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Debbie O'Leary
IU School of Law-Bloomington

Last modified: Monday, April 11, 2005

Panel to examine contentious law school rankings

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A panel of distinguished law school deans and legal scholars will gather at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington on Friday (April 15) for a symposium in the Moot Court Room on "The Next Generation of Law School Rankings."

The convening of the symposium reflects an acknowledgment by representatives of the legal academy that the U.S. News & World Report annual law school rankings have become, for better or worse, the 800-pound gorilla of legal education. Although met with varying degrees of skepticism and hostility, the magazine's rankings affect virtually all aspects of law school operations. In an effort to mitigate or control this influence, a myriad of alternative rankings have emerged in recent years that offer a variety of ways to measure law school performance.

The symposium participants will seek to offer a deeper understanding of law school rankings and their effects on legal education. They will examine the need for law school rankings; the effects of rankings on resource allocation and strategic planning; and the various new approaches to addressing the public's demand for more sophisticated rankings.

Jeffrey Stake, a professor of law at the IU School of Law-Bloomington, has studied the rankings issue for nearly a decade. Stake believes there are several problems with the way law schools are ranked. These problems can have serious consequences.

"Rankings may cause law schools to change their operations and resource allocation in ways that can have a detrimental effect on education, resulting in lower-quality lawyers," Stake said.

To provide an interactive way to look at how rankings can be tailored to fit individual preferences, Stake created "The Law School Ranking Game" (

Papers from the symposium will be published in an issue of the Indiana Law Journal. The conference is sponsored by Foundation Press, Thomson-West Publishing and the law school.

For the conference schedule, participants and their abstracts, visit