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 third of the traditional first tier. Alas, thanks to the way employment statistics are now weighed in the U.S. News methodology, some law schools were knocked off of their prestigious pedestals, and law students are calling for their deans’ heads now that they’ve descended downwards into previously uncharted territory: the traditional second tier.

Today, we’ll take a look at those law schools, as well as their new rankings rivals — the schools that have traditionally been known to dwell in this part of the U.S. News list. You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. Your next stop, the Second Tier Zone….

As a refresher, here are the schools ranked #53 through #68, 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:

53. University of Richmond (Williams) (up 5)
54. Baylor University (down 2)
54. Georgia State University (up 4)
56. American University (Washington) (down 7)
56. Temple University (Beasley) (up 2)
58. University of Connecticut (up 4)
58. University of Kentucky (up 4)
58. Yeshiva University (Cardozo) (down 2)
61. Pepperdine University (down 12)
61. University of Nebraska​‒​Lincoln (up 28)
61. University of Tennessee​‒​Knoxville (up 8)
64. Pennsylvania State University (Dickinson) (up 12)
64. Seton Hall University (up 5)
64. University of Denver (Sturm) (up 5)
64. University of New Mexico (up 5)
68. Case Western Reserve University (down 1)
68. Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago-Kent) (down 6)
68. Loyola Marymount University (down 17)
68. University of Arkansas​‒​Fayetteville (up 21)
68. University of Louisville (Brandeis) (up 21)
68. University of Nevada​‒​Las Vegas (up 8)
68. University of Oklahoma (up 14)
68. University of San Diego (down 3)

Well, now you know why law students at some schools want to see their deans’ heads on pikes in the parking lots — especially students at schools that were once in the top 50 at some point in time, like American (dropped from No. 45 to No. 56 over the past three years), Cardozo (dropped from No. 50 to No. 58 over the past two years), and Pepperdine (dropped from No. 49 to No. 61 in just one year alone; ouch!). Feel free to debate whether you think it’s imprudent to attend “horrible trap” law schools like these, in the comments.

Additional law schools dropped like flies in this section of the rankings. In this group alone, the following schools made disappointing finishes: Case Western, Chicago-Kent, Loyola Marymount, and San Diego. But we have a really funny feeling that only one law school dean in the entire bunch will run to the newspaper of record to write another op-ed piece in defense of legal education (cough LawrenceMitchell cough).

In other news, this part of the list is perhaps the best example of the new anti-coast employment bias in the U.S. News rankings. Whereas California schools like Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount suffered, schools in flyover country like Nebraska, Arkansas, and Louisville all but soared. It’s also worth a mention that, just like last year, public schools seem to be doing better than private schools. Is there anyone out there who could seriously argue with less debt and marginally more prestige (at least in this tier of the rankings)?

At the end of the day, both current and prospective law students have to ask themselves if attending one of these schools is truly worth the financial investment. When your law school sinks like a stone in the rankings, are you really getting the value of the degree that you’ve paid for? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Earlier: Open Thread: 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (33 – 48)
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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