Law School Discussion

Law Students => Incoming 1Ls => Topic started by: bigs5068 on March 23, 2011, 09:00:29 PM

Title: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: bigs5068 on March 23, 2011, 09:00:29 PM
I just came across this randomly and have to say it is very well written and realistic view of the effects that U.S. News Rankings have had on legal education. Schools are caught in the Catch 22 presented in the article. http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/GR/GR-07-02.pdf

Page 27 of the Report
You have people who focus on whether or not the rankings are in fact valid, whether they really show anything,
whether the methodology is good, and so on. And those debates can seem endless at times as everybody kind of
decries the rankings. On the flip side you have the pragmatic reality of the rankings. … Whatever the validity of
the methodology, it’s difficult to pretend that the rankings don’t matter. I mean prospective students use them;
employers use them; university administrators use them. So whether we in legal academics think they’re valid
or not, whether they’re reflective or not, the truth is that I don’t think you can just ignore them. Page 7

This is the sad part whether you support or hate the rankings. Page 10
Reputational rating is the most heavily weighted criterion in the USN ranking formula and therefore has
become an obvious target of attention. Law schools are spending substantial amounts of money15 on brochures and other
marketing publications that are distributed to those who have a vote, or even might have a vote, in the USN survey
(e.g.,
other deans, administrators, faculty members). Administrators note that they receive these brochures throughout the year,
but they arrive in very large quantities in the weeks immediately prior to the October release of the USN reputation
survey, what one marketing director referred to as “sweeps week.” Many report that these mailings usually end up in the
garbage unread.16 Regardless of their effect on reputation ratings, these brochures represent a large expenditure of
resources that could be used for any of a variety of other purposes. Among the alternatives mentioned were new faculty
members, writing centers, scholarships, and library volumes—purposes that, according to most administrators, would
more directly benefit the school in terms of educational quality. Not surprisingly, this is a hot-button issue for these
administrators:
I could hire a faculty member for the amount of money spent on this; I could support twenty students for this
price; I could buy a substantial number of books for our library; all of which strike me as what this enterprise
ought to be about … I could almost support an entire legal writing program, I could fund a clinic, I could do any
of those things. Instead I’m putting out a magazine which goes out to people who aren’t interested in it and
perhaps to some who are interested in it. But those who are interested in it would be the alums, not the federal
judges in Milwaukee.


-This is really bad because students could be much better served if this magazine with no authority choose to not make money of this system. I am completely for ranking the top 25 or so schools. This is because no expenditure needs to be spent on determining these elite level schools. Harvard Grads are hired each year and judges, firms, etc can make realistic evaluations on the quality of the graduates because they are scattered through the country. However, you are unlikley to find many Marquette Grads outside of Wisconsin so why in Gods name is Marquette spending money on sending brochures etc to Southwestern or having Williamette send information to a Federal Judge in Nebraska? Why is all I can ask it's so stupid and inefficient, sadly the only people that really get hurt by this whole system our the student's whose tuition dollars are going to boosting a schools ranking instead of improving the educational experience.

Complaints About the Rankings
Page 7
Many deans criticize the quality of USN measures. To take one example, many suggest that respondents to the
reputational surveys are ill-informed about the schools they evaluate and that their evaluations are strategic responses. As
one dean put it:

The data on the reputational survey are so bad … I don’t understand how you get anything other than some
consensus… There is clear consensus of the 10 or 12 schools that should get a five [where five is “outstanding”
and one is “marginal”]. How is there any difference between Chicago and Yale based on reputation? Anyone
who doesn’t put Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Michigan, NU, or Berkeley as a five, is either being instrumental or is
an idiot.

