UVa Law Rejects U.S. News Ranking Methodology

Lemming

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia School of Law has announced that it will no longer cooperate with U.S. News & World-Report in compiling its ranking of top law schools. The school currently ranks No. 8 in the country.

Here’s the reason given by Dean Risa Goluboff: “As they currently stand, the U.S. News rankings fail to capture much of what we value at UVA — facilitating access to legal education and the legal profession for students from every background; fostering the free exchange of ideas within a community of joy, humanity, and trust; providing top-notch teaching by accomplished faculty; supporting public service; and launching our graduates into the stellar career paths of their choosing.”

I’ll leave it to others to comment upon the law school’s commitment to “fostering the free exchange of ideas” and probe the meaning of the modifier that such an exchange should take place “within a community of joy, humanity, and trust.”

I’ll focus instead on Goluboff’s commitment to facilitating access to legal education for students “from every background.”

UVA Today, the mouthpiece of the Ryan administration, highlighted UVa Law’s ranking as the No. 1 law school at a public university as recently as March. What changed? It appears that UVa Law and dozens of other law schools are, lemming-like, following the lead of Yale and Harvard in their criticism of U.S. News’s “flawed” methodology. That methodology, which considers reputation among peers and judges, bar-exam pass rates, and success in placing graduates, among other factors, gives insufficient weight to schools that admit low-income students and emphasize careers in “public service.”

What Goluboff values in a student’s background can be discerned in a web page, “What Prospective Students Should Know About UVA Law,” which details the school’s “student characteristics.”

  • 50% women, 49% men, 1% non-binary.
  • 40% identifying as “people of color,” a figure that pointedly includes students of Middle Eastern descent, even though they are classified as Caucasian by the American Bar Association.
  • 16% identifying as LGBT.
  • Students from 38 states and D.C. plus eight foreign countries.

In other words, UVa Law is dedicated to recruiting a demographically diverse student body, as broken down by race, sexual orientation, gender — the social-justice trifecta — with a nod to geography. Pumping up the number of “people of color” is deemed so important that Middle Easterners, who are more closely related genetically to Europeans than South Asians, East Asians or Africans, are given honorary “people of color” designation.

However, UVa does not publish “diversity” data along other dimensions such as Urban, Suburban or Rural;  or religious affiliation, such as Catholic, evangelical Protestant, or Orthodox Jew; or by partisan political affiliation. In other words, some types of “diversity” are valued far more than others.

One can read Goluboff’s “Statement of Diversity, Equity and Belonging” on the law school website without encountering any mention of “intellectual” diversity or “worldview” diversity. Rather, her definition is driven by social-justice considerations. Here are some excerpts (my bold face):

Diversity, equity, and belonging are values fundamental to the University of Virginia School of Law community. …

A commitment to making our society a more just and equal one has been the abiding mission of my professional life. As a scholar, I have spent much of my career studying the pernicious effects of discrimination, cultural isolation, and political polarization. What I have learned has made me deeply committed to diversity not as some abstract concept but as a way of life. …

Our institution, like our nation, was born in contradiction — between the reality of slavery and the aspirations of democracy and service. We must continue to reckon with the legacy of slavery that has been part of our history since our 1819 founding, as well as the segregation and discrimination that followed. We also must continue to redefine what those founding aspirations mean for our own time. We bring those aspirations closer to reality striving to create a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff that ensures the belonging, thriving, and success of every member.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not demographic traits that higher-ed institutions traditionally have collected. But it appears that UVa Law does gather the data, otherwise it could not report that 16% of its student body identifies as LGBT. By contrast, there is no indication on the website that UVa collects data that would lend insight into the partisan and worldview diversity of its students. The absence of such data suggests that UVa Law places little value on those characteristics.

