School of Law makes first appearance in U.S. News & World Report rankings

The University of St. Thomas School of Law is in the third tier among 184 law schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report magazine. The 2007 rankings were announced Friday.

St. Thomas joins three other Midwest law schools – Creighton University in Nebraska, Drake University in Iowa, and William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul – in the third tier.

This was the first year St. Thomas was eligible to be included in the magazine’s ranking of the 184 schools. The magazine only ranks law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association. St. Thomas reopened its law school in 2001 (it was closed during the Great Depression) and received full accreditation in February 2006, six months sooner than expected.

While the magazine has a third and fourth tier for its law school rankings, there are only three categories. The first category, “The Top 100 Schools,” has 104 schools because of a five-way tie for 100th place. The schools in this category are ranked numerically, from first place to 100th place. There is no second tier. The third tier, with 35 schools, alphabetically lists schools that fall between 105th place and 140th place. The fourth tier, also alphabetical, has 45 schools. The University of Minnesota, the only Minnesota school of law in “The Top 100 Schools” category, was in a tie for 20th place. Hamline University, St. Paul, is in the fourth tier.

“We are quite pleased with this first ranking,” commented Thomas Mengler, dean of the St. Thomas School of Law. “Our goal from the beginning has been to pursue our mission and deliver the best education to our students, anticipating that recognition for excellence would follow.”

The St. Thomas School of Law welcomed 120 students when it opened in 2001; it now enrolls 439. Last year, for the second year running, it was ranked No. 1 nationally for “Best Quality of Life” among students by Princeton Review. Last year, Princeton Review also ranked the St. Thomas Law School No. 10 nationally in its “Professors Rock (Legally Speaking)” category.

Prior to full accreditation, the school’s Mentor Externship Program received the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award by the American Bar Association, and was a finalist for the association’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching Professionalism. Last year, U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Thomas as having one of the top-20 legal writing programs in the nation.