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After several years of falling in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Law Schools” ranking, the University of Baltimore School of Law regained 13 spots this year, moving from No. 135 to No. 122. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

UB Law moves up in U.S. News rankings

UM Carey Law remains among top 50; part-time programs strong at both

After several years of falling in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Law Schools” ranking, the University of Baltimore School of Law regained 13 spots this year, moving from No. 135 to No. 122.

“I’ve always been skeptical of the U.S. News methodology, but there are some objective criteria that are very valid measures, like bar passage and employment,” said UB Law Dean Ronald Weich. “Some of the methodology involves reputation, which is kind of amorphous, but when you look at the objective criteria, we are standing tall.”

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law remains among the top 50 law schools, dropping one spot from No. 46 to No. 47 in the rankings, which were publicly released on Tuesday.

UM Carey Law Dean Donald Tobin said he doesn’t believe the rankings are an accurate measure of the quality of legal education a school provides, although he acknowledged they’re a tool commonly used to evaluate the merits of a particular program.

“There’s nothing in the rankings that really looks at the quality of education students are receiving, and that’s a real problem,” Tobin said. “The rankings try to quantify in a way that implies an exacting form something that’s very difficult to quantify. Some schools moved 10 places — did they get 10 places worse in one year? Of course not.”

A range of factors make up U.S. News’ ranking methodology, including the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of law school students, as well as law schools’ acceptance rates, job placement success and peer assessments.

The methodology was changed this year to give less weight under the “job placement success” category to schools that hire their own graduates, under the principle that most law graduates would prefer to be employed by a law firm, a corporation or the government than by their alma mater, according to U.S. News. That category makes up 18 percent of the overall ranking.

Both local law schools have fallen in the rankings since 2012, when UM Carey Law took the No. 39 spot and UB Law was ranked at No. 113.

However, part-time J.D. programs at both schools have continued to fare better: UM Carey earned the No. 5 position this year, up two spots from 2014, while UB Law jumped six spots to No. 23.

“UB started as a night law school for working men and women — it’s in our DNA to serve that group of students, and we’ve done it well for many, many years,” Weich said. “Increasingly, we are recognized for bringing quality education to part-time students in the same way we bring it to full-time students.”

In addition to its list of top law schools, U.S. News also rates law school specialty programs, such as tax law and international law. This year, UM Carey Law had the No. 2 health care law program and the No. 5 clinical training program.

“Those are all programs that are nationally recognized and nationally ranked, and I’m proud that Maryland is doing so well as a law school in a challenging environment,” Tobin said.

Other disciplines

Several Maryland schools appeared on U.S. News’ graduate school ranking lists for other fields, from education to business.

For the second year in a row, Johns Hopkins University took the No. 1 spot for best education school, while the University of Maryland College Park was ranked No. 26 for aspiring teachers. Towson University also made the list, coming in at No. 104.

On the list of best business schools, UMCP’s Robert H. Smith School of Business tied with Temple University in Philadelphia for the No. 41 spot.

And two Maryland schools cracked the top ten in the list of best nursing programs: Johns Hopkins University ranked No. 2, sharing the spot with the University of California-San Francisco, and the University of Maryland took No. 6, tied with three other schools.