Sunday, April 19, 2009

U.S. News Rankings Leaked?

Due to an overwhelming amount of e-mails, we want to clarify to the Blackbook Legal faithful that we are aware that the 2010 U.S. News Law School Rankings have purportedly been leaked--both on the Critical Badger and the Top Law Schools Message Board. There is a reason, however, that we have not posted them. After much investigation, it is our initial (preliminary) opinion that they are not accurate.

Every year at about this time someone always seems to leak an "official-looking" copy of the rankings. These copies are easy to fake even if it does take some effort to make them. Forgive us for being skeptical, but before we post anything, we want to be 100% sure that what we post is legitimate.

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UPDATE (Apr. 19, 8:56 PM): Apparently it is easier than we thought to manufacture "fake" scanned copies of the rankings. A reader sent this copy to us, which paints a different picture than the original leaked rankings, and further supports our point that we should take all of these leaks with a grain of salt.

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UPDATE (Apr. 20, 12:00 PM): An update to this developing story has been posted here

37 comments:

  1. I'm so confused...both rankings look legit

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  2. The badger is taking a pretty strong position that these rankings are accurate

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  3. Badger posted the right rankings the past 3 years, no? On what basis do you conclude that these are not real?

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  4. Definitely real

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  5. The two posts are totally diferenet? Which one's the leak

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  6. This Badger blog has never been wrong before

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  7. GW to 28!?!?! What the heck happened there?

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  8. The second one's a fake. No way GULC is out of t14

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  10. @ 10:02 --

    It may very well be that these rankings are correct, but it remains to be seen. The point is that we cannot be sure.

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  12. Good points...I guess we'll see on Thursday

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  13. How do they make these fake rankings so easily?

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  14. The second one actually shows that it might be more difficult than believed to manufacture fake ones. All the second one did is move around the rows from the first scan. For instance, in the second one, the TTT I go to (NU) is tied with Boalt, but Boalt's peer and lawyer/judge reputation scores are still the same higher scores from the first scan (where it was ranked 6th). Makes no sense unless US News actually doesn't compile point scores and simply slaps the names on in random order regardless of ratings. This is not to say that the first scan is accurate, but the person making that did more work than the person who did the second scan. It's also not to say that Berkeley is not a TTT--it is!

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  15. The rankings are legit. I have a copy i picked up from B&N. 100%

    BoalTTT remains T6

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  16. Easy -- you take the first list that showed up (which, assume with me for a moment, was legit), and then you sub out one of the white line schools for another one on a white line, and a shaded one for another shaded one, using Acrobat or Photoshop. The original list -- whichever one was the original one -- is probably the accurate one. We'll see in a couple of days.

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  17. The original one is the first one from the badger. T25:

    1. YLS
    2. HLS
    3. SLS
    4. CLS
    5. NYU
    6. Cal
    6. Chi
    8. Penn
    9. Mich
    10. Duke
    10. NU
    10. VA
    13. Cornell
    14. GULC
    15. UCLA
    15. UT
    17. Vandy
    18. USC
    19. WashU
    20. BU
    20. Emory
    20. Minn
    23. Indy
    23. UIUC
    23. ND

    Good for Indy. What happened to GW they got TTTpwned

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  18. Am I dumb for basing my second deposit on this? I deposited at one current T25 and GW and was leaning to GW but now I don't know...would I be a fool to go to UIUC instead so I could stay int he T25?

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  19. http://blackbooklegal.blogspot.com/2009/03/wave-of-future-we-hope.html

    u go to ILLINI!!!!!!1

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  20. How do u know this is a fake do you work for USN or a law school or something?

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  21. FTR, the second link (the one you have hyperlinked in your post) is a doctored version of the first post (the one posted on criticalbadger). Notice the same pattern of copy defects (dots in the white space, etc.). So while the first one would have taken a considerable amount of time and energy to produce, the second would have been fairly easy to make from the first.

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  22. @10:53;
    Whether you go to a T25 or a T30 really doesn't mean anything. You may prefer telling your friends and family that you go to a top 25 rather than a top 30, but the fact is that the rankings will change all over again next year. Even if these rankings are true, GW will likely be back in the top 25 (or top 20) by the time you graduate.

