Louisville Law is in a three-way tie for the 100 spot in the latest US News & World Report rankings of law schools. Check out the list at this link. The 2012 edition of the rankings will no doubt bring a sign of relief to many students, faculty, and administrators along Third Street. Last year we dropped out of the top 100 law schools in the nation, falling into dreaded Tier 3 status. The University of Kentucky is 71 this time around, down from 64.
But are the changes a big deal for either school? Depending on who you are, they're a huge deal, or maybe they mean nothing at all. The rankings are important to many prospective law students, and they're seen as an indicator of quality for some law firms. However, critics say the rankings are meaningless for students outside the top dozen or so schools. Think about it: if you're applying to a half dozen firms in your hometown, are those firms really going to care if your school dropped a few spots one year, or if you went to #86 compared to #93? The other thing that bugs me about the rankings is that the numbers are based in part on the opinions of faculty and administrators at other schools, which, in turn, is linked closely to scholarship, i.e., how many articles your law professors churn out. This forces law schools to put enormous energy into scholarship, which is fine, but for my tuition money I'd much rather have terrific teachers who are focused on showing me how to become a great lawyer. I could rant for a long time about the rankings, but I won't. Louisville is back in the top 100, and that's a good thing.