Above the Law produces a competing ranking with U.S. News. Not surprisingly, the site takes any opportunity to point out the flaws in U.S. News’ methodology. Nevertheless, pointing out holes is often what makes these ranking systems better. The issue pointed out most recently? How rankings in general (but especially the U.S. News rankings) shouldn’t actually matter to more than a select few.
Sure, rankings are great ego-boosters and might provide a sense of false security for the law schools that place highly. They also could cause lower-ranked schools to innovate to boost their rankings. But mainly they just cause unnecessary unrest.
Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency points out that omparing law schools nationwide doesn’t really make sense. His reasoning is that law schools (for the most part) simply don’t have a national reach. Out of the more than 200 American Board Association accredited law schools, 158 place more than half of their graduates in the same state as the school. Specifically, out of those schools, about 67 percent of graduates stay in the same state as the school. The average number of graduates going to the same outside state is about 8 percent.
The example McEntee gives is California Western and West Virginia. Both law schools are very similarly ranked but basically have zero competition between each other. They aren’t really competing for the same students and the graduates aren’t competing for jobs. What’s more, these rankings are largely weighted on input, rather than output. What the students do after they leave the school is becoming increasingly important in the decision making of going to law school and which law school to attend.
So then who should care about rankings? According to Above the Law, it’s the elite students from the top undergraduate schools. However, Above the Law adds that these students are applying to law schools less-and-less. If you are not an elite student from an elite undergraduate institution, what should you care about besides rankings?
Probably some of the most important factors are the cost of the school, how well the school prepares students to practice, the law school’s relations with alumni and law firms, and long-term graduate placement rates.
Source: Above the Law
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