Yale Law School and Harvard Law School are closing the US News & World Report A law school ranking they say is flawed.
Yale, which has taken the top spot in the rankings every year, determined the criteria were “severely flawed,” Dean Heather Gerken said Wednesday. The school will no longer participate in enrollments that “undercut programs that support public interest jobs, protect need-based aid and welcome working-class students into the profession,” she said.
The rankings discourage programs that encourage low-wage public service jobs and reward schools that award scholarships for high LSAT scores rather than focusing on a student’s financial need, Gerken said. And while Yale awards far more public service grants per student than any peer, she said, American news “These invaluable opportunities seem to be so neglected that these graduates are actually classified as unemployed.”
This “backward approach discourages law schools across the country from supporting students who dream of service careers,” Gerken said in a post on the school’s website. The ranking also discourages graduates from pursuing graduate studies, she said.
U.S. News & World Report LP said Yale’s decision will not change its goals for the ranking, which is a respected measure of the nation’s top law schools.
“The US News Best Law Schools rankings are for students looking for the best decision for their legal education,” said Eric Gertler, President and CEO.
“We will continue to fulfill our journalistic role of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information in making that decision,” Gertler said in a statement. “As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students, and that role does not change with this recent announcement.”
Harvard joined Yale in announcing it will withdraw from the rankings.
“It has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodologies and motivations reflected by American news organizations,” Dean John F. Manning said in a statement on Harvard Law School’s website. “This decision was not taken lightly and only after considerable consideration over the past few months.”
The “debt measure” adopted by US News two years ago “risks confusing more than it suggests because a school can reduce debt at graduation with generous financial aid, but it can also achieve the same effect by admitting more students who have the resources to avoid borrowing,” Manning said. The school also said the methodology focuses too much on students’ test scores and college grades and undermines Harvard’s efforts to support public service careers for its graduates.
At Stanford Law School, which is currently ranked no. 2, “we have long been concerned about the methodology of US News law school leaders,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Ashe. The school will think carefully about Yale’s objections, Ashe said.
The University of Chicago Law School, ranked no. 3 by US News and Columbia Law School, no. 4, declined to comment.
Yale is not the first to criticize the position of American journalists. Earlier this year, a member of Columbia’s undergraduate faculty, Professor Michael Thaddeus, questioned the accuracy of data the university provided to US News. The school later admitted that the data had been inaccurate, and Columbia dropped from No. 2 to no. 18 on the leaderboard.
“The attorneys general have had these conversations with US News and things haven’t changed,” Gerken said in an interview. “That is exactly why this is the moment to take a step back. This is also a moment when institutions across the country are reflecting on the role of higher education in the world and what our values are.”
Gerken said he doesn’t know whether or not US News will include Yale in the next ranking, but that it “wouldn’t have an enormous amount of our data.”
Ted Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School, said he “celebrates Yale Law for its leadership in raising key questions for all law schools by withdrawing from the US News & World Report rankings.” While useful in some ways, the rankings do not provide a clear or complete view of institutional priorities for educating future lawyers. We are evaluating this matter and evaluating the process for our own decision-making.”
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