Apr 25

School of Law faculty recognized for scholarly excellence and impact

Published on: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The University of St. Thomas School of Law ranked second in a study measuring faculty productivity based on publications in top law journals. The study, conducted by faculty at the Roger Williams Law School, focuses on law schools ranked outside of the U.S. News and World Report top 50.  The School of Law ranked just behind the University of San Diego and ahead of Case Western Reserve University.  The study applies methodology used by Professor Brian Leiter to measure faculty publications in top legal journals.  This is the first year that the University of St. Thomas was eligible to participate in the study, as only Association of American Law School members are eligible.  The School of Law was admitted into AALS membership in January.

This latest ranking follows an earlier study showing that the School of Law faculty ranks thirty-eighth in the country in terms of scholarly impact, as measured by the frequency with which faculty members are cited by other scholars.  Associate Dean Robert Vischer sees these rankings as helpful indicators of the remarkable success the School of Law has enjoyed in building a top-flight scholarly culture.  “The rankings are one measure of success,” Vischer notes, “but I’m even prouder of the fact that our scholars are tackling real-world issues that matter to people’s lives.  They are producing cutting-edge scholarship that impacts the legal system and enhances our students’ educational experience.”  St. Thomas faculty regularly translate their scholarly insights into legislative testimony, amicus briefs, and policy papers.  Outstanding scholarship and a commitment to teaching have created an outstanding synergy that directly benefits students.  As Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy Tom Berg observes, “My scholarship shapes my advocacy work, and both shape my teaching.  I can’t imagine teaching my students religious liberty without staying active in the current national debates.”  Dean Vischer cites several other examples of practice areas in which the faculty’s scholarly strength helps students gain a deeper understanding of the law, including criminal law, corporate finance, corporate governance, employment law, estate planning, professional ethics, and alternative dispute resolution.

The School of Law’s commitment to scholarship adds value outside the classroom as well.  Many faculty members invite students to assist in their research, occasionally as coauthors. Students are also involved in the ongoing work of the Holloran Center for Ethics in the Professions  and the Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy. Further, the School of Law’s upper-level writing requirement gives students the opportunity to work on their own scholarship under the close supervision of a leading expert in their chosen field.  Some of these student papers have been published in scholarly journals.  As Vischer explains, “Scholarly excellence at St. Thomas is not just about our faculty’s prestigious publications.  It’s about building an intellectual community that helps produce better lawyers and a more just society.”

The Roger Williams Faculty Productivity Study took place during the 2011-2012 academic school year and is the central research piece to the article, “Per Capita Productivity of Articles in Top Journals, 1993-2011: Law Schools Outside the U.S. News Top 50.”  


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