December 16, 2004

Dear Prof. Baynes-- 

     Unfortunately, I won't be able to appear on your AALS panel on "The LSAT, U.S. News and Minority Admissions" next month. After consulting with my colleagues, we've decided that U.S. News would not add much of value to your discussion.  We realize that this is a controversial topic for some people, and that the members of your panel have stated clear positions on the issue. We feel it would not be appropriate for U.S. News to be cast as offering some sort of dissenting voice. As a journalistic enterprise, we don't take a position on the role of the LSAT or on its effect, if any, on minority admissions.

 When we appear at academic forums it is usually to explain and answer questions about the methodology behind the thousands of pages of data we collect and publish from colleges and universities, including our rankings. We try to be as forthcoming as possible about what we do and how we do it. Putting ourselves in the middle of a highly charged admissions policy dispute, however, goes well beyond this kind of explanatory presentation and would serve neither our interests nor, we think, those of your audience.

 U.S. News's methodology is well-established. When we first created our ranking model for law schools, we did a considerable amount of research into legal education and the admissions process. Based on that reporting, our model reflects what we consider to be the appropriate factors and relative importance of criteria used in law school admissions. Law schools told us that they consider the LSAT to be an important factor in admissions decisions, so we use it in our model. Beyond that, I'm not sure how much more there is for us to say.         Thank you for the invitation and perhaps at some time in the future we might find a more appropriate setting in which to discuss U.S. News's coverage of higher education.  

       I hope the panel works out well for you.


Brian Kelly

Executive Editor U.S. News & World Report 1050 Thomas Jefferson St. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20007 202-955-2630