November 19, 2009
Rankings Ridiculousness Reaches a New High/Low
Posted by Alan Childress
Rating law schools by the number of "SuperLawyers" as alum is not a ranking of any kind. It is flat wrong for anyone to treat this seriously. It is a publicity stunt by a commercial enterprise. Surely law school deans will have the good sense and ethical mettle to ignore this charade.
Well, no. In addition to actually addressing the "ranking," the dean at Northwestern has gone so far as to rewrite its [non]methodology to suit his school's purported image, combining it with the top 14 by USNews and adjusting for class size. Story here, with a twist: the writer's editorial view that essentially all's fair in war and rankings. Well, no -- again.
As John Steele has written on several occasions, how can we teach ethics to law students if we are not acting ethically as regards to ratings and reputation? Actually he said it better: "I think that law schools are teaching by example that cooking the books is what lawyers do."
Update: combining the top 50 of USNews with the metric of number of alum over age 45 who have attended at least two Jazzfests, Tulane is the #1 law school in the country!
Update 2: Brian Leiter on the specious methodology used by SuperLawyers Inc.
Update 3: Jeff Lipshaw on the hoax here.
Update 4: our prior post on Attorney Man and lawyer portrayals in comics.
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Thanks for quoting me, Alan. Actually, at least the Northwestern Dean is playing with the numbers openly and transparently -- which is usually the opposite of cooking the books. What bugs me most is the hidden tinkering by law schools and law firms. I speak a lot to students about law school and career choices, and if I can presume to speak for them I'd say that a lot of them believe that law school gaming of numbers is endemic.
Posted by: John Steele | Nov 19, 2009 10:39:28 AM