Tuesday, November 22, 2022

"Rankings" by defunct magazine finally being dumped

In the past few days, at least eight law schools have decided not to participate in the "rankings" put out by defunct magazine U.S. News and World Report (called by Old Guy You Ass News): Berkeley, Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, Stanford, Yale. Typical explanations focus on the flawed (or meaningless or irrelevant) methodology employed by You Ass News and the perennial manipulation of the idiotic "rankings" by law-school scamsters.

Those points are, of course, perfectly valid. And one might well wonder how a failed mass-market magazine became the sole authority on the quality of law schools. But Old Guy says that all of that is beside the point. The main reason to oppose these "rankings" is that law schools shouldn't be ranked at all. For years and years I have said that maybe thirteen law schools are worth considering, under certain circumstances. If I am right, there can be no point in distinguishing #14 (however identified) from #200, because no one should be going to either of those schools. And even the thirteen that possibly might be reasonable choices for certain people don't need to be ranked: Harvard and Yale form a little group at the pinnacle; then there are the other eleven. It is true that Stanford is not Duke or Georgetown, but nobody needs a numerical ranking to draw whatever distinctions exist within this small set of law schools.

The fatal flaw in the "rankings" is not the particular choice of criteria (although the criteria chosen by You Ass News are undeniably stupid) but the idea of "rankings" itself. Far more useful than any "ranking" would be an article—such as those published here—that said "Consider attending these 13 schools, but be careful" and "Don't attend any other school". Of course, there's no money to be made in that simple proclamation (which is why Old Guy will have to defer those plans to retire on the Côte d'Azur). Lemmings wouldn't heed it anyway: they would just go looking for some other publisher of "rankings" that would allow them to take pride in admission to the 37th or 56th or 83d or 121st best law school, as identified by some scam-profiteer.

Undaunted, You Ass News has announced that it will continue to assign these schools a "ranking", notwithstanding their refusal to genuflect at the temple of you-assiness. And something tells me that some of the institutions that had the temerity to defy godlike You Ass News will find themselves kicked down several notches next year. Maybe You Ass will take a leaf from Cooley's book and come out with a "ranking" that places Cooley in second position, ahead of all others but Harvard (or maybe Appalachian will displace the pride of Cambridge, Massachusetts). 

In other news, the scam-fostering American Bar Association is setting the stage for abolishing the requirement of standardized testing for admission to law school. Until recent years, everyone applying to an ABA-accredited law school (and also to most Canadian law schools, and even some in Australia and elsewhere) had to take the LSAT and divulge the score. Then a number of schools began to accept the GRE instead, on their own initiative. Now testing of any sort is about to become "optional". Of course, those who avail themselves of the option to skip testing will be overwhelmingly those who would score poorly. And where will these people apply? Realistically, to über-toilets. Although the measure is being passed off as a "progressive" way to promote "diversity" (perceived exclusively in racial terms, it seems), Old Guy predicts that it will serve mainly to let the über-toilets conceal some of their shittiness. If data on LSAT scores are reported at all, they will be skewed upwards by the simple expedient of encouraging the worst applicants to skip the LSAT. Once again, the ABA does a great service to the law-school scam.


  1. You could do a meaningful ranking easily: Percentage of the class that gets at least one large firm summer associate offer after 2L OCI. (That'll also capture the few other things worth doing like fedclerks and DOJ/SEC Honors. That's because those people don't do biglaw after graduation, but they invariably DID do it for 2L summer and turned down or deferred the permanent biglaw offer when they got honors or clerkship)

    So yeah, take the snapshot right after 2L OCI instead of 9 months after graduation. Denominator is all students and numerator is the number with summer offers. Rank the schools based solely on that criteria and poof you're done.

    1. I did something like that many years ago:


      Only 13 law schools, back in 2014, saw 50% or more of their graduates get jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships within nine months of graduation. I concluded that those were the only ones worth attending. Or, if one wished to gamble on schools at which as few as 40% got those positions, there would be 16 available.

    2. In essence, I didn't care about the internal ranking of that group of 13 law schools (although I did point out that only four of them had as many as 70% of their graduates get the good jobs that I had listed); I just chose them as the only ones that were conceivably worth attending.

