The law school of the University of California, Los Angeles, announced Tuesday that it is dropping out of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. And on Wednesday, the law school of the University of California, Irvine, joined the movement.
At UCLA, Interim Dean Russell Korobkin wrote to the law school, “Third-party rankings can provide a useful service in this regard if their methodology is transparent, if they value features of the schools’ programs that are reasonable proxies for educational quality, and if they provide incentives for schools to compete in ways that improve educational quality and ultimately benefit the legal profession. Although no rankings can provide a perfect measure of quality, the U.S. News rankings are particularly problematic.”
He explained that “the rankings disincentivize schools from supporting public service careers for their graduates, building a diverse student population, and awarding need-based financial aid. UCLA Law does all of these things, but honoring our core values comes at a cost in rankings points.”
Korobkin added, “We are under no illusion that UCLA Law’s decision will have a substantial impact on how law schools are evaluated by U.S. News. Approximately 80 percent of a law school’s U.S. News ‘score’ is based on publicly available data and the surveys of reputation that U.S. News itself conducts, so U.S. News undoubtedly will continue to rank all of the law schools, perhaps with only minor methodological adjustments. Nonetheless, it is important for us to use this moment to reinforce our values and do what we can to encourage positive change by withholding our cooperation. We are eager to work with U.S. News, or with any other organization that wishes to rank law schools, to help determine a methodology that can provide useful comparative information for potential students without creating harmful incentives for schools that fail to encourage the improvement of legal education.”
UCLA Law was the eighth law school (including those of Harvard and Yale Universities) and UC Irvine the ninth to withdraw from U.S. News rankings.
Austen L. Parrish, the law dean at Irvine, said, “How U.S. News has decided to approach its rankings and what it chooses to incentivize do not align with our values or our commitment to public service; nor is it what leaders in the top law firms, nonprofit and government organizations, corporations, and others that hire our students value. The response by U.S. News to recent announcements by other law schools that have also chosen to withdraw—without responding to the substance of any of the significant issues raised—has caused greater concern, contributing to our decision.”