US News is considering extending the numerical rankings for law schools into the third tier, reports The National Law Journal.
"It's something that we're looking into," Morse said [at an AALS meeting in San Francisco last week]. "We do have ranking scores for all law schools but, editorially, we didn't want to say, 'This is the 188th law school [representing last place].' "
Only the top 100 law schools are ranked by US News, while the remaining 88 schools are grouped into third and fourth tiers and ordered alphabetically. Not a good thing for Wayne State University Law School, which is why its dean welcomes the prospect of change.
"I think we would prefer to be listed by rank rather than alphabetical order," he said. He noted that the latter tends to place his institution toward the bottom of the list. "Psychologically, I think it makes a difference that we are listed at the end of the third tier," Ackerman said. "I think people would make less of a distinction between schools ranked 1 through 150 than they now do between the second and third quartile."
Many critics of the tier format likened the third-tier to "outer darkness," saying it creates an artificial distinction. Other deans from third-tier schools thought the change wouldn't make much of a difference or be a benefit (presumably for the upper half of the third-tier). As the NLJ piece notes, bloggers have already used the rankings methodology to rank schools past the top 100.
Others, like New York Law School Dean Richard Matasar, thinks US News should rank less schools not more. At least that would better reflect reality where most schools outside the top 20 all really offer similar-level-quality educations and remain beyond the recruiting arm of the most prominent law firms.
Considering the degree to which the rankings already push law schools to mislead or lie, I don't think it wise to rouse that kind of culture of deception at even more schools. I'm with Matasar: rank less, not more.
[National Law Journal]
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