US News & World Report informed law school deans on Monday that it will make significant adjustments in the upcoming edition of its rankings in response to backlash from several elite institutions.
The publication stated in a letter to American law school deans that its upcoming rankings would give more credit to institutions whose graduates pursue advanced degrees or school-funded fellowships to work in lower-paying public service positions. The publication, which has been releasing the rankings for years, is responding to criticism that it puts greater emphasis on lucrative jobs in the private sector.
According to the magazine, the rankings for 2023–24 would likewise rely less on evaluations of schools’ reputations provided by academics, lawyers, and judges when they are released this spring.
The list will no longer take into account measures of student debt or the institutions’ spending per student, according to a representative for US News. The magazine’s previous method of calculating student debt — which used data on spending per student — has also drawn criticism for encouraging colleges to prioritize wealthy students over those who need financial aid.
The decision comes after a recent exodus by 14 prestigious law schools and years of criticism from some in higher education.
In November, the Yale and Harvard law schools declared that they would stop taking part in the rankings because the publication’s methodology discouraged departments from supporting public interest careers and helping those in need. A dozen other law schools soon followed suit.
“Having a window into the operations and decision-making process at U.S. News in recent weeks has only cemented our decision to stop participating in the rankings,” Yale Law’s dean, Heather K. Gerken, said in a statement.
In a letter claiming that the magazine’s rankings are “profoundly flawed,” Gerken announced the school’s withdrawal, explaining “We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession,” she added.