Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that made up the bottom half of the traditional second tier (no, not the U.S. News second tier). This time, we’ll be taking a look at what was once known as the “third tier” — a group of law schools that was previously unranked.

Just one year ago, these law schools were visited by Bob Morse, the U.S. News rankings fairy, who left a now-treasured numerical rank under each of their pillows.

Let’s see if there were any movers and shakers this year in this section of the list….

As a refresher, here are the schools ranked #101 through #145, according to U.S. News & World Report:

101. St. Louis University
101. Texas Tech
101. University of the Pacific (McGeorge)
101. Villanova
101. West Virginia
106. Drake
106. University of Hawaii
106. University of San Francisco
109. University of South Carolina
110. Chapman
110. Mercer
110. Wayne State
113. Albany
113. CUNY
113. Florida International
113. Gonzaga
113. Quinnipiac
113. University of Baltimore
119. Drexel
119. Howard
119. Stetson
119. University of Akron
119. University of Arkansas – Little Rock
119. University of Maine
119. Vermont
127. University of Wyoming
127. William Mitchell
129. John Marshall – Chicago
129. Southwestern
129. University of Idaho
129. University of Toledo
129. Washburn
129. Willamette
135. Cleveland State
135. Creighton
135. Loyola – New Orleans
135. New York Law School
135. Suffolk
135. University of Mississippi
135. University of Missouri – Kansas City
142. Pace
142. Samford
142. University of New Hampshire
145. University of Montana
145. University of North Dakota

Finally, we get to talk about Villanova’s rankings nosedive. If you recall, Villanova published fraudulent admissions statistics, and received nothing but a light slap on the wrist from the American Bar Association. Perhaps the administration thought they’d be able to get away with this scandalous conduct, but the all-seeing eye of U.S. News & World Report kept a close watch. The school plummeted from #84 to #101.

Speaking of plunges, quite a few schools dipped compared to last year’s ranking. And since there were so many, we’re only going to list the more spectacular failures here (we’re talking double-digit declines): University of Hawaii (dropped 11 spots), University of Wyoming (dropped 14 spots), Willamette (dropped 16 spots), University of Mississippi (dropped 28 spots — not even Dr. Seuss could get them jobs), University of Missouri – Kansas City (dropped 22 spots), Pace (dropped 25 spots), Samford (dropped 15 spots), and University of Montana (dropped 13 spots).

Other notable drops in rank included those of law schools that descended into the depths of Rank Not Published land: Campbell (dropped from #142 to RNP), Ohio Northern (dropped from #135 to RNP), and Memphis (dropped from #140 to RNP — sorry, Lawyer Mike).

On the other side of the coin, we’ve got a few law schools that crawled out of the RNP region to get a ranking this year: Toledo (RNP to #129), Suffolk (RNP to #135), and North Dakota (RNP to #145). In a similar vein, there were also a handful of schools that saw double-digit gains, including: Texas Tech (gained 16 spots), Mercer (gained 17 spots — definitely a head above the rest… too soon?), Wayne State (gained 11 spots), Florida International (gained 19 spots), University of Arkansas – Little Rock (gained 16 spots), and John Marshall – Chicago (gained 11 spots).

And not to be forgotten, one law school was actually stripped of its ranking this year. The University of St. Thomas mistakenly reported that 80.6% of the class of 2010 was employed at graduation. Oh, come on, U.S. News, they were only off by 47.7 percentage points! Before having their ranking yoinked, St. Thomas had gained 16 spots, and landed at #119. Alas, now, they’re sitting in RNP land with an asterisk noting the change.

Upward moves and downward dives aside, we’ve got to ask an important question here: is it worth it to attend one of these law schools? Three of them (Southwestern, New York Law School, and Pace) appear on the U.S. News list of schools graduating students with the heaviest average debt loads.

Given their employment prospects, it seems like a pretty bleak situation. But readers, what do you think? Should prospective law students be wary of these schools, even if offered scholarships? Let us know.

Earlier: Open Thread: 2013 U.S. News Law School Rankings (76 – 99)
Open Thread: 2013 U.S. News Law School Rankings (51 – 69)
Open Thread: 2013 U.S. News Law School Rankings (34 – 49)
Open Thread: 2013 U.S. News Law School Rankings (15 – 29)
Open Thread: 2013 U.S. News Law School Rankings (1 – 14)
The U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Out!


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