It’s that time of year again—the US News and World Report‘s annual law school rankings have arrived. As the biggest authority on rating academic institutions in the United States, the US News rankings are a subject of much consideration and consternation for prospective law students, law school administrations, and legal employers alike. For you, the prospective law student, these rankings could mean big things for your future admissions and job prospects. So let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: The T14
Surprise, surprise: the Top 14 schools have once again reasserted their place at the top. From Yale (1st) to Cornell and Georgetown (tied for 13th), the T14 has pretty much stayed the same, with a few minor revisions. Yale, Harvard and Stanford retain their throne in the top three, though Stanford has dropped a slot from its second-place tie with Harvard last year. Also, a big shout-out to my alma mater, Duke Law, for finally cracking the top ten! Richard Nixon (’37) would be proud.
Here are this year’s top 15 US News and World Report law school rankings:
Movers and Shakers: The Big Winners
Let’s highlight some law schools that made significant jumps in this year’s US News and World Report law school rankings:
19. Emory University (+4) – While much of the country continues its incessant struggle through the polar vortex, we hear that Atlanta is pretty nice this time of year. A jump into the top 20 only makes Emory that much more attractive. Don’t be surprised if their median LSAT of 165 begins to climb.
24. College of William & Mary (+11) – Whoa! The oldest law school in the land has made a huge leap into the top 25. Expect the D.C. market to give William & Mary students an even closer look now that the school is among more elite company.
40. University of Iillinois–Urbana-Champaign (+7) – It’s nice to see U of I bounce back a bit after a 2011 admissions scandal led the institution to drop 24 slots in the past two years.
51. Penn State University (+13)
58. University of Oklahoma (+10)
61. University of Miami (+15)
68. University of Kansas (+18)
72. University of Tulsa (+14)
87. Seattle University (+15)
87. Wayne State University (+18)
93. Stetson University (+16)
93. University of New Hampshire School of Law (+26)
All we can say from the above is that there must be something good going on in America’s Heartland, with Oklahoma, Kansas and Tulsa all climbing double digits.
Not Just a Weight Loss Competition: The Biggest Losers
43. Washington and Lee University (-17) – Far and away, the biggest loser today has got to be Washington and Lee. With its long-sustained top 25 pedigree, we’re dismayed to see the school drop so many spots. If you’re wondering what’s to blame here, it could be Washington and Lee’s experience-based learning program for third-year students, which by many accounts is an enormous flop. Or it could be their 40+ percent reduction in class size, the largest in the nation. Or their troubling career placement statistics, which have hovered around the 50 percent mark for recent graduates.
Here’s hoping that Washington and Lee’s administration can turn things around. A few other notable drops:
58. University of Houston (-10)
64. Georgia State University (-10)
72. American University (-16)
83. University of Nevada—Las Vegas (-15)
87. Loyola Marymount University (-19)
87. University of Louisville (-19)
100. SUNY Buffalo (-14)
100. University of Hawaii (-20)
107. Catholic University of America (-27)
With D.C. Schools like Catholic and American dropping several spots (and Washington and Lee itself not being too far from the Beltway), it looks like something is rotten in our nation’s capital. Given the seismic shifts in this area, it bears repeating that applicants who desire to practice in D.C. should give 24th-ranked William & Mary a closer look.