Yale and Harvard law schools drop from US news rankings for undermining the principles of the legal profession

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diving letter:

  • Yale and Harvard law schools will no longer participate in US News & World Report’s influential ranking of the best law schools, as they said on Wednesday they would increase support for low-income students and those starting a career from enter the public interest, deter.
  • Yale announced this on Wednesday that administrators have repeatedly asked the publication to redesign its methodology for determining rankings. However, she has not succeeded in doing so, the dean of her law school, Heather Gerken, said in a statement. Harvard University Law School Dean John Manning said in a message that the rankings could mislead potential students and lead schools to act in a way that is detrimental to them.
  • US News defended its product in a statement. Eric Gertler, the publication’s chairman and CEO, said it will continue to fulfill its mission of ensuring prospective students receive “the best, most accurate information” about their law school education.

Dive insight:

Ivy League schools’ rejection of the rankings will no doubt fuel further debate over their validity — something that has long been questioned.

High-ranking colleges often advertise their placements on US news lists. But officials privately complain that the lists play an outsized role in determining where students want to attend college, and that some institutions are undermining their own missions while trying to scale them.

Attacks on the rankings have intensified recently after it was revealed earlier this year that Columbia University may have provided inaccurate data for the magazine’s top college rankings.

US News and World Report dropped Columbia from these rankings 2022, along with nine other institutions who gave false information to the magazine. Columbia also said it would not participate in the current year’s lists until it completes its investigation into the matter, which a Columbia mathematics professor brought to light. Former Columbia students sued the Universityand claimed they were harmed by the reporting problems.

Gerken, the dean of Yale Law, harshly criticized the rankings on Wednesday, saying that US News “faces an almost impossible task of ranking 192 law schools using a small set of unit metrics that cannot provide an accurate picture of different institutions.” “

The dean went on to say that the rankings discourage law schools from supporting programs that lead to positions of public interest, which often pay less than other law jobs.

When calculating the student debt burden for the ranking, US News excludes forgiveness programs, which are “hugely important” for these public interest jobs, Gerken said.

“But the ranking excludes them from the debt calculation, even though they can pay off a student loan in full,” said Gerken. “In short, when law schools devote resources to encouraging students to pursue careers of public interest, US News mischaracters them as low-employment, high-debt schools.”

And the ranking bolsters law schools, which prioritize grants for students who do well on tests rather than those who need the money, Gerken said.

Manning, the dean of law at Harvard, echoed many of Gerken’s arguments. Manning said a recently adopted metric that includes student debt in the ranking risks confusing the public. A school could reduce student debt by providing generous financial aid at graduation, but it could also simply accept more students who are financially strong enough to avoid borrowing in the first place.

“The debt metric doesn’t give prospective students a way to tell what’s what,” Manning said. “And to the extent that the debt metric incentivizes schools to admit better-off students who don’t need credit, it risks harming those it’s trying to help.”

Law school moves are also significant because they have long held top spots on the list. Yale is #1 in the ranking while Harvard, with Columbia University Law School, is #4.

Stanford Law School, which holds the No. 2 ranking, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. A representative from the University of Chicago Law School, No. 3 on the list, declined to comment.

James Kvaal, Chief Higher Education Officer, US Department of Education, on Twitter welcomed the decisions of the law schoolsand said the country “must move beyond the pernicious incentives of rankings and recognize many forms of university excellence.”


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