Indiana law schools chart some reshuffling in national rankings

A change in methodology used to calculate the U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 law school rankings brought mixed results for Indiana’s legal education institutions.

In the 2023 rankings, released Tuesday, Notre Dame Law School slipped to the 25th slot, down from the 22nd spot it held for the 2022 and 2021 rankings. Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law leaped to 98th place from 111th while Indiana University Maurer School of Law remained at the 43rd mark.

The rankings are based on statistical and reputation data collected in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022 for the 192 law schools that are fully accredited by the American Bar Association.

Assessments by legal education peers and legal professionals of the law school’s quality constitutes 40% to the overall rank. Success of the school’s graduates based on employment and bar passage rates and the selectivity of the school based on the median LSAT and GRE scores as well as undergraduate grade point averages account for 26% and 21% of the rank, respectively. Finally, faculty, law school and library resources comprise 13% of the rank.

For the 2023 rankings, U.S. News changed how it assessed the bar passage rates for first-time takers. Now, all the graduates who took the bar for the first time were included where the previous methodology excluded many of the graduates.

Also, the publication lowered the library resources metrics from seven indicators to a single factor. The one new indicator looks at the ratio of full-time equivalent professional librarian positions to the full-time equivalent law students.

Notre Dame shared the 25th spot with the law schools at George Washington University and the University of Alabama. Lawyers and judges gave the Fighting Irish an assessment score of 4.0 on a scale where 5.0 was the highest score. Also, the 2020 graduates turned in an 84% employment rate 10 months after graduation and a weighted average first-time bar passage rate of 89.1%.

IU Maurer and the University of Wisconsin at Madison were both ranked 43rd. The Bloomington school had a lawyers’ and judges’ assessment score of 3.4. Its 10-month post-graduation employment rate for 2020 graduates was 81% and its 2020 weighted average first-time bar pass rate of 91.0%.

IU McKinney was joined in the 98th slot by Brooklyn Law School, Florida International University, Howard University and Saint Louis University. The Indianapolis school received an assessment score of 2.8 from lawyers and judges. Also, 79.2% of the 2020 graduates were employed 10 months after graduation and 77.2% was the 2020 weighted average first-time bar pass rate.

In addition, IU McKinney captured the 23rd spot in the rankings for part-time law school programs.

The rankings also included information on the average law school debt for the 2021 graduates. Notre Dame led the Indiana schools with an average debt of $121,755 while IU Maurer posted the lowest among the Hoosier institutions at $76,755. IU McKinney had an average debt of $94,650.

U.S. News also ranked the law schools in 13 different specialty rankings which include criminal law, clinical training and dispute resolution. The best placements came from IU McKinney, which landed at the 15th slot for legal writing and 17th mark for health care law while IU Maurer achieved the 15th spot for tax law.

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