‘U.S. News’ Will Change Its Law School Rankings

U.S. News & World Report announced Monday that it would change its law school rankings, in which many top law schools have announced they will no longer participate.

A letter Monday from Robert Morse, chief data strategist, and Stephanie Salmon, senior vice president for data and information strategy, said, “For schools that do respond [to the request to participate], we will publish more detailed profiles, enabling students to create a more comprehensive picture of their various choices. For the rankings portion, there will be some changes in how we weight certain data points, including a reduced emphasis on the peer assessment surveys of academics, lawyers and judges, and an increased weight on outcome measures.”

In addition, “Some law schools that are able to offer fellowships felt they were being undervalued, thus discouraging public service careers. For the next year, we will be giving full-weight to school-funded full-time long-term fellowships where bar passage is required or where the JD degree is an advantage, and we will treat all fellowships equally. We will also be giving full-weight to those enrolled in graduate studies in the [American Bar Association] employment outcomes grid.”

In other areas, U.S. News said it was working on changes. “The conversations revealed other factors, such as loan forgiveness/loan assistance repayment programs, need-based aid, and diversity and socio-economic considerations, which will require additional time and collaboration to address. In these areas we will continue to work with academic and industry leaders to develop metrics with agreed upon definitions,” said the letter.

It is unclear whether the changes will satisfy the many critics of the magazine.

Yale Law’s dean, Heather K. Gerken, who started the movement to stay out of U.S. News rankings, said in a statement to The New York Times Monday, “Having a window into the operations and decision-making process at U.S. News in recent weeks has only cemented our decision to stop participating in the rankings.”