should be weighed heavier than it already is. For employers, though? Achimalbe says no. First, she points out many schools do not actually report factual stats. This is where the gaming comes in. Some schools create fellowships for graduates to boost stats, for example. Others don’t disclose some of those jobs don’t actually require a J.D.
Regardless, Achimalbe says she doesn’t buy the argument that if a school places well, you are anymore likely to get a good employee. Sure, these graduates are being placed, but then what? Achimalbe argues that a school placing their students doesn’t mean every single one will perform well.
Nevertheless, the rankings will be coming out shortly and many will argue over if they are right or not and employers will look at them. But when that day comes, it will be just another day for Achimalbe.
Source: Above the Law
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