US News Releases New Law School Rankings After Boycott Over ‘Equity’ Concerns

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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U.S. News & World Report released its 2023-2024 top law school rankings on Thursday after it announced new guidelines to address concerns that it doesn’t account for “economic equity” when judging educational institutions.

The changes were made after a slew of law schools announced that they would no longer participate in the prestigious ranking system over concerns that it disadvantages schools that admit students with lower test scores and favors wealthier institutions. The new standards put less emphasis on “peer assessment surveys” from “academics, lawyers and judges,” put more weight on factors such as bar passage and employment outcomes while dedicating more attention to schools with fellowships for students interested in public service and graduate programs, according to a January letter to law school deans. (RELATED: Law Schools’ Heckling Trends Show Disturbing Future For The Legal System, Experts Argue)

“This year’s rankings place greater emphasis on the results that these graduate schools can deliver,” U.S. News & World Report’s press release read. “Accordingly, updates were made to the methodology to prioritize outcomes for prospective students.”

Stanford University and Yale University tied for the top placement followed by the University of Chicago, according to the rankings. Fourteen law schools increased their placement by 20 positions under the new methodology, the press release read.

Both Yale and Stanford participated in the boycott, with the former writing in a November 2022 press release that the system was “flawed.”

“While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant,” Heather Gerken, Yale Law School dean, wrote. “This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses. It also pushes schools to use financial aid to recruit high-scoring students. As a result, millions of dollars of scholarship money now go to students with the highest scores, not the greatest need.”

“At a moment when concerns about economic equity stand at the center of our national dialogue, only two law schools in the country continue to give aid based entirely on need — Harvard and Yale,” Gerken added.

The ranker met with hundreds of law school deans for input on how to modify the rankings, according to the January letter. It will address additional concerns such as “loan forgiveness/loan assistance repayment programs, need-based aid, and diversity and socio-economic considerations” at a later time.

“It is vital for law and medical students to be equipped with the skills and experiences necessary to flourish in this ever-changing and complex world,” Eric Gertler, U.S. News executive chairman & CEO, said in the press release. “By focusing on metrics that measure outcomes, our rankings and resources can provide a roadmap for the first step in those students’ journeys – their education.”

US News & World Report delayed the release of the law and medical school rankings in April after “dealing with an unprecedented number of inquiries” from the schools.

Yale University and Stanford University did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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