The law schools of the University of Chicago and Cornell University may not love the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but they aren’t walking away from them.
University of Chicago dean Thomas J. Miles wrote to students that “my past practice has been to avoid direct, public comment on the U.S. News ranking. The ranking is not our guide, and I prefer to shine a light on the substantive attributes that make our Law School the home of the most intellectually ambitious faculty and the most powerful legal education. Most of the data we supply to U.S. News are already public, and the rest is information we have no reason to withhold. The rankings of academic institutions clearly have a readership, and we wish to prevent the use of inaccurate information. Fundamentally, a ranking of schools is an opinion. A ranking is the product of innumerable and contestable design choices. As our university is dedicated to the free expression of ideas and to questioning viewpoints, our aim is not to suppress opinions. Rather, we should encourage prospective students to apply critical thinking and reach their own conclusions about what value the rankings add.”
Cornell’s law school also announced that it will still participate in the rankings of U.S. News & World Report.
“My own view is that the rankings distort academic decision-making, fail to adequately capture institutional quality, and create perverse incentives that are not in the best interests of students or the legal profession,” said Jens David Ohlin, dean of the law school.
He added, “However, withdrawal from the rankings process will not have the desired impact that many assume that it will have. For one, U.S. News has said that it will continue to rank all law schools regardless of their level of participation. In addition, all law schools are already required to report most of the relevant data used in the rankings to the American Bar Association, and this information is publicly available by [American Bar Association] rule. This includes LSAT, GPA, acceptance rate, yield, number of courses, faculty head count, average financial aid package, bar passage rates, career outcomes, and more.”
Nine law schools, including those of Harvard and Yale Universities, have said they will not participate in the rankings in the future.