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UNM law school ranked 18th in U.S.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico School of Law comes in 18th in the country in the just released 2015 Top 50 Law Schools Rankings by Above the Law.

The ranking – up four places in the past year – places UNM ahead of such notables as the law schools at UCLA (No. 19), Georgetown University (No. 20) and Boston University (No. 21).

The rankings were released last week by Above The Law, a website for the legal profession.

“We’re delighted to receive this recognition of our program and to be in the very good company of Northwestern (No. 13), Vanderbilt (No. 15), and Boston College (No. 16),” said Hannah Farrington, assistant dean for advancement at UNM Law. “The ATL ranking recognizes what really matters to students.”

Above the Law contends that since most people attend law school to obtain jobs as lawyers, employment is its main criterion. Its rankings are the only ones to incorporate the latest American Bar Association employment data.

The focus at UNM Law is to avoid increased debt through increased student support; to spotlight job readiness through “truly effective” training; and to know what is required for strong employment outcomes, Farrington said.

The ATL rankings methodology consists of 30 percent each for employment and job quality; 15 percent on the cost of obtaining an education; 7.5 percent on the number of active judges and U.S. Supreme Court clerks; 5 percent on both alumni rating and debt per job – how much student debt is accrued by graduates for every actual legal job obtained.

UNM Law received a grade of A+ from students and an A from alumni in the areas of academics, practical/clinical training, career counseling, financial aid advising and social life.

Not surprisingly, the top rankings included a number of Ivy League schools. No. 1 went to Harvard, No. 2 to Stanford, No. 3 to the University of Chicago, No. 4 to the University of Pennsylvania and No. 5 to Yale. Rounding out the top 10 are the University of Virginia and Duke, Columbia, Cornell and New York universities.

Also ahead of UNM are the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Northwestern, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt.

Critics of the rankings emerged almost instantly.

Elie Mystal, a New York blogger, ATL contributor and Harvard Law graduate, submitted “Everything Wrong With The Above the Law Rankings” to ATL. He seems most upset by Yale’s dismal ranking – No. 5.

But he then takes a sophomoric cheap shot at UNM: Above The Law seems, he writes, “to overvalue regional powerhouses versus national law schools. New Mexico Law is ranked 18th, for instance, while Georgetown is ranked 20th. That is really useful information … IF YOU WANT TO LIVE SOMEWHERE IN THE FREAKING DESERT. … We’re basically telling you that rattlesnake antidote is more useful than a winter coat.”

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