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January 16, 2007

Does US News promote good or bad innovation?

Thanks to Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog here, I see that the cover story in the January 2007 National Jurist is entitled "The Rankings Race: How Far Will Law Schools Go to Win?"  Here is the teaser:

Misreporting or selectively reporting statistics, firing deans, spending thousands on marketing; the law school rumor mill runs rampant with stories of law schools going to great lengths to boost their U.S. News & World Report ranks.  How much is true, and why are schools willing to put it all on the line just to get a few points higher on the list?

As Paul notes, the story does not break any new ground (though the technology supporting web access to the National Jurist article seemed impressively innovative).  Intriguingly, two high-profile law professor bloggers get their pictures and pull-out quotes in the piece.

Perhaps to provoke some discussion, let me make this somewhat provocative point about the impact of US News rankings on law school programming and activities: though I am sometimes troubled by how US News can impact law school programming and activities, I am far more troubled by how inertia and status quo biases impact law school programming and activities.  As but one example, I suspect US News concerns about reputation scores has helpfully fueled interest in work-related blogging and on-line activities by law professors, while inertia and status quo biases have harmfully retarded these valuable activities.

Posted by DAB.

January 16, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink


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When we did our strategic plan a year ago, our consultant (Pete Wentz, APCO Consulting--he was wonderful) looked at our USNWR components and those of our chosen comparison schools, and he concluded that we would move up if (and I know you won't be surprised by this) we admitted students w/better numbers, placed more graduates in jobs, and published in more high-profile journals. I've been out on sabbatical since shortly after we approved that plan, but I believe that we focused on the first two, on the theory that we shouldn't restrict where professors publish or pay bounties for placements.

Posted by: Nancy Rapoport | Jan 17, 2007 7:12:38 AM

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