Seattle U Law Drops Out of the U.S. News Rankings


Jordie Simpson

The School of Law at Seattle University.

Recently the Seattle University School of Law has made the decision to drop out of the U.S. News Rankings, a ranking system for colleges and universities nationwide. 

Seattle U isn’t the first law school to drop out of the U.S. News Rankings. The trend began in November when Yale Law School decided to remove itself from consideration, with others following shortly after. Several schools announced their belief that the ranking system was causing harm to legal education. As of publication, over 40 law schools have dropped out of the U.S. News Rankings. 

Stephanie Lowry, President of the Student Bar Association of Seattle U Law pointed to other Washington law schools that have elected to withdraw participation.

“The U.S. News ranking system is predatory and flawed,” Lowry wrote to The Spectator. “Both Gonzaga Law School and UW Law have also voiced their concerns with the U.S. News ranking system and have withdrawn their participation. Pointedly, that means all three of Washington’s law schools now join over 20 other law schools across the country in resistance to this flawed system.” 

A statement from Dean Anthony Varona regarding Seattle U Law’s decision to drop out of the U.S. News rankings was sent to all law students Jan. 24. 

“[U.S. News] focuses far too much attention and funding on a limited and arbitrary set of objectives,” Varona wrote in the statement.

The U.S. News & World Report college rankings criteria has peer assessment scores, with lawyer and judge assessment scores accounting for over 40 percent of a law school’s ranking, while resources like financial aid, expenditures, library resources, and operations only account for 13 percent. Katherine Robertson, a second-year law student, believes the U.S. News Rankings focus on all the wrong aspects of what makes a law school good in the first place. 

“I think one of the main reasons Seattle U Law dropped out of the Rankings is because the [U.S. News Rankings] don’t really correlate well with diversity. It seems as if they only focus on prestigious undergrad schools, which impedes what other undergrad law schools have going for them,” Robertson said. 

Considering these factors, Varona believed that dropping out of the U.S. News Rankings was the right decision for Seattle U.

“Many alumni and community leaders – agreed wholeheartedly with our decision,” Varona wrote to The Spectator. 

Furthermore, Lowry believes it is unlikely that any ranking system will properly exemplify the diversity, legal knowledge, skills and experiences needed to solve real-world problems.

“I fundamentally (and speaking personally) believe that Seattle U Law should continue to aspire for an image aligned with its most vocal ideals,” Lowry wrote. “It is unlikely that any ranking system will ever properly quantify those ideals.”

Whether or not the rankings are efficacious, they are still used widely by students during the application process. But due to the withdrawals of so many schools, U.S. News has elected only to consider publicly available data for 2023. Therefore, Seattle U’s decision not to actively participate will not actively affect the school’s ranking.

“USNWR editors have said that they only will be using publicly available data for this upcoming set of rankings, so the decision not to submit proprietary data to USNWR will not affect law schools’ ranks this year.” Varona wrote. 

It remains unclear if Seattle U Law’s choice to withdraw from the U.S. News Rankings going forward will have an impact on admissions, or the reputation of the institution. But students and administration are united by the decision to stop participating in an allegedly flawed system in a stand that will contribute to the dialogue regarding legal education for years to come.