Saturday, April 30, 2011


I'm always disappointed when law students go ballistic over a downward move in the USNWR rankings (see, e.g., here, discussing Emory's brouhaha).  I know, I know:  the higher-ranked the school, the easier it is to get a foot in the door at BigLaw firms.  I get that, and the fact that the USNWR rankings matter so much to BigLaw is a big flaw in the BigLaw recruiting process.  So shame on those BigLaw firms that only look at GPA cutoffs and rankings.  They're missing out on some stellar people who don't fit the traditional BigLaw profile but who would do wonderful work for them.

But let's face it:  USNWR is a magazine.  It sends out surveys to a very small sample size (for you non-statistics geeks, that means that the surveys aren't providing very reliable information), and those surveys count for way too much of the final scores.  The rest of the scores are based on criteria that are too easily manipulated.

So basing one's view of one's law school on the scoring system that a magazine uses to sell issues is a bit like caring that one's speakers go to 11.

If the dean at Emory resigned just because of the rankings, that's a sad commentary on the misplaced importance that people place on this single way of viewing the array of ABA-accredited law schools.  On the other hand, I know from first-hand experience how much fun it is to transition back to a faculty after having been a dean.  So, welcome back to the life of a law professor, David.  You'll enjoy it.

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