Berkeley Law ranking drops by 4 in 2018 US News & World Report

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The UC Berkeley School of Law has dropped four ranks since last year in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law School” rankings released Tuesday.

Berkeley Law’s ranking fell from No. 8 in the 2017 law school rankings to No. 12 in the 2018 law school rankings — the first time since 2005 that Berkeley Law’s rank has sat outside of the top 10, according to an email sent Tuesday to the Berkeley Law community by Berkeley Law interim Dean Melissa Murray.

U.S. News uses twelve criteria across four categories — quality assessment, selectivity, placement success and faculty resources — to score each law school, according to its website. In her email to the Berkeley Law community, Murray explained that Berkeley Law saw declines in all four categories, most significantly in peer assessment.

“In essence, our feeling is that this year’s rankings were probably an anomaly, our score driven down by a year of bad publicity and some small dips in specific areas,” said Berkeley Law spokesperson Michael Bazeley in an email.

The 2018 U.S. News law school rankings come approximately a year after former Berkeley Law dean Sujit Choudhry was sued by his executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, for sexual harassment. The complaint alleged that Choudhry had repeatedly given Sorrell unsolicited bear hugs and kisses from July 2014 to March 2015.

Murray noted in her email that the law school underwent a “leadership tumult” last spring, adding that Berkeley Law was featured in the media over the past year for “all the wrong reasons.” According to Murray, surveys of other law schools brought about a decrease in Berkeley Law’s quality score.

Leslie Levy, Sorrell’s attorney, said she was not surprised by the change in Berkeley Law’s ranking. She added that she believed the future of the law school’s prestige was tied to UC Berkeley’s overall commitment to preventing sexual harassment on campus.

“I think that it needs to be perfectly clear that the ratings did not drop because of the actions of my client, or the students, faculty and staff that supported her,” Levy said.

Murray said in her email to the Berkeley Law community that the law school would have a new dean in place by the summer and that she was confident the dip in Berkeley Law’s ranking was not a trend.

“As a public law school, we always face challenges. Despite these challenges, my faith in Berkeley Law and our amazing community of students, staff, faculty, and alumni has never wavered,” Murray said in the email. “No single number or ranking can capture the essence of what we do or who we are.”

UC Berkeley’s graduate schools of engineering, business and education were ranked at No. 3, No. 7 and No. 18 in their respective 2018 U.S. News graduate school categories.

Harini Shyamsundar is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.