The Law School moved up two places in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” 2009 rankings, placing it among the nation’s top-20 law schools.
The magazine ranks more than 180 American Bar Association-accredited law schools using grade point averages, test scores and acceptance rates, as well as expert opinions.
“There are a lot of factors that go into ranking – class sizes, graduation rates, resources, where graduates get placed and how quickly they find jobs,” said Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson.
The most heavily weighted part of the rating system comes from peer and professional assessments, according to U.S. News. This includes ratings from faculty as well as local lawyers and judges.
While there are several statistics that help to determine the quality of a school, Thomas Morrison, senior associate dean for administrative affairs at the Law School, said rankings are very subjective and often based on reputation.
The jumps in the ranks are rare, making GW’s jump from 22nd to 20th a relatively significant change, he said. Still, Morrison said he was not surprised by the improved rank.
“The rankings in the U.S. News told us that we went up two points; that’s nothing we didn’t know,” Morrison said. “We are a top 20 law school, and we’ve known that we were a top 20 law school for some time.” The Law School is anchored by the nation’s third-best intellectual property law program, which includes courses on music piracy and other Internet intellectual property issues.
Other prestigious programs include the school’s eighth-ranked international law program and its 16th-ranked environmental law program.
While Morrison said he doe not personally place a lot of importance on the U.S. News rankings, given their subjective nature, he said they do reflect progress in the Law School.
“The Law School is in a constantly improving status,” Morrison said. “All the different things we do here contribute to our reputation.”