It’s tough times over at U.S. News. After shedding nearly all pretense of being a news outlet, U.S. News threw all its eggs in the “telling people where to go to school” basket.

U.S. News enjoyed a virtual monopoly for years before someone came along and created a better law school ranking system. The crux of the ATL Top 50 ranking is focusing on post-graduation results rather than LSAT/GPA inputs.

Now U.S. News seems to be considering a new post-graduation component, but it doesn’t seem all that scientific…

A tipster tells us that U.S. News is sending the following email to every law school head of admissions:

On the recommendation of law school deans, we are asking you, and each of the 194 law schools that were ranked by U.S. News last year, to submit contact information for a maximum of ten persons who have significant contact in the workplace with your recent graduates.

These persons should be able to make judgments about the competence of your graduates in their discipline relative to the general field of graduates in that discipline and hence, by extension, to rate the effective quality of your program. You may submit names and contact information of law hiring partners at firms who hired recent graduates from your school, judges (local, state, federal) who hired recent graduates as clerks, and contacts at businesses, non-profits, or other agencies and organizations that hired recent graduates for legal matters.

This is the first year we have instituted this system and we are hoping that you will aid us in making it successful.

We will use this information in the construction of a respondent sample for a survey to be sent out by mail in October 2013. The survey will use the same Likert scale format that we use for the survey sent to the dean of your law school. Like that survey, this one will ask for quality evaluations on a five-point scale, with a “don’t know” option. Please take steps to ensure that the contact information you supply us is current and valid. The survey is mailed and we cannot use names that do not have a valid mailing address or those with a non-U.S. mailing address.

Thank you for your participation!

U.S. News & World Report

Two thoughts on this. First, why is this going to admissions as opposed to career services? One would hope career services has the closest contact with employers.

Second, isn’t this transparently gameable? Admissions gets to hand-select 10 employers willing to sing the praises of recent graduates. A random survey of employers may not get perfect results, but at least it would avoid this bias.

We’ll have to wait until next year to see how (or if) this survey plugs into the annual rankings.

Earlier: ATL Top 50 Law Schools


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