Columbia Law Will Not Participate in U.S. News Rankings

Citing the importance of pursuing our core scholarly, pedagogical, and programmatic objectives without constraints, Dean Gillian Lester announces that Columbia Law School will no longer submit data to the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of best law schools. 

A decorative copper lion's head on a cement urn on campus

Dear Members of the Columbia Law School Community,

Since its founding, Columbia Law School has been a leader in legal scholarship, education, and practice—an engine of inquiry and knowledge creation, a catalyst for pedagogical innovation and experiential learning, a launching pad for careers at the pinnacle of the profession. The values that guide our approach make us distinctive, and the vibrancy and diversity of our community set us apart. 

This was as true more than 30 years ago, when U.S. News & World Report began to rank law schools, as it is today. It will be as true tomorrow as it will be generations from now. The excellence that has characterized a Columbia Law education—and the impact our graduates have around the world—has never depended on validation from U.S. News or any other media outlet. 

The flaws in the U.S. News law school ranking system have been a source of concern for many years throughout the legal academy. Overall, the methodology creates incentives that work against schools’ interest in attracting and retaining classes of students with a broadly diverse set of qualities and experiences, and in supporting the widest possible array of career choices for their graduates—whether in the private sector, in public interest and government organizations, or in academia. 

After careful consideration, it is clear that the case in favor of Columbia’s continued involvement has become increasingly weak. The potential benefits to be gained from continuing to share data with U.S. News are far outweighed by the constraints the rankings place on our ability to freely pursue our core scholarly, pedagogical, and programmatic objectives. 

We have decided, therefore, not to participate in the U.S. News rankings.

At the same time, we recognize the need to help prospective students inform their decision about whether to attend Columbia Law School, and we will be examining our current practices in light of this change to ensure that we continue to provide them with clear and transparent information. 

Best regards,

Gillian Lester
Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law