Well all schools rise and drop in the rankings, because the formula makes no sense. Missouri dropped based on some judge in San Francisco checking them as a 3 instead of a 4. 60% of a schools ranking is determined by peer assessment and what a peer assessment consists of is lawyers and judges around the country filling out a scantron of 1-5. A guy in Spokane Washington who has never been to Missouri or met anyone from Missouri has a sh**ty day and decides to mark them as a 3. The next year he is in a great mood and marks them as a 4 so they rise.
Schools drop and rise 20-30 spots any given year based on this formula. It needs to be noted that U.S. News is not an official publication it is a for profit magazine offering their subjective opinion about law schools. The methodology makes no sense and as a result the ABA, AALS, and LSAC publicly condemn them.
This article published by LSAC does a good job of explaining how the rankings work. http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/GR/GR-07-02.pdf
The rankings outside of elite schools i.e. Harvard, Yale, don't mean much. This is literally the system and not a joke. Lawyers and Judges from around the country mark a scantron from 1-5. So a judge in Nebraska checks a box from 1-5 to determine whether University of Miami is a 3 or 4. The Nebraska judge is unlikely to have ever met anyone from Miami and would be unable to give any type of accurate assessment of the school, but the ranking goes in. Besides not interacting with anyone from 90% of the schools it is pretty difficult to tell whether something is 83rd or 84th best so they just make everything a tie. There is currently a 12 way tie for 84th place. Besides all the ties etc schools drop and rise upwards of 20 spots in a given year. The reason for this is there is no methodology in place.
As a result of the questionable methodology the ABA and AALS publicly condemn the rankings. It needs to be noted that U.S. News is not officially regulated by anyone and it is a for profit magazine offering their subjective opinion based on questionable methodology. Obviously Harvard, Yale, etc are top schools and you should go, but the 58th or 72nd best school nobody cares especially considering they jump drastically from year to year.
Here are just a few of the biggest jumps from 2010-2011 that I noticed. .
Nebraska went from unranked tier 3 in 2010 to #84 in 2011, but not just any #84 rank a TWELVE way tie for 84th place. I donít even know how you can have a twelve way tie for 84th place, but they managed to do it.
LSU went from 75 into this twelve way tie for 84th place. So it is not clear if LSU went from 75 to the 96th or 84th school because there is a twelve way tie for the prestigious honor of 84th place.
Kansas went from 65 in 2010 to a 5 way tie for 79th place.
Catholic went from a 4 way tie for 94th place in 2010 up to a 5 way tie for 79th place in 2011.
LMU from 71 in 2010 to 54 in 2011.
Emory from #20 to a 4 way tie to #30.
What changed at any of these schools in one year I donít know if anyone can say. More impressive yet is in the new rankings they just make 4 way ties for everything. In the 2011 ranking the following ties involving four or more schools occurred, 5 way tie for 30th place, 4 way tie for 35th place, 5 way tie for 42nd place, 4 way tie for 50th place, 4 way tie for 56th place.
After 56 the ties get really impressive! 6 way tie for 61st place, 4 way tie for 71st place, 6 way tie for 71st place, 5 way tie for 79th place, then my favorite 12 way tie for 84th place, then they round it up with a 5 way tie for 95th and then wrap up the top 100 with 4 schools tied for 100th best.http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+5