Move over, U.S. News & World Report -- there's a new rankings game in town, and it's called Law School Transparency. LST actually touts itself as a rating, not a ranking, but it provides an alternative measure for prospective law students.
The annual U.S. News rankings have gotten a lot of criticism from recent graduates for the fact that they don't project job prospects. But up until now, there hasn't been much of an alternative.
Rather than ranking schools based on prestige, LST provides information to prospective law students on what really matters: jobs.
To help applicants make a decision about where to enroll, LST rates law schools based on cost, overall employment, and the percent of graduates who are under-employed.
That's an important distinction for applicants, and it gets at the issue of transparency. A high post-grad employment rate doesn't sound as good when many grads are back at their pre-law-school jobs.
LST boasts an even more useful feature: employment reports in a given state that show how different schools stack up. Only schools with graduates working in a particular state are included in this ratings list. People can then make comparisons, and decide which factors are most important.
The U.S. News rankings don't let students make a side-by-side comparison of schools in a similar area, based on where the prospective lawyer hopes to end up after graduation. As Above The Law's Staci Zaretsky showed in a helpful graphic, LST lets you do just that.
But will this take the place of those dreaded rankings? That's probably not happening anytime soon.
Even if law students and lawyers gripe about the U.S. News rankings and the lack of transparency or helpfulness in job preparation, we all check the results when they're published. The idea that highly competitive lawyer-types would give up on ranking ourselves is laughable.
But at least now there's an alternative way to choose among law schools that may actually result in employment. While the new LST "rating" system may itself lack prestige, wannabe lawyers may find it's actually more helpful than U.S. News when it comes to planning their futures.