Above the Law recently released their own law school rankings. While no means perfect, it is a big improvement over the piss-poor US News and World Report rankings. The ATL rankings take into account factors that actually matter to 0Ls such as tuition and percentage of graduates employed at real legal jobs. I also like the fact that ATL ranks only 50 schools.
The one useful thing about the US News rankings was that I was able to use it to negotiate a substantial scholarship before matriculating at my law school. A school ranked higher than mine put me on their waiting list. I contacted the higher ranked school and asked if I can get a 35%ish tuition discount. I laid out the usual reasons – financial hardship, academic promise and the other usual bullshit. I got an email response from the officer saying that I will be considered for a need-based scholarship.
I forwarded this email to the law school I was planning to attend and asked if any scholarships were available to me as the 35% discount at the other school was very enticing and if I weren’t accepted, I would consider reapplying as a spring admit. A few days later, my school offered a better tuition discount.
So if you are still playing the law school negotiation game and you are accepted to a school ranked 50th or below, it is important to obtain tuition discounts. Many of these insecure law schools are obsessed with rankings and will do just about anything to obtain students with good numbers. If you have to pay full sticker and have no other options, you should seriously consider deferring for another year.
It must be disheartening to Bob Morse and his goons at US News knowing that their rankings are being used more as a bargaining tool and less as a measure of quality. Once the lawadmins learn that the US News is being gamed by the students and begins to affect the school’s bottom line, they will eventually boycott the rankings altogether.