* Around 1988 or so, USNews & World Report published a ranking of law schools. There was a top 25 and nothing else.
* Readers were so hungry for more data that in 1992 the report was expanded. There were four quartiles, with the top 25 singled out.
* In 1994 there were two groups of 25, and third, fourth and fifth tiers.
* In 1997, allegedly in response to pressure from law schools, both the top 25 and the next 25 were labelled "top tier," and the remaining three groups re-labelled 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Students were ecstatic that their school was in a higher tier, ignoring the fact that the 5th tier no longer existed.
* In 1999 a top 50 replaced the two top 25s, with only a minor emphasis on the break between 25 and 26.
* In 2003 USNews took the big leap to a top 100, with a tiny third tier and a full 4th tier.