COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Law School has seen its national ranking drop the last four years in a row, according to U.S. News. It was ranked 59th in 2008 and is now ranked 107th in the nation.
"It's a very bad trend and we are very sad and disapointed," Michelle Cecil, a law professor at MU, said. "It is a crisis."
The ranking is a combination of various criteria including: undergraduate GPA, LSAT test scores, school acceptance rates, students passing the bar, post graduation employment, expenditures per student, etc.
"The fact of the matter is that the best schools are at the top and schools that we perceive as the low schools are at the bottom," Cecil said. "There are reasons why we dropped in the rankings."
The school was ranked 12th in the nation for post graduation job placement in 2008. This year it is ranked 150th. Lower undergraduate GPAs and per student expeditures are other factors.
However Dean Larry Dessem doesnt' consider the lower ranking a threat. He says U.S. News isn't as accurate as some think.
"They measure some of the wrong things, and they don't even have good data to measure what they do" Dessem said. Dessem said they have no measure of teaching quality.
Some law schools are accused of boosting their numbers through unethical practices. An email U.S. News sent to Dean Dessem says it is not a "regulatory body over law schools or anyone else," and that it relys on the ethical behavior of those institutions it surveys. It says it relys on industry standards to measure each school as accurately as possible, and it may "need metrics besides total employment rates to evaluate a successful law program."
Dessem says the University works hard to keep tuition down for students. This negatively impacts the law schools ranking, because it lowers per student expenditures.
"This is a great law school," Dessem said. "It is becoming even better, and our best and stronger days are ahead."