What Should Law School Rankings Measure and How Should We Measure it: A Comment on Heald & Sichelman's Rankings
Jurimetrics, Vol. 60, Issue 1 (Forthcoming 2019)
7 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2019 Last revised: 17 Dec 2019
Date Written: November 7, 2019
There are obvious benefits to ranking academic departments based on objective measures of faculty research output. However, there are considerable difficulties associated with producing reliable and accurate rankings. In this short comment, we offer an evaluation of Heald and Sichelman's recent foray into the project of ranking law schools. Heald and Sichelman are to be commended for the transparency and rigor of their rankings effort. At the same time, it is important to note that their rankings involve a series of contestable discretionary choices and could give rise to potential counter-productive gaming by law schools seeking to improve their place in the rankings. In particular, Heald and Sichelman's system places a thumb on the scale on behalf of more senior faculty who publish in traditional law reviews and write in popular substantive areas like constitutional law. This raises the concern that rankings of this type could discourage law schools from hiring faculty that are young, produce interdisciplinary scholarship, and write in otherwise under-represented fields. Nonetheless, Heald and Sichelman have taken an important step forward, and other scholars should look to build profitably upon their work.
Keywords: citations, tenure, law schools, rankings, downloads
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