U.S. News Asks Law Schools for Hiring Contacts

Robert J. Morse

A request U.S. News sent to 194 law schools in early July has drawn questions from the legal education community.

U.S. News is gathering the names of a maximum of 10 people who have had significant workplace interaction with each law school's recent graduates from each school to use as respondents for a yearly survey. The survey, to be mailed in October, asks practicing attorneys and judges to rate the academic quality of law schools.

This survey has been conducted since 1990, the same year its results were first used as a factor in our Best Law Schools rankings. The survey currently has a weight of 15 percent in the law school rankings methodology.

Officials at each law school were asked for contacts who should be able to make judgments about the competence of their school's recent J.D. graduates, including hiring partners at law firms; local, state and federal judges who hired recent graduates as clerks; and contacts at businesses, nonprofits, all levels of government or other agencies and organizations that have hired recent graduates for legal jobs.

This is the first year U.S. News has reached out directly to law schools for these contacts. Before proceeding with this approach, U.S. News requested input from a few law school deans, who thought it was a good idea.

We hope that using this sample of practicing lawyers and judges obtained directly from law schools will result in a much higher survey response rate than we have received in prior years.

It is our long-standing policy to maintain the privacy of survey respondents. We don't publish or make available in any form the results of any individual survey.

Only the aggregated results of all respondents for each school have always been and will continue to be published. This makes it impossible for anyone to be able to identify the specific school-by-school rating of any individual respondent.

Finally, U.S. News is also asking officials at schools in some of the other fields in our Best Graduate Schools rankings - medical, engineering, education and business - for the names of people who have recently hired their graduates.

We plan to use those names as the basis of a sample for a similar survey about their views of the academic quality of the schools in their respective fields, based on their experience with recent graduates.