Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

KU’s law school drops again in national rankings, while 12 programs make top 10

March 13, 2012


U.S. News and World Report released new rankings for graduate programs on Tuesday, and while Kansas University had 12 programs ranked in the top 10 among public universities, its School of Law, hampered by slumping employment numbers, dropped into to a tie for 89th overall.

The law school, which dropped 12 spots in 2011, dropped another 10 this year. Stephen Mazza, KU’s law dean, said a dip in employment numbers was to blame.

The magazine used employment data from the KU’s class of 2010, which had 46.4 percent of its students employed at graduation, and 78 percent of the students employed nine months out. Those are lower than the class of 2009’s figures, which saw 63.2 percent of its students employed at graduation, and 89 percent employed nine months later.

While the economy is playing a role, KU’s numbers are generally lower than those reported by other schools, Mazza said. He stressed that KU doesn’t manipulate its numbers by hiring recent graduates at low salaries or by other means.

“One school reported 98.2 percent,” as an employment rate for its graduates, Mazza said. “I find that extraordinary.”

Mazza said he had been aware of the employment numbers long before the rankings came out, and the school has taken some actions to counteract the low employment figures.

“We don’t want to let the rankings dictate how we run the law school,” Mazza said, but at the same time, they do highlight areas where the school needs to improve.

The law school has hired a new assistant dean for career services and a new career services director. Both of those people are using new tactics to make connections with potential employers, helping students start their own firms and are looking beyond law firms to other industries to help place law graduates.

Also, Mazza said this year’s first-year class size was reduced to 131 students from 165.

“It’s a lot easier to get jobs for 131 students than it is to get jobs for 165,” he said.

Mazza said some areas of the law school remained strong. For example, its bar passage rate was back up above the state average, and its faculty-to-student ratio remains low.

KU was tops in the grad school rankings in two traditional areas of strength. The school’s city management and urban policy program ranked No. 1, and KU’s special education tied for first with Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. The School of Education’s overall ranking remained ninth among public schools and 18th overall.

With 12 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 for public universities, the university is halfway to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s goal of having 21 top-10 graduate programs.

KU Medical Center saw several rankings improve, including its ranking for rural health. The last time the magazine ranked rural medicine programs in 2009, KU wasn’t listed. This year, the program was tied for 12th among all universities.

While the KU School of Medicine ranked 35th overall for primary care, its research ranking was lower, at 72nd among all universities.

Barbara Atkinson, KU’s executive vice chancellor at KUMC and the dean of the medical school, said she was pleased with that ranking and an improved ranking for primary care.

“I’ve been worried in the past that we weren’t really recognized for rural health,” she said. “We’re very pleased overall.”

She said she thought the sharp increase was likely because of the opening of a new KUMC campus in Salina.


NoisyCrickets 2 years, 1 month ago

I said specifically that "There's plenty of a jobs I could take for $25k a year, but it wouldn't service my student loan debt.".

What do you not understand about not being able to make loan payments? I would be below poverty level and unable to collect government assistance. Did you miss the point about law school's cost? That's something that did not face generations prior to mine. KU Law in state law graduates can rack up anywhere between $50-$70k in student loan debt while out of state graduates (includes students from KCMO) can rack up anywhere between $80-$110k in debt.

Also, maybe you also missed, "I don't expect them to do anything for me, and I will never ever donate my time or money back to the school because of it."

I don't expect anything from KU Law. I am back on track in my career after diving into the legal market 3 different times. The problems in Green Hall are partially due to the market, but also due in large part self inflicted problems created by the administration.


Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Dear Andy Hyland,

Thank you for providing the programs in the top ten.

As for law, noisycrickets above has no point whatsoever. There is always a good market for good lawyers.

Many don't want to start out at lower wages, either. And therefor they don't get hired. You have to begin where it's possible, even if wages are low.

Also, anyone who has been through three jobs, and isn't wiling to take a $25,000 dollar job to begin with, has only themselves to blame.

There are also many lawyers who are impossible to work with. They always want things their way. You have to work with each other and your clients.


volunteer 2 years, 1 month ago

I have commented previously, even when the thread was not specifically on this subject, about the jaw-dropping number of law school graduates who have passed the bar but are still working as bartenders (or whatever their part-time job was in law school.) Doesn't matter if the law school is Washburn or KU.

Western Kansas, I was told several months ago by a county commissioner in that region, needs assistant county attorneys, and some of those counties are willing, in addition to salary and full benefits, to help pay off student debt...but many law school grads insist on trying to remain in Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, or Lawrence....despite the massive amount of student loan debt they have accumulated.

I agree the "deciders" were quite tardy in lowering the numbers of those admitted to law school, and perhaps the law schools massaged the numbers to imply that the bartenders WERE employed and just did not mention that the employment was of the minimum wage variety...but maybe some of these graduates aren't as willing to sacrifice and suffer in the initial years of their careers as those a few decades ago.


