Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Law school rankings out

Some change in Upstate universities

By: Denise M. Champagne//March 13, 2013

Law school rankings out

Some change in Upstate universities

By: Denise M. Champagne//March 13, 2013

Clockwise, from top left, are SUNY Buffalo, Albany Law, Cornell University and Syracuse University. File photos

Cornell University Law School is the only Upstate law school to move up in the Best Law School Rankings released Monday by U.S. News & World Report.

The private school climbed one notch to the No. 13 spot, the same position it held two years ago.


Stewart J. Schwab

“We’re pleased that we are at 13,” said Cornell University Law School Dean Stewart J. Schwab. “You hear references sometimes to the top 14 law schools and we’re pleased to be there.”

He said the reference to the top 14 has to do with the fact that only 14 law schools, including Cornell, have ever been in the top 10.

SUNY Buffalo Law School dropped four notches, from 82 to 86, while Syracuse University College of Law stayed at 96. The three are among 194 American Bar Association-accredited law schools ranked, based on data collected in the fall and earlier this year, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Makau W. Mutua

SUNY Buffalo Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua, in an email to Rochester alumni, said this was an interesting year with a lot of changes, the biggest being the way U.S. News weighted different types of employment.

The publication this year calculated placement success differently, giving full weight for 2011 graduates who had a full-time job for at least a year that required a juris doctor degree, as opposed to any job. Less weight was given to full-time, long-term jobs that did not require bar passage. The lowest weight applied to jobs categorized as part-time and short-term.

The placement section of the law school rankings was updated, U.S. News notes, in recognition that a part-time receptionist job does not have the same weight for a new law school graduate as a full-time association position at a law firm.

The change was accomplished by incorporating additional data being reported to the ABA on the types of positions law students take after graduation, if the job lasted a year or more, was full or part time and if it required passage of a bar exam.

Mutua noted many competitors also dropped significantly. For instance, Albany Law School went from 113 to 132; Fordham, 29 to 38; Brooklyn, 65 to 80; and St. John’s 79 to 98.

“As you know, these are challenging times for legal education,” he wrote. “Stability — in rankings and in real terms — is in short supply. We are not immune from these challenges, but I am proud of the state of our law school and our work together to make it even better.”

He added that more work needs to be done, but that he is confident of where SUNY Buffalo Law School stands and its future.

Cornell swapped spots with Georgetown University Law Center, which is now No. 14.

“We went up one and we certainly always like to go up rather than down,” Schwab said. “The rankings are important. I think there’s always a level of frustration that they don’t capture everything about a school or the unique aspects of a school or are up to date with the latest happenings in a school, but I do think they do give some information and are important.”

He pointed out the top schools did not fluctuate much because, like Cornell, most of their graduates get full-time employment requiring a law degree.

“I didn’t think it would affect us much, but you sort of never know until the numbers are crunched, so I was pleased to have that confirmed because we are able to place the vast bulk of our graduates in good jobs,” Schwab said. “I do think that the premium for attending a top law school has never been higher as the placement gets more difficult for a lot of graduates from a lot of law schools and I’m pleased that we’re one of these top law schools.”

He said unlike business schools and some other professional institutions, the U.S. News rankings are the only one that has become the focal point for law school applicants. He said many have a general idea that they want to go to law school, but not necessarily where.

Schwab also said he hopes students take into account factors other than the rankings, such as location and what will best fit their needs.

The Best Law School Rankings help prospective students narrow their search by location, tuition, school size and test scores. The report suggests also considering specializations, the type of post-graduate job desired, and scholarships and loan repayment programs.

Syracuse University College of Law Dean Hannah R. Arterian was out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

The rankings, as explained at, are based on a weighted average of 12 measures of quality that include assessments by law school peers, lawyers and judges; bar passage rates; faculty and library resources; costs; and student-faculty ratio.

They are part of the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 Rankings which also include rankings for the professional disciplines of business, education, engineering and medicine. The results will be published in the Best Graduate Schools 2014 Guidebook, which is scheduled for release April 9.


Best Law Schools Ranking

School                                   2014       2013

Top five

Yale University                  1              1

Harvard University          2              3

Stanford University         2              2

Columbia University       4              4

University of Chicago     4              5

Upstate New York Schools

Cornell University            13           14

SUNY Buffalo                     86           82

Syracuse University        96           96

Albany Law                         132         113

Source: U.S. News & World Report


Case Digests

See all Case Digests

Law News

See All Law News


How Is My Site?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...