Description of the video:
"University of Virginia law professor Alex Johnson, former chair of the Law School Admissions Council and former dean of Minnesota Law School, discusses the black/white LSAT score gap and why law schools are not admitting African-American students at a rate proportional to the test-taking population. Johnson offered his remarks during a talk sponsored by the UVA Black Law Students Association on Feb. 15."
Nevermind the part about URMs and LSAT, but fastforward to 23:20 into the video (about half way). You will hear this former chair of LSAC discuss the implications of USNews and World Ranking. I think the consensus among the deans (top and bottom) regarding US News Ranking is that it is highly subjective and evil. Furthermore, I think he makes a good point that most deans do not understand math and thus try to fudge the numbers the wrong way.
But here's what concerns me:
40% of US News Law School Ranking is based on "reputation" of the school. (Survey based on judges, academics, and lawyers)
http://www.usnews.com/articles/educatio ... l?PageNr=1
First, we have no idea how the questions are phrased or if the sample is representative. The response return rate on these surveys is extremely low, at about 30%. (Keep in mind, we dont know the total number, so it could be out of 1000 responses, or 10) This alone seriously raises doubt on validity of the "reputation" system. Furthermore, there are 3 possibly serious flaws.
1) We don't know who gets surveyed and who doesn't. For all we know, they could be asking the same judges year in and year out, producing the same reinforcing outcome for the select few schools (like it is now).
2) The responses could be heavily concentrated to a single area. For example, out of 100 responses, 90 could be from D.C, 8 from New York, and 2 from Los Angeles.
3) Subjective criteria takes up 40% in its entirety. Margin of error coupled with subjective opinion about a school far outweighs the tangible and real computable criteria. This to me is seriously questionable.
Peer assessment has no bearing on my legal education. Why should I care if some old guy on a bench thinks a certain way about a school? I am a firm believer that judges and lawyers, once they graduate law school, know jack shit about how much their school's quality of education has improved/dwindled.
Here are factors I do care about but matter only by a margin.
25% on actual caliber of the student body (GPA/LSAT) + (selectivity... wtf? How does rejecting more people than others have even the slightest relevance to the quality of education or even job placement?)
20% on Job placement + bar passage
1.5% on how much money they spend on the students.
3% on Student faculty ratio
<1% on Library resources
http://www.usnews.com/articles/educatio ... l?PageNr=2
Under the ABA guideline, all ABA-approved law schools must teach a series of required curriculum. While all law schools are remarkably similar in what they teach, I do agree that Cooley Law and Yale Law education is anything but similar. However, it becomes a problem when Yale can admit the entire class of 2013 with 140/2.0, make them sit on cardboard boxes, close down the law library - and still be ranked at the top. How is this a ranking? It's a game of "whoever opened their school first wins. Forever."
I think USNEWS Ranking is seriously questionable, but it is the best rankings out there. I am not saying that we should eliminate this practice of ranking, since it's a practical way to give rightful advantages to those who studied harder for the tests/gpa, but I think USNWR needs to rework where they place the emphasis. Also, it sure as hell beats a legal world of "who does my daddy know in that firm" approach.