“March madness” holds a different meaning in the legal world. While most of the country looks forward to fast breaks and Cinderella upsets, law schools are bracing themselves for another type of madness: the annual carnage left by the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
This year’s rankings drop on March 10, to be followed by the usual chaos. Deans at highly placed law schools will issue news releases; deans with less fortunate rankings will have their already hectic lives turned upside down. The lucky ones will get fired. The unlucky ones will have to deal with the fallout. A flood of e-mails. Emergency faculty meetings. Ad Hoc Committees on Law School Progress in U.S. News Rankings. (That is an actual committee.) Adding to the insanity is that all law schools will be the same the day after the ranking as they were the day before. Law schools are in trouble, but not in a way that the U.S. News rankings can signal.
No law school has figured out how to handle the new normal of legal education: the lowest number of applicants in four decades; fewer legal jobs for graduates, and, according to Moody’s, “no relief in sight.”