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The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is now ranked No. 24 by the U.S. News & World Report best law school rankings, the highest placement in ASU Law’s history.
The 2021 rankings marked the continued ascension of ASU Law, which had hovered in the 50s throughout the early 2000s before making a steady climb into the top 25. ASU Law held the No. 25 spot in 2017 and 2018 and has now been ranked in the top 30 for the past six years.
“We are committed to getting results for our students, giving them a challenging legal education that prepares them to pass the bar exam and embark on meaningful careers,” said ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester, who took over in 2012, when the school was ranked 40th. “We are proud of the statistics that reflect that commitment, but even prouder of our incredible faculty and their dedication to shaping the next generation of legal minds.”
The No. 24 ranking is especially noteworthy considering the relatively short time ASU Law has been in existence. Founded in 1967, it is the youngest of any top-25 law school by a considerable margin, with 23 of the other schools founded between 1819 and 1902.
Only schools fully accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) are evaluated, and the final rankings are based on a dozen weighted factors. Among the criteria are assessments by peers and legal professionals, undergraduate grade-point averages, LSAT scores, employment figures, bar-passage results and student-faculty ratios.
ASU Law had the 18th-highest percentage of students who were employed at the time of graduation, at 77.9%. Assistant Dean Ray English, who oversees ASU Law’s Office of Career and Employment Services, says that’s a top priority.
“Not only do we think a top-notch legal education is important, we also believe helping our students find employment after graduation is just as vital,” said English, pointing out that ASU Law also rates among the top law schools for employment when measured within 10 months of graduation, at 88.8%. “We get to know our students on a personal level, we find out what their career dreams are when they enter law school, and we maintain a commitment to helping them achieve those dreams.”
For the past several years, the incoming classes have set school records for median LSAT scores and GPAs. The class that entered in 2019 continued that tradition, with a median LSAT of 164 and a GPA of 3.81 — topping the marks of 163 and 3.76 from the 2018 incoming class.
“As ASU Law has raised its profile, we have attracted some of the most talented students from throughout the country and internationally,” said ASU Law’s Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Andrew Jaynes, noting increased competition from the larger applicant pool, and a 2019 acceptance rate of 29%. “Law school students are naturally competitive, but there is a collaborative spirit at ASU Law, and our students really feed off the achievements and intellectual curiosities of one another.”
ASU Law shared the No. 24 spot with Emory University and the University of Florida, ahead of Fordham, the University of California-Irvine, the University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The University of Arizona, the only other ABA-accredited law school in the state, is ranked No. 47.
ASU Law is the No. 7 public law school, the No. 5 overall school in the West and the No. 3 public school in the West. And for the first time, ASU Law was ranked in every category of the specialty rankings, with five programs in the top 25: Legal Writing (No. 7), Dispute Resolution (No. 10), Environmental Law (No. 20), Health Care Law (No. 22) and International Law (No. 25).
For Riggs Brown, a second-year student, the rankings further validate his decision to attend ASU Law.
“When I began considering going to law school, I wanted to make sure wherever I went opened more doors and set me on a brighter career path,” Brown said. “Finding a school with a high ranking was a key metric in that decision. ASU Law’s rank, along with their focus on a legal education that is both practical and academic, made it an easy choice.
“I have grown as a law student, as a business person and as a public speaker. I’ve worked as a legal intern for marketing firms, the ASU Office of General Counsel, the Steven G. Lisa Foundation Patent Clinic and several Valley attorneys. I’m incredibly proud of my school for their commitment to the success of their students, and the new ranking is another sign of that commitment.”