Law school deans continue to show the intellectual backbone of phytoplankton when faced with the big fish over at U.S. News & World Report. As the Wall Street Journal reported this morning (subscription), U.S. News is considering changing their law school rankings formula, and the wailing has already begun.
According to the report, U.S. News is considering counting the LSAT scores and GPAs of part-time students. Some law schools admit under performing students into their part-time programs; that way they can keep the tuition dollars flowing in, without jeopardizing their precious place in the rankings.
Brian Leiter sounded the alarm over this proposed change nearly two months ago (and we also covered it back then). Leiter notes that the proposed change could harm the mission of legal education:
For many, probably most, part-time programs serve older, working students, who might not have time for fancy LSAT prep courses, but who bring levels of dedication, seriousness, and pertinent experience that enrich legal education and the legal profession.
There are any number of reasons for law schools to admit, on a part-time basis, students who are unable to meet grade and test score cut-offs. And there are any number of reasons for U.S. News not to care in the slightest.
There is an interesting debate to be had on whether part-time programs enhance the quality of legal education or the legal profession. Instead, we’re getting marginal law schools trying to game a method of data collection, while a magazine tries to punish the offenders.
It’s just another indication that law school can be reduced to a couple of episodes of Law & Order.
Law School Rankings Reviewed to Deter ‘Gaming’ [WSJ (subscription) via WSJ Law Blog]
Proposed Changes to US News Ranking Methodology [Leiter’s Law School Reports]