The Duke University School of Law will no longer participate in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Schools ranking.
Kerry Abrams, James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke dean of the law school, announced the decision to faculty, staff and students in a Monday release. Abrams’ statement cited concerns with both the ranking’s methodologies and purpose.
“For more than 30 years, Duke Law School has participated in the annual ranking of law schools published by U.S. News,” Abrams wrote. “Although Duke Law has been among the top cohort of institutions in every edition, we have long had serious concerns that the design and influence of these rankings create incentives that are not aligned with our mission and our values.”
Duke has been a perennial top-14 law school in the U.S. News and World Report rankings and is currently ranked No. 11. A consistent top-14 designation has been widely accepted in the legal community as an indicator of prestige.
Duke joins several other top-14 law schools in withdrawing from the U.S. News’ rankings within the last week. Yale Law School was first to announce its decision to withdraw on Wednesday, followed by the law schools of Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan saying they would stop participating in the rankings.
With Duke’s announcement, eight of the top-14 law schools have now said they will no longer be providing U.S. News with data for its rankings.
Abrams echoed Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken’s statement that the rankings undermine the “core commitments of the legal profession.” Yale Law School has been ranked No. 1 in the U.S. News’ rankings since its first edition.
Abrams joined several other law school deans in disagreeing with the U.S. News ranking system.
“The rankings rely on flawed survey techniques and opaque and arbitrary formulas, lacking the transparency needed to help applicants make truly informed decisions,” Abrams wrote.
Like other deans, Abrams noted the rankings’ focus on test scores, grades and employment outside of the public sector. Deans have also criticized U.S. News’ emphasis on standardized test scores.
“The current iteration of the rankings incentivizes merit-based financial aid over need-based aid, disadvantages schools that offer public interest fellowships to graduates, and rewards schools that place undue weight on standardized test scores in the admissions process by treating small point differences as if they reflect meaningful distinctions in academic potential,” Abrams wrote.
The American Bar Association voted last Friday to lift accredited law schools’ requirement of the Law School Admission Test or Graduate Record Examination for admission starting in 2025 as a means of expanding access to a legal education.
U.S. News and World Report will continue to produce rankings each year of every accredited law school, regardless of whether they submit data. If a school chooses not to submit data, its ranking will be based on publicly available data.
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Adway S. Wadekar is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.