Friday, July 10, 2009

USNWR ranks law firms. What next? Why not rank everyone?

Speaking for myself, the USNWR law school rankings are an eminently reasonable response to consumer demand for information about how to spend their educational dollars.   One may quibble with USNWR's ranking formula and those ranked may argue about the results, but from the consumer's standpoint, the magazine by all appearances is providing a valuable service. 

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, however, USNWR is no longer content to confine its rankings to law schools.  Rather, it now plans on ranking employers - the law firms themselves.  That raises the question of why stop there?  Why not just go whole-hog and rank all people?  That way the USNWR ranking empire would be complete - consumers would need to consult USNWR before making any decision from which job to take to who to date. 

All it takes is enough people to buy into it and USNWR can become mankind's tastemaker.

Remember - it was my idea first.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.


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Jim - I don't buy the argument that merely by responding to a consumer demand someone is providing a "valuable service." I believe in stating your point in that way you're evading your responsibility to address the merits of the rankings themselves. Personally, I believe the rankings merely reinforce an illusionary status quo -- the principal determinants of the rankings are (1) measures of the student body that correlate to performance in law school, not as lawyers, and (2) reputational assessments by people with a vested interest in maintaining the perceived status quo. As a result, the rankings create a perception of differences in education between schools that are grossly disproportionate to any real differences.

Posted by: peter | Jul 11, 2009 10:01:55 AM

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