The law school rankings issued by U.S. News and World Report are widely reported, and are used by many law school applicants as a guide to prospective schools. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an applicant who at least did not consider the rankings during the application process.
A recent article, however, points out a major flaw in the rankings that has led to a change in future ranking calculations.
Schools not required to report at-graduation employment numbers
In the latest rankings, 74 schools did not report their at-graduation employment numbers. The schools are not technically penalized for not doing so. Instead, the rankings automatically assign them a number that is approximately 30% lower then the number of graduates employed nine-months later.
Because of the large number of schools not reporting the data, U.S. News and World Report believed that schools were attempting to skew the rankings by not reporting the statistic. As a result, the company has indicated they will significantly change its calculation in the future when schools do not self-report.
Employment numbers are important, especially in this economy
Frankly, it seems ridiculous that schools were not more harshly penalized for not reporting that data. In this economy, there must be at least one school who realized their at-graduation employment numbers were more than 30% below the employment rate at nine months.
Applicants have a right to know (and should want to know) how many students are actually employed at the time of graduation. While it does take many graduates a number of months to find a job, that information is still very relevant.
If the at-graduation employment rate is only 50%, but the nine month rate is 80%, that is still a problem. Some students may not be able to afford up to nine months of unemployment. Even if students decide they can afford the lapse, students should know that they might be unemployed when they walk across the stage in front of mom and dad.