A Value-Added Ranking of Law Schools
law school rankings, US News and World Report, bar passage, legal employment, value of a law degree
Before and since the first publication of the U.S. News & World Report (hereinafter “U.S. News”) rankings of law schools, legal education has been characterized by competition. As the first mover in the rankings of law schools, the U.S. News’ rankings have changed the landscape of legal education. Not only do law students to measure the worth of law schools based on these rankings, but law schools are reactive to the categories favored by these rankings’ methodology in order to bolster their position relative to their peers. This fixation on one ranking may foment the progress of legal education toward providing quantifiable value to current and prospective students. This article proffers evidence of the relative time invariance of law school rankings in the U.S. News, assesses alternative rankings systems, and proposes a value-added ranking of law schools. The value-added rankings represent an outcomes-based movement, in standard deviations, from where a law school is predicted to be, based on its students’ credentials upon entry to law school, to the space it actually occupies, given those same students upon their graduation from law school. This value-added ranking, in essence, measures the effect of attending the law school. The law school value-added measures deviate significantly from existing rankings systems of law schools and suggest that traditional notions of a law school's value ought to be reassessed under this new framework.