The Positives of the Rankings. Page 8


USN has forced law schools to place students well; to do a better job of this. Before [rankings] there wasn’t a
number that was running around. … In the past a dean could pontificate about how great his program was, but
now it’s harder to pull the wool over people’s eyes. With these numbers, you can’t just talk. The basic things
that law schools do are still all there: we want to get the best students, the best faculty, and we want our students
to be successful. Our job and our career goals haven’t changed, but now we have metrics. I think it’s just like
Consumer Reports for cars. ( There is no doubt there should be some statistics to make sure law schools don't become like politics and make just make thigns up out of thin air, but I still don't understand why they don't simply rank the top 25-50 schools so they can all strive to be in this category. If they are not in the upper tier of schools then why distinguish between Tier 2/3/4?
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 12, 2011, 08:59:52 PM
I just came across this randomly and have to say it is very well written and realistic view of the effects that U.S. News Rankings have had on legal education. Schools are caught in the Catch 22 presented in the article. http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/GR/GR-07-02.pdf


bigs & All -

All quite true, and the system as it has morphed has not, on the whole, been good for students.  That written, what's important is, for a prospective applicant, to know what to do with the information and, for a current student, to know what not to do.

Decisions of which law schools to apply to and attend are made based on any number of factors.  Basing them solely on the U.S. News ranking is unwise . . . but the rankings are a valuable resource.  And . . . with a significant caveat . . . they're also valuable below the top, "national" schools.  The caveat is that below the top schools, geography is (by definition) more relevant.  This means that rankings are neither supreme nor silly; they are as useful as their proper consideration warrants.

Just one counterrevolutionary note, and one in which I have absolutely no vested interest:  U.S. News has created and garnered a franchise.  Good for them.  Others have tried to unseat them, and, if they wanted to, the LSAC or ABA could do so fairly easily.  But, to the extent that U.S. News does a creditable job with an inherently subjective evaluation, well, it seems the real shame is on us if we don't use it well.

(Sorry, bigs . . . love your posts . . . but I do support the careful use of U.S. News, from Yale to #201.  = :   )

Thane.
Title: Re: bags
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 12, 2011, 09:04:00 PM
for cheap designer handbags at my estore


When I'm thinkin' law, I'm thinkin' cheap handbags. 

= :   )

PS:  All handbags have designers, no?
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: bigs5068 on June 16, 2011, 07:45:56 PM
I must respectfully dissent. The rankings could be helpful and to some extent are, but what has happened is schools are focused on manipulating their numbers and not giving students a good education. An example is Villanova having recently been caught LYING to U.S. News for manipulating their stats. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/02/09/villanova-law-school-admits-it-lied-to-boost-rankings-but-so/ .  The National Jurist did a great article on this and my post is not meant to knock Villanova they came clean and I am certain the majority of schools are doing the same things Villanova did.

Schools are literally putting significant amounts of money, resources, and time to boost the opinion of some magazine that has no authority and uses an absurd methodology to make their conclusions. It is so absurd that schools jump 20 spots any given year and they have 11 way ties in the rankings see the 11 way tie for 84th place. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+4 .

All that being said I don't blame U.S. News for what has happened they are a private magazine making a lot of money for doing nothing. The sad thing is law schools have not banned together to focus on producing competent lawyers. Instead schools will discuss how high U.S. News ranked them in some speciality or my school for my example hired our Dean to boost our ranking. That was the reason and needless to say it didn't happen, because nobody can boost a ranking the system makes no sense. I just wish law schools would disregard U.S. News and ban together to stop it and focus on producing competent lawyers not lying to to get into an 11 way tie for 84th place. That kind of behavior is not good for anyone.
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 17, 2011, 03:46:45 PM
All that being said I don't blame U.S. News for what has happened they are a private magazine making a lot of money for doing nothing. The sad thing is law schools have not banned together to focus on producing competent lawyers. Instead schools will discuss how high U.S. News ranked them in some speciality or my school for my example hired our Dean to boost our ranking. That was the reason and needless to say it didn't happen, because nobody can boost a ranking the system makes no sense. I just wish law schools would disregard U.S. News and ban together to stop it and focus on producing competent lawyers not lying to to get into an 11 way tie for 84th place. That kind of behavior is not good for anyone.