Ironically, while Goluboff decries the effects of “cultural isolation and political polarization,” her rhetoric suggests that she is intent upon admitting a student body aligned with the ideological monoculture created by the faculty she has recruited. While some might think that viewpoint diversity is critical for a school that trains professionals to engage in contests of legal interpretation on behalf of a wide range of clients, her rejection of the U.S. News‘ ranking methodology says she thinks otherwise.

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Law Grad
Law Grad
1 month ago

Goluboff has never sat for any bar or practiced as an attorney. Her career has been spent in academia, and even there her specialty was recent legal history–hardly an Oliver Wendell Holmes!

The boot-strap kid.
The boot-strap kid.
1 month ago

Very informative. Thank you. It’s another reason why I will not be attending my 45th law school reunion or sending another dime to that woke institution.

GRob
GRob
1 month ago

From the article: “there is no indication that UVa collects data that would lend insight into the partisan and worldview diversity of its students. The absence of such data suggests that UVa Law places little value on those characteristics.”
One could argue that the “ideological monoculture” is actually the number one priority.
This progressive monoculture is the root of all the other problems.
From Professor John Ellis:
“The [college and university] hiring being done now is at the rate of about 50 to one, not five to one or eight to one. So you’re going to wind up with a complete monoculture
The academia is poisoning one profession after another. It’s totally poisoned journalism. It’s poisoned the teaching in the high schools because the high school teachers are all trained on college campuses, and we — the society needs to wake up and decide whether it really wants to pay these vast sums of money to support this apparatus.”
From Larry Arnn at Hillsdale College:
“The fact is that since the 1960s, the Left has increasingly controlled the tools of education, and it has used those tools to undermine informed patriotism, with the ultimate goal of transforming American government and society.”
If we don’t stop the seed of this problem in our colleges and universities, we will lose our country.

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago

Why the rush of the so-called elite law schools to abandon US News rankings, which they have all touted for years?
May I offer a cynical guess?
US News was actually going to apply real standards for some of the chicanery going on.
Rumor has it that Yale was in danger of getting knocked from #1 due to its horrendous free speech atmosphere. The students, old enough to be grown ups, were not censured by the supposed grown ups in charge for an event – see this article – https://davidlat.substack.com/p/free-speech-at-yale-law-school-one
Also, US News was paying attention to LSATs, while all the “better” schools (and the ABA!) were trying to water its importance down.
Read this quote from Risa Goluboff herself – As they currently stand, the U.S. News rankings fail to capture much of what we value at UVA — facilitating access to legal education and the legal profession for students from every background; fostering the free exchange of ideas within a community of joy, humanity, and trust; providing top-notch teaching by accomplished faculty; supporting public service; and launching our graduates into the stellar career paths of their choosing.
Call me a stick in the mud, but shouldn’t the VERY FIRST THING a law school hopes to produce is a finely honed legal mind? But Risa’s first priority is “facilitating access”…”from every background.” And the only backgrounds that matter to her are ones it is illegal to tilt the table for. And, purely as a numerical question, how can 16% of your entering class identify as LGBTQ? How many standard deviations is that away from the mean? What are the odds of being in a range 10 or so standard deviations away from the mean? (Since 4 standard deviations typically picks up 99.99% of probability, you take a guess). As Jim Bacon noted, there is no concern for intellectual diversity and there has been a monoculture of hiring under Goluboff. What duty is it of the law school to support public service? No, UVA is interested only in supporting Leftism. It’s a disgrace to law as a thing of real beauty and justice.
UVA celebrates Bob Mueller and the fake Russian dossier, while ignoring the denial of due process to the J6 defendants and the unequal application of the law and the weaponization of the FBI and DOJ.
When I graduated from UVA Law in 1984, this civil rights silence would have been impossible. Same for the Covid issues. But all we got from UVA Law and UVA was monolithic solidarity, constantly blathered by UVA Today.
Our school is in danger of being destroyed into just a beautiful intellectual dead zone – Gulag Academicalago.
BOV – I know most of you were appointed by Ralph Northam, but your first duty, by statute, is to the Commonwealth. Can you please quit being political loyalists and be Commonwealth of Virginia loyalists and exercise YOUR REQUIRED OVERSIGHT to put UVA back onto its educational mission?

