I’m not going to lie, these are quickly becoming my favorite columns to write every year.
For approximately 364 days a year, law school deans are free to tell us how great their schools are without being forced to provide any data to support their claims of being the best law school for whatever. But one day, each law school must confront the stark reality of their U.S. News law school ranking. They can disparage the rankings, get angry at the rankings, or boast about the rankings (if they’re lucky). But deans ignore the rankings at their own peril.
And so some deans are forced to address their schools’ poor rankings. They are free to spin things however they want, but for one day, they’re not operating in a vacuum. There is an objective fact that is just a little bit beyond their powers of self-reporting manipulation.
Law school deans, are you ready for your report card?
The U.S. News law school rankings are due out in a couple of hours. But Above the Law sources have given us a sneak peek at the Top 25, this time in order. And not just from anonymous sources. Mike Spivey of the Spivey Consulting Group claims he’s laid eyes on the list, confirmed what our tipsters reported, and has been tweeting about the thing for the past few hours.
Every year, law school deans and professors tells us how the rankings are flawed, and every year, we find out that prospective law students care more about the U.S. News law school rankings than any other factor.
But this year, U.S. News claims it will be taking into account the employment figures of recent graduates nine months after graduation. Is that going to be a big substantive change, or have law schools already mastered the art of self-reporting their own employment outcomes in a way that hides the truth?
Let’s take a look. These notes will be UNOFFICIAL until U.S. News confirms the news with their midnight publication, but we’re confident this is the new top 25.
UPDATE(10:10 p.m.): U.S. News just confirmed our report by moving up their publication schedule. These rankings are now OFFICIAL….
The U.S. News 2014 Law School ranking should be leaked sometime this evening (check back in with Above the Law and we’ll post it when we get it) and will be officially released sometime tomorrow.
Each year the U.S. News list is met with criticism, primarily from schools that do not do well in the rankings. Usually law schools wait until the rankings are out before they start bitching and making excuses. But this year one law school started complaining about the rankings first thing Monday morning, before the official list is even published.
I guess they know something we don’t.
The criticisms would be a little more on point if this law school took a real reformist approach to legal education. Instead, they’re doing the same things everybody else is doing, only not quite as well…
Contrary to popular belief on the blogs, law school is a good investment. That’s right: the media’s “hysteria” over the value proposition of law school has caused many of the best and brightest students in our country to “irrationally” skip out on a degree that could allow them to reap vast monetary rewards. In fact, it’s really quite obvious that the critics’ focus on first jobs out of law school is “misplaced.” Yes, you’ll have a little bit of debt, and that’s a problem, but it’s “extremely shortsighted” to forgo law school entirely just because of it.
Oops, sorry guys, please disregard all of what was just said. I was just repeating some of Dean Lawrence Mitchell’s New York Times op-ed talking points to see how ridiculous they’d sound. Students at Case Western Law, I applaud you for listening to this kind of tripe on a daily basis.
Oh, but speaking of Dean Mitchell, here’s the photo for our latest caption contest….
Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of The Dean’s Office, a series of posts on legal education by Dean David Yellen of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
The American Bar Association plays an important, but often misunderstood, role in legal education. Overall, I believe the ABA deserves mixed grades for its response to the current crisis. It did not cause the crisis, and it is implementing some valuable improvements. But its resistance to change stands in the way of a number of needed reforms.
First, some background. The Council and Accreditation Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education, not the ABA itself, is authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit law schools. DOE rules require an accrediting agency to be separate and independent from a trade association, so the Section operates essentially autonomously from the main ABA. ABA accreditation is critical to law schools because all states authorize graduates of ABA accredited schools to take the bar examination. Recently, the President of the ABA itself created the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education (on which I serve). The Task Force is an advisory group, though, with no accreditation authority.
Two key features of the ABA process are voluntarism and self-regulation….
I’m not even sure if the ten little Indians song is still kosher, so I’m guessing that jokes about ten big Indians are obviously wrong.
Last night, we told you that the interim dean of Saint Louis University School of Law was stepping down because of “inappropriate comments.”
Dean Tom Q. Keefe admitted to making inappropriate comments. But he didn’t exactly apologize for them. Instead he said: “The problem is I’m just too politically incorrect to be a dean.”
I guess thinking for yourself as a casualty of “political correctness” is one way to avoid actually confronting and dealing with your own inappropriate behavior. But when your law dean allegedly says that he’s “drunker than ten big Indians,” I don’t think the problem is that people are oversensitive….
From the files of “things that are entirely predictable to everybody except for the guy in charge,” Interim Law Dean Tom Q. Keefe has been pushed out at St. Louis University School of Law. Well, “fired” according to some reports.
You mean bringing in a straight-talking law dean who was a personal injury attorney with no ties to the law faculty and was hand picked by the increasingly unpopular university president didn’t work out? SHOCKING! Tell me more….
Last night, Campos announced that he is going to stop writing his blog, Inside the Law School Scam. There are a number of so-called “scam blogs” by law school graduates that are devoted to exposing the high cost and low return of going to law school. But Campos is one of the few law school professors who has chosen to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
But after 499 posts, there wasn’t a lot more to say…
Law school deans seem incredibly powerful. They seem like they have the power to reshape their law schools in their own ways. They seem like they’re in charge.
In reality, law deans spend much more time begging than ordering. They’re asking their university presidents to keep more of the revenue their schools generate. They’re trying to cajole tenured faculty who can’t be fired. They’re sniveling on bended knee to rich and powerful alumni. And if their law school drops in the U.S. News law school rankings, they’re likely to be discarded and replaced by somebody with a “new vision” for the law school.
I’m not crying for law school deans. They make an obscene amount of money, yet they’re not directly accountable to the students who fund their salary.
But they have a tough job. And when they don’t have the support of the faculty, they can wake up to find a big knife sticking in their back — a knife labeled “faculty lounge.”
This one law dean found that out the hard way, though he continues to deny that his law faculty essentially led a successful coup d’état….
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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