Human beings will manipulate anything measured, and humans are lustful of quantification.  Ergo, humans will misuse data, and assertively so. 

There's hardly an organization in existence that doesn't (mis)manage its internal systems with poorly-designed systems of quantitative goals.  Every one of those goals--good and bad--will ripple throughout the organization, often in unintended but deeply consequential ways. 

In a sense, this makes it even more important to evaluate these data points well . . . as employers WILL.

In immodesty, I think my book on law school provides an effective way to think about rankings that is quite different from how they are commonly considered.  In addition, a new book, Law School Undercover, does an excellent job for those who are in the application stages.  Well worth reading.

As to law schools, few practitioners (or professors) will argue that law graduates know much (or anything) about practicing law.  Practitioners will say this with varying stages of dismay or dismissal.  Professors will say this proudly.  The sin relates more to the umbrella organization, the ABA.  For those future ABA governors out there, we'll forward you the complaints.  = :  )    By the way, the points in your last paragraph are addressed at length in Planet Law School, for those fellow contrarians out there.

Thane.
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: FalconJimmy on June 18, 2011, 02:25:45 AM
There's hardly an organization in existence that doesn't (mis)manage its internal systems with poorly-designed systems of quantitative goals.  Every one of those goals--good and bad--will ripple throughout the organization, often in unintended but deeply consequential ways. 


It doesn't help that so many people have such bad quantitative skills. 

I remember once when I worked for a manufacturing company (which should have had a high proportion of mechanical and industrial engineers), seeing a report where they were boasting the gains due to some recent process improvement initiative.

One of the measures they had was reduction of floor-space.

They claimed that they had reduced floor-space usage by something like 8,000%.

I saw that statistic and shot back an e-mail to the originator saying that you can reduce floor space usage by 100% if you eliminate all the floor space used, but that you can't reduce it by more than 100%.

I was told to keep quiet because the executive leading this initiative would be very displeased if he saw that I was criticizing the efforts.

If that's the level of quantitative ability in a manufacturing organization, I shudder to think of what it must be in a group of attorneys.
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: politicolaw on June 18, 2011, 06:40:25 PM

The sad thing is law schools have not banned together to focus on producing competent lawyers. Instead schools will discuss how high U.S. News ranked them in some speciality or my school for my example hired our Dean to boost our ranking. That was the reason and needless to say it didn't happen, because nobody can boost a ranking the system makes no sense. I just wish law schools would disregard U.S. News and ban together to stop it and focus on producing competent lawyers not lying to to get into an 11 way tie for 84th place. That kind of behavior is not good for anyone.

I wish law schools would market what they are doing to improve their quality and how they are producing more competent lawyers as well. I read an article at above the law a few months back on how prospective law students reported on a survey that a large majority choose a law school based on the us news ranking, and not on more practical things like job placement & bar passage. These sort of changes also will not come until the students/customers demand such information.

Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 19, 2011, 01:35:43 AM
I wish law schools would market what they are doing to improve their quality and how they are producing more competent lawyers as well. I read an article at above the law a few months back on how prospective law students reported on a survey that a large majority choose a law school based on the us news ranking, and not on more practical things like job placement & bar passage. These sort of changes also will not come until the students/customers demand such information.


The truth is that all law schools . . . all of them . . . are in pretty much the same boat with regard to these issues.  They have no real reason to compete in these ways, and they have serious incentives to keep doing what they're doing.  (Again, Law School Undercover offers an insider's look at the commodification of law schools, as well as advice for what to do with that knowledge.) 

The "customers" of law schools are not students, but firms; students are the product.  And, for their own reasons, firms like the system as it is.

Moreover, it is an open secret that one does not learn in law school how to practice law, and in fact those courses that were introduced around the scathing MacCrate Report of 1992 are openly dismissed among law faculty.  Hereagain, read Law School Undercover.  That book (and mine) will lend important insight into how to approach (and how not to approach) your legal research and writing course.