Deez
Deez
1 month ago
Reply to  walter smith

16% LGBTQ looks like about the average between millennials (10%) and Gen Z (21%) based on Gallup’s numbers. https://www.axios.com/2022/02/17/lgbtq-generation-z-gallup

Bacon’s article on professors’ ideologies was only based on short bios, which is probably why he got so much so wrong. Many of these recent hires are plainly conservatives. Some clerked for conservative judges, others are outright partisans, and even more have published articles that demonstrate their conservative legal views.

Yale was more secure in its #1 spot than it had ever been. US News’s methodology was forcing law schools to do stupid things like hire way too many librarians and prioritize spending per pupil so heavily that law schools are incentivized to push students deeper into debt so that they can raise their spending number. US News also factors in undergraduate GPAs, which vary wildly depending on the extent to which an applicant’s undergrad inflated grades.

Also, Robert Mueller is a Republican.

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Deez

Name the “plainly conservative” ones.
Danielle Citron, a supposed 1st Amendment expert and a Jefferson Scholar hire in late 2020 is no conservative.
Bob Mueller is a “Republican” like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski…more of a part of the swamp, and didn’t Bob Mueller come out of Boston FBI where the Whitey Bulger, mob hits and other chicanery occurred? Seems to me he was brought in to create the confusion for a long enough time period to flip the House over a plainly false steaming pile of oppo research. You good with that?
And do you work for Heather Gerken, Risa Goluboff or Jim Ryan? UVA Today?
I’ll wait for your “plainly conservative” ones and then go over the total hires. Without even looking at the past announcements, I bet less than 1 in 10 is mildly conservative, much less “plainly.”

Deez
Deez
1 month ago
Reply to  walter smith

Just checked, Mueller never worked for the FBI in Boston. Google is your friend!

I don’t work for anybody, I just felt the need to let people know that everything you wrote was a lie.

I just ran through a few new hires whose politics I know:

Re clerked for Kennedy and Kavanaugh.

Kraweic is a free market absolutist.

Eichensehr clerked for O’Conner.

I don’t understand the inclusion of Hwang, Law or Gulati, as neither demonstrate outwardly political views on the law.

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Deez

I guess Google failed you…
The Boston Globe noted Robert Mueller’s connection with the Whitey Bulger case in an article entitled, “One Lingering Question for FBI Director Robert Mueller.” The Globe said this: 
 
“[Mike] Albano [former Parole Board Member who was threatened by two F.B.I. agents for considering parole for the men imprisoned for a crime they did not commit] was appalled that, later that same year, Mueller was appointed FBI director, because it was Mueller, first as an assistant US attorney then as the acting U.S. attorney in Boston, who wrote letters to the parole and pardons board throughout the 1980s opposing clemency for the four men framed by FBI lies. Of course, Mueller was also in that position while Whitey Bulger was helping the FBI cart off his criminal competitors even as he buried bodies in shallow graves along the Neponset…”
[https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/1970/01/19/one-lingering-question-for-fbi-directorrobert-mueller/613uW0MR7czurRn7M4BG2J/story.html]
 
Mueller was the head of the Criminal Division as Assistant U.S. Attorney, then as Acting U.S. Attorney. I could not find any explanation online by Mueller as to why he insisted on keeping the defendants in prison that FBI agents—in the pocket of Whitey Bulger— had framed for a murder they did not commit. Make no mistake: these were not honorable people he had incarcerated. But it was part of a pattern that eventually became quite clear that Mueller was more concerned with convicting and putting people in jail he disliked, even if they were innocent of the charges, than he was with ferreting out the truth.
 
