Law Schools

US News Likely to Change Law School Ranking Methodology in Wake of ABA Action

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U.S. News & World Report will probably change its law school ranking methodology to reflect the new and more detailed job placement information the ABA’s law school accrediting arm has conditionally agreed to start collecting.

If more detailed information on the types and status of legal jobs becomes available, U.S. News will collect it, publish it and—where applicable—factor it in to its annual Best Law School rankings, Bob Morse, the magazine’s director of data research, wrote at Morse Code.

Once the information is available, the magazine will use its own law school statistical surveys this fall to collect and eventually publish the complete set of more detailed jobs and employment data from each law school for last year’s graduates, Morse said.

“When we gather this richer data set, we will be able to make a more exact determination of how our ranking methodology will change,” he wrote.

This month, the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the accrediting body for U.S. law schools, conditionally approved changes (PDF posted by Law School Transparency) to its law school questionnaire requiring law schools to report more detailed post-graduate employment information. The changes hinge on a formal agreement with the National Association for Law Placement, which collects the information, to turn the data over to the ABA.

Under the revised questionnaire, law schools will be required to report how many graduates are employed in jobs requiring a law degree; how many are in jobs in which a law degree is preferred; how many are in another professional or nonprofessional job; and how many are in jobs whose type is unknown. The data is broken down by job type, including law firms of various sizes; businesses and industry; government; public interest; clerkship; academia and unknown.

Law schools also must disclose how many graduates are working in full-time or part-time jobs, whether those jobs are short-term or long-term and how many of them are funded by the school from which the job-holder graduated.

Schools must also report how many graduates are unemployed or pursuing a graduate degree, and how many of the unemployed are looking or not looking for a job. They also must identify the top three states in which their graduates are employed, the number of graduates working in each state and the number of graduates working overseas.

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