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Widener Library at Harvard University (left) and Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University (right). Credit: Kylie Cooper

After Yale Law School and Harvard Law School pulled out of the U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is currently evaluating the issue.

Spokesperson Meredith Rovine wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn Carey Law “applauds Yale Law and Harvard Law for their leadership in raising key questions for all law schools,” and agrees that the rankings are not holistic.

Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken cited U.S. News' methodology, which she called "profoundly flawed," in a statement, adding that it does not recognize schools that provide need-based aid or support working-class students. Yale Law School has held the number one spot consistently since 1990, and Harvard Law School was most recently ranked fourth, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

“Penn Carey Law has substantially increased financial aid and support for students seeking public interest careers to meet these important needs. We are evaluating this issue and assessing a process for our own decision-making,” Penn Carey Law's statement said.

Administrators at Yale and Harvard Law schools say that the withdrawal could shift the norms of admissions decisions, financial aid distribution, and students' decisions in post-graduation pursuits, specifically in terms of lower-paying, public-interest jobs, according to WSJ. 

These recent withdrawals follow several years of multiple law schools voicing their concerns to the U.S. News and the U.S. News Law Dean's Advisory Board.

Gerken also referenced increased scores for schools that offer LSAT score merit-based scholarships instead of financial need-based scholarships in the statement.

“[The rankings] not only fail to advance the legal profession, but stand squarely in the way of progress,” Gerken wrote. 

Harvard Law School Dean John Manning, in a recent email to Harvard Law School affiliates, shared many of the same sentiments as Gerken, citing concern that the rankings can mislead those who read them and “create perverse incentives” for schools’ decisions that could harm student and applicant interest.

The University of California, Berkeley School of Law, most recently ranked ninth, followed Harvard’s and Yale’s move on Nov. 17. Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said that the rankings are “profoundly inconsistent” with the school’s values. Chemerinsky also shared Gerken’s reasoning, taking issue with the fact that the rankings incentivize the admission of higher-income students.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings have come under recent scrutiny after Columbia University confirmed this September that they submitted incorrect data in two categories. This caused the University to skip the annual rankings and fall from the second spot to 18th.

Both Harvard and Yale have not commented on whether or not the larger universities will follow the law schools’ decisions, the Washington Post reported. One Yale spokesperson said that each of Yale’s schools will have to make their own careful decisions about continued participation.

“The U.S. News algorithm severely undercounts money spent on financial aid for students, while fully rewarding schools for every dollar spent on faculty and administrator salaries,” Penn Carey Law’s statement read.