As Karen Sloan of The National Law Journal reports, the California State Bar's Council on Access & Fairness--essentially a think tank on diversity--is finalizing a proposal calling for U.S. News & World Report to include diversity in the formula that it uses to determine law school rankings.
Holden, a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and the chairman of the council, which is spearheading the proposal, says, "The rankings are a real driver for change--everybody recognizes that--and when you make diversity a sidebar rather than a component of the rankings, you're sidelining the issue."
But how would diversity be measured? Would it take into account factors such as the location of a law school? That's one issue raised by U.S. News director of data and research Bob Morse concerning the proposal.
Sloan reports that the current proposal would change the weights of all the existing rankings criteria, including reducing the "quality assessment" of a school, which is determined by peer reviews and surveys of judges and attorneys, from 40 percent to 20 percent. That change would make room for the new category of diversity, to be weighted at 15 percent.
As The Careerist discussed last month, the New York City Bar Diversity Report came out recently, and for the most part it wasn't good news. The report noted that at the firms surveyed, the percentage of minorities and women declined for the first time since March 2004. Given that indicator, adding diversity to the list of factors for the crucial U.S. News law firm rankings may help keep the issue more on the minds of law schools and law firms.
What do you think U.S. News should do? Will factoring in diversity make a difference?
Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com, or deputy blogger Audree Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.