Legal Education

Why are US News law school rankings delayed?

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Updated: Following “an unprecedented number of inquiries from schools,” the release of U.S. News & World Report’s best graduate schools rankings, which include law schools, was pushed back twice in the past week.

Initially, the rankings were expected to be released April 18. Then on April 14, the publication announced that the release would be pushed back to April 25.

A subsequent U.S. News & World Report announcement April 19, shared in a post on the TaxProf Blog, stated that the ratings release date was again pushed back. As of April 20, no specific release date was shared by U.S. News & World Report, according to the post. reports that Harvard Law School and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law told U.S. News & World Report that there are discrepancies in the data, and it does not match what was reported to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. One discrepancy dealt with how employment would be counted for people in full-time graduate programs, according to

Both schools previously stated that they would boycott the rankings. According to U.S. News & World Report, that meant that they would rely on public data from the ABA for rankings metrics.

A communication from U.S. News & World Report explains that schools have the opportunity to review data before it is released. The delays follow a rankings preview released April 11, as well as years of criticism from various law schools.

Mike Spivey, a law school admissions consultant, wrote about three possible scenarios for the delay on his blog. It could be that the data is correct, and U.S. News & World Report is taking the time to listen to graduate school concerns, he wrote. Or there may be data errors, which are being fixed.

“This scenario is the one consuming the attention of law schools, and for good reason, as this would mean the place they think they are ranked may very well change. An error in how employment is calculated or bar passage, etc., would change the data for every single school, including those in the already publicly available top 14,” Spivey wrote.

A third scenario, which Spivey admits is unlikely, is that U.S. News & World Report is being bullied by certain schools to change their rankings.

Paul Caron, the dean of the Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law, wrote on TaxProf Blog that bar passage rates for first-time test-takers are used to calculate rankings. According to Caron, U.S. News & World Report may have pulled bar passage data from an ABA spreadsheet, which included language that corrected information could be found on the ABA’s website.

“I wonder if U.S. News relied on the ABA bar passage spreadsheet without checking the ABA site for corrected data for updated bar passage information for each of the 196 law schools,” Caron wrote.

Updated April 20 at 12:10 p.m. to add information about the additional publication delay.

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