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Law School Briefs - 3/30/11

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Law School Briefs

Law School Briefs is Indiana Lawyer’s section highlighting news from law schools in Indiana. While IL has always covered law school news and continues to keep up with law school websites and press releases for updates, we gladly accept submissions for this section from law students, professors, alumni, and others who want to share law school-related news. If you’d like to submit news or a photo from an event, please send it to Jennifer Montgomery at jmontgomery@ibj.com, along with contact information for any follow-up questions at least two weeks in advance of the issue date.

2 Indiana schoolsin magazine top 25

Two Indiana law schools have again been ranked in the top 25 law schools in U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of top graduate schools, released March 15 on the magazine’s website, www.usnews.com, under “U.S. News Rankings.” A third Indiana law school placed in the top 100, and a fourth was ranked among other fourth-tier schools.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Notre Dame Law School tied for 23rd. They also tied for 23rd in 2009. Last year, Notre Dame was ranked 22nd, and IU Maurer School of Law was ranked 27th. The law school in Bloomington was ranked seventh among public law schools.

Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis was ranked 79th, up from 86th in 2010. It also ranked eighth for legal writing programs, the only Indiana law school to place in the top 10 for various specialties the magazine ranked in 2011, including clinical training, dispute resolution, environmental law, healthcare law, intellectual property law, tax law, and international law.

Indianapolis’ only law school’s ranking has been affected by changes in the methodology, made in 2009, to include part-time students’ information with full-time students. Previously, part-time and full-time programs were separate.

The school’s highest ranking in the last five years was in 2008, before the methodology change, when the school ranked 68th. That school’s part-time law program was not included among the part-time law schools in the 2011 rankings.

Valparaiso University School of Law’s ranking was among the fourth tier of law schools, as it has been in recent years. Representatives of that law school have said in past interviews that it has been an advantage for them because they don’t worry about the rankings and therefore, when considering applicants, give greater weight to factors other than LSAT scores and GPA. This has improved the diversity of applicants who have good, but not necessarily great, LSAT scores and GPAs and are still worthy candidates for the law school, they said.

The overall scores used for rankings are based on a weighted average of 12 measures, including median LSAT scores, acceptance rates, employment rates for graduates, bar passage rates, and student-faculty ratio. To be listed, law schools must be accredited and fully approved by the American Bar Association and draw a majority of its students from the U.S.

Nationwide, the list has received criticism from members of the legal community, including some law schools, saying it puts too much emphasis on LSAT scores and GPAs, adding that prospective students should look beyond these rankings to determine which school is their best match. Other studies and law school rankings do exist; at this time the U.S. News & World Report rankings are the most well-known.

A New York Times article in January 2011 also received much attention in the legal community for its criticism of the rankings because of the way information about employment of law school graduates is collected. Sources in that article said it may be misleading to applicants who use these rankings to determine where to apply.

Representatives of Indiana law schools, speaking in response to that article, told Indiana Lawyer that unless the rankings system itself changes, these numbers will continue to be misleading and that applicants should take the initiative to contact the schools’ career services offices directly for breakdowns of employment statistics.

– Rebecca Berfanger

ABA recognizes NW Indiana law school

The American Bar Association awarded Valparaiso University School of Law a certificate of appreciation for hosting the 7th Circuit Spring Meeting at the school Feb. 19. The 7th Circuit Law Student Division of the ABA consists of the northwest Indiana school and 14 other law schools in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Valparaiso University School of Law student Bryan Rogers was elected as the 2011-2012 7th Circuit governor. Yjimizia Jones was awarded the Silver Key for her help planning the meeting, and Carter Alleman was awarded the Silver Key for his work as Student Bar Association president at the school.

The Silver Key is the highest award given on the circuit level of the ABA.•

– IL Staff

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  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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