Law school rating jumps to No. 59

Assistant News Editor

Pepperdine’s School of Law is now ranked as No. 59 in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for America’s best law schools.

In 2006, the school was ranked 77th, 87th in 2007 and 66th in 2008. Associate Dean for Student Life Jim Gash said the school is rapidly moving in the right direction.

“Pepperdine is obviously pleased that the market place is increasingly recognizing the quality of the institution under the leadership of Dean (Ken) Starr,” Gash said. “This is accredited to our students, faculty and alumni who continue to do things that bring credit to this institution — the academy and the legal community.”

The school, which shares the 59th place with three other schools, was ranked against 183 other accredited law schools. Gash said this ranking will help the law students find more and better jobs.

“The market place, those who read U.S. News, put quite amount of weight on this, rightly or wrongly, and therefore more employers will be interested in hiring our students,” Gash said.

However, not all law students think the ranking improvement will influence their ability to find a job after graduation.

“Maybe over the course of the decade it will make a difference but in the next couple of years not so much, it is more of just a pride issue,” said first-year law student Jake Nare.

According to the U.S. News & World Report Web site, rankings are based on expert opinion and statistical indicators that focus on the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students.

Associate Professor of Law Robert Anderson said the rankings were approximate but agreed they will attract more applicants.

“I see it primarily as a recruiting tool for reaching out to perspective law students, particularly in the Los Angeles area, because it positions us more favorably compared to our other competitive schools, such as Loyola and UC Irvine, which will be starting up in the next couple of years,” Anderson said.

Last year Loyola Marymount tied with Pepperdine but this year it is tied for 63 with two other schools.

Josh Credit, who graduated from Arizona State University in December and is interning at the Arizona State Legislature, plans on attending Pepperdine’s School of Law this fall. Credit said the rankings from last year helped him decide where he wanted to apply.

“The first place I went to was the rankings,” Credit said. “I went down the list and compared what I thought I could get into with my scores and GPA and also location. I know it is a ton of money but the fact that they moved up reiterates one of the reasons why I am going to go there.”

The new ranking is a vote of confidence in what Starr has been doing, according to Gash, who said Starr has transitioned the law school into a new category.

“Starr is probably the busiest dean in the country, which is how our reputation continues to increase,” Gash said. “He is the best known and most accomplished law school dean in the country.”

Gash added that Starr has made it possible for people to see what was already happening at Pepperdine.

“We have felt like we have been underrated for quite some time,” Gash said. “We still feel like we are underrated and we have not reached where we believe we will reach in the eyes of the marketplace.”