The latest law school rankings by U.S. News & World Report might be causing three Texas law schools to jump for joy, and three others to shake their heads.
Three schools have enjoyed an upward trend in the rankings over the past three years. They include Baylor University School of Law in Waco, Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth and Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock.
Baylor’s 2019 ranking elevates it to No. 50. Last year it ranked No. 51, and its 2017 ranking placed it 55th.
Texas A&M continues a meteoric rise up the rankings. The school was No. 80 this year, which is a 12-spot gain compared to its 2018 ranking of No. 92 and its 2017 ranking of No. 111.
Texas Tech enjoys improvements to its rank. Its 2019 rank is No. 113 compared with No. 118 in last year’s rankings. In the 2017 rankings, Texas Tech came in at No. 123.
On the other hand, two schools have experienced a downward trend in rankings in the past three years: Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas and the University of Houston Law Center. Meanwhile, the University of Texas School of Law has remained fairly flat, even though its ranking this year might hurt the worst of the three.
This year, Texas has fallen out of the ranks of the top 14 elite law schools nationwide. The 2019 list puts the school at No. 15, even though last year its rank was No. 14. In 2017, Texas was also No. 15.
The 2019 rankings tied Southern Methodist for No. 50 with Baylor. Southern Methodist’s rank this year is a four-spot drop compared to last year, when it was ranked No. 46. On the 2017 rankings, the school was No. 45.
Similarly, Houston has seen a downward trend over three years. Its rank this year is No. 56, a slight drop from No. 54 last year. In 2017, Houston was considered Tier 1, with a ranking of No. 50.
U.S. News ranks only the top three-fourths of law schools, and doesn’t publish the ranks of the bottom quarter. This year’s list, just like the last two years, didn’t publish the ranks of St. Mary’s University School of Law, South Texas College of Law Houston or Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Last year, U.S. News didn’t rank the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law because it wasn’t accredited. It has provisional accreditation this year, but U.S. News still listed North Texas as unranked.
According to law.com, U.S. News’ methodology was similar this year and last, though its employment-rate calculation “slightly reduced” the discount it applies to graduate jobs funded through the law schools. The rankings give greatest weight—40 percent—on a school’s reputational assessments by legal academics, lawyers and judges. Next important at 25 percent are LSAT scores and undergrad GPAs. Then the rankings rely 20 percent on job placement and bar pass rates. Finally, 15 percent of the ranking is based on faculty resources.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the accreditation status of University of North Texas Dallas College of Law.
Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AMorrisReports