Today, Dean David Meyer released this statement explaining why Tulane Law School will no longer provide internal data to U.S. News for purposes of its ranking of law schools. In making this move, Tulane Law joins about 40 law schools and five medical schools in declining to participate in the U.S. News rankings.
To the Tulane Law Community:
Tulane Law School will no longer provide proprietary data to U.S. News for purposes of its ranking of law schools. We have reached this decision following careful review and based on mounting concerns about the accuracy and utility of the ranking for prospective students and others.
In its original form decades ago, U.S. News provided a simple and straightforward reputational ranking of law schools which provided useful information to prospective students who were unfamiliar with the legal community. The limits on the value of such a ranking were clear enough, and the reputation survey could be used alongside other data and sources to inform a comparative evaluation of law schools.
In more recent years, however, the U.S. News ranking has evolved in ways that raise growing concerns about its reliability as an informational tool. U.S. News has continually changed its methodology each year. While the fluidity of factors and weighting ensures fresh interest annually timed to the release of its ranking, it raises doubts about the convictions underlying the ranking’s conception of law school quality. Moreover, the changes have sometime made the resulting assessment of law school quality internally inconsistent – for example, simultaneously rewarding law schools for higher costs and spending per student and then downgrading them if their students borrowed to finance that spending. Some of the methodological changes have also created worrisome incentives for law schools – for example, heavily prioritizing high LSAT scores over financial need in scholarship awards and preferring applicants with the financial means to pay for law school without the need to borrow.
In addition, the credibility of the U.S. News ranking has been eroded in recent years by a series of errors in both the data and factors that have informed the ranking. The latest example of erroneous data submitted by a law school was reported only last week. And efforts by U.S. News to freshen or expand the rankings have sometimes demonstrated little care for accuracy, such as the scuttled 2021 attempt to rank the racial and ethnic diversity of law schools without considering multiracial students.
Finally, the effort to provide an ordinal ranking of overall quality of the nation’s 200-plus law schools based on a formula that takes no account of their varying and distinctive missions and qualities is fundamentally misconceived and misleading.
While the most recent overhaul of the U.S. News methodology has dropped some of the worst of these flaws, the U.S. News ranking will inevitably require continuing reinvention in the years ahead and past practice does not inspire confidence in the accuracy of that enterprise.
Accordingly, we will no longer assist in that effort by providing proprietary data and will instead concentrate our efforts on continuing to provide a wealth of accurate data about the distinctive quality of a Tulane Law School education to the American Bar Association and directly to the public through a variety of readily available channels.
David D. Meyer
Dean and Mitchell Franklin Professor of Law
Tulane University Law School