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 schools that filled out the middle of the traditional first tier (ahh, the good old days when there were more than two). There were some rather significant moves worth noting in that group, like Alabama and Washington. Also worth noting are the schools that disappeared from that list, and now we’ll get to talk about them.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at the law schools at the bottom of the top 50, the schools that some would argue belong in the traditional “second tier” (no, not the dreaded “rank not published” or “RNP” tier).

These schools might not be at the top, but some of them charge like they’re the cream of the crop….

As a refresher, here are the schools ranked #33 through #48, according to U.S. News & World Report. For your convenience, we’ve noted the difference between last year’s ranking and this year’s ranking parenthetically:

33. College of William and Mary (up 2)
33. University of Georgia (up 1)
33. University of Wisconsin​‒​Madison (up 2)
36. Ohio State University (Moritz) (up 3)
36. Wake Forest University (up 8)
38. Fordham University (down 9)
38. University of Arizona (Rogers) (up 5)
38. University of California​‒​Davis (down 9)
41. George Mason University (down 2)
41. University of Maryland (Carey) (down 2)
41. University of Utah (Quinney) (up 6)
44. Brigham Young University (Clark) (down 5)
44. University of Colorado​‒​Boulder (no change)
46. University of Florida (Levin) (up 2)
47. University of Illinois​‒​Urbana-Champaign (down 12)
48. Florida State University (up 3)
48. Southern Methodist University (Dedman) (up 3)
48. Tulane University (up 3)
48. University of California (Hastings) (down 4)
48. University of Houston (up 9)

Welcome to the home of the rankings gangbang. In this segment of the rankings alone, we’ve got three three-ways and a five-way orgy, featuring schools that are all struggling to keep themselves in the top 50. But let’s get right down to it: almost half of these schools dropped in rank this year, with the most notable being Fordham (tied at No. 29 last year), UC Davis (also tied at No. 29 last year), and Illinois (No. 35 last year).

We think it’s reasonable to assume that like most schools on a coast, Fordham and UC Davis got dinged because of their employment statistics, but Illinois is a completely different story. The school’s been in a complete rankings free fall, slipping 24 spots since its inflated admissions data came to light. With our apologies to the students who attend Illinois, your administrators brought this shame upon you.

Enough with the Debbie Downer-ism. It’s time to congratulate Wake Forest and Houston for their triumphant rise in the rankings. We’ll give some credit to Erica Rose for Houston’s success this year — wouldn’t you praise a law school that managed to produce such an impeccable bikini bod? As for Wake Forest, you just KNOW someone’s going to drop some cash to throw their name up on the law school’s Hall of Fame now!

All in all, it looks like we’ve got a coastal problem when it comes to the new and improved tabulation of employment statistics in the latest U.S. News rankings. But is increased transparency really to blame? Maybe these schools have just plain given up on their students. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Earlier: Open Thread: 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (15 – 31)
Open Thread: 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (1 – 14)
The 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings


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