By Patrick Barron, National News Writer
It may be too premature to proclaim the Rutgers law school merger a success, but the climb in the latest law school rankings makes it difficult not have that sentiment. According to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 law school rankings released recently, Rutgers Law School is ranked number 62 in the country. This signifies a considerable leap from the number 92 ranking that it boasted in the previous year’s edition.
According to Rutgers officials, the huge leap is the biggest occurrence of the year among law schools, and one of the largest ever for the U.S. News rankings.
In 2015, Rutgers University unified its two law schools, Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark, in a step that created one of the largest law schools in the country. Currently, it has over one thousand students enrolled, mostly full-time students with a significant portion of part-time students as well.
Rutgers President Robert Barchi stated in a press release, “We are delighted to see Rutgers Law make such a significant rise in the U.S. News rankings, and I believe we have tremendous potential to continue on that trajectory in the years ahead.”
Despite the high ranking enjoyed by Rutgers Law School, it was not enough to become New Jersey’s top law school. That title belongs to Seton Hall University, which is number 57 in the nation; last year the school was number 65 as it continues to retain the highest ranking in New Jersey for law. The Garden State has only two law schools.
Speaking on Seton Hall University Law School ranking, Dean of Seton Hall Law, Kathleen Boozang said, “Seton Hall Law continues to thrive as evidenced by our rank of 57 in this year’s U.S. News & World Report rankings. I became dean with an aspiration that Seton Hall Law will become a top 50 law school – that dream, for which we have worked so hard, is within reach.”
Until 1967, the Rutgers Law School, which was a single school for most of its history, split due to various reasons including accreditation and faculty. However, as law schools throughout the country struggled with lack of interest, or a deficit of undergraduates wanting to be lawyers, as well as a lack of jobs in the legal field, something had to change. In fact, NJ.com writes that it has “contributed to a nearly 40 percent decline in law school applications across the country during the last decade.” Hence, the two Rutgers law schools would again become one.
Before the merger, both branches of Rutgers’ law school were on U.S. News list, with Rutgers-Camden at number 102 and Rutgers-Newark at number 87. In the first year following the merger, Rutgers Law School took the ranking of number 92. With a positive trend for the improvement of national rankings, the merger appears to be helping Rutgers Law. In the future, having the public school continue to improve can offer many more students an affordable option for the graduate program.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st print edition.
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