So, not to be too brusque but the topics under discussion have been thrashed about for the better part of two decades.  If a report sanctioned by the ABA and headed by one of the most powerful practitioners in the country cannot change an industry practice, well, this is the time for an individual to consider how to navigate in the world as it is, rather than as we would wish it to be.  (Just to be clear, I included a bonus chapter on much of this in my book for law new students.  So I share these sentiments.  I also, however, consider it intellectually treasonous to disregard reality.  Would that Marx had only shared that sentiment.  = :   )

Thane.

Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 19, 2011, 01:51:22 AM

They claimed that they had reduced floor-space usage by something like 8,000%.



At least they were able to secure that 8,000% bonus.

= :   )
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: bigs5068 on June 20, 2011, 12:58:21 PM
I think everything you said is true, but it is exactly what is wrong with legal education. Law students should be the customers of the school and who the school tries to impress. The main reason for this should be obvious law students pay tuition at an outrageous rate and this outrageous tuition is frivolously rising every year. Look at the LSAC archives. http://www.lsac.org/LSACResources/Publications/official-guide-archives.asp at every ABA school the tuition has risen about 20% between 2007-2010 what changed at any of these schools? I am certain nothing and the cost of a legal education is simply absurd and continuing to get more expensive. It really seems like the ABA has created an anti-trust situation where you have to go to an ABA school and ALL  of the schools are already absurd tuition rates are increasing significantly every year with no basis.I would love it Congress who is handing money to these schools through Direct Loans actually requested an accounting from schools to explain why tuition is upwards of $30,000 per year.

Aside from all that I hope it is not a secret that public opinion of lawyers is not very good. Could it be that lawyers who are entrusted to handle important  matters in people's lives screw up these situations because they are never taught how to handle situations or be effective lawyers in law school. I have not been to med school, but the whole clinical/residency setup prepares you to be a doctor and if I had to get a heart surgery I would be a little concerned if my surgeon told me I learned nothing about how to be a doctor in med school or my residency. Apparently, this whole I learned nothing about how to be a lawyer in law school is ok to the ABA and the legal profession, but it makes no sense to me. In my two years of internships etc I have seem some atrociously bad lawyers that attended all levels of schools and there inability to handle the most basic problems likely stems from the fact that law school did not teach them to be lawyers. I am just very surprised the ABA does not regulate attorneys and education more and hopefully it changes at some point.  I have seen several cases where lawyers being paid hundreds of dollars an hour regularly hurt their clients and make a simple problem far more complex than it ever needed to be.

It is to bad the MacCrate report did not go any further than it did, but one failure doesn't mean people should stop. Hopefully more people like him stand up and make an attempt to change the system that is in serious need of reform.
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: politicolaw on June 20, 2011, 05:18:06 PM
LSD needs a "like" button  :) ^ on bigs post
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 20, 2011, 06:30:22 PM
I think everything you said is true, but it is exactly what is wrong with legal education.

* * *

It is too bad the MacCrate report did not go any further than it did, but one failure doesn't mean people should stop. Hopefully more people like him stand up and make an attempt to change the system that is in serious need of reform.


Bigs & All -

Would you believe the antitrust route was tried?  Feisty Massachusetts School of Law, which refuses to go through ABA's accreditation ritual because it would mean higher tuition and less well-rounded students [yes, you read that right], plugs away but with no discernable movement on the part of Dean Velvel and MSL's many complaints.  There was--surprise!--a settlement in that case between the Department of Justice and the ABA. 

As to MacCrate, he and his report were akin to the 1983 report A Nation At Risk, which excoriated our educational system.   It would have been hard to have been more critical than MacCrate and his committee were of legal education.  It would have been all but impossible to be more "powerful."  To repeat, he was a voice from the inside, at the top of the profession, commissioned by the ABA.  [!]   Not only has nothing happened, but what has happened has tended to make the situation worse, not better.  A random sampling of grandparents--from all walks of life and whether as to high schools, college, or law school--would be appalled at our system now.

