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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LST's "Score Reports"

The folks at Law School Transparency sent out an announcement today that they are offering an online "alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings," called the LST Score Reports. More information and links are available after the jump.

As I've said here before, I've been very impressed by my dealings with Law School Transparency and think it deserves attention and support. I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to dig in to the information, so I'm not in a position to vouch for it (or to say how my own institution fares). I hope and expect that it will receive analysis and critiques from other quarters, and no doubt there will be room for improvement. But I'm happy to get the ball rolling by linking to the project.

I will add that I think the most important statement in the announcement is the following: "[U]nlike rankings, the Score Reports do not reduce complex data to a single metric. Instead, the Score Reports focus on observable relationships to specific legal markets and job types. Only a small handful of schools have a truly national reach in job placement. The rest have a regional, in-state, or even just local reach. A decision tool should not obfuscate this reality; it should embrace it." Amen. I'm not adamantly opposed to national rankings, but I worry that they tend not only to overlook the degree to which law schools mostly serve regional markets; they also actively encourage law schools to focus on nationally measured metrics rather than local needs, and end up creating an undue amount of homogeneity in curricula, faculty, and other areas.  

The announcement and links follow; judge for yourselves, and feel free to contact the LST folks if you have questions, comments, or constructive criticisms.  

Today, Law School Transparency announces an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings: The LST Score Reports.

LST has developed the Score Reports in an effort to produce a tool to help prospective students make application and enrollment decisions, keeping in mind that each person has a different risk tolerance, financial situation, and set of career aspirations.

The Score Reports are user-friendly tools for sorting law school employment outcomes, projected costs, and admissions stats. There is a Score Report for every state (includes only schools that place graduates there), every school (called a profile), and job types. They measure job outcomes, use a regional scope, and use real terms about the outcomes to allow prospective students to make an educated decision about not just which school to attend, but whether any school happens to meet their needs.

The Score Reports are not rankings, although they do serve as an alternative to conventional law school rankings. But unlike rankings, the Score Reports do not reduce complex data to a single metric. Instead, the Score Reports focus on observable relationships to specific legal markets and job types. Only a small handful of schools have a truly national reach in job placement. The rest have a regional, in-state, or even just local reach. A decision tool should not obfuscate this reality; it should embrace it.

You can view the Score Reports, and read more about them, by following these links:

The Score Reports

Guide to Using the Score Reports

The Value of the U.S. News Rankings

Methodology (published in the Journal of Legal Metrics)

 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on October 31, 2012 at 10:59 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink

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Comments

I agree with Paul that national rankings do have a place. For example, while I might disagree with the methodology, it makes sense for the BCS rankings to be on a national scale.

Roll Tide.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Nov 1, 2012 1:05:34 PM

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