Law School Discussion

Us News Mafioso?

Us News Mafioso?
« on: February 28, 2004, 10:06:37 AM »
I hate to be the newbie asking questions which have probably been asked and answered a hundred times before, but I was curious about the highly touted and almost equally disliked US News rankings. How do they collect data and who does it?  Do they just gather graduation placement statistics, average applicant LSAT scores and GPAs, student to teacher ratios, and then plug the data into some type of formula?  It almost seems like a sort of BCS system for college football, which has little rhyme or reason, unless you are a computer or statistician.  What's the motivation for US News to have a ranking every year showing that NYU, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, USC are the top ranked law schools every year?  Just wondering if anyone has some insight regarding this matter.

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2004, 04:42:47 PM »
Well, they tell you how the rankings are determined. I bought their annual review and found it very useful. One of the reasons people hate it is because it is actually fairly objective (as such a thing can be objective) and moderately accurate. Furthermore, because perceptions are all important, it produces a certain degree of self-fulfilling prophecy: Better students go to higher ranked schools, get better scores on the bar exam, get better job offers from employers who eagerly seek such graduates, etc.
Hey, they grade us in college, don't they?
Your prospects of getting into a school are determined primarily by your LSAT and GPA aren't they? It's just as much a numbers game for them as it is for us. What the hell else can anyone use, a Ouija board?

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2004, 07:40:49 PM »
A lot of law school deans gave this response to the U.S. rankings a lot of the methodolgy is discussed and some good points are made.  IMO U.S. News is significant because sadly, like the other poster said, it's part of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It's amazing how kids who are bright enough to get in to schools like Columbia and Michigan would actually choose a school primarily on the grounds of a few spots difference in the rankings.  I hate to vent but the way some people irrationally worship at the altar of the U.S. News rankings and quote it like the Bible makes me want to puke.  As the deans point out, the rankings would be very similar if U.S. News just used the LSAT scores and professional reputation factors.  Instead, they use a bunch like library quality and financial aid to seem scientific (these factors are of course important but they're very difficult to judge and easy to manipulate),  and they  weight different factors with no justification.  The reason they keep coming recycling this stuff is because people buy it.  Your comparison to the BCS is right on in that certain factors are weighted arbitrarily and that some of them are vulnerable to manipulation. 


Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2004, 10:56:39 AM »
I say we show those US News guys they can't push us around.
I'm going to a non-ABA school and I'll graduate and become the richest lawyer in America.

Then one you guys go to one of the top five schools, graduate and then totally tank.

That'll show 'em who's boss.


Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2004, 09:35:13 PM »
Funny stuff.  I don't think anyone denies there's a rank among law schools or that it's not a crucial aspect in choosing a law school, or even that U.S. News doesn't give a pretty good approximation.  What's irritating is the idea some people have that the rankings correcpond perfectly to reality because they use numerical data, or that it's foolish to attend anything but the highest tanked-school one can get into.  Among other things, U.S. News doesn't use student satisfaction in its rankings.  The fact that Harvard finished dead last in a PR survey for student satisfaction (of over 100 schools) five out of seven years is something an applicant might want to know before enrolling.  It doesn't mean that a person should go to Podunk U. over it but it's certainly a valid consideration in deciding between top schools.

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2004, 09:53:18 PM »

I'm looking over my response, opening line sounds sarcastic/hostile.  Meant it wryly- no offense.

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2004, 10:15:43 PM »
It just seems strange how much a school can fluctuate in rankings over the course of one year.  Take Gonzaga for instance.  It was a "tier three" school in 2002 and expected to move up to a "tier two."  Instead, it took a long walk off a short tier and dropped into the ranks of tier four schools.  I'm guessing that teacher:student ratios were a little too high, maybe bar passage percentages dropped, but to completely tank in one year?  Gonzaga just built a new law building in 2000, and appears to have plenty of money readily available for scholarships.  I just noticed another post saying that University of Washington dropped a tier also this year.  I suppose the rankings may very well offer a good general overview of schools, but I'm wondering if it uneccessarily hurts schools as much as it may potentially aid them.

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2004, 09:13:38 AM »

where did you get the PR survey stat?  Is there a website that has satisfaction surveys for more than just Harvard?

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2004, 11:53:27 AM »
Hey tommriddle,

I saw it one night googling the web (pathetic, I know).  The seven year span was during the 90's.  I'll see if I can find the URL and post it in the next day or two.  BTW, Slate on MSN had an article, probably about 4-6 weeks ago, concerning the surprising dissatisfaction of students w/ Harvard Law, and what the administration was doing to remedy it.  I'll try to find that and post it too.

Re: Us News Mafioso?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2004, 12:11:15 PM »
I actually lied- to correct, Harvard placed 154th out of 165 in a 1994 National Jurist survey of student satisfaction, and dead last in 5 of the last 7 PR surveys for "quality of life" (time frame unspecified).  Here's the article,

Doing an Advanced Yahoo search w/ "survey harvard law last in student satisfaction" will give you a bunch of similar stuff (including the Slate article) which are probably referring to the same studies.

I've looked everywhere online for PR surveys of student satisfaction, but no luck.  I wonder if you have to call them and order them, or if they just stopped doing them.  I know does surveys of current law students at tons of schools but you have to pay to see them.  Here's the URL:

 I'm tempted to splurge but haven't so far.  Hope this helps.