University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos is another blogging trailblazer. The brains behind the now-defunct Inside the Law School Scam – which generated three million page views and 50,000 comments in its 19-month run – Campos decried rising tuitions and student debt as the market failed to absorb graduates. These days, the No. 17-ranked Campos blogs on Lawyers, Guns & Money, where he rants on everything from open enrollments and tenure policies to American Sniper reviews and coaching salaries. Dubbed a “watchdog” by The National Jurist, some critics have dismissed Campos as a spent force. However, his recent razing in The Atlantic of for-profit law schools shows Campos’ teeth and claws are plenty sharp.
And let’s not forget Kyle McEntee’s Law School Transparency site, an all-in-one shop where students can download data like student loans, school tuitions, scholarship information, placement rates, LSAT scores, and admissions statistics.
INNOVATION KEY TO INFLUENCE
Looking for a sure-fire way to zoom into the top 25? Develop a practice-ready curriculum. That’s one reason why Martin Katz, dean of the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, has jumped into the No. 4 spot (after being unranked in 2012). In Sturm’s Experiential Advantage program, which launched in 2013, students spend a full year in client clinics, externships, and simulations. To gain experience, students can partner with public and private entities working in areas like criminal defense, immigration, and family law (to name a few) – or handle real cases in the student law office. Plus, all 1Ls must participate in a “Lawyering Process” course, where classes averaging 16 students practice client-facing skills, with plenty of feedback given.
Boston University follows a similar path under the guidance of dean Maureen O’Rourke. Here, 1Ls complete a one-credit Lawyering Lab before the start of spring semester. In this course, students are broken into teams, where they act as attorneys on behalf of a business client. In this scenario, the client is facing litigation over a breach of contract, with students working backward to identify the underlying issues and determine a course of action. To help students and graduates gain experience, BU also awarded 12 public service fellowships in 2014, along with sponsoring pro bono spring breaks to help the underprivileged.
If you’re looking for the next innovation wave, check out the William Mitchell College of Law, where dean Eric Janus is launching the first hybrid on-campus and internet law degree program. In doing so, the school intends to integrate the best of both worlds, with students watching lectures and simulations online and completing experiential learning activities on campus. The target: rural students. “It will open up new possibilities,” Janus points out, “especially for students in rural areas, who would otherwise have to quit their jobs or uproot their families. This is going to allow us to [reach students] in ways that were never possible in a traditional sort of program.”
CHANGES IN THE 2014 RANKING
Five educators joined the top 25 in 2014, including Pepperdine professor Paul Caron (No. 6), University of Arkansas-Little Rock Law dean Michael Hunter Schwartz (No. 11), University of Colorado Law dean Philip Weiser (No. 22), Boston University Law dean Maureen O’Rourke (No. 23), and William Mitchell Law dean Eric Janus (No. 25).
Overall, Mauer’s William Henderson replaced Irvine’s Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in 2014. Washington University’s Brian Tamanaha and U.C.-Hastings’ Frank Wu dropped from No. 3 to No. 7 and No. 4 to No. 9, respectively (with Seton Hall associate professor Michael Simkovic tumbling all the way from No. 5 to No. 16).
XLooking for some big winners? Loyola dean David Yellen rose from No. 17 to No. 5, while George Washington dean Blake Morant (formerly of Wake Forest) leaped from No. 23 to No. 10. Those who dropped out of the 2014 rankings include: Georgetown dean William Treanor (former No. 10), NYU professor Richard Revesz (former No. 13), the Washington & Lee faculty (former No. 18), St. Thomas professor Jerry Organ (former No. 20), and Cal-Davis dean Kevin Johnson (former No. 24).
To see The National Jurist’s top 25 ranking, go to the next page.