Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley law schools withdraw from U.S. News & World Report school rankings

Yale, Harvard, and Berkeley law have all announced that they were withdrawing from the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s top law schools.

Harvard and Yale announced on Wednesday that they were no longer participating in the list followed by Berkeley on Thursday. It is worth noting that all three of the universities are currently in the top 10 of the rankings with Yale being number 1.

Three Ivy caliber schools declining to participate in the rankings is a significant blow to the list but none of the schools are under the impression that it is the end of the rankings:

“Rankings have the meaning that we give them as a community. I do not want to pretend they do not. And rankings will exist with or without our participation,” said Berkeley Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky. “The question becomes, then, do we think that there is a benefit to participation in the US News process that outweighs the costs? The answer, we feel, is no.”

The three schools all cited issues with the way the rankings are calculated as the rationale for their decision. The way the publication tracked student debt was mentioned by the institutions as one of the primary drivers of the withdrawal:

“Finally, the way U.S. News accounts for student debt further undercuts the efforts of law schools to recruit the most capable students into the profession,” said Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken. “To its credit, U.S. News has recognized that debt can deter excellent students from becoming lawyers and has tried to help by giving weight to a metric that rests on the average debt of graduating students and the percentage of students who graduate with debt. Yet a metric based on debt alone can backfire, incentivizing schools to admit students with the means to pay tuition over students with substantial financial need.”

Schools have had many complaints about the list over the years and many experts do not expect these three schools to be the last defections.


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