How to Deal With a Plunge in Your Law School's 'U.S. News' Ranking
The new law school rankings from U.S. News & World Report are out, and The Conglomerate blog has some step-by-step instructions on the "strict protocol" that must be observed by law professors who are roped into discussing these rankings at springtime cocktail parties, happy hours and receptions:
Step 1: State: "Of course the rankings don't mean anything." (Pause and nod sagely).
2(a): IF your school has fallen in the rankings: repeat above,
elaborating generally on poor methodology, including well-known
instances of schools gaming the system by employing recent graduates as
hall monitors, including every copy of the local bar association's
newsletter in their count of total number of volumes in the law
library, etc. Repeat Step 1.
Step 2(b): IF your school has risen
in the rankings: observe that a higher rank will mean better quality
students, more publicity and increased opportunities for development.
Smile at one another in congratulatory fashion. Repeat Step 1.
Sure, that's easy enough for law professors, but what about law school deans who are confronted by packs of panicked law students when their school plunges nearly 30 spots in the rankings? Missouri University Law School had the misfortune of falling from 65th in 2009 down to 93rd in 2010, which apparently caused MU law students considerable stress. The Missourian reports that the "28-spot drop was the largest of any school and gave MU its lowest
ranking since the publication began ranking the nation’s top 100 law
schools in the 2004 list."
With students complaining that "the perceived value of my law degree is dropping like a rock," Dean R. Lawrence Dessem called an emergency meeting to try to calm nerves. Embracing Step 2(a) above, Dessem emphasized that the rankings cannot measure things like quality of teaching and programs, and pointed to bar passage percentages as an example of "flawed data." Dessem said he views the rankings as a sales gimmick and that he "would question any purportedly scientific study where a school could go up or down 20 or 30 places in a year."
Posted by Bruce Carton on April 19, 2010 at 02:25 PM | Permalink
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