Law School Deans, Law Schools, Rankings, U.S. News

Early Reactions to the U.S. News Rankings: Deans and the Excuses They Make

Let's see them talk their way out of this.

The U.S. News law school rankings are out, which means it’s open season on law school deans. Nothing puts a law school dean’s job in jeopardy like a fall in the law school rankings. Nothing. The law school deans can lie, dissemble, raise tuition to backbreaking levels, and still keep their jobs. But when law schools drop spots in the U.S. News rankings, law school deans start updating their résumés.

If you want proof, just look at how deans from schools that dropped are falling all over themselves to explain their results. The deans will say anything; their explanations don’t even have to make sense.

While deans from schools that dropped are trying to save themselves, deans from schools that went up in the rankings are crowing from the rooftops.

Let’s start with a school that we left out of our Most Honest Law School bracket that is now a rankings darling…

Last year, the University of Texas School of Law broke into hallowed “top 14″ in the U.S. News Law School Rankings. Amazingly, instead of canonizing their law dean, Larry Sager, the UT faculty turned on him and forced him out. The U.S. News gods were not pleased by this perversion, and this year, Texas has been cast back down with the sodomites (tied at #16).

The beneficiary appears to be UCLA Law School. UCLA stands as the undisputed number 15 law school in the land. And UCLA Law Dean Rachel Moran couldn’t be happier. Here’s her letter to students:

Dear Students,

I am very pleased to let you know that this year, UCLA School of Law was ranked fifteenth among American law schools by U.S. News & World Report. This is the first time since 2006-07 that we have been ranked at this level without being tied with any other law schools. We passed both Texas and Vanderbilt in the newly released rankings and widened the gap between UCLA and USC. I have reviewed our records going back to 2004-05, and I am proud to report that during that time period, this year’s overall score is the highest we have ever achieved.

We are on the move, and it is thanks to your outstanding achievements, deep loyalty, and unflagging support. I want to express my appreciation for all that you do to keep UCLA Law strong. Our future is bright as a result of your efforts, and we will continue to make tremendous progress because of the wonderful community that you have built and nurtured. I look forward to working with you to reach even greater heights.

It is truly a privilege to be your dean!

After sending that email, Dean Moran’s secretary poured Gatorade all over her, and then the office called up UT and rapped “tell me how my ass tastes” into the speaker phone.

Just kidding. But given that the last dean that led UCLA to U.S. News success, Michael Schill, was able to better-deal UCLA into a gig at the University of Chicago, you can see why Dean Moran is excited.

On the other side of the coin, deans who are not bathed in U.S. News glory are covering their asses….

(hidden for your protection)

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