Monday, December 15, 2014

Ultimately It's All About the Faculty and The Comfort Dog

Recently over on the Tax Prof blog it was revealed that FSU is the leader of the pack with respect to gaming the USWNR rankings as far as transfer students. This, on top of accepting 800 students to get 188 means that the school has to go a fair amount of trouble to appear attractive in today's market. I'll bet their faculty is as good as most others including my own so all these extraordinary efforts really mean is that the ratings matter more to that faculty than to other faculties.

I mention this because the ratings game in which most law schools are involved is really all about the faculty at the schools and their personal comfort. Higher ratings make them feel better when all they really need is a nice dog.  Sure, maybe the Deans spin the numbers but without tacit faculty approval, none of that happens. One version playing the game is paying for high LSAT scores and GPAs. That, as I understand it, is where most if not all of the scholarship money goes at some law schools.

For example, I know one student who is deciding between a free ride at FSU and a 3/4 free ride as Florida. What makes the student so desirable is the 160 plus LSAT and a GPA to match. Will she be a good lawyer, is it only with this assistance the she can go to law schools, will she "pay back" some of the super subsidy by engaging in some form of public service work. That is all utterly irrelevant.

Yes for your largely (not all that) liberal law faculties and their graduates one thing counts -- what will this do for our rating.  These are the well-meaning, I'm for the little man, do you need a hug, sharing, how did that make you feel, may I pat your comfort dog, don't buy Nike, boycott Nestles, give the tomato pickers a penny, sensitive, multiple ways of learning, Meyers-Briggs, people who are willing to take money away from those who need it and and might do something with the support and hand it over to someone who did well on a multiple choice exam that has a suspect relationship with success at anything including attending law school.

My hat is off to any faculty anywhere that musters up as many as ten people who go to the dean's office and say "Stop" subordinating anything to rankings.

Until then, law faculties, the world has your number. And unless you've got the stones to stop your own school please don't throw any stones at FSU just because they are better at it,


Anonymous said...

At the law schools where I have taught, alumni and school presidents/provosts (because of alumni) do far more to pressure Deans on rankings than professors. This is true even when law faculty in open faculty meetings protested that the deans were playing the ranking game.

Anonymous said...

my favorite thing about my law school is that I have never been party to a single conversation about rankings in the entire decade I have been there. Not at a faculty meeting, not in private. never.