    3. Even 13 is too much, there's really maybe 3 tiers within that, and only the first 2 tiers matter. The last group is still risky, pricey, and overall pointless.

      Law school really needs to be limited to the number of clerkships and big law positions available, those are like residency slots. Outside of that, if people want to "learn the law" it can be offered for cheap at community colleges, with the expectation that you're learning to better yourself (a perfectly fine lifelong goal) and not for employment in that field/subject (because you're not going to get it most likely). Community college is an investment by the state in its people, and thus needs to be very low cost and geared for already employed people or others that are there for education.

    4. Our society exaggerates the importance of institutions in public education. One can learn plenty of things entirely on one's own. Without assistance, I've managed to learn several languages (some to a very high level of proficiency), a great deal of advanced mathematics, and many other things that supposedly have to be taught.

      Autodidacts nowadays enjoy a wealth of information free of charge on the Internet, including entire textbooks and even recorded courses. Free material for self-study of law is available, and more could easily be made available if the will to produce it and distribute it were there. One certainly does not need to study under some pretentious half-wit who fattens her ass on red-velvet cupcakes or scribbles asinine scholarshit about the Open Road™.

  2. didnt the bar have an accreditation requirement that a certain minimal score had to be acheived by students, in the main?

  3. Interesting how using the GRE was supposed to be the answer for all time to get around the 'bias' inherent in the LSAT and now all entrance exams are being scrapped after a few short years.

    Scrapping the LSAT doesn't just benefit the toilets, but the elite schools as well since they will be able to admit legacies and whomever they wish without scrutiny.

  4. From the WSJ on 11/17

    Yale and Harvard law schools said this week they will no longer participate in the annual law-school rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. Readers may see no one to root for in a showdown between elite schools and the higher-ed ratings complex, but there’s a point to be made about what appears to be a flight from merit and transparency at these schools.

    Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken in a statement this week called the U.S. News rankings, which have long influenced the perception of prestige, “profoundly flawed.” Yale has “reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession. As a result, we will no longer participate.” Harvard Law School quickly followed, and on Thursday UC-Berkeley Law pulled out.

    The U.S. News rankings have plenty of shortcomings, though being run by a “for-profit magazine,” as Yale swiped in its statement, isn’t one of them. Dean Gerken says the U.S. News methodology penalizes law schools that send students into public-interest fellowships, and that its metrics on student debt don’t account properly for loan-forgiveness programs. Berkeley also noted a per student expenditure rating that pushes tuition prices up and is not a proxy for an excellent legal education.

    But Dean Gerken gave away the game when she wrote: “Today, 20% of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs. While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses.”

    This sounds like cover for a desire by Yale to be free to admit students with lower test scores in service to diversity, but without taking a hit to its exclusive reputation. Yale has long been No. 1 in the U.S. News rankings.

    The LSAT isn’t perfect, but it is a good predictor of success in law school, particularly as grade inflation has rendered GPAs far less meaningful. The LSAT’s influence is also an equalizer. For the price of a prep book, a low- or middle-income applicant can use an excellent score to compete with thousands of affluent applicants with polished resumes or connections. Yet progressives have long hoped to kill the LSAT along with high-school standardized testing.

    The timing here is notable given the Supreme Court may soon strike down the use of racial preferences in college admissions. The Yale and Harvard announcements look like attempts to adapt in advance. This is a reminder to the Justices that college administrators will find a way to skirt any three-pronged diversity test they might devise, or some other putative judicial compromise.

    Students browsing law schools can still rely on required disclosures to the American Bar Association or other rankings such as Above the Law’s list, which focuses on employment and debt. The U.S. News rankings may hold too much sway over a law school’s internal practices and reputation. But what comes next may be worse for Americans who still believe in merit and equality of opportunity.

    1. Note the rush to blame "progressives".

      Anyway, Gerken's remarks are quite off the point: as I said, any ranking would be inappropriate and misleading. Gerken just wants to bitch about the details when the whole damn project should be tossed out.

