MythBusters: Rankings

It’s that time of the year again when I wonder when spring will actually arrive and when US News publishes their 2019 ranking of Best Law Schools in the country. Nothing has changed from last year: it’s still way too cold to be spring and Harvard/Yale/Stanford remain in the top three law schools in the country.

While I haven’t given a single thought to law school rankings while in law school, I will admit that I did a lot of research on them while deciding which law school I would attend. I scoured the internet looking at everything from Best Overall rankings to Alumni Network rankings to Student Organization rankings and all the rankings in between. I drove myself crazy analyzing these rankings thinking that if I stared at them enough I would get an answer on where I should attend law school. Honestly, I could probably recite the rankings of all the schools I was considering back in March of 2015 if you asked me today–that’s how crazy I drove myself.

Here’s a secret for all those potential law students going through the same crazy methods I put myself in: rankings are dumb. I’ll say that again differently: DO NOT ATTEND A LAW SCHOOL BASED ON RANKINGS ALONE. Rankings are strictly based off quantitative data that can be easily collected and entered into some formula so a single number can be produced and that law school can be neatly entered into a long list. Rankings won’t tell you if you’ll like the city that law school resides in. Rankings won’t provide you an idea of whether or not you’ll fit in with the student body and feel like you belong to a community. Rankings will definitely not predict how well you’ll do in your first year nor what kind of job you’ll get post-graduation. The most rankings can do is tell you how some numbers crunch out. That is all.

I won’t lie, when it came down to picking a law school I partially based my decision on rankings. But, that’s because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the schools I was considering. There is not a single part of me that regrets picking BU Law, it was definitely the best choice for me out of all the schools I considered. However, if I could go back and do it again, I would make the effort to reach out to current students and ask them all the questions I had that a simple ranking couldn’t answer. I’d visit every law school and take a tour of the campus and see for myself what it’s like. I’d sit down and make my choice based on real, qualitative information and experiences.

Deciding on a law school is one of the most important decisions you could make because it sets the path for your legal career. When someone asks you why you chose your law school you’re going to want to say something other than “well, it had a good ranking.” I can promise you that.

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