Dean Brown on why QU Law will no longer participate actively in US News & World Report rankings
January 23, 2023
January 23, 2023
We came to this decision after conferring with faculty, law school and university leadership, and alumni -- and having communicated our concerns to senior staff at U.S. News and World Report last December.
Since I became dean in 2013, I have often repeated that our mission is to “educate the whole lawyer to understand and serve the whole client.” With this as our central goal, even as we deliver a traditional curriculum of legal theory and doctrine, we have added a required “Foundations of Practice” course to our 1L curriculum, part of a “Bridge to Practice” trilogy that runs the full length of our JD program. We have built these programs to more effectively 1) put problem-solving at the core of the lawyer’s work, 2) contextualize legal analysis in the larger system of client interests, concerns, and goals, and 3) emphasize student wellness and the integration of personal and professional values, so that students can build a more sustainable foundation for their future careers in the law. A recent $1,500,000 gift to our endowment will fund creative and continuing development of our Bridge to Practice program. As a result of these efforts and the considerable investments we have made in experiential learning over our forty-year history, Quinnipiac is known for creating effective, ethical lawyers who hit the ground running and work hard to make a positive impact for the clients and institutions they serve.
We are perennially disappointed with the failure of the US News and World Report methodology to measure or reward these efforts to “educate the whole lawyer.” Indeed, because US News methodology emphasizes incoming LSAT scores so heavily, it has sometimes undermined our efforts to assess prospective students holistically. Granted, some elements of the US News ranking formula are valid, and we support an emphasis on graduates’ bar passage and employment rates. But we can and we do communicate these measures without the help of US News; prospective students can easily find information about our performance in these important areas without the muddy signaling that the US News rank creates.
We believe that we are doing something special at Quinnipiac, but devoting precious administrative resources and sometimes catering to US News ranking methodology distracts and detracts from our efforts. Indeed, we believe that US News ranking methodology is bad for legal education more generally. The rankings algorithm rewards wealth, discourages racial and other forms of diversity, undermines student mental health, and ignores or obscures factors that should matter most to prospective students. We will continue to communicate with various audiences – including prospective students, alumni, employers, and the larger legal community – so that they can better understand who we are, what we do, and the quality of the lawyers we create. But we do not believe that US News rankings are an accurate, useful, or constructive means of communicating our value.
We therefore decline to provide information and actively participate in the US News ranking efforts.
Jennifer Gerarda Brown
Dean and Professor of Law
Quinnipiac University School of Law
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