In only the second time it has been ranked as a single merged entity, Rutgers Law School has been ranked 62 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Graduate Schools rankings, which was released Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
This 30-position improvement is by far the largest of any law school this year and among the largest ever.
“We are delighted to see Rutgers Law make such a significant rise in the U.S. News rankings, and I believe we have tremendous potential to continue on that trajectory in the years ahead,” said Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers.
“Our new Rutgers Law School signals to the nation how innovation and creative thinking are required to help law schools keep pace with changes in legal practice and legal education,” said Phoebe A. Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden. “These rankings, while gratifying for Rutgers Law School, represent the inherent benefits for law schools willing to change and grow, as well as the benefits to the students, alumni, faculties, and communities associated with those law schools. We’re proud that Rutgers is an innovative leader in this area.”
Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark said, “What I think is most heartening is that this signals wider recognition of Rutgers Law School’s excellence in the intertwining of legal scholarship, legal education, and taking on the most pressing challenges of our time on the ground, from immigration, civil and human rights to criminal justice reform, spurring prosperity, and navigating the intersection of health, education, and community vitality—and, of course, the recruitment to law school of students who bring unique insights into these pressing challenges.”
Rutgers University merged its two law schools in 2015, maintaining distinct locations on the Newark and Camden campuses. Rutgers President Robert Barchi announced the plan for the law schools to merge in 2013 and the idea for reunifying, after the schools’ 1967 separation, was first introduced by former law deans John Farmer and Ray Solomon in 2011. Since the merger, two co-deans lead Rutgers Law School. The co-deans maintain their individual lines of authority, reporting to the chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark or Rutgers University–Camden, and also work collaboratively with the university senior vice president for academic affairs and senior vice president for finance.
The rise in rankings is welcome news, but reflects the outstanding law school experience offered by Rutgers Law School which includes:
- Affordability. In-state tuition at Rutgers Law is half (or less) of that charged by many private schools in the region, which means everyone who attends gets a strong educational value and, for the many students who receive need-based or merit-based scholarship aid, that aid is not being subsidized by the debt of classmates who are paying $50,000 per year or more.
- A diverse and inclusive community within the law school. For example, the Rutgers Minority Student Program (a longstanding and essential feature of the Rutgers–Newark location, and recently expanded to the Rutgers–Camden campus) provides opportunities for students of color — as well as anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, who has faced socioeconomic or educational disadvantage — to succeed in law school.
- Community Engagement. Rutgers Law School remains deeply engaged with the communities surrounding its two urban locations. In both Newark and Camden, Rutgers Law’s 21 clinics provide much-needed legal services for juveniles, immigrants, low-income residents, and others while giving students critical hands-on experience and skills. Rutgers Law Associates, a one-year residency program for recent graduates, provides between 10,000 and 12,000 hours of legal assistance each year, with around 10 percent of those hours provided pro bono for indigent clients.
- Career Placement. As the rankings themselves reflect, recent Rutgers Law graduates from both locations have found meaningful legal employment at impressive rates, in private practice, judicial clerkships, and in serving the public interest.
- Academic Excellence. According to Co-dean Ronald K. Chen, “We are confident that this ranking reflects wider recognition of what Rutgers Law School has always stood for: the integration of legal scholarship, legal education, and addressing the most pressing current social and legal challenges.”
- Alumni. Rutgers Law School graduates are represented at the highest levels of practice, including judicial appointments and service as state and federal legislators. The network of more than 20,000 alumni serves the needs of their clients, defend the rule of law, and strive toward a just society at all times.
“We do not live or die by rankings, nor do we let them define us. But if news such as this helps us promote our core values, so much the better,” said Chen.
“This ranking shows that Rutgers Law is quickly making strides toward realizing our goal of being recognized as the premier public law school in the Northeast,” said Co-dean Michael Cahill. “But while we appreciate the validation the rankings provide, it is not our ranking but the school itself that makes us proud every day. We take pride in our talented student body; our accomplished alumni; our outstanding faculty; our commitments to access and affordability; and, perhaps most of all, our dedication to creating a diverse and inclusive community within the school that, in turn, serves the many and varied legal needs of our host communities and all of New Jersey. Those are the true metrics of success for Rutgers Law School, and we will continue to work hard to achieve that success.”
Rutgers Law School—with locations in Camden and Newark—offers a world-class faculty; a curriculum of exceptional breadth and depth in theory, practice, and interdisciplinary studies; a geographic presence that spans one of the nation's 10 largest legal markets (New Jersey) while also offering immediate access to two of the five largest markets (New York City and Philadelphia); and a strong tradition of diversity and social impact.