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College of Law among top 30 in annual US News rankings

March 12, 2013

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is among the nation’s leading law schools, according to an annual survey of graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report. The College of Law is now ranked the No. 29 law school in the country.

The 2014 "Best Law Schools" report, released by U.S. News on March 12, also ranked the College of Law’s Legal Method and Writing Program the fifth best among all law schools. The program’s high ranking comes on the heels of an announcement that an ASU Law student has earned, for the third consecutive year, a prominent national legal writing award.

“Today’s news is further confirmation of the great things going on at this law school, and a testament to the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff to create an environment that is truly student-centered,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the school. “In what is clearly a challenging environment nationally for law students and for law schools, we are fortunate to have the resources, curriculum and geographic advantages to parlay into rewarding experiences for our students.”

The College of Law takes a unique and comprehensive approach to education, giving its students the best opportunities in both academics and research, and in practical skills training, Sylvester said. Additionally, the law school in 2012 enrolled the strongest-credentialed entering class in its 44-year history, he said, noting the students’ median GPA and LSAT scores were 3.65 and 163, respectively. Such a rise is rare, if not unique, among the top 50 law schools in the United States, and that jump in credentials was undoubtedly an important factor in the U.S. News calculations.

“We believe our stature as a top law school requires us to work hard, and we look forward to finding more innovative ways to help our students and our graduates stand apart, specifically, and to improve legal education, more generally,” he said.

Sylvester noted that few top law schools put as much effort and as many resources into legal method and writing as does the College of Law. The program has eight full-time faculty with more than 70 years of combined teaching experience, and myriad courses are offered, including first-semester sections limited to 20 or fewer students.

“Our law-school peers have, with this ranking, recognized the value we place on helping our students become successful in legal writing,” he said.

The College of Law’s prominence in the top 30 overall rankings is tied to several student-centered initiatives that have been created in the past year, including:

• ASU recently approved the Summer 2013 launch of the ASU Alumni Law Group, a teaching law firm that will hire and mentor recent graduates of the College of Law. The Law Group, a stand-alone, nonprofit firm that is modeled after a teaching hospital, will be a full-service, fee-based institution that will prepare new and recent graduates to move from the classroom to practice.

• The College of Law has invested additional financial resources into student and graduate career services, including the recent hiring of a full-time recruiter to work with graduates in their job searches.

• In December, the Arizona Board of Regents and the City of Phoenix took steps to advance the relocation of the College of Law to downtown Phoenix. The new building, the Arizona Center for Law and Society, is scheduled to open in 2016. The move will bring students closer to many of the region’s largest public and private employers.

• The college announced the creation of the North American Law Degree, a three-year J.D. designed to prepare graduates to seek licensure in both Canada and the U.S., and also prepare them for cross-border practice, a growing area of need for businesses. The degree will uniquely position graduates to work in international law. 

• The College of Law played a key role in helping to lead the proposal – approved by the Arizona Supreme Court – to allow third-year law students to sit for the spring bar exam. This rule change is expected to give ASU students an advantage in the job market by making them more employable more quickly.

• The College of Law has dramatically expanded the number of hands-on, experiential opportunities for its students by more than quadrupling the number of clinics in the Clinical Program in the last 10 years. In 2002, the Clinical Program had three clinics. It now has 13.

Media contact:
Janie Magruder,
College of Law