University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law climbs in U.S. News & World Report rankings

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law’s strengths as a top-tier law school, national leader in environmental law and growing powerhouse in the field of health law are reflected in newly released rankings of best U.S. law schools. According to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 edition of Best Graduate Schools, the College of Law is ranked 47th among 192 ABA-approved U.S. law schools, and 21st among public law schools. For the fifth year in a row, the law school retained its position as a top 10 program for environmental law.

“The favorable rankings reflect the many ways the school helps its students pursue their legal career through superior training by a top-notch faculty. This is also reflected in increasingly high bar passage rates and job placements relative to many other schools,” said Bob Adler, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

The school has continually scored high among the top public law schools in the country over the past decade.  Besides a strong overall showing, the College of Law’s historically superb program in environmental and natural resources law, with its flagship Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, earned a tie for the 8th best environmental law program in the country, moving up one spot from a year ago.

“Given the College of Law’s commitment through the Wallace Stegner Center to the field of environmental law, we appreciate being recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the top law school programs in this legal field,” said Robert Keiter, director of the Wallace Stegner Center.  “The ranking reflects the dedication and productivity of our talented and engaged faculty.”

The College of Law’s health law program broke into the national rankings for the first time in history, scoring as the 36th best program in health law. The program has elevated itself on the national stage after its Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences (LABS) became a permanent center in 2015. The center is continuing to gain momentum and improve on the quality of its scholarship, programs and student opportunities.

“This ranking reflects the unique way that our law school addresses cutting edge issues in law and the biosciences through our impactful research and our innovative student fellowship program,” said Leslie Francis, a law professor and director of the Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences.

Several hallmarks of excellence at the College of Law continue. Students at the College of Law have won numerous national competition awards in the past seven years for legal writing and oral advocacy, including two “best brief” awards in national competitions this year. The school also focuses heavily on community engaged learning.

One benchmark is an Association of American Law Schools (AALS) survey taken earlier this year which measured how much law schools contribute to the delivery of legal services through clinics, other experiential courses and pro bono activities of law students.  In December 2018, 84 law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018 contributed more than 3.48 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 211 hours per student. At the College of Law, service hours for the 95 students in the Class of 2018 amounted to 27,815.75 hours.  The number means each graduating law student volunteered 293 hours.

This year the College of Law expanded its mission and outreach through the debut of a new Master of Legal Studies degree program. The three-semester executive master’s degree program is designed for professionals who may benefit from legal training but do not wish to practice as an attorney. The MLS program’s curriculum is structured for working professionals and is designed to improve students’ fundamental understanding of the legal system.

“We’re gratified that the U.S. News & World Report rankings reflect our overall excellence, but it is just one of many indicators of how well we serve our students and our community,” said Adler.