UNH Law will no longer participate in U.S. News ranking system

  • UNH Law School, founded in 1974 as Franklin Pierce Law School. Became part of UNH in 2010. Courtesy

Concord Monitor
Published: 12/18/2022 11:07:54 PM
Modified: 12/18/2022 11:05:10 PM

UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law announced Thursday that it will be joining a handful of other prominent law schools around the country in ending participation in U.S. News and World Report law school ranking system.

In a video message to the community released Thursday, Dean Megan Carpenter said the U.S. ranking system is “flawed,” imposes an “outsized negative influence” on law education and is “inconsistent” with UNH values.

“Among its flaws, U.S. News negatively influences law schools to place too much emphasis on otherwise helpful tools — LSAT and undergraduate GPA — working to disadvantage students who show merit in other ways,” Carpenter said. “Some information collected by U.S. News is not publicly available, nor is it subject to vetting or authentication. The rankings erode support for public interest careers, disadvantage students who have to take out loans to go to school and do not reflect the realities of a modern law degree. In practice, they often disadvantage STEM majors and students who have prior work experience.”

The decision, which Carpenter said the school does “not take lightly,” was reached after conversations with a range of people within the law school community and university administrators.

Law schools across the country have been withdrawing from the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings process in recent weeks, citing similar dissatisfaction with the way the rankings are decided. U.S. News & World Report ranks based on factors such as graduate placement, bar exam passage rates, faculty resources, academic achievement of entering students and lawyer and judge assessments of the program’s quality.

Yale’s and Harvard’s law schools, which are ranked numbers 1 and 4 this year respectively, were among the first to withdraw from participation, and were soon followed by law schools at Stanford, Georgetown, Columbia, Northwestern, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, University of Washington, and several University of California law schools are among those who have withdrawn from participation in rankings.

As a law school, UNH Law shares its 105th place ranking with five other law schools this year. However, in the specialty area of intellectual property law, UNH was ranked eighth in the country this year, in a tie with two other schools.

“It’s time that even schools who have done well on this metric — especially schools who have done well — stand up for what really matters,” Carpenter said. “Our reputation as a leader in intellectual property pre-dates the U.S. News rankings and will remain so regardless of U.S. News specialty rankings. In fact, we believe that by freeing ourselves from the strictures of U.S. News, we will be able to continue our path to innovation and strengthen our reputation in this field in ways that benefit students and the practice of IP.”

Several administrators applauded the decision in a press release Thursday.

“This decision marks an important opportunity to stand up for our principles and core values to be pioneering and innovative as we seek to expand access to legal education for the next generation of great lawyers,” said Shane Cooper, the law school’s Associate Dean for Administration and Enrollment.

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