My colleague (and one-time VC guest bloger), Andrew Morriss has co-authored an interesting new paper with William Henderson on U.S. News' use of post-graduation criteria in its annual law school rankings. This aspect of the rankings, which include employment rates, average salaries, and bar passage, account for 20 percent of a school's overall rank, and have been the focus of substantial law school efforts to increase their ranks. The abstract of the paper, Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings, is below:
The U.S. News & World Report annual rankings play a key role in ordering the market for legal education. This Article explores the impact and evolution of placement and post-graduation data, which is an important input variable that comprises 20 percent of the total rankings methodology. In general, we observe clear evidence that law schools are seeking to maximize each placement and post-graduation input variable. During the 1997 to 2006 time period, law schools in all four tiers posted large average gains in employment rates upon graduation and nine months, which appear to result from a combination of competition and gaming strategies. Law schools in tiers 2, 3, and 4 have also increased 1L academic attrition, which may be an attempt to increase the U.S. News bar passage score.