Interim Provost Justin Schwartz statement on U.S. News law school rankings

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Justin Schwartz, interim executive vice president and provost, explains Penn State’s decision to withdraw its two law schools from the U.S. News rankings:

For years, law school deans and faculty have been expressing concerns about the deeply flawed yet highly influential ranking of law schools published annually by U.S. News and World Report. Relying heavily on a subjective rating submitted by law school administrators and faculty as well as attorneys and judges, the rankings are more of a popularity contest based on perceived prestige, rather than a useful tool to help prospective students make a decision about where to pursue their legal education.

Penn State’s two law schools, Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law in University Park, are active champions of excellence, justice, equity and inclusion, consistent with the land-grant mission of our university. Both law schools are committed to providing students an excellent legal education that will prepare them for their roles as leaders, trusted counselors, ethical service providers, engaged community members and champions of systemic equity. The U.S. News rankings methodology is inconsistent with our schools’ core values of excellence in teaching, scholarship, service and community. 

Furthermore, both law schools are actively engaged in equity and inclusion work, and the U.S. News rankings undermine these efforts by deploying a methodology that functions to exclude minoritized communities from gaining access to and participating in legal education and the profession, among other negative impacts. 

For all of these reasons, in collaboration with Penn State Dickinson Law Dean Danielle Conway and Penn State Law Interim Dean Victor Romero, we have decided to join the growing number of law schools that will no longer participate in the U.S. News rankings. While the media outlet has made clear that it will continue to rank law schools and update its methodology, we hope the withdrawal of schools will encourage prospective students to look elsewhere for widely available insights while choosing a law school.

Both Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law — and every other law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) — provide transparent and robust information about their programs and enrollment on their ABA Standard 509 reports. Their websites also offer clear information on outcomes, including bar passage and employment reports. There are myriad other third-party resources available online, as well, that provide objective analysis and data on law schools.

Source: PSU Education