The 2018 U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Schools rankings have been released and Yale Law School is ranked first once again.  The report ranks law schools based on a weighted average of 12 measures of quality, including the employment choices of the Class of 2015.  In my view, U.S. News uses a convoluted employment methodology that devalues public interest and academic career choices. 

Twenty percent of a school’s ranking is based on “placement success”.  In calculating the rankings, U.S. News imposes its own value judgment, through the assigning of differing weights, to each graduate’s employment choice.  U.S. News gives full weight only to positions that are full-time, last one year or longer, are not funded by their law school, and for which bar passage is required or a J.D. degree is an advantage in securing the job.  U.S. News includes only those types of positions when calculating the employment rates published in the tables.

Using this methodology, U.S. News has determined that 84.5% of Yale Law School’s Class of 2015 was employed after graduation.  Conversely, U.S. News has deemed unemployed the 11 members of the Class of 2015 (5% of the Class) who secured one of Yale Law School’s prestigious post-graduate year-long full-time public interest fellowships.  These include the Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship, endowed to honor one of Yale Law School’s graduates, Arthur Liman YLS ’57; the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights, established at Yale Law School in 1997 to honor Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chair of Human Rights Watch; and the Robina Foundation Post-Graduate Fellowships in International Human Rights supported by the Robina Foundation, just to name a few.  These fellows devoted a year of their time and expertise to supporting immigration reform, the environment, and disability rights among many other areas. Yale Law School is extremely proud of the opportunities that these fellowships create for our graduates to represent those who have been disenfranchised by their communities.

The U.S. News employment methodology also devalues academia.  Among our Class of 2015 graduates, seven (3% of the Class) entered Ph.D. programs immediately after graduation with the goal of joining the legal academy. These graduates will undoubtedly secure meaningful employment upon completion of their Ph.D. degrees programs.  U.S. News has deemed these graduates as unemployed.

Ultimately, I encourage prospective students not to rely on the employment choices that U.S. News deems to have value, but instead to view each law school’s detailed employment statistics (available on their websites or through the ABA) and to ask schools in depth questions about their graduates’ employment choices and law school-funded opportunities.  I am confident that at YLS, you will like what you hear.

Kelly Voight
Assistant Dean, Career Development Office
Yale Law School