Following Columbia University receiving a ranking of #18 in U.S. News' 2022-2023 Best National Universities Ranking, Yale Law School and Harvard Law School have just announced that they will not participate in U.S. News' annual law school rankings in the future.
Yale has remained in the first place on the T14 list of the US Law School for years. Just hours after Yale announced its withdrawal, John Manning, Dean of Harvard Law School, also announced that Harvard Law would heretofore withdraw from the US News rankings.
Why did these two well-known law schools decide to withdraw?
In a Nov. 16 post on the Yale's official website, Heather K. Gerken, Dean of Yale Law, stated that U.S. News ranks 192 law schools using a one-size-fits-all set of criteria, while these standards cannot accurately represent these programs. Not only does it fail to promote the development of the legal industry, the ranking in fact hinders the progress of the industry.
According to Dean Genken, one of the most disturbing fact about the ranking is that it frustrates law programs that welcome working-class students in the profession by supporting causes of the public interest and student bursaries. The ranking pushes schools to use financial aid to recruit high-achieving students, and as a result, millions of dollars go to the highest-scoring students, not the ones most in need. Those hit the hardest by the rankings were applicants who aspired to pursue public service and came from low-income backgrounds.
U.S. News CEO Eric Gertler responded in a statement that Yale Law's decision does not change the ranking's mission to provide "the most accurate information...[for] students seeking the best decision for their law education."
US News' law school rankings have a strong presence in the legal profession where prestige is highly valued. Many law students refer to this ranking when considering applications, and graduating from a high-ranking school can help them land high-paying jobs, such as at large law firms.
Note: The top 14 law schools are usually called Top 14, or T14 for short. With consistent high quality of teaching, these universities have not fallen out of the top 14 list, and they representing the best of American law education. Application for these programs are extremely competitive, with very low acceptance rates.
Latest T14 Law School Rankings
Whether other law schools will follow the lead of Yale and Harvard is unclear. A spokesman for Stanford Law School, ranked second, said the issue would receive "serious consideration." According to a legal education industry insider, other law schools can now opt out of providing data to US News, which is something many deans of top-ranked law schools have wanted to do for years.
Still, withdrawing from the rankings doesn't mean Yale and Harvard will disappear from next year's US News rankings. U.S. News says that if schools choose not to provide data, they will refer to publicly available data for rankings.
The vast majority of applicants, no matter what types of programs are they considering, will refer to some type of rankings when it comes to deciding what schools to apply to. However, rankings alone cannot provide all of the information that applicants need, and applicants should be aware that their fit with a school depends on other, more complicated factors like location, graduate placement, etc.
At Enlighteens, we want to provide our students with our best assistance, from academic planning to applications, with the big picture in mind. We are here to help our students and their families work through prioritizing their needs and goals, navigate the planning and application process, and help our students become the best versions of themselves.