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March 19, 2011


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Orin Kerr

I haven't noticed any decrease in talk about the rankings.

What *has* changed is that the U.S. News decided for the first time to release the rankings on the web first, before the paper magazine was shipped out to stores. This effectively eliminated the usual hunt for leaked paper copies of the rankings that used to characterize the week before the rankings were formally announced. The hunt for leaked copies of the rankings led to a lot of coverage, which effectively ended when the first available appearance of the rankings was on the U.S. News website (timed a bit before it was expected).

Alfred Brophy

Hi Orin,

Perhaps it's just me and that I have been me more distracted than usual and thus haven't been reading the blogs as much I have in past years. Entirely possible.

Still, this warrants a little investigation. Am I correct in my thinking that neither co-op nor prawfs have had any posts on the 2012 US News rankings since their release? I don't see any. By contrast last year, co-op had one on the rankings and a couple of others about rankings the week of the US News release and prawfs has a response the one of co-op's posts on how to fill out the US News survey. Moreover, at Leiter Reports there was only one post on US News this week (it was a re-post of Leiter's long-standing criticisms of US News). In a similar period last year, there were three posts, I think, all quite substantive -- ranking schools based on peer assessment and responding to some astronomical employment numbers and whatnot. That's drawing an inference from very small Ns, obviously, though given how little time I had for reading blogs this week, I think that's what may have shaped my opinion.

Maybe the real arbiter of this stuff is, though? They've had five, I think, posts from the eve of the release of the 2012 rankings up to now -- and they had three, I think, in a similar period last year. So there's been more this year than last, judging by!

Anyway, if rankings talk is chugging along at the same or increased pace as last year, you can ignore my second paragraph!

Orin Kerr


I'm not sure what the right metric is, but my overall sense of the amount of U.S. News reaction among law profs and law students is that it's not different this year as compared to past years.


I've been hearing a lot more about rankings than in previous years, largely because of the change in how employment is reported and weighed, and the letter sent from US News to all law school deans saying it's a joke that schools claim they don't have better employment stats (pointing out that business schools have no problem with the issue).

Alfred Brophy

Hi BL1Y,

Interesting that what I saw as a cause for decline in discussion -- the problems with employment data (as I noted in my post "the significant problems with employment numbers have caused a number of people to lose confidence in rankings") -- may have caused an increase in discussion.

I suppose in some ways both might be true -- because of problems with the data, people take the rankings less seriously and thus talk less about the rankings themselves, but the problems also lead people to talk more about the rankings process.

Ben Buchwalter

This is an interesting discussion. I just went through the process of applying to law school, and it's an unfortunate reality that people think so much about rankings. I made the choice of not thinking about US News while picking the schools to which I decided to apply. But I can't help but wonder how much prospective employers consider rankings while looking at a resume.

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