Maryland’s law schools continue to receive national recognition for their clinical and part-time programs in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings, released Tuesday.
The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ranked 49th overall, the same position as 2018, while the University of Baltimore School of Law dropped to a tie at No. 119 from a tie No. 112 in 2018.
Both Maryland law schools tout their clinical programs and finished in the top 20 (UM Carey at No. 6 and UB Law at No. 15). UM Carey’s part-time program ranked No. 5 and UB Law came in at No. 28.
“We don’t measure our greatness by the magazine but it’s nice when that excellence is recognized,” said UM Carey Dean Donald Tobin. “Our programs continue to be some of the top programs in the country.”
UM Carey’s health care law program was No. 6, down from No. 2 last year; dispute resolution finished 13th, while its environmental law program ranked No. 17, compared to No. 14 last year.
“We are a school that really focuses on great teaching, clinic programs other programs that are here and an innovative curriculum,” Tobin said. “None of that is easily measured in a ranking system.”
UB Law’s overall ranking tied it with Duquesne University, University of Idaho, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Montana and Washburn University.
But UB Law’s raw score only dropped 1 point from last year; with six schools tied at No. 113 in this year’s ranking, UB Law was dropped into another cohort of schools tied for No. 119.
In other words, Dean Ronald Weich said, the rankings do not mean seven schools overtook UB Law in the last year.
“The distinction is not very meaningful,” Weich said. “This fall isn’t something we’re unduly concerned about.”
Rankings are “one of the facts of law school life,” but the U.S. News ranking relies on national reputation which is a weak spot for UB Law, Weich said.
“We’re well regarded in the region but not well known nationally,” he said. “Reputation is something that is hard to capture, hard to change.”
For Weich, UB Law’s success is better measured through student success, performance in the job market and alumni happiness, he said.
U.S. News looks at a range of factors in its closely followed rankings. Forty percent of the methodology factors in a “quality assessment score” given by law school deans and tenured faculty members, along with an assessment score from lawyers and judges. The law school’s selectivity – based on its median LSAT scores, median undergraduate GPA and acceptance rate – accounts for 25 percent of the total ranking.
The rankings also factor post-graduation employment rates both at graduation and 10 months after graduation, as well as the school’s bar passage rate, which accounts for 20 percent of the ranking methodology. The remaining 15 percent of the ranking is based on an evaluation of the school’s faculty resources, including expenditure per student, student/faculty ratio and library resources.
Anamika Roy is an evening student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.