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The University of Houston Law Center jumped 10 positions � from 70 to 60 � in the annual law school rankings by U.S. News & World Report. UH acting law Dean Raymond T. Nimmer says there has been no one specific change at the school that would account for the rankings change. “My view is that the rankings and perceptions they reflect typically are behind what reality is,” Nimmer says. “I think we actually are better than the rankings show.” Nimmer notes the school’s reputation for its health and intellectual property programs. Other growing areas of study include the school’s consumer law and children and the law programs, he says. At this time last year, the school was in an uproar about its slip in the rankings to the 70th slot, which became the catalyst for then-Dean Nancy Rapoport’s decision to resign as dean. About the irony in the rankings turnabout, Nimmer says, “All of us here are looking forward rather than backward.” Rapoport, a tenured professor at UH who has been on sabbatical since June 1, 2006, says she will teach bankruptcy law at UH in the fall. She notes the school’s excellence cannot be accurately measured by a magazine’s rankings. “It’s always nice when the U.S. News & World Report recognizes the quality of the school,” Rapoport says. “But it’s important to remember that the quality comes first, not the rankings.” The magazine ranks 184 American Bar Association-accredited law schools in the nation culminating in a list of the top 100, a third tier of similar-quality schools and a fourth tier also of similar-quality schools. Yale Law School is first on the top 100 list. According to the top 100 rankings, the University of Texas School of Law in Austin dropped from 16 to 18; Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas slipped three positions to 43; and Baylor University School of Law in Waco retains its rank at 53. UT law Dean Lawrence G. Sager says the school’s fall to 18th position is due to a data reporting fluke. UT categorized those graduates taking the February 2006 Texas bar exam as unemployed and studying for the bar full time rather than as unemployed and not seeking employment, Sager says. According to the magazine, when measuring the placement success of a school’s students nine months after graduation, those graduates reported as not seeking employment are excluded. Accordingly, UT scored lower in the job placement category, which is 14 percent of the overall ranking on the top 100 list, Sager says. He notes there is no way for the school to actually know the employment status of those taking the February bar exam (some for the second time). “We reported every person studying for the bar as unemployed,” he says. This year when filling out the magazine’s survey, the school will include those taking the February bar exam in the unemployed but not seeking employment category, he says. He does not know where the changed reporting will place UT in the rankings but did say “to be perfectly frank, I will not be happy until we are comfortably in the top 10.” The magazine includes the remaining five Texas law schools in its third- or fourth-tier listings. Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock retains its third-tier standing while Houston’s South Texas College of Law and Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, and Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth retain their fourth-tier status. The magazine also notes law schools with specialty strengths, ranking UH third for health law and eighth for intellectual property; South Texas fifth for trial advocacy; and UT ninth for tax law. U.S. News & World Report rates Texas Southern’s Thurgood Marshall along with Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando as the law schools with the most racially diverse student mix. UT, St. Mary’s and UH also have good showings in the diversity category.

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