NoisyCrickets 2 years, 1 month ago

As a 2010 graduate of KU Law, I was one of the employed members of my class. 2 years later, I have moved 3 times and I have been through 3 jobs. The market is horrific everywhere. The problem is compounded by absurdly high student loan debt from extremely overpriced legal education (far exceeds most graduate programs and is a profit leader on most college campuses). There's plenty of a jobs I could take for $25k a year, but it wouldn't service my student loan debt.

Law schools sold students on artificially inflated numbers and we used that information to justify taking on the student loan debt to take the jobs they said existed. The market plummeted and KU Law compounded the problem by not actually preparing us to be lawyers. We're all great at discussing the history and reasoning of law, but we're all worthless at practicing law. Law firms don't have time, money, and resources to train us all when the law school failed. Post-law school most of us paid Kaplan, BarBri, etc. to TEACH US how to pass the bar because KU Law did not.

I made a bad investment in KU Law and was deceived by the numbers used when they recruited me. I don't expect them to do anything for me, and I will never ever donate my time or money back to the school because of it. I still love KU and Lawrence... I will forever bleed Crimson and Blue, but I will never look fondly upon the administration and career services (full time professional PAID to find KU law students jobs).


kulawl 2 years, 1 month ago

The only people that take law school rankings seriously are potential law students. The rankings exist for no other purpose than to sell magazines. The problem is that law schools know how important these rankings are to potential students and thus do their best to manipulate the numbers they know affect their rank.

As for as increasing the class size, like some comments have suggested to raise funds, is that you are really only adding to the bottom of the class. When you add to the bottom of the class the average GPA and LSAT score drops. Further, adding more students to the class means you have more students competing for less jobs, further saturating an already tough legal market.

What the law school needs is a massive infusion of capital for building renovations and scholarship money. The only real way schools can shoot up the rankings is by massive donations that allow you to offer the best students significant scholarships and hire the best professors, or by building a shiny new law school building.


Tony Kisner 2 years, 1 month ago

"Mazza said some areas of the law school remained strong. For example, its bar passage rate was back up above the state average, and its faculty-to-student ratio remains low."

I think this statement is a little backwards. I think a low student to faculty ratio would be a better situation than low faculty to student ratio.


Jimo 2 years, 1 month ago

It's pretty difficult to square the 'out of control regulatory uncertainty of the Obama Administration' with law students unable to find jobs. Regulation and lawyers go hand in hand.

Could it be that the 'explosion of regulations' constantly pushed by the Propaganda Channel isn't quite so fair and balanced? (I report; you decide.)


KU_cynic 2 years, 1 month ago

If KU Law School holds steady with enrollments around 131 per class, doesn't that mean that two years from now total student enrollment -- and tuition revenues -- will have dropped by about 20% relative to 2010-2011?

Seems like a mandate for either better placements that would restore higher enrollments or some serious downsizing at the law school.

I'm I missing something?


yourworstnightmare 2 years, 1 month ago

The law school has 37 faculty members. 37. With an enrollment of 131 students.

That's 4 students per law school faculty member.

7 law professors are Distinguished Professors.

It seems to me that there are far too many resources being devoted to the law school given what they produce. The salaries for these professors alone is at least $4-5 million.


HazeFace 2 years, 1 month ago

Ugh! It annoys me that the full report at US News isn't linked to in the article.


Tony Kisner 2 years, 1 month ago

Idle hands are the devil's work shop. Better get these lawyers something to do before they start suing each other, or the law school.


yourworstnightmare 2 years, 1 month ago

Gosh, with all of the Distinguished Professors in the law school, one would think they would be much better than 89th overall.


Milton Bland 2 years, 1 month ago

The world would be so much better off with fewer lawyers!


Cai 2 years, 1 month ago

so....which 12 were good, and why aren't they worth reporting?


Cai 2 years, 1 month ago

so....which 12 were good, and why aren't they worth reporting?


rtwngr 2 years, 1 month ago

Bar passage rate was 'back' above the state average? Really?

Harvard of the plains? I don't see it.

Blame the economy. Blame this blame that. It's always someone else's fault, isn't ti?


costello 2 years, 1 month ago

The U.S. News ranking are a joke and ought to be scrapped.


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

Photo of the med school is a prelude to Dolph's sat column in which he wil start out about the law school and end up with 39th and Rainbow.

Turn the Law School into the business school building and build a parking garage at Jayhawker Towers. It's coming down eventually anyway.


notasheeple 2 years, 1 month ago

My friend says that if KU Law School only spent half of the effort helping graduates find jobs as they do asking for money, they would be wildy successful.

But I think they just don't produce a product worthy of being employed, after all, the Dean "stressed that KU doesn’t ...[hire] recent graduates at low salaries or by other means." 22% unemployment rate for graduates--not so good.


LadyJ 2 years, 1 month ago

The article is about the law school, but they show a picture of the school of medicine?


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