    I would not worry about attending GW. The statistic that should matter is that they are currently #16 in the percentage of student's placed in BigLaw.

    Go the school you feel most comfortable at.

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  23. The formatting of this fake is drastically different from the formatting of the B Schools list that was leaked by US News itself last week.

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  24. GAH! Why did I pick GW over VANDERBILT!?

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  25. Where do you get this ranking Joshua? You go to GW, right? Do you like it there?

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  26. Wasn't GW the one who took forever with grades too? I remember reading that hear.

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  27. What a surprise: we post on the rankings, and we get a thousand visitors in about twenty minutes (slight exaggeration, but still...)

    Like Nima, I doubt these rankings. We were all reluctant to post them, but given Critical Badger's track record (and the e-mails we received), we thought it prudent to do so--if only to provide a contrarian perspective.

    Even if these rankings are true, I doubt them. That is to say, they are not something people considering attending law school next fall should use to make decisions--at least in "close cases." The rankings fluctuate to sell magazines, and anyone who thinks a year-to-year fluctuation affects anything is fooling themselves. In short, go to the school you were enthusiastic about from the start.

    Also, we hope you'll continue to read The Blackbook--we provide a lot of good, substantive content that addresses an array of issues of interest to pre-laws, current students and practitioners. Check out our "subscribe link" on the side panel (or here) and follow us on Twitter, RSS, etc. We hope you'll come back soon and check out some of our earlier posts!

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  28. Great article - thanks for covering this.

    If the last three years' were legit, then we certainly have reason to believe, but not definitive proof, that they're accurate.

    Take any rankings (whether "legit" or not) with a grain of salt.

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  29. This is directed at 10:53 or anybody else with similar thoughts regarding picking a school. I'm going to assume a situation where all things are equal so there are no financial incentives or other factors at play. If you have a sincere interest in practicing in Washington, DC after law school why in the world would you choose UIUC? No disrespect to that school at all but common sense and geography would indicate that would not be a very wise decision. Likewise, if you want to practice in Illinois after graduation why would you go to GW? UIUC would seem to be a much more prudent choice. I understand people are hung up on rankings to a certain extent, but at some point you may want to consider common sense, geographic, and networking implications with regards to your choices.

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  30. First, the key sign that this is fake is that the scan is so grainy -- it's used as a way to disguise the doctoring that went on. Scanners are not this pathetic.

    Second, the heading at the top of the page just sounds stupid/unprofessional ("the following schools are the best.").

    Finally, the format has gotten uglier since last year. It's hard to believe they made the format/styling worse this year.

    Does anyone have the rankings from the last couple of years? I think the best way to check the legitimacy is to compare the incomplete page on the RIGHT SIDE to past issues to see if it lines up, and if there were indeed 3 #100 schools.

    These are just a few things I picked out right off the top of my head, and I won't even go into the specific numbers, which have their own problems. I know all these things can be explained/justified in one way or another, but when you look at all the clues together, it's clear this is a fake.

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  31. Why would GW, which has peer scores higher than schools like bu, indiana, w+l be ranked lower than all when it has higher numbers? Makes no sense

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  32. I think this is real. Everything looks right but its weird CLS is higher than NYU

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  33. I don't think these are real. I can't exactly remember, but I'm almost certain University of Iowa is always in the top 30 - and its not on this list at all. I also don't think GW would drop out of top 25.

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  34. One of our readers sent over a link to a color copy of the rankings.

    http://suasponteblog.com/2009/04/20/gw-to-28/

    Make of it what you will.

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  35. Interestingly, the 3 flaws in the PDF that I pointed out about 4-5 posts ago were correct (grainy, the heading at the top, and the ugly format). But the data is the same in the color photos. These color photos do appear to be real.

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  36. Anyone who bases their law school decision on US News ranking should be in law school. Furthermore, anyone who is applying for entrance next year that (1) can't get into an elite school, (2) doesn't have a big scholarship on the table, and (3) doesn't have a trust fund/rich daddy is completely ignorant of the current economic situation. They'll be paying off student loans for the next 30 years, b/c BigLaw is dead for all but a very small population.

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  37. 6:00....and "what" population is that?

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