(Image via Getty) It’s hard to believe, but U.S. News & World Report used to be a publication that delivered domestic news and a world report. But almost no one remembers USNWR for that role. For most people, the only time the USNWR even crosses their mind is when they’re scanning the latest rankings release of the best colleges, business schools, med schools, or, obviously, law schools. The percentage of Americans who believe the “R” in USNWR stands for “rankings” is certainly non-zero and probably enough to keep them in the Democratic primary until at least Super Tuesday.
The rankings game is so essential to the USNWR business model that they’ve started throwing rankings on everything, knowing that the public has a bottomless appetite for their proto-listicles. They started breaking down schools by specialties to give folks more numbers, even if they provided a prospective student with dubious informative value. They’re ranking law schools by “Legal Writing” programs! It’s a subject so tangential that most schools don’t even grade it! Imagine some 0L choosing a school to be the best Bluebooking unemployed attorney in America.
Alas, the current specialties aren’t enough and USNWR wants to rank even more subjects: On the one hand, these more accurately track the areas of law graduates end up in than ranking “International Law.” On the other hand, ranking 1L courses as specialties may finally have crossed the line into the absurd.
Professor Orin Kerr of UC Berkeley certainly thinks this has gone too far. After noting that USNWR creates its existing specialty rankings by asking professors in that area to rank programs at other institutions on a 5 point scale, Kerr explains that he would have no clue how to meaningfully rank Criminal Law programs: Going after core subjects may have heightened the lunacy, but the ranking never had a great way of gauging which schools provide the best, say, “Dispute Resolution” education based on a 54 percent response rate from professors starfucking their conference hall idols from afar.
Law schools are not the same as undergrad. Finding the best architecture program for a budding Frank Lloyd […]