Yale and Harvard’s law schools have announced they will no longer participate in the U.S. News and World Report ranking, calling its emphasis on test scores incompatible with socioeconomic diversity.
The “for-profit magazine” hurts Yale Law School’s commitment to “economic equity” by counting “median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs” as one-fifth of the overall score, Dean Heather Gerkin said Wednesday in a statement posted online.
“While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant,” Ms. Gerkin wrote. “This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses.”
Ms. Gerkin called the rankings “profoundly flawed” because “they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession.”
Harvard’s announcement came a few hours later.
In a letter, Harvard Law School Dean John Manning informed faculty that “it has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect.”
Noting Yale’s decision, Mr. Manning wrote that the U.S. News criteria “work against law schools’ commitments to enhancing the socioeconomic diversity of our classes; to allocating financial aid to students based on need; and, through loan repayment and public interest fellowships, to supporting graduates interested in careers serving the public interest.”
Since U.S. News started scoring law schools in 1990, Yale has ranked No. 1 every year. Harvard is tied with Columbia University for the No. 4 slot this year.
The law schools at Columbia, second-ranked Stanford University and third-ranked University of Chicago have not announced they will withdraw from the rankings. They did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News, said the magazine has no plans to alter its methodology in response to Yale’s decision.
“The U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings are for students seeking the best decision for their law education. We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mission of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information in making that decision,” Mr. Gertler said in a statement. “As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students and that mission does not change with this recent announcement.”