Status Seeking and the Allure and Limits of Law School Rankings
10 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2005
This commentary will be published in volume 81, issue 1 of the Indiana Law Journal. The commentary was submitted to the Symposium on the Next Generation of Law School Rankings in response to other papers published in the symposium issue.
From the commentary:
I will address three points about the rankings in this Commentary. First, I will address the argument that the rankings are normatively desirable to facilitate a tournament among law schools. I will consider how well the tournament model applies to institutional, as opposed to individual, participants, and how much law schools compete against each other, as envisioned by the model. Second, both the tournament model and other commentary generally supportive of rankings usually assume that more information about law schools is better. Here, I address whether the pre-rankings era was as informationally deficient as is often assumed, and whether additional information in the present day is likely to be especially useful to law school applicants, or other audiences. Finally, I discuss why, despite the many criticisms of the rankings and their limitations acknowledged even by their supporters, the U.S. News rankings were quickly embraced by an attentive public. I link this continuing embrace by law professors and their students with the apparent fascination with rankings and status by American culture at large.
Keywords: Law School, Rankings, Legal Education, U.S. News & World Report
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