A Blueprint to Reclaim Legal Education from External Rankers

61 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2023 Last revised: 11 Jun 2024

See all articles by Scott Rempell

Scott Rempell

South Texas College of Law Houston

Date Written: May 15, 2024

Abstract

The U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”) law school rankings have impacted the perceptions and behaviors of everyone in the rankings ecosystem for decades. Commentators have almost universally condemned these ordinal rankings, yet they continue to influence the legal education market, often in highly detrimental ways. 

The ranking’s influence stems from legitimate market demands, for reasons that the psychology of choice literature makes clear. People want (or need) to efficiently acquire and digest information that could help them make consequential decisions. At a time when consumers of law school information did not have such choice-making assistance, U.S. News filled the void. Whether purportedly relevant information comes from U.S. News, other rankers of law schools, or other sources of information, the fundamental problem is that these sources are filling a void that exists because of law schools’ inaction. The law school community is the only cohort of entities that can create data about certain relevant considerations that are currently missing, and they are best positioned to both refine the data categories that currently exist and communicate the potential significance of the generated data. Without a more comprehensive product, law school data consumers will continue to rely on incomplete and potentially misleading information, arbitrarily reduced to a single composite score and ordinal rank by commercial enterprises like U.S. News.  

This Article provides a blueprint for how the law school community can create an alternative product and reclaim legal education. Such a product would add considerable value to all law school data consumers, including prospective students, law professors, law school administrators, and legal employers. This is laudable in its own right, but such a product would also diminish the influence of rankers like U.S. News because its value would make the deficiencies of the current rankings too obvious for the market to ignore.

Keywords: U.S. News, rankings, law school, legal education, pedagogy, scholarship, citation counts, legal analysis, choice, choice psychology, decision-making, ordinal rankings, education rankings, curriculum

JEL Classification: K00, K2, P11, P46, I2, I20, I21, I23

Suggested Citation

Rempell, Scott, A Blueprint to Reclaim Legal Education from External Rankers (May 15, 2024). Seattle University Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4620413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4620413

Scott Rempell (Contact Author)

South Texas College of Law Houston ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States

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