Columbia and New York University, he said, tend to place large numbers of law school graduates into white-shoe law firms, though so do institutions like the Howard University School of Law.
In similar fashion, “elite employment outcomes are pretty closely tracked with the school you’ve attended,” Professor Muller said.
Some deans of law schools below the T14 said that however much they might agree with the criticism, withdrawing from the rankings could be more painful for them, than for, say, Yale, which has consistently been No. 1, since U.S. News began ranking law schools in 1987. (There was a hiatus until 1990, but it has continued since then.)
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, the dean of Boston University (No. 17), said that despite some qualms about the rankings, her administration was not currently planning to withdraw. She said lower-ranked schools, applicants and employers get some benefit out of the “free marketing” of the rankings.
“Yes, a school like Boston University, which doesn’t have the legacy and the history of a Harvard University, is going to get more of that benefit,” she said.
Ken Randall, the dean at George Mason University’s law school (tied for No. 30), said he agreed that the rankings were flawed and had some negative consequences. Nonetheless, “it gives students guidance,” he said. “Most students don’t go to the top 10, and there are about 200 law schools.”
George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School has gone up 11 spots in the last year, he said. This was done by improving metrics that matter to U.S. News, such as admitting students with higher LSAT scores, graduating them with less debt and improving the pass rate on the bar exam, he said.