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Law schools at Emory University and the University of Georgia were neck and neck in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, with Emory at No. 26 and Georgia next at No. 27.

The near-tie occurred because Emory fell four spots and Georgia gained five spots from last year’s rankings, with Emory at 22 and Georgia at 32.

Georgia State University law school fell two spots, from 65 to 67, while Mercer University’s law school fell 10 points, from 128 to 138. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was unranked because it is on probation with the American Bar Association, the magazine stated.

Emory’s interim law dean, James B. Hughes Jr., said: “As a top-ranked global law school, our mission is to teach our students to think critically about the rule of law and ensure they are well-prepared to excel in their future careers.”

Georgia’s law dean, Peter “Bo” Rutledge, said: ”The University of Georgia School of Law has made epic strides in pursuit of its vision to be the nation’s best return on investment in legal education.”

Cathy Cox, the dean at Mercer, said, “We obviously would rather be moving up in the rankings in a year when our bar passage rate went up, but that underscores to a large extent the arbitrariness of the rankings year to year. We are focused on making sure our students are ‘practice-ready’ at graduation and find meaningful employment as soon as they leave here.”

A comment from Georgia State had not been obtained when this article was posted.

Nationally, the top seven schools remained the same for the second straight year, with Yale Law School at No. 1, followed by Stanford Law School; Harvard Law School; the University of Chicago Law School; Columbia Law School; New York University School of Law, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The No. 10 spot is a three-way tie between Duke, Northwestern and Berkeley.

Around neighboring states, Vanderbilt came in at 18; Florida and Wake Forest tied for 31; the University of North Carolina came in at 34; Florida State University was 48; and the University of Tennessee came in at 59.

The magazine says its rankings come from the following factors: assessment from peer law school deans; lawyers and judges; median LSAT and GRE scores; median undergraduate GPA; acceptance rates; job placement success; bar exam pass rate; expenditures per student; student-faculty ratio; and library resources.