Ranking Schmancking – 98!

An email from my Dean today:

Dear Students,

I write with good news.  As you are likely aware by now, we have maintained our Top 100 US News ranking.   We are at 98.  I am convinced that over time we can continue to rise in the rankings given our improvement this year in many categories.

I offer the usual disclaimers:  the survey has a pernicious effect on legal education driving many schools in directions counter to their missions, counter to the best interests of their students and, ultimately, counter to the communities that legal education so desperately needs to serve.   However, there is no question that applicants, students, many alumni and our law school community, for better or worse, are affected by the rankings, no matter how flawed the ranking system might be.  In fact, in part because of our Top 100 ranking last year, our applications this year have soared 25% to 4,800, the highest number in the law school’s history.  So when the news is good we are glad to accept it.

What I will not do, however, is gloat over being in the Top 100 for 6 of the past 8 years.  We are the same good law school that we were when we were out of the Top 100 two years ago.  Our school is filled with bright students with LSAT numbers that rank among the top third of the law schools in the country.  Our bar pass rate has exceeded 80% three years in a row.

In addition, this summer many of you will be working overseas (10 countries) on projects ranging from war crimes to issues affecting affect quake survivors in Port Au Prince.  Some of you will be in the South working with death row inmates.  Others will assist communities closer to home, striving to provide those in California with equal access to legal services and justice.  We recently hired four great faculty – lateral hires from highly regarded schools including U.C. Davis, U.C. Hastings, the University of Denver, and Seton Hall, among them a new chair in Tax Law generously funded by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.   We have dramatically increased our media and communication efforts and redesigned our website (with a new dynamic version set for launch this summer).  We have alumni who care about us and support us – no matter what tier U.S. News may say we are in.  These are the kinds of things that really make me proud.  Yes, the rankings news is good, but context is everything.  What makes me most proud is that we have consistently kept and continue to keep our focus on the Jesuit values of excellence and service that drive our law school. We will continue to maintain that focus.

And this final point:  One ranking from US News does deserve special note.  We are the 15th most diverse law school in the United States based on objective criteria, a position we have held for some time.  We are nearly 40% students of color at our wonderful law school.  As I like to say, for those that don’t believe that diversity and academic excellence go hand in hand, let them come to the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Best of luck to all as classes start coming to a close and as you prepare for finals.  Also, as graduation draws near, congratulations to the Class of 2010!  We are proud of you and are eager to welcome you to the ranks of our alumni.

I Love You USF. F’ Rankings.

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