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Md. law schools earn high grades for part-time, clinical programs

The Francis Carey School of Law at the University of Maryland. (File Photo)

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. (File Photo)

Maryland’s law schools are maintaining their high ranks in clinical and part-time programs, as well as in specialty areas in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 rankings, which were released Tuesday.

The overall rankings for the state’s two law schools saw a slight dip from last year, with University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ranking 52nd overall (down from 49 last year) and the University of Baltimore School of Law dropped to No. 126 from a tie at No. 119 last year.

“I’m not unduly concerned,” UB Law Dean Ronald Weich said in a telephone interview. “In the mid-range of the rankings these distinctions are not very meaningful.”

His counterpart at UM Carey agreed.

“It’s a crowded field and there is statistically little significance between where we were and where we are today,” Dean Donald Tobin said.

The rankings also recognized specific law school programs. The clinical programs at both Maryland law schools finished in the top 20 (UM Carey at No. 7 and UB Law at No. 15). In addition, UM Carey’s part-time program ranked No. 4 and UB Law came in at No. 25.

UM Carey’s health care law and environmental law programs ranked No. 6 and 13, respectively — the same rankings they earned last year.

UB Law’s legal writing program was ranked No. 29 in the nation.

The University of Baltimore School of Law. (File Photo)

The University of Baltimore School of Law. (File Photo)

The deans at both Maryland law schools challenged the notion that the rankings genuinely reflect the progress and offerings of their schools.

“We take the national score with a grain of salt. We’re more concerned about important measures like employment and opportunities our students have for experiential education, such as clinics,” Weich said.

“We don’t measure our greatness by a private magazine’s rankings,” Tobin said. “I am incredibly proud of the great work we do at UM Carey Law.”

UB Law’s overall ranking tied it with law schools at Cleveland State University, Quinnipiac University, the University of Idaho, the University of Maine and the University of Toledo.

The UB law school’s ranking has fluctuated and may have been affected in previous years by ties with other law schools. For example, UB Law’s raw score dropped just one point from 2017 to 2018, but its rank dropped to 119 compared to 112 in that period, likely because six schools were tied for No. 113 in the 2018 rankings.

In addition, the U.S. News rankings rely on national reputation, which is a challenge for UB Law, Weich said.

“Of course we’re not as well known in Omaha or Phoenix or Seattle, Washington, as we are in the state of Maryland,” Weich said.

UM Carey was ranked in a six-way tie this year with the law schools at Southern Methodist University, Tulane University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Richmond and Yeshiva University.

U.S. News looks at a range of factors in its closely followed rankings. Forty percent of the methodology involves a “quality assessment score” provided by law school deans and tenured law faculty across the country, 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 in 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.


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