MTal wrote:apropos wrote:Here's an idea that could solve a lot of the problems faced by the solutions suggested in this thread:
The ABA could just stop cooperating with USNWR. The only rankings available then would be specialized rankings and law schools would be much more free to make decisions based on--get ready for it--the actual improvement of the school, the students and the profession.
My understanding is that's what the dental schools do--among other smart things. Seems to work quite nicely over there.
The ONLY solution to the current catastrophe is to end federal student loan subsidization. Anything else is just putting a bandage on a corpse.
The problem is one of collection action. U.S. News gets their data directly from the law schools, not through the ABA. If a few dozen schools banded together and declared to boycott U.S. News (which has happened in the past), they'd see their rankings plummet that year while their competitor schools all get to leapfrog them for free. The consequences of such an event are, unfortunately for the people in charge of running the schools, often fairly severe. Deans lose their jobs when the school's rank drops; many deans are hired for the explicit purpose of improving a school's ranking, based on their track record of doing the same at other law schools. So in order to be one of the brave few schools to buck the trend and shun the rankings, you'd need to guarantee job stability for the administration... which would mean getting assurances from the board of trustees. They'd have to accept that, as a result of removing the school from the rankings, LSAT/gpa medians may drop, faculty who aren't on board with self-sacrifice will jump ship, and new faculty will be harder to recruit.
It's an absurd game indeed, but everyone plays it because the risk of sitting it out can be disastrous.
I'm tempted to agree with MTal on this one. Everything we've looked at keeps coming back to the fact that schools get to access essentially unlimited funding thanks to federal loans. Were the government to start looking at law schools the same way they view for-profit colleges (which now need to show grads are 'gainfully employed' in order for their students to access federal loans), we would likely see dramatic shifts in how schools deal with their cost structures. The problem is that many Americans believe people should have better access to education, ignoring any need for a distinction between education that leaves you economically hamstrung and education that actually provides you with a means of paying off all those loans. It's a huge debate and likely not one that's going to be solved anytime soon without a significant effort to insert greater consumer protections into how we view legal education (and higher ed in general).
Edit: I said 'people believe Americans should have access to education' before, not the other way around... I doubt whether the global population in general is all that concerned about whether Americans can pay for their expensive graduate degrees.