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U.S. News Releases List of Top Law Schools in the Country

After Stanford Law School and Harvard Law School tied for the number two spot on the U.S. News & World Report Law School rankings, Harvard has moved into the spot all by itself.

Last year, Duke Law School ranked number 11. This year, they are tied with the University of Michigan Law School at number 10. These are the only changes to the top 10 of the list, according to the National Law Journal. Michigan was ranked 9 last year, but still sits in the top 10 rankings.

For the past two years, Emory University School of Law was hovering close to the top 20 of the list. This year, Emory enters the top 20 with a number 19 ranking.

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The College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law landed on the list at number 24 this year, moving up nine spots.

“I’m pleased that we have improved so substantially,” dean Davison Douglas said. “We think we’re doing a lot of good things—we’re hiring faculty and, compared to our peer schools, we have brought in the best class. It’s gratifying to see external validation, while also recognizing that distinctions between the schools in the No. 20-to-30 range, where we are ranked, is really very narrow.”

Douglas said that the increased ranking for the law school is due to improved figures for placing graduates in jobs. For the 2012 graduating class, more than 85 percent of the graduates had jobs within nine months of receiving their degree. This number can be compared to 68 percent for the 2011 graduating class.

The biggest change in the top 50 was the fact that Washington and Lee University School of Law dropped from number 26 last year to number 43 this year, which is good for a 17 spot drop. U.S. News said that the reason for the massive drop was the fact that the school had a 57 percent job rate for its 2012 graduates.

“2012 was a poor year for us with regard to our employment numbers and bar passage rates,” dean Nora Demleitner said. “We have begun to address these issues through stronger bar support and changes in our approach to the employment market, and have already seen improvements in both areas for the Class of 2013.”

According to U.S. News director of data research Bob Morse, the magazine asked law schools to submit a list of 10 names of judges, lawyers and recruiters who are familiar with their law schools. These 10 people were then surveyed.

“It resulted in a higher response rate,” Morse said. “We had a 32 percent response rate using the names the schools provided, compared to 9 percent last year. Additionally, we think the names they gave us resulted in surveying people more knowledgeable about the law schools.”

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