Yale Law School Pulls Out of ‘Perverse’ US News Ranking
Yale has taken the top spot since the magazine began its rankings in the 1980s. Harvard Law School, currently ranked fourth, pulled out a few hours later.
Yale Daily News
Yale Law School Will No Longer Participate in US News & World Report Law School Rankings, Dean Heather Gerken announcement Wednesday morning.
Yale Law School, which has held the top spot on the magazine’s list for the past three decades, will be the first of the top 14 schools to break away from the ranking system. Harvard Law School withdrew later the same day.
“Over the past few years, US News has begun adopting metrics that have become increasingly harmful to the profession,” Gerken told The News. “They make it increasingly difficult for other law schools to do the right thing.”
Gerken’s announcement characterizes the USNWR rankings as “deeply flawed” and fundamentally at odds with YLS’s institutional values. According to the statement, the metrics considered by the magazine discourage law schools from introducing programs to increase accessibility and discourage institutions from supporting careers in the public interest.
According to the magazine website, rankings are determined by a range of metrics, including graduate employment rates, student placement, faculty resources, incoming student academic performance, and “opinions of law schools, lawyers, and judges on the overall quality of the program”. 192 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association were ranked by the USNWR in 2022.
“I believe in giving people a chance to change and listen to criticism,” Gerken told The News. “But we spoke to US News about these issues, and nothing has changed.”
YLS is not the first educational institution to drop from the USNWR ranking. Last June, Columbia University announced it would no longer participate in the undergraduate ranking system after the publication of an article written by Columbia math professor Michael Thaddeus that alleged Columbia was misrepresenting data. which she had communicated to the magazine.
Gerken told the News that YLS’s decision to opt out of the ranking system was not influenced by the Columbia University scandal.
Gerken shared that she believes deans at other law schools have engaged in conversations over the past few years about flaws in the USNWR ranking system, but that YLS’s decision to withdraw from consideration was entirely independent.
“Our mission is to bring the most talented schools and students in the country here and provide the leadership they need,” said Gerken, “We are only focused on our mission, we have always been focused on our mission and on the US The news has no effect on our mission.
Dean Gerken explained that the decision to withdraw from the ranking was made after consultation with professors and students. She pointed out that community responses to the announcement have been overwhelmingly positive.
In an email to The News, Professor Ian Ayres wrote that faculty members were “extremely supportive” of Gerken’s announcement.
“It’s a proud day for the school,” Ayres wrote. “US News ranking system makes it harder for law schools to act on [need based aid and public service] without paying an undeserved price.
Hillary Browning LAW ’25 noted that some students believed the dean’s decision was made in anticipation of a potential grade drop.
“I want to stress that we never established policies based on rankings,” Gerken said. “We just don’t pay attention. We focus solely on scholarship and leadership.
Chisato Kimura LAW ’25 wrote in an email to The News that she fully supports removing YLS from the grading system, which she believes uses measures that “inevitably hurt low-income students.”
“The ranking system incentivizes law schools to admit students who can pay for law school without taking out loans rather than students who may need financial aid,” Chisato wrote. “The ranking system also incentivizes law schools to channel resources/support towards career options in private law rather than public interest law.”
Kimura does not anticipate that YLS’s withdrawal from the USNWR will impact its prestige and reputation as an institution. She believes Yale Law School will continue to make public data that would otherwise be published on the USNWR Law School Rankings list.
Kimura also pointed out that YLS’ reputation should be all the more prestigious for their decision to drop out of the USNWR rankings.
“I believe this decision confirms YLS’s commitment to increasing access to law school and removing some of the systemic barriers to law school,” Kimura wrote. “It’s a reputation I would be proud of for YLS.”
In an email to the Harvard Law School community this afternoon, HLS Dean John Manning announced that Harvard Law will also no longer participate in the US News & World Report rankings.
The letter acknowledges Dean Gerken’s announcement made earlier this morning, although it does not mention any coordination between the Yale and Harvard law school administrations.
“At HLS, we made this decision because it has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives reflected by the US News rankings,” the statement said. “This decision was not taken lightly and only after extensive deliberation over the past few months.”
Yale Law School was founded in 1824.