Friday, March 28, 2008

US News Law School Rankings - U Slips
Live By the Sword, Die By the Sword ?

We have the St. Paul Pioneer-Press to thank for their role as a watchdog over activities at the U. The PP got, as I recall, a Pulitzer in 2000 for their coverage of the basketball scandals at the U. This is amusing since a certain Strib reporter has served, essentially, as an adjunct professor of athletics at the U. That would be Sir Sid.

The U adminstration may be whining about the PP's coverage of the U, but at least the PP keeps the U honest - or tries to - unlike their much larger competitors, the Strib. That would be the Strib of the red telephone.

Thank God for real journalists.

The St. Paul Pioneer-Press, as usual, is on the case:

The University of Minnesota Law School has slipped out of the top 20 in the influential rankings published by U.S. News & World Report, a move that could cost the university some prestige and make it tougher on law graduates seeking jobs.

The university now ranks 22nd among national law schools, according to the 2009 rankings due to be released today. That's down from a rank of 20 in 2008 and 19 in 2007.

While many experts attack the U.S. News rankings as a poor and superficial way to judge an institution's quality, the numbers carry tremendous weight with prospective students and law firms looking to hire top graduates. The university has promoted its law school as a "top 20" destination. In December, as it named David Wippman its new dean, the university referred to its law school as "consistently ranked in the top 20."

There's been a love-hate relationship for years between law school deans and the U.S. News rankings, with many deans decrying them but then applauding when the numbers fall in their favor. Some 40 percent of a school's rank is based on the opinions of law school officials and faculty, lawyers and judges who score schools from 1 ("marginal") to 5 ("outstanding").

Of the University of Minnesota's rankings slip, Garon said: "There's no question it's going to have an impact and create more work for their incoming dean."

The U law school has been in flux since former dean Alex Johnson stepped down in 2006 with a year still on his contract. He has returned to the University of Virginia.

Wippman, a Minnesota native, is a vice provost and law professor at Cornell University. He is expected to take over the U law school July 1.

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