Yale Law School pulls from ‘US News’ ranking, citing flaws

(Bloomberg) — Yale Law School and Harvard Law School are pulling out of what they say are flawed U.S. News & World Report law school rankings.

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Yale, which topped the rankings every year, found the criteria “deeply flawed,” Dean Heather Gerken said Wednesday. The school will no longer participate in lists that “disincentivize programs that support community service careers, support need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession,” she said.

The rankings devalue programs that encourage low-wage public welfare jobs and reward schools that give scholarships for high LSAT scores instead of focusing on the student’s financial needs, Gerken said. And while Yale awards far more public interest fellowships per student than any of its peers, she said, US News “seems to be discounting these valuable opportunities to the extent that these graduates are effectively ranked as unemployed people.”

That “backward approach discourages law schools across the country from supporting students who dream of a career of service,” Gerken said in a post on the school’s website. The rankings also discourage graduates from pursuing advanced degrees, she said.

US News & World Report LP said Yale’s decision will not change its goals for the rankings, which are a prestigious measure for the nation’s top law schools.

“US News’ Best Law Schools rankings are for students looking for the best decision for their legal education,” said Eric Gertler, executive chairman and chief executive officer.

“We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mission to ensure that students can rely on the best and most accurate information to make that decision,” Gertler said in a statement. “As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are responsible for the education they provide to these students and that mission does not change with this recent announcement.”

Harvard joined Yale in announcing it would withdraw from the rankings.

“It is now impossible to reconcile our principles and our commitment with the methodology and incentives reflected in the US News rankings,” Dean John F. Manning said in a statement on the Harvard Law School website. “This decision was not made lightly and only after considerable discussion over the past several months.”

The “debt metric” adopted by US News two years ago risks more confusion than it suggests because a school could lower debt at graduation through generous financial aid, but the same effect could also achieve by admitting more students who have the resources to avoid. get a loan,” Manning said. The school also said the methodology focuses too much on students’ test scores and college grades and undermines Harvard’s effort to support public interest careers for its graduates.


At Stanford law school, currently ranked No. 2, “we have long had concerns about the US News law school rankings methodology,” spokeswoman Stephanie Ashe said. The school will be giving “careful consideration” to Yale’s objections, Ashe said.

University of Chicago Law School, ranked No. 3 according to US News, and Columbia Law School rejected No. 4, comment.

Yale is not the first to criticize the US News rankings. Earlier in the year, a member of Columbia’s undergraduate faculty, Professor Michael Thaddeus, questioned the accuracy of the data the university sent to US News. The school later admitted the data was inaccurate, and Columbia dropped from No. 2 to No. 18 in the rankings.

“The Law Deans had these conversations with US News and nothing has changed,” Gerken said in an interview. “That is exactly why now is the time to step back. It is also a time when institutions across the country are reflecting on the role of higher education in the world and our values.”

Gerken said she doesn’t know if U.S. News will include Yale in the next ranking, but “we wouldn’t have a lot of data.”

Ted Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey School of Law, said, “He applauds Yale Law for its leadership in raising key issues for all law schools by withdrawing from the US News & World Report rankings. Although useful in some ways, the rankings do not provide a clear or complete perspective on institutional priorities for educating future lawyers. We are evaluating this issue and evaluating a process for our own decision-making.”

(Updates with comments from Stanford and University of Pennsylvania law schools.)

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