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Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Law school rankings

Kansas University’s new law school dean is taking action to improve the national rankings for his school.

March 20, 2012

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A recent Journal-World story reported the latest U.S. News and World Reports academic ranking for the nation’s public universities.

Kansas University had 10 programs ranked in the top 10, but KU alumni and friends were surprised and disappointed to learn the magazine had dropped the KU School of Law 22 spots in the past two years. Its current national ranking is 89th.

Stephen Mazza has just finished his first year as dean of the KU law school, and it’s understandable he is not happy about the slippage of his school in the U.S. News ranking. He already has made changes within the school to correct some situations.

One part, a major part, of the U.S. News assessments is based on a review of 2010 law school graduation records. The magazine’s report for next year will be based on 2011 graduation records so there is little Mazza could to do to correct or improve either year’s rankings for KU.

The law school scores quite well in numerous categories, but it gets low marks for its employment records for 2010 graduates. According to Mazza, the low ranking occurred because the school did not have complete employment records for 2010 grads and the same is true for the class of 2011. Mazza is aware of this embarrassing situation and has hired new people to correct the record-keeping problem.

Another factor in KU’s poor showing was the school’s low tuition cost. Mazza says he will not inflate tuition merely to score higher in the magazine’s rankings.

Obviously Mazza is disappointed with the school’s poor showing. Too often, the response from university officials is that rankings really don’t mean much, that they are more popularity contests than a true reflection of a school’s academic excellence and that “we don’t put too much stock in rankings.”

That may be the dodge or excuse used by many in the academic community, but Mazza realizes rankings are important because the general public, state legislators, students, parents and donors all look at rankings.

Mazza is determined to improve his school’s ranking but by legitimate means, not by playing games with tuition or making temporary hires to improve the employment number for recent graduates.

Comments

Patricia Davis 2 years, 1 month ago

It's time for this state to close one its law schools. Really.

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redwombat 2 years, 1 month ago

Hardhawk1- rural attorneys with established practices wanting to retire and hand over their practice????? Please message me with the names of these offices that you seem to know of. I would be more than happy to send them a resume. I am not kidding at all about this, seriously, if you have a lead please message me with it.

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classclown 2 years, 1 month ago

Rankings are always meaningless unless you're in the top ten. Then it's prestigious.

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Hardhawk1 2 years, 1 month ago

The grim reality is that American law schools are churning out 47,000 new graduates a year for only 22,000 new jobs. Numerous law schools around the nation are being sued for fraudulent post graduation placement statistics. There needs to be accurate listings of real law jobs using the degrees earned. Not part time, not flipping burgers, not other jobs that don't require a law degree or passing the bar exam. The true placement figures for the law schools in Kansas are down for both. I would rather see a lower rating based on the truth than a higher one based on a lie. Tuition too low!?! Tell that to the kids graduating with $150,000 to $200,000 in student loans!!! The country has too many lawyers. Schools should be cutting class sizes and not keep churning out over twice as many graduates as there are jobs. There are opportunities in rural Kansas for graduates to take over established practices of older attorneys, but new graduates don't want to live in those places. It's too bad because rural attorneys can enjoy a great practice and quality of life. Maybe the law schools should encourage grads to check out these job opportunities. It is just tough right now in the legal profession.

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Joseph Jarvis 2 years, 1 month ago

"According to Mazza, the low ranking occurred because the school did not have complete employment records for 2010 grads and the same is true for the class of 2011. Mazza is aware of this embarrassing situation and has hired new people to correct the record-keeping problem."

I realize this was filtered through the J-W, but this tone seems harsh. You don't need "new people" to fix a recordkeeping problem.

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EJ Mulligan 2 years, 1 month ago

Justone -- That is a good point about the types of jobs. Law schools are hiring recent grads for 9-month employment so they can inflate their employment numbers. Several of the top 25 law schools freely admit that's what they do, and KU does not. Here's a link to more investigation about that, which says the law labor market may be worse than anyone thought because of the schools overreporting employment: http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/03/a-stunning-but-largely-unnoticed-anomaly-in-recent-employment-outcomes-data-suggests-that-things-may.html

A quote from the link above: "...it’s worth noting that the Pre-Law Committee of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has circulated proposed revisions to Accreditation Standard 509 and its associated forms (which concern the “consumer information” that accredited law schools must disclose to the public) requiring law schools to break out postgraduate employment numbers by (among other things) part-time vs. full-time; long-term vs. short-term; “bar-passage required” vs. “JD preferred” vs. “professional position” vs. “nonprofessional position”; and “Of employed—University/Law School Funded Short Term."

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justoneperson 2 years, 1 month ago

"According to Mazza, the low ranking occurred because the school did not have complete employment records for 2010 grads"

I'm not sure he would like the numbers if he did have complete records...unless they are still counting ALL employment, not just full-time employment in a legal profession utilizing the degree.

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