Unfortunately, the incentives in the system are too deeply embedded.  The solution that fails to address those incentives will fail, period.  (Paradoxically, the closest this came was during Bush II, when the Administration spanked the ABA for its rather ham-handed handling of judicial nominations.)

I became interested in this over a decade ago, in response to a reader of Young Lawyer's Jungle Book who later wrote Planet Law School.  If there is "harsher than MacCrate," Atticus Falcon is it.  It took some years for me to come around, and in my second book, on law school (GGG), I address many of the issues we're talking about.

Also, I fully agree with you as to the quality of lawyers within the profession.  This has been and remains a common complaint among practitioners and judges (including Supreme Court justices).   I too agree that, were this medical school, this would be raw malpractice.  (In fact I argue just this in GGG.)  Falcon uses "pedagogical malpractice" enough that even I start rolling my eyes.
 
One way to think of this is to separate the ideal from the individual.  Idealism is a dangerous thing (even if you happen to have just the right brand of idealism), because it runs up against human nature.  [Worse still is an idealist with power, as then there's little to check that righteous ambition.]  At another end of the scale is a combination of reality and individualism.  So, for an individual, the answers are usually to (1) understand what is going on, (2) avoid the worst dangers, and even (3) take advantage of the system toward one's own ends. 

[Yes, there is an idealism that does work, grounded in realism and focused on rules of the road.  Unfortunately, this now cuts very much against the social and educational grain.]

The problem vis-a-vis law school is that among those incentives are incentives--very strong incentives--to believe in the system.  Those who get great grades from top schools are crowned victors, and everyone else mutters about how rigged this system is.  Well, yes.  But it's rigged for reasons having little to do with U.S. News.  U.S. News is the symptom, not the disease. 

A slightly different take on a point on which I would disagree:  students are not customers, nor should they be treated as such.  This is one among many illnesses that infect our educational system--albeit not, for different reasons, in law school.  Students should be treated courteously, of course, and with respect.  But allegience is owed to the profession first, and then to students.  What happens when the pendulum swings too far from the bad old days of professors as demigods to one in which the entire system is nearly scared of its own shadow for fear of angering any segment of the student population, or of "serving" their "customer"?  Would you like fries with that degree?  It should come as no surprise that learning is likely to be less than it might in such a system, and--here's the key--the ones most harmed are those students who are most at risk:  who could have achieved more with a few truer assessments and prods.  What happens instead is a system of a relatively thin layer of insiders with ample help on the side . . . and, well, everyone else.

I would argue that in fact a focus on the students is part of what causes so much harm, as, by definition, students are not yet aware of what is important.  One need only imagine a senior practitioner in place of a law professor for a few minutes to realize just how pointless most classroom discussions are.  Unfortunately, most students understandably misinterpret feel-good discussion for meaningful learning.  They take armfuls of notes and then wonder just what it is they're supposed to be doing.  They wake up several months later, when exam results are in.

Sorry, didn't mean to go off on such a tangent.  I've heard the "I'm a customer!" line rather too often, and see just how pernicious the effects are.

So, yes, the system is misaligned.  Badly misaligned.  And while I suspect we would agree on nearly everything, the real challenge for any individual student reading this [Say, that's everyone!] is, after the healthful venting, to refocus on what this all means.  For that I would go back to the intial comments:  rankings are important because people believe that they are.  People want to believe.  Hey, it's your species.  How they're important, however, is not how they're commonly used.   Moreover, for anyone already in law school, the real challenge is to do well, which is far harder than it seems.  The forced curve is just one culprit.  The more serious culprit are the many maladaptive behaviors from high school through college.  If you don't believe me, try another professor:  the author of Law School Undercover.  He offers another inside look at something of some importance: exams.

