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News Posted on March 15, 2011

UC Davis School of Law Jumps to 23rd in U.S. News Rankings

US News 2012UC Davis School of Law placed 23rd in the latest U.S. News & World Report rating of almost 200 American Bar Association-approved law schools.  The rankings, which appear in the recently released 2012 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools," confirm UC Davis' ascendance among the nation's top law schools.

"At UC Davis School of Law, we have made great strides in recent years, and our strong showing in the U.S. News rankings represents a welcome confirmation that our progress is being recognized on a national level," said Dean Kevin R. Johnson.  "We are proud to be ranked as one of the nation's top 25 law schools, and look forward to achieving even greater things in the years ahead." 

U.S. News has published annual rankings of American law schools since 1990.  It is probably the most prominent-though oft-criticized-annual ranking and is considered widely influential among law students and employers.  Having graduated its first class in 1969, UC Davis is the youngest law school ranked in the top 25, and indeed the youngest in the top 35.  Although it has received excellent ratings throughout its history, the ranking at 23rd is the highest for Davis in some time, and reflects an upward arc in recent years. 

The UC Davis School of Law faculty was also rated 23rd in the most recent (2010) comprehensive faculty quality assessment undertaken by Brian Leiter, a law professor at the University of Chicago, whose periodic rating of law faculty productivity and influence is often regarded as the single most systematic evaluation of American law school quality.  Leiter's rankings are second in prominence among law school ranking systems only to the U.S. News annual survey.  UC Davis also placed 23rd in the U.S. News 2012 ranking of "The Most Diverse Law Schools," which measures student diversity.

UC Davis School of Law has in recent years made impressive strides in several areas that have contributed and will continue to contribute to its growing national reputation.  The Law School recently completed a new wing for its Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall, including the state-of-the-art Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom, which recently hosted a session of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and is in the process of renovating the original wing -- a construction project involving more than $37 million in total.  In addition, several distinguished senior faculty have moved to UC Davis from other outstanding universities, bolstering the Law School's already strong faculty and reputation. Angela Harris from UC Berkeley, Ashutosh Bhagwat from UC Hastings, and Gabriel "Jack" Chin from the University of Arizona have accepted offers from UC Davis for the coming academic year, joining Mario Biagioli from Harvard University, Miguel Méndez from Stanford University, Leticia Saucedo from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Richard Frank from UC Berkeley, and Dennis Ventry, Jr. from American University as recent additions.

Enhanced awareness of the Law School's successes by law professors, lawyers, and prospective students nationwide-and increases in the numerical qualifications of the entering class of law students-were factors in this year's rating.  Because the criteria used by U.S. News can generate significant fluctuations from year to year, it is important not to place undue emphasis on any given year's performance in the survey, Johnson said.   Still, the overall trend of increasing excellence and rising national prominence reflected in the rising U.S. News rankings exists independently of any ranking methodology, he added. 

"These are exciting times at King Hall," said Johnson.  "We have a new building, outstanding faculty, and increasing national and international prominence.  In just a little more than 40 years, UC Davis has become firmly established among the top echelon of American law schools, and we are determined to continue our upward trajectory for years to come."