New Changes to the US News Law School Rankings

Attractive law schools in New York can open the door to lucrative employment at world-class firms and corporations, but just as important for students are personal skills in building connections and networking – so finding one that meets both your professional needs as well as personal interests should always come before rankings alone.

US News’ law school rankings have long been contentious. Critics argue that their methodology fails to capture the true essence of legal education, relying heavily on deans and admissions directors of each school to rate each other which many critics contend creates an elitist legacy mentality. Furthermore, critics point out that their rankings don’t consider factors which could impact quality like whether or not an institution recruits underrepresented minority students or offers scholarships for non-traditional applicants.

Following a boycott by several of the nation’s premier law schools last fall, U.S. News announced that it will make changes to how it rates law schools. In an open letter addressed to law deans, they announced they will no longer solely base their rankings on peer assessments as ranking criteria; additional changes are planned for 2023-2024.

Changes include adding more data points and considering outcomes of law graduates after three years of practice, measuring diversity and inclusion within schools, helping their students with specific needs like childcare or language proficiency, supporting clinical training opportunities within them as well as the type of work they perform in the community, among other issues.

Yale University came out on top this year, followed by Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School.

Though the top four law schools have mostly maintained their standings, several other schools have experienced dramatic shifts. Alabama’s law school dropped 27 spots to #35 while George Washington University (GW) and William & Mary experienced 10- and 15-spot drops respectively.

Many schools, including medical colleges, have opted out of rankings altogether. Many deans at medical colleges have voiced similar sentiments as law school deans; specifically that rankings rely too heavily on standardized test scores and academicians’ reputation, both of which can easily be altered through manipulation.

Some analysts predict that boycotts by law and medical schools will bring ruin for all rankings, while other experts remain more optimistic. According to higher education experts, undergraduate and other types of subject rankings might survive such a crisis while law and medicine (and business) rankings would probably decrease considerably.