by Todd Rothman
While the annual law school rankings featured in U.S. News & World Report can certainly serve as a resource in the admissions process, as a pre-law advisor, I have found that their popularity, ubiquity, and influence among law school applicants continues to be undeniably significant, if not all-together overshadowing. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a law school applicant who couldn’t enumerate “the Top Ten law schools” in chronological order, or recite the rank number of their first-choice law school, with ease. It is important to recognize, though, that this particular ranking system has some inherent flaws and inconsistencies in its construction and, as a result, some genuine limitations in its scope and usefulness. To that end, I encourage applicants to maintain a healthy skepticism about how meaningful and objective these rankings actually are; and, more importantly, that they not be used as the primary or sole resource as they develop lists of schools and, ultimately, as they make their decisions about where to matriculate.
Law schools themselves, though, are far from immune from the aforementioned popularity, ubiquity, and influence of the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings. This recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, however, sheds some light on how the competition that these rankings provoke among law schools can have serious, and sometimes detrimental, implications, for law students and law schools alike – specifically, considerable tuition increases and noteworthy declines in minority enrollments.