Thursday, October 20, 2005
The Cooley Law School Rankings
No doubt one of the great mysteries of our time is what the Administration of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan thinks it is accomplishing by publishing these preposterous rankings year in and year out. Is it their goal to convince people that US News is rocket science? (By comparison, it is.) To embarrass schools like Harvard and UVA and Georgetown and Texas which generally fare better in the Cooley rankings than in US News or scholarly rankings? (One year, my school, Texas had the misfortune to be #1 in the Cooley rankings. Someone from the public affairs office at the university wondered whether we should publicize that fact; our response: don't mention it! It's a disgrace to be #1 in a ranking that typically fails to have Chicago in the top 25!)
Cooley ranks law schools essentially by aggregating 32 different bits of data the ABA collects. Since many of the criteria (number of students, number of faculty, etc.) favor size over anything remotely relevant to legal education, big schools like those noted above (as well as Cooley itself) fare meaninglessly well.
What makes this spectacle so peculiar is that neither law faculty nor students pay any attention to this exercise. So what is the point? It is really quite mysterious.