The U.S. News & World Report’s statistical survey ranking the 188 law schools in the U.S. has long been a tool utilized by prospective law students, law schools, and the legal profession. Yet in recent months, more and more schools have announced that they are withdrawing from the magazine’s ranking survey as they do not agree with the methodology U.S. News & World Report uses.
A few weeks ago, the University of Wisconsin Law School announced that it would be withdrawing from the ranking, following in the footsteps of dozens of other schools, notably beginning with some of the most prominent and prestigious schools like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. You can read Dean Daniel P. Tokaji’s statement on UW’s decision here. You can also read more information on Yale’s decision here- Yale was the first school to drop out of the ranking.
As usual, we librarians were not surprised by this seemingly sudden turn of events: we’ve been warning about the issues related to the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking methodology for years. Our own Law Library Director Bonnie Shucha has an excellent article laying out one of the main issues that you can read here. Her article has to do with the inclusion of citation data from HeinOnline to create the rankings, as this data does not capture multidisciplinary scholarship and does not address faults in citation data within Hein. This particular metric especially hurt the rankings of schools like Wisconsin, where many of our faculty write multidisciplinary scholarship, and in fact this is one of the biggest selling points of our law school.
In response to the law schools deciding to withdraw from the ranking, U.S. News & World Report has stated that it will change its methodology. However, none of the schools who’d already withdrawn decided to rejoin the ranking, and even more schools have announced that they are withdrawing after the statement.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and whether U.S. News & World Report is able to change its methodology enough to entice the schools back. Above the Law has an article with several suggestions for changes here. You can also find an updated, current listing of schools who have withdrawn (or made statements saying they will continue to be ranked) here.
Submitted by Babler,Emma on February 6, 2023
This article appears in the categories: Law Library