The Rankings Game

A number of law schools hire their own graduates, some in hourly temp jobs that, as it turns out, coincide with the magical date. Last year, for instance, Georgetown Law sent an e-mail to alums who were “still seeking employment.” It announced three newly created jobs in admissions, paying $20 an hour. The jobs just happened to start on Feb. 1 and lasted six weeks.

While this came as a surprise to some (even some academics) it’s happening everywhere. Why? The rankings game. In 1997 U.S. News& World Reports unrolled a rankings system which measures all accredited law schools in the nation based upon a point system taking into account things like average entry GPA and LSAT, cost, number of students to faculty, percentage of class that graduates, and percentage of graduates working nine months after graduation.

For a long while, the rankings game didn’t really matter and no one paid much attention. Sure someone from Stanford is going to have more job opportunities than say some from the University of Toledo, but it only went so far. Now, everyone’s playing the rankings game. What does this mean for prospective law students? Pedigree matters. And it matters more than ever before.

These days, law schools are doing everything they can to buttress their numbers and that includes handing out temporary, part-time research positions to recent graduates in order to boost employment numbers. Perhaps what is more appropriate is to figure out ways to create more jobs or better yet to not play into the rankings game. What do the rankings say about the quality of education? Nothing. But somehow that’s where we’ve ended up.

From the NYTimes.

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