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Columbia Journal of Gender and Law

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Spring is a fitting season to discuss the relationship between rankings and feminist law journals, as U.S. News and World Report prepares to release its annual rankings of American law schools. Decried by many academics as arbitrary and unfair, (1) these rankings nonetheless exert an extraordinary influence on law school life. (2)Rankings of this sort not only drive decisions made by schools (which students to recruit, admit, and, most importantly, entice with scholarship money) and by applicants (where to apply, where to matriculate, and whether to transfer), but also decisions that are more central to the academic enterprise. Law school deans and faculties make decisions about resource allocation, faculty hiring, curriculum, and the like, against the backdrop of rankings, which at least indirectly place a point value on each such decision.

Even what one thinks of as the purely academic side of the law school enterprise--faculty research and writing--is not immune. Far from it. Faculty members clearly make choices about where to publish, and perhaps even what to write and whom to cite, based in part on published rankings, which deem schools and individuals "productive," "prolific," or "academically reputable" based in part on those choices. It is here that the conflict between rankings and feminist law journals comes into sharper focus. Each individual set of rankings--bar none--creates a disincentive to publish in feminist law journals.



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