To bigs, thank you.  This is why we go to law school.  = :   )
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Thane Messinger on June 24, 2011, 02:47:56 AM
Schools are literally putting significant amounts of money, resources, and time to boost the opinion of some magazine that has no authority and uses an absurd methodology to make their conclusions. It is so absurd that schools jump 20 spots any given year and they have 11 way ties in the rankings see the 11 way tie for 84th place. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+4 .

Bigs & All -

There a recent article in the ABA Journal online that you might find interesting: 

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/us_news_likely_to_change_law_school_ranking_methodology/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

Also, for more ammo on your side, there's Thomas Sowell's Inside American Education.  On pages 108-110 especially, he's quite provocative about the ratings scam/urge/business.

See?  Being a lawyer is too fun!   = :   )
Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: Morten Lund on June 24, 2011, 11:13:38 AM
In a sense, this makes it even more important to evaluate these data points well . . . as employers WILL.


The "customers" of law schools are not students, but firms; students are the product.  And, for their own reasons, firms like the system as it is.

I came here to say this, and to add additional cynicism.  From the employer side, rankings are useful, and have no downside.  They provide several benefits to us, including: 

- Basic information about the place in the world of an unfamiliar law school.  We don't necessarily care about the quality of the education - that's pretty much the same everywhere.

- Basic information about applicants from unfamiliar law schools.  We can use the ranking as a proxy for selectivity, and use that in turn as a proxy for candidate quality.  Sure, it is a blunt instrument, but it is very helpful for triage.  Helpful for the employers, that is, even if innocent students are harmed in the process.

- Resume-padding.  If we can say that we only hire from "top law schools," that has value to us.

- Corporate shelter.  A hiring partner will take little flak for hiring a recruit from a well-ranked law school, even if it doesn't work out.

These are all true even if we know that the rankings are a bit thin on substance.  The rankings rely heavily on reputation, and reputation has real value in the real world.  Also, because the firms all compete for graduates of the higher-ranked schools, the firms that has the most lawyers from those schools is the "winner," and that has local value as well.  The rankings are, to a large extent, self-fulfilling prophecies, and that works just fine for us.

In fact, I would suggest that the USN rankings may actually near perfect, in a very real sense.  It all depends on what the rankings are trying to achieve.

What is the difference between law school A and law school B?  Not the professors, the curriculum, or the materials - it is well covered that the "quality of education" received from various law schools is essentially identical.  Moreover, we all know that nothing much of value is actually taught or learned in law school.  The real learning comes after - law school is just foundation-laying, and barely even that.  A ranking system based on "quality of education" would be of limited value.

Instead, I propose that there are basically two substantive differences among law schools:  the quality of the students, and the reputation of the school.  For all the reasons I noted above and more, selectivity and reputation are very valuable to graduates and employers alike.  And, as it turns out, those two factors (selectivity and reputation) are at the core of what drives the USN rankings.  Perhaps the rankings actually create or define the reputation value of middle- and lower-ranked schools, but that isn't a weakness.  Instead it is added value.

USN is like the popular kids in junior high who declare which bands are "cool" and which are not.  The quality of music and legitimacy of the designations are irrelevant - the real subjects are coolness and social standing.  The popular kids provide a valuable service by defining the social value of the various bands, as this allows the other kids to help define their own social standing in part by their choice in music.  Without the popular kids' declaration, nobody would know which bands were cool, and chaos would ensue.

Arbitrary and unfair, perhaps?  Sure - but the process still creates social structure, which has real value far beyond the choice of particular bands/schools anointed as cool.


To bigs, thank you.  This is why we go to law school.  = :   )

Indeed.  I always enjoy your posts, whether I agree or disagree.  Perhaps even more when I disagree.  I suspect you will make a fine lawyer - and you may even enjoy it!

