UCLA law school joins exodus from U.S. News rankings as movement expands

  • The law school is the first outside the top 14 to end participation in the influential rankings
  • Chicago, NYU, Virginia, Penn and Cornell are the only “T-14” law schools yet to break with U.S. News

(Reuters) – The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law on Tuesday became the first law school outside the so-called T-14 top U.S. law schools to break with U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings.

Without “significant and meaningful changes” to the rankings methodology, interim law dean Russell Korobkin said in a letter on UCLA Law’s website that it would not participate this year — a move that could prompt lower-ranked schools to follow suit.

“I think more dominoes will fall for sure,” said admission consultant Anna Ivey, a former dean of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School.

UCLA now is ranked No. 15 by U.S. News, but moved into the No. 14 spot for one year in 2021.

Since Wednesday, nine of the T-14 — which refers to the law schools that have consistently ranked among U.S. News’ top 14 — have said they will no longer provide internal data used in the rankings, citing their unwanted influence on schools’ decision making. Yale kicked off the exodus, followed by the law schools at Harvard, Berkeley, Georgetown, Columbia, Stanford, Michigan, Duke and Northwestern universities.

As of Tuesday, the law schools at the University of Chicago, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia, and Cornell University were the only remaining T-14 schools that had not publicly parted with the rankings. Representatives from each of those schools either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment on their plans.

U.S. News had no immediate comment on UCLA Law ending its participation. It has said it will continue to rank all American Bar Association-accredited law schools, though it has not clarified how it will account for any proprietary data schools choose not to share. That data includes expenditure-per-student and average graduate debt.

The schools’ rankings are also based on reputational surveys filled out by legal academics and practicing lawyers, publicly available data produced by the American Bar Association on incoming student Law School Admission Test scores, and undergraduate grades, bar pass rates and graduate employment.

The deans of the boycotting law schools have said the rankings punish schools whose graduates pursue public interest jobs or advanced degrees, while rewarding those that spend more on students and drive up tuition.

Legal educators have also argued that the rankings overemphasize LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages, prompting schools to offer merit scholarships over need-based assistance.

“The rankings perversely reward schools for spending more and passing on the costs to their students, without regard for the value of the expenditures — a feature that also structurally disadvantages public law schools, which tend to spend less and charge less than private schools,” wrote UCLA’s Korobkin.

Read more:

Law schools face ‘biggest jolt’ in decades with LSAT rule change, U.S. News exodus

Yale and Harvard law schools to shun influential U.S. News rankings

U.S. News will still rank law schools as Georgetown and Columbia join boycott

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