Yale, Harvard and UC Berkeley Law Schools to Withdraw from US News Rankings

Harvard Law School’s Junior Deferral Program will expand to accept applications from undergraduate juniors at colleges and universities nationwide in the fall of 2017. Harvard photo

Yale, Harvard and UC Berkeley Law Schools to Withdraw from US News Rankings

Top law schools across the country—including Yale, Harvard and UC Berkeley—have announced their withdrawal from US News & World Report’s annual rankings citing frustrations with the ranking methodology.

“The US News rankings are profoundly flawed – they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid and welcome working-class students into the profession,” Heather Gerkin, dean of Yale Law School, wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession.”

John Manning, dean of Harvard Law School, echoed similar sentiments in his official statement regarding Harvard Law’s decision to withdraw from the rankings.

“In particular, we have raised concerns about aspects of the U.S. News ranking methodology (also highlighted by our colleagues at Yale) that work against law schools’ commitments to enhancing the socioeconomic diversity of our classes,” Manning wrote in his statement. “…to allocating financial aid to students based on need; and, through loan repayment and public interest fellowships, to supporting graduates interested in careers serving the public interest.”

On Thursday, the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law joined Harvard and Yale in boycotting the US News rankings as well. Berkeley Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky criticized the rankings, saying the methodology penalizes schools that encourage public service and low cost.

“Although rankings are inevitable and inevitably have some arbitrary features, there are aspects of the U.S. News rankings that are profoundly inconsistent with our values and public mission,” Chemerinsky said in a statement. “Now is a moment when law schools need to express to U.S. News that they have created undesirable incentives for legal education.”

OTHER SCHOOLS CONSIDER FUTURE PLANS

Across the country, law schools—including Stanford Law School, UC Hastings Law, and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School—are considering their own plans of whether or not they’ll boycott the rankings too.

“We are monitoring this situation and are having internal conversations about it,” Chancellor and Dean David Faigman, of UC Hastings, said in a statement. “I share the concerns about U.S. News that have been raised by the deans at Yale, Harvard and Berkeley and plan to continue to pay close attention to this developing issue.”

In a statement, U.S. News officials said they plan to continue ranking the nearly 200 or so fully accredited law schools—regardless of whether or not institutions agree to submit their school data.

“The U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings are for students seeking the best decision for their law education. We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mission of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information in making that decision,” Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News, said in a statement. “As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students and that mission does not change with these recent announcements.”

Sources: The Guardian, Reuters, Los Angeles Times

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