Columbia Law, Georgetown Join Exodus From U.S. News Rankings

Nov 18, 2022


(Bloomberg) -- Columbia Law School and the Georgetown University Law Center will stop participating in rankings by U.S. News & World Report, joining Yale, Harvard and the University of California’s Berkeley Law School in boycotting the survey. 

“The potential benefits to be gained from continuing to share data with U.S. News are far outweighed by the constraints the rankings place on our ability to freely pursue our core scholarly, pedagogical, and programmatic objectives,” Gillian Lester, dean of No. 4 ranked Columbia, said Friday in an emailed statement. 

Yale Law School, top in the rankings for years, started the exodus when it withdrew on Nov. 16, with Dean Heather Gerken calling the criteria “profoundly flawed.” Harvard Law School, also No. 4, followed and was joined by the Berkeley School of Law, No. 9, and on Friday by Columbia and Georgetown, No. 14.

The U.S. News methodology “creates incentives that work against schools’ interest in attracting and retaining classes of students with a broadly diverse set of qualities and experiences” and in supporting diverse career choices for graduates, “whether in the private sector, in public interest and government organizations, or in academia,” Columbia’s Lester said.

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor similarly said the system “discourages schools from devoting resources to helping students pursue careers in public interest, and it discourages schools from devoting resources to helping students of limited means undertake a legal education.” 

Earlier this year, a member of Columbia’s undergraduate faculty, Professor Michael Thaddeus, questioned the accuracy of data submitted by to US News by the university. The school later said the data was inaccurate, and Columbia fell to No. 18 in the rankings from No. 2. 

U.S. News & World Report said it has no plans to change its goals for the rankings. 

In a statement posted Thursday by Chief Data Strategist Robert Morse, U.S. News said that while it respects each institution’s decision, the organization “has a responsibility to prospective students to provide comparative information that allows them to assess these institutions. U.S. News will therefore continue to rank the nearly 200 accredited law schools in the United States.” 

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