U.S. News & World Report’s Law School ratings are dreadful and their latest victim is the outstanding Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. Lawdragon is based in LA and so has spent more than a few years with the stars of the bar here produced by the school (Tom Girardi, Walter Lack, Tom Nolan, Mark Robinson, Kirk Pasich, Seth Aronson, Amy Fisch Solomon and Alejandro Mayorkas, to start merely with the members of the 2008 Lawdragon 500).
Loyola is an exquisite example of what is wrong with the U.S. News & World Report rankings. It is a wonderful gem of a law school that puts more people into the top tiers of law practice in Southern California as private lawyers, public officials and judges than any other school save USC. It kicks the pants off of any Ivy Leaguer and even in-town UCLA, or Stanford or Boalt.
There is a vein in the practice of law that requires the ability to get things done as much as to think about how to. It will not compete as a feeder to the U.S. Supreme Court nor to the top tier of New York practice. But that is not its purpose. And US News fails to comprehend that.
Not only that. As Brian Leiter, probably the nation’s leading law school thinker, uncovered, US News also fails in basic logic.
Why did Loyola fell EIGHT slots, from 63 to 71 in this year’s guide? Did they have a huge scandal? Did they suffer a decline in prestige of their graduates? Did they say mean things about US News?
Oh no, my friends. They fell 0.3 points in the important academic reputation category, from 2.6 to 2.3 – an unheard of feat that has only happened once in the last eight years. And why? Is Loyola the school that matriculated Alberto Gonzales? Bill Lerach? Dicky Scruggs? Mark Dreier?
Can you keep a secret?
Because really, if you tell anyone why a great law school that produces wonderful lawyers fell EIGHT slots without a scandal, no one would believe you. And it could ruin – I mean DEVASTATE – US News’ already thin reputation.
US News decided to change the name of Loyola Law School to Loyola Marymount University on the survey they purportedly sent out to thousands of leading legal minds. http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2009/07/why-did-loyola-law-school-falls-in-us-news-because-the-magazine-changed-the-schools-name-and-it-repu.html (And it is true that Loyola is affiliated with Loyola Marymount and there is a fine Loyola Law School in Chicago etc. etc. and so forth. But people, seriously.)
It’s like if they decided Harvard should be Harvard on the Charles in Cambridge, or Stanford should be Palo Alto College at Stanford or University of Chicago should be Hyde Park’s Best School Where A Future President Taught. They just decided. Because, well, they can.