U.S. News & World Report has ranked 197 Law Schools fully accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) in fall 2016 and early 2017. The rankings are based on a weighted average of the following 12 measures of quality (click here for more on methodology):
• Peer assessment score (0.25)
• Assessment score by lawyers and judges (0.15)
• Median LSAT and GRE scores (0.125)
• Median undergraduate GPA (0.10)
• Acceptance rate (0.025)
• Employment rate at graduation (0.04), ten months after graduation (0.14)
• Bar passage rate (0.02)
• Expenditure per student including instruction, library, and supporting services (0.965), all other items including financial aid (0.015)
• Student-faculty ratio (0.03)
• Library resources (0.0075)
The lack of change in this list is the most remarkable aspect of the rankings. And that makes sense. Schools change slowly. Very slowly. Furthermore, competition among these elite institutions is intense. They want to stay at the top.
On one hand, the rankings’ stability is a sign of integrity. On the other hand, it calls into question the whole idea of “ranking” schools annually and publicizing minute changes as U.S. News does every year, and as the schools that go up in the rankings do too.
While there is definitely value in the data U.S. News collects, and value in the published rankings that provide some form of accountability from the schools, the rankings are not the be all and end all of school research. It is incumbent on all of you as applicants to determine what is important to you in a law school. Then you can intelligently apply to those programs that best provide what you seek and where you are competitive based on your qualifications.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.