Dear UC Hastings Community,
U.S. News released its annual rankings of law schools today. UC Hastings slipped slightly this year from last year’s five-way tie for 50th to this year’s three-way tie for 54th. Of course, putting too much emphasis on year-to-year fluctuations is utterly unhelpful. In order to reach the heights to which we aspire – to return to being a top-25 law school – we must expand our view.
To be sure, while I share the opinion that these rankings are fundamentally flawed, they nonetheless matter. They are looked at and relied upon by many constituencies, from prospective students, to current students and faculty, to alumni and employers.
And certainly there are aspects of rankings, including those of U.S. News, that have value. The overall rank is a composite of scores, including, importantly, that of academic peers and lawyers/judges, with whom we score relatively well (#41 with academics and #27 with lawyers/judges). In addition, we consistently receive high scores from leading scholars in particular fields, including this year in Dispute Resolution (#12), Health Law (#13), International Law (#25), Environmental Law (debuting at #26), and Clinical Training (#27). In these programs and beyond, our faculty continue to be recognized as thought leaders in their fields.
Beyond U.S. News, other rankings services provide alternative perspectives. The National Law Journal’s recent “Top 50 Go-To Law Schools Report,” just identified UC Hastings as #29 among U.S. law schools with the highest numbers of recent grads joining the nation’s largest law firms as associates, and #23 in its “Associates to Partner” ranking of the schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner during 2016.
Ultimately, of course, rankings should follow substance. So, while it is an annual rite of spring for deans to celebrate or lament the widely variable swings in rankings from year-to-year, UC Hastings must keep its eyes on what counts. We are doing that.
This semester the faculty has devoted itself to further building and fortifying a curriculum that will guarantee our students maximum success—on the bar exam and in the practice of law.
We are also embracing the future by expanding our partnerships with other University of California institutions and by building a campus worthy of a top-ranked law school. Just last week we selected a premier construction and design team to build the new academic building at 333 Golden Gate, the cornerstone of our new academic village campus in the center of San Francisco.
UC Hastings is better positioned than just about any law school in the nation to improve its prominence in legal education. I know we will take advantage of that position and prosper. I am honored to be part of such a promising team of faculty, staff, students, and alumni on this journey. I am confident that, in time, the rankings will catch up to us.
I wish you all the very best.
David L. Faigman
Chancellor and Dean
John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law
200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Professor, UCSF School of Medicine (Psychiatry)