March 13, 2012
The 2013 US News law school rankings: A call on Yale to drop out
Today is the day that the US News Law School Rankings are released. This is not a reason for celebration even where (as here) a school jumped up in the rankings. As I have written recently, these rankings create bad incentives and are a poor measure of what we do, at any school.
Big scandals at Villanova and Illinois should have sent a message out about the risks of trying to cheat. But, gaming of the numbers continues. I was shocked to see in this NY Post article that Fordham Law School is boosting its employment numbers by giving almost 15% of its graduates temporary jobs at the school itself. This matters a great deal in the rankings, since most schools in Fordham's range report an employment rate well over 80%-- so a true reporting of independent employment would knock Fordham down the rankings significantly.
We'd be better off without these rankings, all of us. I say that despite the fact that my alma mater is #1 overall, that my home school is seeing a big jump up.... we all would be better off without them.
Treating the US News Rankings like they matter is something that nearly all law schools do, because no one wants to drop out of the system and go to the 4th Tier. We all know it is wrong, and we all keep doing it, even when it is worsening (or, some would say, creating) the crisis in legal education.
It's time for the leaders to lead. Yale Law should drop out of the system, and urge others to follow. I loved my time at Yale, value what they do, and will feel the same way regardless of rankings. True leadership is bold, often selfless, and moves towards what is true and good. It is time for Yale to lead.
-- Mark Osler