Leiter’s Open Letter to Law Bloggers

Brian Leiter, An Open Letter to Other Law Bloggers Regarding the US News Rankings

When the new rankings come out in a couple of weeks, may I suggest that you not post the overall ranking. You all know the overall rank assigned to a school by U.S. News is meaningless, often perniciously so. It combines too many factors, in an inexplicable formula, and much of the underlying data isn't reliable, and some of it e.g., expenditures on secretarial salaries and electriciy isn't even relevant. You all know this. So don t report it. The fact that this garbage appears in a major news magazine doesn't change the fact that it is garbage.

Instead, let me suggest that if you want to blog about the rankings when they come out, write about some of the underlying data that speaks for itself: the reputational scores, for example, or the bar passage rates, or the numerical credentials of the students. Those have limitations too—the median of 500 is not really comparable to the median of 200; the reputation scores are not based on presenting evaluators with any information about the schools being evaluated; and so on—but one can at least say clearly what the limitations are, and one is not hostage either to the dishonesty of the schools “reporting” the data or the sheer idiocy of the U.S. News ranking formula.

Indeed the USN rankings are the dumbest pseudo-stats imaginable. But people — especially prospective students — put enormous weight on them.

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