UConn School of Law withdraws from participation in U.S. News & World Report rankings

The UConn School of Law has withdrawn from participation in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. UConn Law’s Dean believes the rankings to not accurately highlight UConn Law’s strengths and values. Illustration by Steven Coleman/The Daily Campus

The UConn School of Law has withdrawn from participation in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.  

UConn Law’s decision to leave comes after more than 20% of U.S. News-ranked law schools have withdrawn since last November, according to Law.com. Christine Charnosky, a legal education reporter, stated that UConn was one of many schools to withdraw from the rankings in the past two weeks. 

“The University of Connecticut School of Law, Creighton University School of Law [and] Tulane University Law School made their announcements Monday and Jan. 27, and along with Rutgers Law School and Vanderbilt Law School, that brings the count up to approximately 41 law schools,” Charnosky stated in an article on Law.com

Last year UConn Law was tied at No. 64 with two other schools, University of San Diego and Pennsylvania State University–University Park.  

Eboni S. Nelson, UConn Law Dean and Professor stated that the U.S. News & World Report rankings do not capture UConn Law’s strengths and values. 

“The decision not to participate derives from our long-held belief that the U.S. News rankings do not appropriately measure or adequately capture UConn Law’s strengths and values or the life-transformative educational experience we offer our students. But our concerns run deeper. The rankings’ methodology and outsized influence impede progress in providing equitable educational opportunities for students with the greatest financial need and for those whose backgrounds and identities are historically underrepresented in law schools and the legal profession,” Nelson said in a letter to the UConn Law Community.  

Nelson was also critical of the “overreliance” on metrics such as admissions tests (the LSAT, or in some cases the GRE) and GPAs in the ranking. 

“Further, U.S. News’ overreliance on quantitative measures, such as admissions test scores, GPAs, and faculty and staff salary expenditures, neglects qualitative attributes that create a truly rewarding law school experience and prepare students for successful and meaningful careers. The U.S. News’ methodology ignores the diversity of law schools’ missions and goals and the wide range of approaches taken to achieve them,” Nelson said. 

Nelson pointed out that many other law schools have also left the U.S. News & World rankings for similar concerns, as well as that UConn Law will be in discussions regarding ranking reforms.  

“Many other law schools have decided to stop participating in the U.S. News rankings as well. All have expressed similar concerns about the value of law school rankings and the problematic methodology employed to create them,” Nelson said. “In response, U.S. News & World Report has announced that it will adjust its methodology and continue to rank law schools based on its own reputational surveys and on publicly available data. I hope these developments signal the beginning of a more inclusive, nuanced and meaningful method of evaluating law schools for the benefit of prospective students, and I look forward to being in conversation with U.S. News and others to assist in that effort.” 

While under Dean Timothy Fisher, UConn Law had stated that they were proud of their ranking as recently as 2020. 

“While no ranking can capture the full strengths of a law school, we are proud of the steps we have taken to continue improving outcomes for our students… Our graduates’ employment prospects continue to improve, with 97.8 percent of the class of 2018 employed, thanks to a terrific careers staff, loyal alumni and the fine reputation that UConn Law and our students have in the legal community,” Fisher said in Mar. 2020 in a UConn Today article

In a letter to college deans earlier last month, U.S. News and World rankings said they will be making several changes to their ranking methodology in cooperation with schools around the country. 

“Your concerns were not identical, but did focus on a handful of areas. The main points included per student expenditures, the weight of the peer assessment surveys and indicators of student debt. We also received broad feedback that the rankings should place more weight on outcomes, such as bar passage and employment outcomes, thereby reflecting students’ concerns when making law school decisions. We largely agree, as demonstrated by changes made to the methodology over the years,” wrote Chief Data Strategist Robert Morse and Senior Vice President of Data and Information Strategy Stephanie Salmon of the U.S. News and World Report in an open letter to law school deans. 

The letter also called on law school deans to release more data for prospective law school students. 

“More data benefits everyone. To that end, we plan to make available to students more of the data we already have collected so that they can run deeper comparisons among law schools. Similarly, we call on all law schools to make public all of the voluminous data they currently report to the ABA but decline to publish, so that future law students can have fuller and more transparent disclosure,” the open letter states. 

Along with the U.S. News and World rankings for law schools, many schools have dropped out from the U.S. News and World rankings for medical school with similar concerns. 

While UConn Medical School has yet to leave the U.S. News and World rankings, many schools such as Stanford, Columbia, UPenn and Harvard have left in the last month according to the Washington Post.  

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