March 30, 2007

U.S. News & World Report rankings Law school achieves strong placement in survey

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE — The SIU School of Law's legal writing program is ranked 22nd nationally in a survey of law schools at America's college and universities.

The ranking of the law school's writing program is part of the national recognition the program is receiving in U.S. News & World Report's annual guide to the country's best graduate schools.

Rankings from the weekly news magazine's 2008 "America's Best Graduate Schools" guide appear on the magazine's Web site at and will be highlighted in its April 2 issue.

In addition to the legal writing ranking, the law school was ranked in the third tier of law schools nationally — law schools ranking from 105th to 139th from the 184 accredited law schools surveyed.

Other law schools in the third tier include those at Hofstra University, Quinnipiac University, Michigan State University, Creighton University, Drake University, Syracuse University, University of Mississippi, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

The law school's legal writing program tied for 22nd in the nation with Rutgers University School of Law, and Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore. The program's rank was from 184 accredited law schools surveyed. Rankings for the specialty categories, including legal writing, are based upon votes by law faculty teaching in the field or directors of clinical and legal writing programs, according to the magazine

Susan P. Liemer, associate professor and program director, said she is pleased that the legal writing community holds the law school's program in high regard. The program is required for all first-year students and transfer students who haven't been through a similar program.

Law school legal writing programs usually include coverage of legal research and legal analysis. The SIU School of Law's program includes other fundamental skills, such as introduction to client interview, client counseling, negotiation and oral arguments. The law faculty uses the title "Lawyering Skills" to reflect the extensive coverage of the law school's legal writing program, she said.

The ranking is evidence of the excellent work and dedication of the nationally known and respected writing and research professors who teach in the program, Liemer said.

"The ranking means that our program is recognized as being among the leaders in our field. We not only follow best practices, we help create and establish new best practices in our field," she said.

Other faculty who participate in the "Lawyering Skills" program are Melissa J. Marlow, clinical associate professor of law; Sheila Simon, clinical associate professor of law; Frank G.Houdek, director of the law library and professor of law; James E. Duggan, a professor in the law library and associate director of the law library, and Diane Murley, assistant professor in the law library.

"We are pleased that we remain in the third tier. Every year there are a few more law schools," said Alicia Ruiz, the law school's director of communications and outreach. She notes, however, that even with additional law schools, the number of law school applicants nationwide decreased last year.

Ruiz also points out the student-faculty ratio remains strong at 12.2-to-1. Last year, the ratio was 12.6-to-1.

Prospective students use these rankings as one of the guides in deciding where to apply for law school, Ruiz said. The ranking continues to show the value of attending the SIU School of Law, she said.

"Students might initially use this as a way of defining what schools they want to visit or consider further. But once we do have students take a closer look at us, they understand the strengths that we have to offer," she said.