Today is the big day. U.S. News and World Report released law school rankings for 2011. My alma mater has slipped 5 spots since I've graduated. At least I went to a T1 school (and according to me, that means #1 through #50)--but some schools have dropped quite a bit more. Take University of Missouri University School of Law, for example. Apparently, that school has slipped from 65 to 93. Woah!!! That is quite a dive. To me, it's still a second tier toilet, but it's a big deal to MU Law Students. I'm just wondering why this happened:
According to the magazine's Web site, the law school ranking methodology is based on a weighted average of 12 factors in four categories: quality assessment, selectivity, placement success and faculty resources. After the factors are weighted, the top school is given a score of 100, after which the rest of the scores are calculated as a percentage of that. The rankings derive from the scores, but sometimes programs tie.
A program's reputation, which is based on expert surveys, accounts for 40 percent of the score. Although placement success is only 20 percent of the score, the refrain at the meeting was that it is a significant weakness for MU, and students worry the slide will continue.
I'm thinking that MU was actually honest about its employment stats. USNWR states that only 50.7% of 2008 graduates were employed at graduation. If that's not an honest number, I don't know what is. I actually feel bad for calling it a toilet, because toilet schools lie and deceive students into attending law school. If the rankings weren't based on self-reported employment statistics, all of the schools would have suffered similarly and MU would likely be at it's prized #65 spot. But honesty is not rewarded. USNWR is a joke. They have analysts that look at law programs like a science to come up with these stats, but it's a failed experiment. There's no constant and no quality control.
Don't worry, MU Grads. All lawyers are suffering across the board equally. Law firms that traditionally hire MU Grads will continue to do so, unless they don't plan on hiring at all--which is highly likely. It's a state school and state schools are usually well-received by local employers. So, maybe the chances of landing a job in Chicago are not as high--but at least you may be able to land a job in Columbia.
So, do not freak. You're no more screwed than any other law school--whatever their ranking may be.
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