University of Denver

A Critical Inquiry into the Traditional Uses of Law School Evaluation

This article argues that the institutional and faculty disinterest in law student evaluation is attributable in part to a triumph of formalism over functionalism. The evaluation process has become more highly valued for its perpetuation of rank and hierarchy than for its accuracy of measurement or its pedagogical attributes. Law schools and instructors have undervalued assessment as a teaching tool and overvalued evaluation as an accurate, objective measuring device. Until law schools recognize the pervasive influence and power of law school evaluation on an institutional level, they will not elevate the functionality of evaluation over the formalism in which it is embedded. This article advocates rethinking the use of such an important tool, conceptualized and expansively reframed as both a rigorous measuring instrument and a feedback tool.