This week’s podcast discusses law school rankings. We’ll hear from Bob Morse, Director of Data Research for U.S. News & World Report, and Elie Mystal, an editor of legal tabloid Above The Law.
Bob Morse begins by explaining the U.S. News law school rankings methodology. It begins, he says, by looking at school attributes: Students’ standardized test scores and grade-point averages, the size of the institution’s law library, and post-graduate job placement percentage, among many others. Morse also discusses some potential upcoming changes to the U.S. News ranking methodology due to the American Bar Association’s new rules concerning the law school post-graduate job placement data; the way that U.S. News considers and weighs this data within their law school rankings may affect their methodology in next year’s lists. He concludes by mentioning that law school applicants should use the rankings as one of their considerations when choosing a law program, but should not consider it the cornerstone or “holy grail” of the selection process.
Elie Mystal discusses his stance on the post-graduation employment numbers U.S. News uses in accordance with their rankings. He believes that if the magazine follows the new ABA employment numbers requirement, they will be able offer rankings that are more representative of the quality of each institution. Mystal goes on to say that the rankings should be more “outcome-based,” i.e., focused not on the initial prestige of the institution, but rather their effectiveness in helping their graduates secure legal employment. In closing, Mystal offers two pieces of advice for students that are using the rankings to help them make a decision: First, he advises prospective law school applicants to only consider the rankings insofar as the relative prestige of their degree and, secondly, he suggests that students take the time to consider whether saving money by attending a lower-ranked institution is worth it, if they also have the opportunity to attend a higher-ranked institution even without a scholarship offer.