National Jurist has recalculated its law school rankings under pressure from critics who stressed the dubious reliability of the “Rate My Professor” component. Critics had objected to many other flaws in the methodology as well, some comparing it to the widely-ridiculed approach taken by the Thomas Cooley Law School, in which that school turns out to be the second best law school in the country overall, edged out only by the Harvard Law School. Among the most vociferous critics of both systems, as well as pretty much every other but his own, is the ubiquitous Brian Leiter, professor at U. Chicago Law School.
Notably, Chicago was among a group of schools where “Rank My Professor” had manifest and profound flaws, such as counting professors who do not teach at the school. About 8 schools moved up in the rankings, including my esteemed former employer Boston College. In correcting itself, the National Jurist’s headline beamed “Best Law Schools Updated, Corrected: U. Chicago Jumps Into Top 5.”
If that were meant as a cynical ploy to silence Prof. Leiter, however, the plan has backfired, as he continues to opine that National Jurist should scrap its entire methodology and start over. He suggests hiring consultants to help with the task. If they do, I would encourage editors to avoid retaining any present or former law professor, however, as they all naturally have tendencies akin to those behind the Cooley study. Go Eagles!