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Why the Release of the US News Ranking Isn’t the Biggest Threat to Law Schools
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us news ranking isn't the worst of it

Summary: Law schools have more to worry about than the release of the US News Ranking.

March 10th might feel like a cataclysm for law schools. After all, that’s when the all important US News Rankings come out, which determines where a law school fits in the national echelon. Since firms hire from higher ranked schools, and since students want to go to such schools, this little metric comes to mean most everything to law school deans and the staff under them.

  
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Nevertheless, the true cataclysm is on the way. The legal market is poor. It suffered in the 2008 recession, but unlike the rest of the economy, it never recovered. What’s worse, more and more legal work is being sent overseas, while automated computers have made archival searches easier, reducing the number of lawyers required at a given firm.

So the market is poor, and Moody’s prognostication holds that, “No relief is in sight.”

Many law professors can count on tenure to keep them secure at their positions. That is, so long as the schools themselves don’t fold. But as every school wants to nab the students with the highest LSAT scores and the highest GPA’s – factors relevant to how a school gets ranked in the US News Ranking — and with fewer students available, the situation is tenuous, and it is merely a matter of time before some big name schools do something drastic, like close. Once that critical mass is met, we will see the comet in the sky to end the age of the dinosaurs, and perhaps something new will emerge from legal education as we know it, something more drastic than the duck and scramble deans are used to with the March 10 US News Ranking. Though such a yearly blast takes its toll, the market itself might soon take a larger one.

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