The Catholic University of America






CUA Law Comments on Recent US News Rankings


Given the ongoing turmoil in legal education precipitated by a dramatic decline in enrollment at all U.S. Law schools in recent years, our drop from # 80 to #107 in the just released US News rankings was not unexpected.  This annually recalculated ranking has no connection to the excellence of the education we offer. We are the same law school with the same strengths that we were yesterday and that we will remain tomorrow. Let's put the new rankings in context:

  • To begin with, let's consider what else US News says about the Columbus School of Law. Our part-time JD program is ranked at #20 and clinical training in law is #14. Our Law School is also listed in the survey as being among the 100 most racially and ethnically diverse in the country.
  • The Law School ranks 22nd nationally on the list of “The Law Schools Whose Grads Earn the Biggest Paychecks,” according to a study released by Forbes magazine based on our graduates’ starting median salary of $81,500.  Besides Georgetown, no other area law school appears on Forbes’ top 25 list. 
  • CUA Law ranks 36th among the number of partners at the largest law firms (significantly outperforming our U.S. News ranking) and is the 6th ranked top feeder school for law firm partners in the Washington area (ahead of Yale, Chicago, Michigan, and Columbia). See Theodore P. Seto, Where Do Partners Come From? 62 J. Legal Educ. 242 (2012).
  • The Law School ranks 39th nationally in the number of alumni who were promoted from associate to partner at the nation’s 250 largest law firms during 2013, according to “The Top 50 Go-To Law Schools,” a new survey from The National Law Journal.
  • We will soon report to the ABA an employment rate of 82% for the class of 2013, an uptick of nearly two percentage points from the previous year.  But, curiously, US News reports our class of 2012 employment rate at 62% (not the actual 80%), after making its own value judgments about the appropriate weight to be assigned different types of jobs. 
The formulas used by US News to calculate law school rankings should not be confused with an objective methodology. Fully 40% of a law school’s ranking consists of merely the “opinions” of those surveyed, meaning that those who fill out the annual questionnaires are asked to assign a 1 to 5 grade to every accredited law school in the country, regardless of what they really know about a given institution and without being asked to provide any information to support any ranking.
Beyond these rankings, it is important to focus on several key aspects of our program at CUA Law.  

  • First, while over two-thirds of all ABA accredited law schools experienced a decline in their first-year classes in the fall of 2013, our Law School is one of only 13% of all ABA law schools where the size of the incoming first-year class this past fall increased by 10% or more over the previous year. 

  • Second, what's most important about our program -- both full-time and part-time -- is not any ranking but our quality: we are adamant about continuing our commitment to attracting high-caliber students and offering them a first-rate education. Our innovative educational program ensures that our graduates will remain among the best-prepared and most practice-ready in the nation.
  •  Third, our academic and co-curricular offerings are richer and more diverse than ever. We continue to offer a variety of outstanding opportunities to students in our excellent courses, clinics, and externships enriched by doctrinal teaching and practical training. In addition to our highly-regarded certificate programs in communications, comparative and international law, law and public policy, and securities law, we now offer new specialized concentrations in civil litigation, criminal litigation, family law, intellectual property law, and labor and employment. We also have initiated three new clinics in the areas of clemency, criminal defense, and immigration through novel partnerships with, respectively, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, the Arlington Public Defender, and Catholic Charities.