Berkeley joins Harvard and Yale boycott of US News law school rankings

By Reuters   November 17, 2022 | 06:19 pm PT
Berkeley joins Harvard and Yale boycott of US News law school rankings
The Sather Tower at the University of California, Berkeley, is seen from Oakland, California, U.S., October 5, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Stephen Lam
The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law on Thursday joined the law schools at Yale and Harvard in withdrawing from U.S. News & World Report's influential law school rankings.

Berkeley Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky said in a message to students that the rankings penalize schools whose graduates pursue public interest careers and advanced degrees, while rewarding spending that drives up tuition.

"Now is a moment when law schools need to express to U.S. News that they have created undesirable incentives for legal education," Chemerinsky wrote.

Berkeley, ranked No. 9 in the law school rankings, made the announcement a day after Yale and Harvard, ranked No. 1 and No. 4, said they would stop participating.

U.S. News did not respond Thursday on whether or how it will rank law schools that withdraw. Its CEO Eric Gertler said in a statement Wednesday that the magazine will continue its "journalistic mission of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information" in evaluating schools.

The rankings measure law schools based on reputational surveys, student grades and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores, and bar pass and employment rates, among other factors. Graduating from a top-ranked school opens doors to highly-paid associate jobs at large law firms, judicial clerkships and other sought-after positions.

Stanford Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School - currently ranked No. 2 and 6 by U.S. News - on Wednesday said they were considering their own future plans.

"I think every school is at minimum looking at it," law school admission consultant Mike Spivey said of the growing boycott.

Yale law dean Heather Gerken and Harvard Law dean John Manning said Wednesday that U.S. News' ranking methodology runs contrary to their schools' commitments to diversity and affordability by incentivizing schools to give financial aid to applicants with high LSAT scores and undergraduate grades rather than to those most in need.

Law schools will need to make decisions about their participation relatively soon. The U.S. News surveys traditionally go out to law schools in late November and are due back in mid-December.

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