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July 6, 2007

Innovation and Law School Rankings

Doug asks in an earlier post whether it might be useful to rank schools based on innovation. I suspect that the principal uses of law school rankings are (1) to signal quality of the education to students; and (2) to signal quality of students to employers. An innovation-meter would not have a significant relationship to either, I think. Schools that innovate may not necessarily be great in teaching--some of the best teachers at UC Davis have been teaching using the same methods that they've used for decades. Yes, innovation can improve teaching, student experience, employment prospects, and scholarship--but it isn't the best indicator for the quality of the education offered, or for the quality of the student. Take two schools, Blackacre Law School and Whiteacre Law School, both exactly equal in T0. If Blackacre innovates--say by offering an array of teaching styles other than the traditional Socratic method, offering allowing its students to fulfill a substantial percentage of requirements by self-directed study or non-law related internship--does that make Blackacre the better school for either students or employers? This blog, of course, does not promote innovation-for-innovation's-sake, but innovation likely to improve legal education and scholarship, so perhaps my concern could be met by any innovation metric somehow accounting for the quality of the innovation. (Congrats, Doug, on the incisive, top of the fold, NY Times front page quote on the Libby commutation, by the way!) Anupam Chander

July 6, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink


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