I found no explanation as to why he did not bear any responsibility for the $100 million paid to the defendants who were framed by FBI agents under his control. The Boston Globe said, “Thanks to the FBI’s corruption, taxpayers got stuck with the $100 million bill for compensating the framed men, two of whom, Greco and Tameleo, died in prison.” 
[https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/1970/01/19/one-lingering-question-for-fbi-director-robertmueller/613uW0MR7czurRn7M4BG2J/amp.html]
 
The New York Times explained the relationship this way: “In the 1980’s, while [FBI Agent]
Mr. Connolly was working with Whitey Bulger, Mr. Mueller was assistant United States attorney in Boston in charge of the criminal division and for a period was the acting United States attorney here, presiding over Mr. Connolly and Mr. Bulger as a ’topechelon informant.’ Officials of the Massachusetts state police and the Boston Police Department had long wondered why their investigations of Mr. Bulger were always compromised before they could gather evidence against him, and they suspected that the FBI was protecting him.” 
[https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/24/us/trial-ending-for-boston-fbi-agent-accused-of-mob-ties.html]
 
If Mr. Mueller had no knowledge that the FBI agents he used were engaged in criminal activity, then he certainly was so incredibly blind that he should never be allowed back into any type of criminal case supervision. He certainly helped continue to contribute to the damages of the framed individuals by working so hard to prevent them from being paroled out of prison even as their charges were on their way to being completely thrown out. 
 
Notice also evidence of a pattern throughout this article: the leaking of information to disparage Mueller’s targets. In the Whitey Bulger case, the leaks were to organized crime, the Mob.
 
One of the basic tenets of our Democratic Republic is that we never imprison people for being “bad” people. Anyone imprisoned has to have committed a specific crime for which they are found guilty. Not in Mueller’s world. He has the reverse list of Santa Claus; and, if you are on his list, you get punished even if you are framed. He never apologizes when the truth is learned, no matter how wrong or potentially criminal or malicious the prosecution was. In his book, you deserve what you get even if you did not commit the crime for which he helped put you away. 
 
This is one example, but as Al Pacino once famously said, “I’m just getting warmed up!”

Jack Cann
Jack Cann
1 month ago

It was not so long ago when UVA was ranked number 3. We need to return to serious education as embodied in the US News rankings and not pursue a warped ideology. BOV oversight, please. If the US News standards do not suit, then you can pretend to opt out but functionally abandoning them certainly comes at a cost in academic rigor.

Greg
Greg
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Cann

“Serious education as embodied in the US News rankings”

I’ve gotta think you’ve never read about what actually goes into these rankings.

US News has never ranked UVA higher than seventh.

Deez
Deez
1 month ago

UVA Law admissions tracks all of the aspects of diversity that you claim they do not, and those are absolutely factored into admissions decisions.

There is strong evidence that both its student body and faculty are more conservative than any other top law school.

UVA Law also has likely the strongest Federalist Society chapter in the country. The idea that they could achieve that without faulty and administration support is insane.

With all that being said, the student body and faculty are composed of far more liberals than conservatives, as is the case for every other top law school and virtually all of higher education. That’s just reality. I leave it to you to rationalize why education and intelligence skew so sharply to the left.

I’m going to hazard a guess that you’re opposed to affirmative action. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine why you would want UVA Law to factor political ideology into its admissions and hiring decisions but are opposed to an admissions policy that is conscious of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Clearly, any such balancing would favor adding more conservative voices even where they are less qualified than other, more liberal applicants.

Do you never get tired of playing the victim?

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walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Deez

Put your numbers up.
Why did the College do away with SATs?
Prove the LGBTQ applicants must warrant a 100% offer rate.
I think it is clear – if you apply to UVA Law, and have the misfortune of being white, you should lie about it and pull a Fauxcahontas, and throw in you identify as Sam Brinton. Heck, if you even admit you are a klepto of women’s luggage (how can you know? Isn’t that sexist?), that would be a PLUS in “holistic” admissions!
If I applied now as a cis white male who was in a fraternity, and did nothing to hide it, I would be discriminated against. That is why UVA Admissions will not allow me access to its admission software to prove the racial discrimination. I could take the same person and the same SAT and put in different zip codes (“neighborhood” score) and different schools (“school” score) and get far different scores on the 1st screen software. I will agree that the reverse discrimination is well hidden, but it is there.

