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St. John’s School of Law Rises 25 Spots on the 2016 U.S. News List of Best Law Schools

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

St. John’s School of Law has jumped 25 spots to 82nd place in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 “Best Law Schools” rankings.

As reported in the National Law Journal, this was the biggest rankings increase of the year. “With the hard work, dedication, and personal sacrifice of our faculty, administrators, and staff—and with the unprecedented generosity of our alumni—St. John’s School of Law is moving forward in a transformative way,” said Dean Michael A. Simons, J.D.

The jump reflects St. John’s Law School’s varied achievements over the past year:

  • A 13 percent increase in applications for the entering Class of 2014—one of only 37 law schools in the country to see an increase, and one of only 20 law schools to see an increase over 10%
  • The median LSAT’s rise in 2014 from 156 to 157, and the median GPA’s increase from 3.39 to 3.45, making St. John’s one of only two New York law schools to boost these key student credentials
  • An increase from 78 percent to 86 percent in the overall employment rate for the Class of 2013, and from 61 percent to 67 percent for full-time, long-term, law-related jobs, above the national average on both measures
  • Reaching fourth in the state on the July 2014 New York bar exam, just behind New York University, Columbia, and Cornell
  • Receiving $3.7 million in alumni gifts, with total gifts and pledges increasing 225 percent to exceed $6.5 million, making 2014 a record fundraising year
  • Fifty-eight new endowed scholarships as part of the Brennan Family Scholarship Matching Program
  • Ranking 23rd in the nation (fourth in New York) in the number of alumni promoted to partner at the National Law Journal’s 250 largest firms in 2014
  • Achieving 14th place nationwide in 2014 for “Law Schools Where Debt Has Dropped the Most”
  • Earning a number 23 ranking for 2014 among America’s "Best Value Private Law Schools

These outcomes are rooted in a new strategic plan to strengthen the Law School. With this foundation in place, the School is achieving its vision in these ways:

Enriching the Curriculum
The Law School focuses on giving students the education they need to pass the bar, find jobs, and succeed in today’s profession. While continuing to emphasize the fundamentals of legal analysis and legal writing, the curriculum now offers more than a dozen advanced classes in drafting, ten in-house and partner clinics, and hundreds of externship and internship placements. Nearly three-quarters of the most recent graduates have taken at least one clinic or externship.

This year, the faculty adapted the academic calendar to create space for innovative intersession courses—intensive, two-week experiences that give students skills essential to practicing law today. All 1Ls take “Lawyering,” a new required course that offers an intensive introduction to negotiation, counseling, and drafting. Building practical skills is emphasized in upper-level courses on drafting, bankruptcy practice, patent application preparation and prosecution, pre-trial advocacy, and business planning. Other courses address the role of in-house counsel, social media law, health-care fraud, and “e-discovery.”

Expanding Centers of Academic Excellence
The Law School also integrates career development with the curriculum through its academic centers, which allow students, faculty, and alumni together to explore emerging legal issues with leaders in specialized fields. Last summer, the Center for International and Comparative Law and the Center for Law and Religion joined with the Department of Law at the Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta (LUMSA) to present a two-day conference on International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values in Rome. The event was opened by Pope Francis, who received attendees in a private audience at the Papal Palace.

This fall, the School launched the St. John’s Intellectual Property Law Center. Directed by Jeremy Sheff, J.D., professor of law, it is a forum for research, education, professional development, and service addressing the legal and policy issues of the knowledge economy.

Producing Faculty Scholarship with Real-World Impact
Faculty continue to produce exceptional scholarship while contributing to the field through scholarly research and writing, presentations, and media appearances. The Law School’s Faculty Scholarship Blog chronicles many of them:

  • Anita Krishnakumar, J.D. professor of law, had her article, “Dueling Canons,” has been accepted for publication by the Duke Law Journal
  • Michael Perino, J.D., Dean George W. Matheson Professor of Law, has co-authored an article, “Is the Price Right? An Empirical Study of Fee-Setting in Securities Class Actions,” to be published in the Columbia Law Review
  • Larry Cunningham, J.D., associate academic dean and professor of legal writing, contributed to a widely syndicated AP story about the Department of Justice report into the Ferguson Police Department
  • The BBC interviewed Prof. Christopher J. Borgen, J.D., professor of law and co-director of the Center for International and Comparative Law, about the conflict in the Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and international law
  • Mark L. Movsesian, J.D., director of the Center for Law and Religion, was quoted in a Desert News story on religious objections to vaccinations

 “Although we’re only in year one of our five-year strategic plan,” Simons observed, “I’m confident that St. John’s will continue to be a school on the rise. The goal is to improve those measures that matter most to our students and to their employers. Our view is that if our inputs and outcomes are improving, our law school is improving. And that’s what’s most important.”