ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – As law school applications are on the decline, several well known law schools have decided to leave the U.S. News School Rankings system – including University of Michigan Law.
UM Law joins Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale, and University of California at Berkeley as they exit from the U.S. News & World Reports rankings of colleges and universities. Stanford, Georgetown, and Columbia law schools have already announced their departure too.
“Over time, I increasingly have come to believe that the U.S. News law school rankings no longer serve the public interest,” David A. Breach Dean of Law and Nippon Life Professor of Law at University of Michigan Mark D. West said in a statement.
Despite a ranking within the top 15 law schools, many of those schools have announced within the last week their departure from the ranking system. According to the U.S. rankings, the following law schools have received the following placements: Yale (#1), Stanford (#2), Columbia & Harvard (#4), Berkeley (#9), UM (#10), Georgetown (#14).
“The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed — they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid and welcome working-class students into the profession,” Dean of Yale Law School Heather Gerkin said in a statement on Wednesday. “We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession.”
UM was ranked #9 in 2020 and 2021 but has dropped to the #10 position in 2022. Harvard also lost its #3 ranking that it held in 2020 and 2021.
West announced UM’s decision on Sunday to leave the rankings process citing many concerns with what the ranking system has become.
“As a public institution, serving the public interest has always been central to our mission. Over time, I increasingly have come to believe that the U.S. News law school rankings no longer serve the public interest,” West said.
Rather, West views the U.S. News Ranking system as not transparent enough – without paying for more in depth information – and that the ranking system is among many places that offer school ranking information but maintains an “outsized role in the perceptions many have of a law school quality. The unclearness of the algorithm which collects data is also a great concern, says West.
“What we do know about the algorithm is that much of it is unrelated to the needs of future students, which of course are heterogeneous. Moreover, U.S. News neither vets nor authenticates the data. This situation presents, at best, inequitable presentation of data and at worst, an unregulated opportunity for manipulation,” he said.
It is unclear which ranking system that UM prefers, or will use for students to know its standing apart from other law schools, but the school will continue to provide the best education possible according to West.