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Stanford Law School is once again the second best law school in the country, according to this year’s rankings of the top law schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The report, released Monday, shows Yale keeping its No. 1 spot with Harvard Law School coming in third followed by Columbia University and New York University. Among Northern California law schools, Boalt Hall School of Law dropped one spot to ninth while Hastings College of the Law dropped four spots to number 36. Meanwhile, Boalt’s intellectual property curriculum remained the No. 1 program in the nation. Stanford’s IP program moved up to the seventh spot from 12th in 2000. Meanwhile, Santa Clara University School of Law’s IP program stayed as one of the 10 best in the country but inched down two spots from number five to seven. Overall rankings for schools in the second, third and fourth tiers were not available Friday afternoon. Last year, the University of San Francisco School of Law and Santa Clara placed in the third tier. “I think we are a better school than the U.S. News ranking indicates,” said Hastings’ academic dean Leo Martinez. Martinez isn’t alone in that belief. In a separate part of the survey, Hastings scored as the 23rd best law school in the country among academics and 18th among lawyers and judges. In a memorandum to Hastings’ students dated March 30, 2001, the school’s dean, Mary Kay Kane, tried to explain why her school had dropped even though its reputation among academics and legal professionals was high. In addition, the number of students who have jobs waiting when they graduate went up. “My best explanation for that is that although our overall score actually improved, the score of some other schools that were clustered around us last year improved more, which caused them to move up,” she said. “As has been the case in the last few years, slight changes in a few categories result in a constant shifting of ranks among the same group of schools.” Last year, Hastings tied at the 32nd spot with Boston University, Brigham Young University and Fordham University. This year Boston placed in a five-way tie at 27, Brigham Young in a two-way tie at 38 and Fordham in a tie with UC-Davis at 32. Hastings’ bar passage rate in California declined from 87 percent — as reported in the 2000 survey — to 78.3 percent in this year’s. The school’s students were beat out by those at Stanford, Boalt Hall, UCLA, University of Southern California and UC-Davis, according to the magazine. Hastings is currently undergoing an internal survey aimed at bringing its bar pass rate to the middle of the pack of California’s top law schools. Preliminary recommendations include having only Hastings faculty or visiting professors familiar with California law teach first-year courses and ensuring that professors who teach bar courses are familiar with what the California Bar looks for and how they test for that information. At Boalt, IP professor Mark Lemley was happy that his school’s IP program held its top spot and not all that surprised at Stanford’s surge in IP rankings. “I think Stanford’s ranking is understandable if you factor in Lawrence Lessig,” he said. One of the country’s leading scholars in Internet law, Lessig joined Stanford in the fall of 2000 from Harvard Law School. Meanwhile, Boalt announced the opening of its Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic in April 2000 and took on Deirdre Mulligan, a leading advocate for free speech and privacy rights on the Internet, as the clinic’s director in January 2001. Professor Howard Shelanski also returned to the school’s faculty after a leave of absence to serve as chief economist of the Federal Communications Commission. He concentrates on telecommunications, regulation and antitrust law. This year’s rankings also marked the addition of a new category for racial and ethnic diversity. Santa Clara University said its law school ranked among the top 10 in the country joining five schools in Southern California. Hastings said it was ranked at No. 17. “Unfortunately,” Kane said, “the diversity index is displayed separately and that ranking was not included as part of computing the overall ranking.”

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