      Attacking the details is easy. As I recall (and this may well not be current information), 40% of the "ranking" was "reputation"—something that hardly any of the people surveyed would be able to assess, for the simple reason that they don't know about all 200+ ABA-accredited law schools. In many cases, that "reputation" probably has less to do with the law school than with the parent university's football team. And why should reputation—nothing but the opinion of mostly uninformed people, easily manipulated through propaganda and other well-known tricks—be taken as a measure of quality?

      But changing the parameters of the "rankings" is still wrong because of the underlying assumption that the law schools are worth ranking. They are not!

      Gerken should cut the crap and say "Listen to Old Guy. My law school and a dozen others are the only ones that are worth attending. Stay the hell away from all others." That would be awfully refreshing.

      The allegation that Yale just wants to admit people with lower test scores lacks substantiation. Yale can readily afford to admit someone with a 159 if it wants to, and now and then it does. A better criticism would focus on Gerken's apparent belief that admissions officers can identify "promising students" on the basis of a thin dossier.

      And that closing line about "merit and equality of opportunity" exposes appalling naïveté in its author.

  5. In some quarters, the LSAT optional ploy is being interpreted as a response to the impending ban on affirmative action.

    No longer will a white/Asian applicant be able to complain: "I was rejected despite scoring X points on the LSAT in favor of the black/Latino applicant who only scored Y points"

    Can't complain about a criteria that no longer exists.

    The withdrawal from the stupid rankings by elite schools is a step in the right direction. But color me impressed when those "trap" schools ranked 15-50 follow suit.

  6. This story, almost word for word, gets recycled every six months or so; in this case, just in time for the holidays. But this student had actually worked before making the catastrophic decision to attend law school, which begs the question: at what point are people responsible for their bad financial decisions?

    1. We discussed this back in July. See the comments here:


    2. The people commenting on the referenced article on 7:10 are as clueless as the indebted law graduate.

    3. The financial aspect is only part of it. This goddamn guy seems to expect everything to be handed to him and his girlfriend on a silver charger. He won't give up and realize that law is not for him. No, he expects a well-paying job as a lawyer with his Mickey Mouse JD from an expensive über-toilet and his delayed admission to the bar. He is living on welfare and pretending to be a lawyer rather than taking whatever job he can get with his meagre abilities. After racking up that ungodly amount of debt, he even has the gall to whine about allegedly having to postpone buying a house and having children on account of his student loans. No, idiot, the reason for which you cannot buy a house is that you have no money and little income. You can't even pay your rent; how the hell are you going to buy a house? Unfortunately, nothing will stop you from having children that you cannot afford.

      Your dumb ass never should have been admitted to any law school at all, and certainly should not have been allowed to borrow more than a third of a million dollars guaranteed by the government.

      Oh, and by the way, get rid of the mustard-colored shirt.

    4. OG-you're absolutely right-they trot the article out every six months or so, pretty much verbatim. Like it or not, this guy has become the poster child for "Why did I ever attend law school?"

    5. Oh, this particular moocher is not the only one. Here's a piece from last year about a different moocher:


  7. The only law school ranking system that I have seen currently worth the name is that used by Above the Law, which uses OUTPUTS rather then inputs like LSAT scores. I don't agree with all of their model which for example gives disproportionate weight to supreme court clerkships, but it's a step in the right direction. It also looks at factors such a cost to the law student. However, if you are an aspiring 1 L use even Above the Law skeptically. The perfect law school ranking system is not out there, though its easier to tell you where not to go, then where to go.

    1. Our "seven tiers of law schools" take a similar approach, focused on a single outcome: employment that pays well enough (if it lasts) to cover te payments on student loans. The top four tiers contain only 13 schools in all. And those are the only ones that Old Guy recommends as possible law schools for those who aren't rich.

      Again, the problem with any ranking of law schools is the incorrect assumption that law schools deserve to be ranked. If you want to set up a ranking for the 13 schools that may be worth attending, be my guest. But no ranking should assign Ohio State, Cardozo, and Cooley to any but a wastebasket category. It misleads the public when any "ranking" puts those three in order. I'm not saying that there's no difference between Ohio State and Cooley, just that the difference is unimportant: NOBODY should be going to EITHER law school.

  8. I think this counts as a law school closing: https://www.reddit.com/r/LawSchool/comments/z80vxf/news_penn_state_dickinson_law_and_penn_state_law/