Law School Rankings in Upheaval!

Big law school news today courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. According to a front page article about law school rankings, U.S. News is considering a methodology change to its ranking system.

The whole article is worth reading, but the main takeaway is that many law schools have made huge moves up the rankings in recent years by admitting a higher number of part-time students (thereby increasing revenues while preserving the GPA and LSAT numbers which are generated only by full time students), and that those same schools are primed to fall back down the list if and when the rankings take this trend into account.

The article doesn’t name a lot of names (aside from Toledo), but you can imagine that a number of schools have been taking advantage of this loophole to pad their stats. This seems particularly true in light of the fact that “part time” students can take nearly as many credit hours as full timers, and then just transfer over to the full time program for the 2L year. Maybe I was being too hard on the University of Chicago after all!

The flip side to all of this, of course, is that the practice of stockpiling part time students has created opportunities for candidates with lower GPA and LSAT profiles – many of whom are thriving in law school. If their scores start “counting,” then they may lose their spots, creating even more of a numbers game than ever before.