Turnabout Is Fair Play! ABA To Take Closer Look at Rankings of Law Schools & Law Firms

Looks like the organizations that rank law schools are about to be evaluated themselves. Can you hear the chuckles? The American Bar Association (ABA) voted this week at its midyear meeting to take a closer look at how a “variety of organizations” rank law law schools and law firms.

The ABA’s resolution stopped just short of mentioning the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but that’s clearly the focus. You may have heard that the U.S. News law school rankings have generated just a little bit of “discussion” and “debate” for quite a while now — among law school deans, law firms that hire law grads, law school applicants and, well, just about everyone else.

Just what does this ABA resolution say? Well, it’s pretty general, to say the least: “RESOLVED: That the American Bar Association examine any efforts to publish national, state, territorial, and local rankings of law firms and law schools.”

It seems like the ABA vote was prompted, to some degree, by an announcement last July from U.S. News that it intends to add law firm rankings, conducted in conjunction with the Best Lawyers survey of law firms, to its annual reports. The rankings of law firms are expected to be published in October 2010. Counting the days already?

The ABA Journal reports that the New York State Bar Association sponsored the resolution, and said, in an accompanying report, “we know, based upon the experience of the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of law schools, that there will be significant issues regarding the validity of the rankings.”

After the resolution passed, ABA President Carolyn Lamm said that she would ask the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to examine law school rankings, and the Ethics 20/20 Commission to review law firm rankings.

To review, the ABA has resolved to “examine any efforts” of organizations to publish rankings of law school and law firms. Believe it or not, the ABA Journal reported that “the debate in the ABA’s House of Delegates about the measure proved to be the most contentious of any resolution it considered [Monday].” Yep, that’s what they said.

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