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Should Diversity Affect Law School Rankings?

The Careerist

February 23, 2011

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.

Diversity_arms_linked300 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 awong@alm.com.

Comments

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The diversity obsessed flat out lie when stating that we need to be exposed to other races in law school because of future dealings with them in practice Those of us who graduated law schools with not only same race but same sex classmates have had zero problems interacting with fellow human beings in the practice----NONE------so long as they exhibit an ability to think in the abstract and with legal creativity. To factor in racial makeup in ranking law schools is not only flat out dumb but racist per se. Wake up and stop exhibiting your ignorance and racial bias and recognize what is inside the head instead of the color you see on the outside.

This is a really tough subject and one which is not easily summarised, good post Vivia

Are you kidding me? Get real!!! The only things that matter are the quality of the education, the bar pass rate, and the job placement rate, PERIOD. And anyone who says anything differently is either lying or feels inferior because their school isn't so hot.

Now get back to work and keep studying instead of wishing for people to have pity on you because you go to a less-than stellar school!!

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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