University of Southern California campus. Courtesy photo.

In a year of relatively little movement among the U.S. News & World Report’s closely watched law school rankings, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law was the biggest jumper in the top 20, moving up from No. 19 last year to No. 17 this year.

This year’s list, released Tuesday, featured no movement among the top seven schools, including Stanford Law School, which held steady at No. 2. The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law picked up one spot to No. 15 and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law fell one spot to No. 10, where it is in a three-way tie with Duke and Northwestern.

Back on the U.S. News list this year is Pepperdine University School of Law, which nearly cracked the top 50, coming in at No. 51. U.S. News left Pepperdine off the rankings last year after the school flagged a mistake in the figures it had reported to U.S. News pertaining to the median LSAT score of its newest class. (U.S. News provides each school an early copy of the list to check the accuracy of the data.) School administrators predicted that Pepperdine would have claimed the 62nd position had the correct LSAT number been factored in. The school’s last official ranking was No. 72.

Pepperdine law dean Paul Caron said he believes his widely read TaxProfBlog has helped spread the word about the law school and raise awareness of its strengths. That exposure, coupled with the stronger credentials and employment outcomes that the school has achieved due to smaller class sizes, has bolstered its ranking, he said.

“Our law school dinner is ordinarily held each year in early March,” Caron said. “But after last year’s rankings hiccup, I decided to move this year’s dinner to March 30 so it would take place after the release of the new law school rankings. I was so confident about the direction of our law school that we decided that the theme of this year’s dinner would be that Pepperdine Law is ‘on the rise.’  I am glad I was right, or it would have been a very awkward dinner!”