Apparently, the University of San Francisco dropped 38 places in the newest US News law school rankings. The fact that this is even possible illustrates the colossal stupidity of the law school rankings game. Every year, I have a student who says something like “Well, I am going to choose School X because they are ranked 10 spots higher than School Y.” A student will do this even when school Y was offering him scholarship money, and school X wasn’t. But next year, as this student is studying for his final 1L exams, an entirely new set of rankings will be published. How’s that going to feel, paying full price at a school that has now dropped below the school that was offering him a full ride? The rankings will readjust again when he’s a 2L. And again during when he’s a 3L. And again and again, every single year of his legal career.
Every spring, the Internet goes all giddy with posts about “winners and losers” in the new law school rankings. I thought about linking to one such article, to illustrate the silliness, but I thought better of it. Dear students: Please stop making decisions about where to invest $200,000 based on a set of arbitrary rankings. Yes, there’s a major difference between Harvard and USF. But you already knew that, before looking at the rankings. And the “fact” that USF used to be ranked higher than McGeorge, and is now ranked lower than McGeorge, means absolutely nothing. Odds are, those rankings will reverse themselves next year.