UF Law high in new U.S. graduate school rankings

Published: March 19th, 2012

Category: News

2012 Rankings for UF LawBy Debra Amirin

The University of Florida Levin College of Law’s Tax Program continues to rank first among public law schools and second overall, its Environmental and Land Use Law Program rose four places to fifth among publics/ninth overall, and its Dispute Resolution Program rose three places to seventh among publics/16th overall in U.S. News & World Report rankings released today. UF’s law school is in the top 20 (10 percent) in three of the nine specialty program rankings.

The publication’s annual rankings of the nation’s graduate schools place UF’s law school 25th among public schools and 48th out of 200 accredited law schools nationwide.

“While we are pleased to remain ranked in the top quarter of the nation’s law schools, particularly as we deal with continuing budget challenges, we are certain UF Law would have ranked considerably higher if U.S. News had not changed how it ranks schools,” said UF Law Dean Robert Jerry. “The method for ranking shifted last year to counting graduates who immediately enroll in post-J.D. programs like LL.M. programs as unemployed. This hurts us more than most other institutions due to the much larger number of UF Law students — 10.7 percent in this class — who continue their study in a graduate program such as our highly regarded tax LL.M.”

“This highlights how frustrating rankings can be, since, as I have said every year, they are rarely accurate measures of institutional quality,” said Jerry. He added that a better indication of institutional strength in U.S. News rankings is reputation, where UF Law continues to be highly rated in the top 20th percentile or better – 15th among publics and 35th overall in peer assessment, and 17th among publics and 38th overall in lawyer/judge assessment. This coupled with comparatively low tuition makes the Levin College of Law widely regarded as one of the nation’s best values in legal education. (A chart ranking law schools by reputation was posted on the blog Taxprof at http:/taxprof.typepad.com/.)

“The college’s reputation is one reason UF Law has ranked in the top three in the U.S. News specialty tax area for as long as they have published the list,” said Associate Dean for Graduate Tax Mike Friel. “It is gratifying to know we remain listed as the top public school and second overall, and credit our outstanding faculty’s scholarship and reputation for this distinction.”

UF’s Law Environmental and Land Use Law (ELUL) and Dispute Resolution programs have been steadily rising in the annual specialty area rankings.

ELUL Program Director Mary Jane Angelo said, “We are proud that UF’s Environmental and Land Use Law Program is ranked 5th among all public and 9th among all law school environmental programs. The program’s ranking has been steadily rising in recent years and our current ranking reflects the depth and breadth of our program, as well as the accomplishments and strong reputation of our faculty and students.”

The University of Florida’s Levin College of Law played an active role in the development of alternative dispute resolution in the state, and its Institute for Dispute Resolution (IDR) was the first of its kind established at a law school in Florida, as a result of state legislators enacting one of the first laws in the country giving judges broad authority to order mediation in all types of civil lawsuits, according to IDR Director Robin Davis.

“We monitor the school’s progress closely. We know that we have earned our excellent reputation in very real, measurable ways and we are proud that our graduates continue to lead the profession,” Jerry said, citing the college’s long history of producing national leaders, including 2010-11 ABA President Stephen Zack and the majority of Florida Bar presidents. The prominence of our alumni in the federal and state judiciaries also speaks loudly about our quality.”

UF Law was ranked fourth among public law schools in 2011 (eighth overall) in the number of its graduates serving as federal district and circuit court judges; more than 250 graduates serve as state appellate and trial judges in Florida, and many serve in those roles in other states as well.

“That a large number of law schools hire our graduates as law professors is also a sign of the college’s strength,” said Jerry. A study published in the August 2011 Journal of Legal Education ranked UF Law in the top 33 (17 percent) of law schools nationwide, and as high as 22nd (11 percent) in one calculation, for placement in the professoriate in legal education.

“It is remarkable that despite continuing budget cuts, the Levin College of Law has not only managed to sustain its top tax ranking and remain a top 50 law school, it is also attracting national attention for its strength in environmental and land use law and dispute resolution.”

“We’ve had to manage our money very carefully,” said Jerry. “But we’ve been able to continue to move forward when other schools have not thanks to the generosity and foresight of our graduates and their families as well as others who believe in the value of what we do here. When we dedicate the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center March 30, we will be wrapping up a decade of transformation for our law school these supporters have made possible.”