Title: Re: Excellent Article from LSAC regarding the U.S. News Rankings.
Post by: bigs5068 on June 25, 2011, 12:50:51 PM
Good responses and thank you for the compliments. It is great the ABA & U.S. News are taking steps in the right direction by objectively listing employment statistics. The extremely "vague" placement criteria was literally a joke. My school does provide us with real stats and always has so I respect them for that. https://law-ggu-csm.symplicity.com/files/1b4/1b45102f44bde9075ac31238f5c0a7c6.pdf?i=2043f36e7b4dc68c35d66df92553f999 They have a very good measurement for their employment statistics which asks whether bar passage was required to obtain the position. We had 179 graduates and 95 obtained positions that required bar membership. 95 out of 179 is not a great figure, but it is real and believable. Then only 41 have real salaries and 41 out of 179 is again not good, but it is real and believable. So hopefully, U.S. News & LSAC will move in the right direction by requiring schools to give real info and letting students know the realities.

Students as Customers:
I do strongly believe students are customers, but you may have misinterpreted what I meant by that. I do not think students should be coddled in any way in fact I am astonished at how soft law schools are on students. I work with people from Hastings, USF, Santa Clara, and GGU and the things they do skipping class, not doing assignments, complaining about professors, blah blah endlessly blaming others for not doing as well as they wanted drives me nuts and I wish law school would be harder on students. As a customer what I expect for my money is to be able to know how to handle basic things I need to know to be a competenlawyer. I don't need respect or people to tell me how great I am I want to learn how to be an effective lawyer and I think my money entitles me to that. However, it is widely accepted that law school doesn't teach you the first thing about being a lawyer. I can't think of any other educational system where that woudl be ok. Obviously, education can only teach you so much, but I imagine a computer programmer learns how to write code etc in their computer science classes, an architect student  learns how to make blueprints, a police cadet in the academy learns to write police reports, etc, but law schools seem ok with the fact that law school doesn't teach you the first thing about being a lawyer. This is a disservice to the profession and to the students who are customers and deserve to know the basics of what they need to do to succeed in the profession they spend 3 years of their life and 100k plus to enter into. Another poster on another thread described law school as paying 100k to get a ticket to take the bar and that seems unacceptable.

Rankings:
I agree that rankings can help firms and again I think the rankings are fine within the top 25 maybe 50 schools. As you mentioned there is an in-crowd and certainly Stanford, Harvard, Yale are the in-crowd and it is a widely accepted fact that they are the cool kids as you put it. However, who was the 78th coolest kid in Jr. high  and was he that much cooler than the 114th coolest kid? Probably not. This is my main concern and what I think happens to most students considering  there are 200 ABA schools and only 50 tier 1 schools. Students including myself when I was a 0L think going to a tier 3 school will open more doors than a tier 4.) In my limited experience it doesn't. Every internship I have had up to this point has been full of GGU, Hastings, and USF students. We are all in the same spot and I know so MANY people that transferred from GGU to Santa Clara, USF, and Hastings thinking infinitely more doors would be opened by attending the 84th best school so they paid 80,000+ more dollars and lost all their first year connections. The reality is those schools basically open the same doors nobody is at GGU, Santa Clara, USF, or Hastings graduation with 100k contracts in hand saying please please work for us instead students from all those schools have to hustle to find work. It is very likely employers are with the cool kids in the Bay Area Stanford and Berkeley begging people to work for them, but nobody says Hastings, or Santa Clara wow what a great school. I can definitely see a firm wanting to only hire people from top schools that has marketability, but despite Hastings being 42nd so low tier 1 I don't think it has international acclaim as a GREAT school and neither does USF, Santa Clara, or GGU.

I think the perfect analogy for this is the NCAA. They do not rank past the top 25 because outside of that it really doesn't matter. Does Wyoming have a better football team than Idaho? Maybe, but realistically on any given day Wyoming could probably beat Idaho or vice versa and nobody would be shocked even if although Wyoming was ranked 42nd and Idaho was ranked 78th nobody would call it an upset. They are both mid-level programs just like the non-elite schools their really isn't a significant difference.

Well hopefully some of my rant was coherent, but I think I said my piece and I am glad to know some steps are being taken in the right direction.