The rankings of several New York law schools went into steep decline in U.S. News & World Report's latest survey, apparently driven by a change in methodology.
The new rankings reflected results in which there were few changes among the top schools, but large jumps up and down the list by many schools in the No. 50 to No. 144 range.
Fully 39 schools moved up or down the list by 10 spots or more, including six New York schoolsall declines. Of New York's 15 law schools, nine fell in their rankings.
The ranking of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University fell 24 spots to 113 from 89, while New York Law School, at 135 last year, dropped off the list.
St. John's University, Albany and the City University of New York each lost 19 spots, Brooklyn lost 15 and Fordham nine. Other schools either held their own or showed smaller declines.
Of the New York schools, only Pace and Cornell gained ground. Pace's ranking increased to 134 from 142, while Cornell moved up one spot to 13 from 14.
Bob Morse, director of data research at U.S. News, attributed much of the churn to a revised methodology involving the weight given to schools' success at landing their graduates in jobs. That portion accounts for 20 percent of an overall score.
In the past, U.S. News counted graduates in any type of job equally. This year, the magazine gave greater weight to graduates in permanent, full-time jobs requiring bar passage or in which a J.D. is an advantage. It assigned a lower weight to graduates in part-time or short-term jobs, or jobs for which a law degree is not a requirement or preferred. The change was possible because the American Bar Association last year began requiring law schools to report far more detailed graduate employment information.
"It was an important change and an important adjustment, because we think [full-time lawyer jobs] are the type of jobs prospective law students have a goal of obtaining," Morse said. The new methodology better indicates which law schools send the most graduates into the jobs prospective students most often aspire to, he said.