Yale Law School, one of the nation’s premier law schools, has topped US News & World Report’s list of top law schools for decades. Now the school says goodbye.
Each year, US News publishes a list of the nation’s top colleges, including a list of the top law schools, using school-submitted data. This list is then used by students and employers to assess the merits of the college or university.
But on Wednesday, Heather Gerken, dean of Yale Law School, announced that the school would no longer participate in the annual list — she criticized the publication’s methodology and argued that the list actively perpetuates inequalities at law schools.
“While I sincerely believe US News is operating with the best of intentions, it faces an almost impossible task to rank 192 law schools using a small set of unified metrics that cannot provide an accurate picture of such diverse institutions. ‘ Gerken wrote. “His approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, it stands in the direct path of progress.”
US News Executive Chairman and CEO Eric Gertler defended the rankings in a statement to CNN, calling the lists part of his “journalistic mission” and a way to hold law schools accountable.
“The US News Best Law Schools ranking is designed for students who are seeking the best decision in their law education. We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mandate to ensure students can rely on the best and most accurate information when making this decision,” said Gertler. “As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they provide to these students, and that mission does not change with this latest announcement.”
Gerken nonetheless argued that the magazine actively discourages law schools from providing assistance by placing a heavy emphasis on LSAT and GRE scores, as well as GPAs. That emphasis urges schools to turn down promising students who might not have been able to afford exam preparation courses and urges schools to use financial aid for high-scoring students rather than the students who need it most, she said.
The ranking also penalizes colleges for supporting students pursuing public-interest careers or pursuing PhD and master’s degrees, Gerken said.
“Unfortunately, the ranking system has made it increasingly difficult for law schools to provide solid support to students serving their communities, to enroll students from low-income backgrounds, and to target financial aid to those students most in need,” Gerken wrote.
Given Yale’s status as one of the most desirable law schools in the country, von Gerken’s move is significant. For years, politicians and university officials have dismissed the rankings, although potential students and their families still refer to them. Still, Yale’s move could signal a greater departure from college rankings.
Though the move drew praise, some questioned whether the decision, if followed by other schools, would simply make it harder for the average person to make up their minds Which universities can you apply to?
In its statement, Gerken said the school will instead provide prospective students with data “in a public, transparent and useful form” to help them in their decision-making.