University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law retains top-tier status

(March 14, 2017) —The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law’s traditional strengths as a top-tier law school and national leader in environmental law are reflected in newly released rankings of top U.S. law schools. According to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of Best Graduate Schools, the College of Law is ranked 44th among 196 ABA-approved U.S. law schools. For the third year in a row, the law school retained its position as a top 10 program for environmental law.

“Although any given set of rankings is just one measure of a law school’s value, we are pleased by this continuing indicator of our excellent quality and the success of our students. Nevertheless, our main focus continues to be on quality and value of the education and opportunities we provide our students, along with the tremendous service we provide to our community,” said Robert Adler, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

The school has continually scored among the top 50 law schools in the country over the past decade.  Besides a strong overall showing, the College of Law’s historically strong program in environmental and natural resources law, with its flagship Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, was named as the ninth best environmental law program in the country.

Adler said he was particularly pleased that the College of Law continues to thrive at a time when many exciting changes at the school are underway to enhance innovation in legal education, bolster community service, set an example for sustainable practices and provide students with new opportunities for skills training.

The College of Law celebrated a historic milestone earlier this year, with the one-year anniversary of its new building on the University of Utah campus. The building received a prestigious LEED platinum designation, an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and has won awards for both sustainability and accessibility.

The law school has continued with its 100/100 initiative, a goal to reach 100 percent bar passage and 100 percent employment rates for all law school graduates.  The initiative builds on the law school’s already high bar passage rate of over 91 percent and professional employment rate of 92 percent— figures that are significantly higher than national averages across the country among law students.

Part of the 100/100 initiative includes a plan by the law school to find every law student a practicing lawyer mentor through its mentor U program, and a new series of “leadership lunches” in which students have small-group opportunities to learn the ins and outs of legal practice from a range of experienced practitioners. The school also continues to provide an intensive student-faculty learning opportunity for every student through one-on-one or small group work. Affordability is also part of the 100/100 goal, so students can focus on studying and graduate with less debt.

In addition to new initiatives, several hallmarks of excellence at the College of Law continue. Students at the College of Law have won six national competition awards in the past five years for legal writing and oral advocacy. This year, student teams from the college have continued to excel in external competitions, reaching the “sweet sixteen” in the National Moot Court Competition and the final rounds of several other competitions in negotiation, transactional law, and various forms of written and oral advocacy.  The school focuses on community engaged learning, and students devote more than 40,000 hours of legal service each year to under-represented communities while gaining valuable practical skills.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings show that we remain among the ranks of the nation’s top law schools, but much more important, that we continue to work toward continuous improvement in the quality of our legal education and the success of our students and alumni around the country,” said Adler.