My Ballot and US Magazine

I think it was Doug Berman who wrote recently asking if it was illegal or unethical to sell his USN&WR ballot ranking the top 15 IP programs. Today my ballot arrived, delayed I suppose, by Columbus Day. My qualifications to rank IP programs are right up there with my qualifications to dunk a basketball. But then I thought, “Maybe I am exactly the right person.” Think about it, as I understand it, when ranking various law school programs, USN&WR uses a methodology that is also known as gossip. The last time I checked, even for LLMs the research did not involve an examination of admission rates, student qualifications, or the scholarship of the professors. Yes, it makes the research by US magazine look like it is conducted by Nobel Prize winners.

It also allows for some mischief as hinted by Professor Berman’s facetious offer to sell. Suppose you have a fairly large specialty program and several members of it get ballots on which they rate themselves. And suppose those professors have some friends. The ballots request that you fill out up to 15. The best strategy? Fill in one name – your own. Think law professors are above such things? If so, I have a great Summer Program In Italy I’d like to discuss with you.

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2 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    Might one solution be for all votes to be public? Or do you think that any ranking system that relies on subjective, black box type voting is suspect? I think Leiter’s Canada rankings are incorporate the latter assumption, though they have their own shortcomings.

  2. Jeff says:

    Public might help overcome the moral hazard but it does not overcome the lack of interest by USN&WR in doing anything more than collecting opinions from people who often know little. At least they could use a Leiter-like citation per faculty member in the area of specialization or articles per faculty member for non LLM programs. For LLMs, there could be all of the above plus GPAs of entering students and so on.