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News: Latest U.S. News Law School Rankings Show Major Shake-Up

The 2014 U.S. News law school rankings have just been published. For the first time time employment statistics were taken into account to compile the rankings. Graduate placement rates now account for 20 percent of a school’s overall score and a greater weight is allocated to permanent full-time jobs that require bar passage or for which a J.D. is a recruitment advantage.

This new survey approach was made possible thanks to the fact that the American Bar Association now requires law schools to report more detailed information regarding the employment of their graduates.

This new placement formula had almost no effect at the top of the list, with Yale remaining in the first spot and Harvard and Stanford tied for second place.

However, according to Bob Morse, director of data research with U.S. News, the newly available data greatly affected the rankings of several law schools in the 50 to 150 place range. For example, New York Law School is no longer ranked and the University of San Francisco saw the largest decline losing 38 positions, while the University of Missouri School of Law gained 33 spots.

Despite this new in-depth analysis of what type of jobs law students are recruited into after graduation, some criticize the fact that the biggest factor in law school rankings remains quality assessment. This assessment accounts for 40 percent of a law school's score and consists of a survey sent to law school deans, scholars, and practicing lawyers. However, according to Steven J. Harper, a Northwestern Law professor, these quality evaluators are not required to know anything about the law school or to have set foot on campus to score a school and this can lead in many cases to a "superficial and unreliable assessment of a school's reputation."