Wednesday, October 9, 2013
We noted the ABA's change in policy during the summer, but now a Dean elsewhere writes:
This is well said, and I agree with all of it. The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education ought to formally condemn this move by U.S. News.
I thought you'd be interested to know that law school deans this week were informed that the US News law schools survey is now open for law schools to submit their data. Looking at the data entry form, Questions 91-102 regarding expenditures are exactly the same as last year. That is, US News has decided to continue to collect expenditure information and use such information in its rankings of law schools. This despite the many cogent criticisms over many years of the use of this factor in the rankings; the fact that the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, as reported in July 2013, no longer requires law schools to submit this information annually (and therefore that independent check on what law schools report to US News no longer exists, thereby increasing the incentive for law schools to manipulate their data in reporting to US News); and the fact that the Draft Report of the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education criticizes the continued use of such information in the rankings (p. 9 of the Report, Section B.3) and under its Specific Recommendations (Section VIII., p. 32, Section G.3) calls for US News to stop doing so.
While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see US News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt. US News' decision to continue doing so is inexplicable and inexcusable and I sincerely hope that deans, journalists, and the ABA will specifically and loudly call upon US News to explain its decision and work to educate prospective students and the legal community at large about this issue.