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North Dakota Law Dean Says U.S. News Info on Clerkships Is Wrong

Posted Sep 8, 2009 10:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The dean of the University of North Dakota School of Law says U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking is wrong, and she’s asking for a correction.

U.S. News & World Report reported on Friday that Yale Law School is tops for having the highest percentage of 2007 grads in federal Article III clerkships, and North Dakota is second.

Dean Kathryn Rand told the ABA Journal that she learned of the new ranking on Friday afternoon when her director of career services sent her the online link. The clerkship list said North Dakota placed 28 percent of its 2007 grads in all judicial clerkships, and 25 percent in federal Article III clerkships.

Actually, the law school did not place any students in Article III clerkships in 2007, Rand said. The 28 percent figure for all judicial clerkships is correct, however, “and not an anomaly at all.”

North Dakota was not the only surprise on the U.S. News list of top judicial clerkship feeder law schools. The University of Wyoming was No. 5 and the University of St. Thomas at No. 6. All are tier 3 law schools on U.S. News’ overall list.

“I don’t know exactly what happened with the misinformation being reported in the U.S. News survey,” Rand told the ABA Journal. “I understand that we weren’t the only school that had misinformation reported.” Rand said she learned of other errors when she called U.S. News.

Rand did not identify which schools were wrongly placed on the list. But Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, told the ABA Journal that Western New England College School of Law, ranked 15th, has also contacted him to report an error. He invites other schools identifying mistakes to contact him, and says the results will be corrected.

Western New England associate dean for external affairs Bill Childs later wrote on Western New England College School of Law Blawg: "We discovered that we made an entirely inadvertent error, reporting our overall clerkship employment rate (i.e., the percentage of our employed recent graduates who were working in any judicial clerkship) as being the same as our federal Article III clerkship rate."

The University of St. Thomas law school has also come forward, issuing a statement by Dean Thomas Mengler saying its clerkship information is wrong. “Our data as provided to U.S. News and World Report is incorrect, and we are working with U.S. News to fix this error,” Mengler said.

The schools reported the clerkship figures in response to a U.S. News questionnaire, according to Morse. Since law school officials supplied the data, they shouldn't imply that U.S. News got the figures without their knowledge, he said.

Rand says she hopes the error “does not overshadow the fact that we do an incredible job in placing our students in judicial clerkships generally.”

Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, where Rand posted a comment saying the figures were wrong.

Last updated at 4:07 p.m. to include quote from Childs. Updated on Sept. 11 to include the St. Thomas information.

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