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Deez

Also, I get tired of UVA Law bragging about the Federalist Society which is in spite of anything UVA Law has done. For UVA Law, the Federalist Society is as the Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters – controlled opposition. UVA Law tolerates the FedSoc so it can “prove” how unbiased it is. All 60 of them! Out of 1100, and still…an element at UVA wanted to stifle the FedSoc presentation on 303 Creative that was instead canceled after the shootings.

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

While some might think that viewpoint diversity is critical for a blog that claims to seek a free exchange of ideas, Bacon’s rejection of comments criticizing his inaccuracies says he thinks otherwise.

Dorian
Dorian
1 month ago

I have long said, as a person who believes in individual freedom, that the vast majority of colleges and universities are the root of many of the ideological problems we face in this country. This is not that new. Ayn Rand (and no, I’m not an objectivist) but even someone like her as far back as 1980 said the same, that if you value freedom, you have to reject what goes on in the colleges.

The real issue behind all of this push is that by admitting a lot more unqualified people in recent years under the excuse of “diversity”, the intellectual rigor is not what it once was. I notice this in my Math classes too…from all backgrounds in general.

Walter Smith asks about a finely honed legal mind. Ha! I agree, but good luck with that! I constantly ask my students to “prove” a solution, and many have a really hard time with just the concept, let alone doing it. “Huh? Prove”? Why not just give the answer, and I’ll just look it up somewhere”? Yeah, right.

We see it also in manifestly unqualified CURRENT legal workers such as Sonia Sotomayor, who called herself a “wise latina”, and perhaps that’s all there is to her, but she can’t even distinguish between “de facto” and “de jure” as we saw recently. Things really are a mess, and I’m glad I’m not a student these days.

There is also another problem: the monoculture is also threatening, sometimes with violence, to other students who don’t hold their views, so many students who would otherwise disagree are terrified of giving a different opinion because we now have mobs showing up at your doorstep.

Gene Bogen
1 month ago

The rankings of universities and their graduate schools, i.e. law, medicine, business is so absurd that the schools that have ever participated in any way should be ashamed. Their refusal to continue with this farce is one small indication that they have recovered their senses. It might be possible to say, for example, these are among the best 10 or 15 best whatevers. But ranking them is flat out a scam. The rankings of colleges is makes no more sense than ranking the most beautiful people, the sexiest man or woman, the best small town in America, etc.
I’m all for UVA not participating in this bullshit!

Dorian
Dorian
1 month ago
Reply to  Gene Bogen

Gene Bogen:

Respectfully, I submit that your comparison makes no sense. Ranking “sexiest” and “most beautiful” are subjective metrics (although even in these areas, there tends to be broad agreement as to when someone is handsome/beautiful, by the way)…but even if that were not the case, you simply cannot compare tangible metrics such as average GMAT scores, student to professor ratio, and many other academic metrics with the criteria you mention.

You yourself admit in your comment that it can be possible to admit the best 10 or 15 schools…by what metric then? Surely you have to have metrics. One of the metrics is standardized test scores. Now, in the age we are living in, there seems to want to be a push to deny reality about how standardized test scores DO tend to predict academic outcomes. Are they perfect? NO. Are they a strong indicator of other issues, like a credit score? Absolutely. And that’s why we have to use metrics at some point.

Baylor Trapnell
Baylor Trapnell
1 month ago

Some many years back U.S. News ranked University of Virginia and U.C. Berkeley the two best public universities in the U.S. Having graduated from both in 69′ & 73′, I was amazed.