November 15, 2007
Understanding US News Law School RankingsLink: SSRN-Understanding the U.S. News Law School Rankings by Theodore Seto. Loyola (Los Angeles) prof Theodore Seto has written an important study of the US News methodology, which should raise many cautions among those who rely upon the study.
This Article explores in detail the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. Its descriptions, analyses, and conclusions are based primarily on U.S. News' published descriptions of its 2006 computations, telephone conversations with U.S. News' staff clarifying those descriptions, and a spreadsheet I have written that approximately replicates those computations. The Article's goals are relatively modest: to help prospective students, employers, and other law school stakeholders read the U.S. News rankings more critically and to help law school administrators get a better handle on how to manage their schools' rankings. In addition, the Article suggests ways in which U.S. News methodology might be improved. It does not, however, purport to offer a systematic critique of either the U.S. News rankings or ranking in general.
Part I describes both U.S. News' 2006 methodology and problems involved in replicating it. Part II is intended to help prospective students, employers, and other law school stakeholders read U.S. News' results intelligently. Prospective students and others trying to understand how to use U.S. News' rankings in their decision-making may wish to focus on this part, although a reading of Part I may also be necessary to understand some of the technical details. Part III addresses the problem of managing rankings. Part IV, finally, suggests ways in which the rankings might be improved.
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