Friday, September 19, 2008

Want Your School to Rise in the Rankings? A Best Practices Survey For Law Schools

You might not want your school to rise, I don't know. But if you do, you might encourage your dean or associate dean to fill out this survey on your school's use of best practices in legal education, which along with information on bar passage rates relative to entering credentials, and student satisfaction, will be used to compile a list of law schools that provide exceptional "value added" for students.

Who's doing this? A couple of Moneyball-oriented law professors -- myself and Dave Fagundes of Southwestern Law -- with a dream: of law schools competing on educational quality, and a Race To The Top that improves legal education across the board. We're joined by a terrific Advisory Board, still in formation, that includes fomer deans like Daniel Rodriguez, former San Diego dean now at Texas, and fellow MoneyLaw blogger Nancy Rapoport, former dean at Houston and Nebraska/now at UNLV, as well as leading scholars on legal education and other topics like Susan Sturm (Columbia) and Bill Henderson (Indiana).

After compiling the list of "value-added" schools, we're going to deliver the information to U.S. News survey respondents, and encourage them to use it in filling out the survey in November. One possibility is that the value-added data will show that certain schools that have not historically received high ratings ought to receive a "4" or "5" from both law professors and lawyers. Given the current lack of information about the relative quality of law schools, and the weight given to the survey responses in U.S. News's methodology (40%) we believe that this additional information will have a significant — and positive — effect on the U.S. News rankings for those schools that we highlight.

Are you a dean, associate dean for academic affairs, chair of the hiring committee, most recently tenured professor, law firm hiring partner, state AG, or federal or state judge? That's who gets the U.S. News survey, and you can sign up for our Voter's Guide in a second at our new website, designed by UGA 2L Jerad Davis. We'll email it to you in November when the USN survey comes out, and if you have other ideas as to how we can help you do the survey, please let us know. For example, we may put on our website a spreadsheet where you can sort the schools by region to compare within the relevant markets.

Even if you're not one of the USN voters listed above, maybe you know one, and suspect they may not be a regular MoneyLaw reader — please, forward them this link to our site, and encourage them to sign up! Future law students will thank you, and so will we.

MoneyLaw readers might recall my blogging over the summer on this idea of value-added assessment, and now we're trying to make it a reality. It's a distinctively Moneyball concept — using performance, not pedigree, in assessing law schools — and we owe some serious thanks to Jim Chen for launching this blog in the first place, and then for hosting us here. Other godparents of the project include, of course, Paul Caron and Rafael Gely, whose classic article applying Moneyball principles to legal education got many of us thinking in this direction.

We hope you'll join the continued discussion about how best to assess relative educational quality, and specifically which schools ought to be rated particularly high or low — and encourage law professors and lawyers to use this kind of approach in doing the survey. Welcome your ideas.

Cross-posted at Prawfsblawg and Race to the Top

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Anonymous fitzgeralds said...

What a great blog, interesting topics! I love reading this material.

9/23/2008 12:20 AM  

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