This year’s U.S. News Law School Rankings saw Loyola Law School (L.A.) drop from #63 to #71. Despite the back-and-forth between Above the Law and Loyola Law dean Victor Gold, the drop had nothing to do with us.
Apparently, the drop didn’t have anything to do with any legitimate factor. Brian Leiter is on the case:
This really takes the cake for carelessness on the part of U.S. News. Loyola Law School in Los Angeles dropped from 63 to 71 in the overall U.S. News ranking this past spring, and for one primary reason: its reputation score among academics dropped from 2.6 to 2.3. But that kind of drop is extraordinary: the academic reputation scores move .1 in either direction all the time, without rhyme or reason, but only once in the last eight years did another school’s peer reputation score drop that much….
So with only a 1 in 1,000 chance of this kind of movement, what else might explain the precipitous drop in academic reputation? Unfortunately, the explanation seems to be clear: U.S. News unilaterally changed the school’s name on the survey: from “Loyola Law School” to “Loyola Marymount University.” Loyola was the only school whose name was changed on last year’s survey.
This is the story that Dean Gold is going with too. More details after the jump.
Leiter reports that Loyola (L.A.) Dean Victor Gold is pushing this name change argument with his colleagues. Here is his email that is reprinted on Law School Reports:
While we are part of Loyola Marymount University, and proud of it, we have been known as Loyola Law School for 80 years. That name has been used in all our branding efforts. Most law school professors and deans know us by that name. We use that name consistently in an effort to avoid confusion with two other schools that have “Loyola” in their names. By changing what we are called on the survey ballot, the magazine may have confused some respondents.
If I may paraphrase Jack Nicholson: “Would somebody tell me what kind of world we live in where a name change results in a decline of eight places in the law school rankings? This town needs an enema.”
As always, prospective law students should think about mistakes like these before they put too much stock into the law school rankings. How far do you think Yale would drop if one year U.S. News called it “Yale Law School at New Haven”?
Why Did Loyola Law School Fall in US News? [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
Earlier: Open Thread: 2010 U.S. News Law School Rankings (50 – 75)
Loyola OCI Follow-Up