Law School Rankings

Will Law School Transparency Lead to New Rankings Industry? And Will Legal Ed Retool?

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A proposal to require law schools to provide more detailed employment information by the ABA’s law school accrediting arm is a lot like cancer treatment, according to Indiana University law professor William Henderson.

The proposal “can beat back symptoms and buy time, but it won’t necessarily cure the disease,” Henderson writes at The Legal Whiteboard. “Going forward, every ABA-accredited law school needs to seek out additional aggressive treatment in order to increase our odds of beating back the long term threat.”

Henderson, director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession, says at the Legal Whiteboard that he is “in awe of the breadth and depth” of the transparency proposals. He predicts that the new information “will give rise to a whole new rankings industry that will rival and potentially supplant U.S. News.”

The information will allow potential students to consider whether they want to spend money to go to a school where half of the graduates don’t get full-time professional jobs after graduation, for example. It will allow them to decide whether they should pay more for a school with the same employment outcomes as a lower-ranked school with lower tuition.

But several problems remain in legal education, he writes. Among them: Costs are too high. There are too many law students. The market for traditional legal jobs is stagnant and likely in decline. Schools depend on federal student loans. And law practice is changing, driven by new technology that increases lawyer productivity.

Henderson foresees the emergence of a new business model for legal education that emphasizes communication, collaboration and problem solving. “And at the best schools,” he says, “teaching, service and scholarship will merge, and the most valuable faculty will be less ivory tower.”

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