There are a lot of law school rankings out there. And law schools are often desperate to validate themselves by some—really, too often, by any—metric that purports at having any objectivity. Rankings are numerical, and often that’s enough to suggest that there’s something objective happening.
So when Above the Law picked up a ranking from “Online Paralegal Programs”—which became its second most-read story of the week (and a click-through story, ‘natch)—any sensible person would ask, “What?” That is, the site online-paralegal-programs.com (which based on its URL alone should fail any scrutiny) offers what, exactly?
Take a visit to the site, and you’ll see all the stock images and hot links of a typical SEO clickfarm. There are dozens of articles written in relatively poor English with a stream of conscious quality about them—and with a lot of self-referential links along with random infographics. There are rarely authors identified with any of the stories. Each page opens with a “sponsored” set of paralegal schools for you to sift through.
The “About Us” page also doesn’t pass the Turing test:
Online Paralegal Programs was formed by a small group of friends when we realized there was a shortage of truthful, unaffiliated, information available to students online. We want to help students get informed so they can make the best decision regarding their education and employment. Our goal is to provide useful, well researched rankings and resources to those interested in going to work in the paralegal field.
Our main editor is Oliver Plante. Oliver has been interested in the paralegal field his whole life. He was frustrated at the lack of information available to those seeking to become educated when he was looking to become educated himself. It was his frustration that caused us to start this site.
I confess, I find it unlikely that groups of friends have a multi-year passion for online paralegal rankings websites. The only name on the site, Oliver Plante, sounds suspiciously like a caller to Moe’s Tavern—and which, unless he’s a tech consultant in Toronto, may well be fictitious.
The methodology is entirely subjective? Still promote.
The rankings come from 2014? (Scroll to the bottom to see the one comment.) Still promote.
A story by author “Oscar Jenkins,” with no bio or ability to contact? Still promote.
We live in an era where law schools constantly fret about misinformation and “fake news,” and lament how they feel beholden to meaningless rankings. But the rapid spread of “rankings” like these only does harm to both claims. Modest scrutiny should precede any such sharing.