For the second year in a row, the University of Baltimore School of Law has risen in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Law Schools ranking, reaching No. 111 after climbing nearly 25 spots in two years.
The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, meanwhile, held its ground as a top-50 law school, dropping one spot from last year to No. 48 in the rankings, which were publicly released on Wednesday.
Both local law schools were also recognized for their part-time law programs, with UM Carey ranking No. 5 and UB Law at No. 36.
Ronald Weich, dean of UB Law, attributed the school’s improved ranking in part to its decision to maintain its admission standards despite decreased numbers of law school applicants nationwide in recent years.
“It’s very important to enroll the students who have the tools to succeed in this market, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said. “We’re obviously pleased to have jumped from 122 to 111 this year, but the two-year trend is even more significant, because it shows substantial improvement over time.
“I don’t want to put too much weight on these numerical rankings,” he continued, “and the fine distinctions from one rank to the next may not be very meaningful, but this kind of substantial change over two years reflects the strength of our program.”
U.S. News takes a number of factors into account in its ranking methodology. A “peer assessment score” assigned by law school deans and tenured faculty members, along with an assessment score decided by lawyers and judges, accounts for 40 percent of the ranking decision, while the law school’s selectivity — judged by its median LSAT scores, median undergraduate GPA and acceptance rate — accounts for 25 percent.
The rankings also consider graduates’ employment rates at graduation and at 10 months after graduation, as well as the school’s bar passage rate, which accounts for 20 percent. An evaluation of the school’s faculty resources, including expenditure per student, student/faculty ratio and library resources, accounts for the final 15 percent.
UB Law’s overall No. 111 ranking, which it shared with 11 other law schools, marks a strong improvement from last year’s ranking at No. 123 and 2014’s No. 135 slot.
“The students are succeeding in employment and are impressing the legal community, and that affects our reputation,” Weich said. “This is really a mark of the hard work of our students and the commitment of our faculty to excellence.”
While UM Carey Law, which shared its No. 48 spot with the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, has fallen in the rankings since it reached the No. 39 spot in 2012, the school fared well in rankings for law school specialty programs.
The clinical training program at UM Carey received the No. 7 spot, while its health care law program ranked No. 4 in the country. Those programs slipped a bit compared to last year’s rankings, however, when they came in at No. 5 and No. 2, respectively.
Donald Tobin, dean of UM Carey Law, is in China visiting law schools and meeting Maryland alumni and was unavailable to comment on the rankings, law school officials said Wednesday.