…Otherwise more people would be searching for them on Google.
The Google Trends of “LSAT” made the rounds a while ago, so I can’t believe no one thought to give the infamous U.S. News law school rankings the same treatment. (I think “law school rankings” captures their influentiality better than “us news” or its derivatives do.) In November 2012, “law school rankings” was not even a tenth as popular as it was in March 2004. That week was a bit of an outlier, as you can see, but it shouldn’t be too surprising as I believe 2004 was the year after the magazine expanded from 50 to 100 ranked law schools. I guess everyone wanted to see how volatile the new rankings were. If you look at the broad 52-week moving average, “law school rankings” starts at 45.65 in week 1, January 2005, and drops to 12.88 last week, a 72 percent decline.
What’s striking is how law school-related searches bubbled upward at about the time Lehman was collapsing, but to no avail. The decline resumes after the October 2009 LSAT, which you can see here:
Here are the 13-week moving averages, showing how all-encompassing the October LSAT is. You can see the compression between the peaks and the troughs that occurs as the years go on.
And here are some test prep search terms to top things off.
Again, October 2009 was peak law school, even if commentators at the time didn’t believe it.
Generally, Google tells us that the law school terms are 70 percent less popular than they were in the mid-2000s and 45 percent less popular than in October 2009. The indexes’ diminution will continue into next year, so don’t say the rankings are influential: People ain’t buyin’ it—or at least, they ain’t searching for it on Google.