Raising The Bar: Texas A&M Law School Earning High Praise Among Peers
For higher education institutions, it takes years – often decades – to make even slight improvements in a school’s national reputation and academic ranking among its peers. By contrast, Texas A&M University’s School of Law has not only skyrocketed upward in the rankings, but has done so with lightning speed.
The Fort Worth-based law school, which was acquired by Texas A&M in 2013, has seen its stature grow exponentially in recent years:
- It has risen more than 100 places in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, jumping 23 spots – the largest increase of any school in the top 100 – just this year, to a ranking of No. 60 in the nation.
- Its Intellectual Property, Technology & Innovation program, as well as its Aggie Dispute Resolution program, are ranked among the top 10 nationally.
- Its pass rate on the Texas Bar Exam stands at 90.3%, placing it among the top 36 in the nation, and tied for second in Texas.
- The employment rate of its 2019 graduates stands at 95% percent.
- Applications to its J.D. program for Fall 2020 are up more than 27%, while nationally, applications are down 4%.
“The progress of the Law School since becoming what we have come to call ‘Aggieland North’ is almost impossible to believe,” said Dean Robert B. Ahdieh.
Ahdieh, who also holds the Anthony G. Buzbee Endowed Dean’s Chair, says this unprecedented growth is a tribute to the hard work of the law school’s students, staff and faculty over the last seven years.
“It’s a testament to the power of the Texas A&M name and the impact of our Core Values on the students we attract and their success in the employment market,” Ahdieh said. “It reflects the incredible faculty we’ve recruited in the last seven years – many of whom gave up faculty chairs to be part of the great scholarly community we’re building here. The university’s tremendous investment in moving the Law School forward served as a further catalyst. Finally, pulling all that together has been the incredibly hard work of the entire law school community to keep us moving forward.”
Other evidence of the Law School’s progress can found in the dramatic rise in its reputation among peer institutions: Each year, as part of its law school rankings, U.S. News & World Report surveys deans and professors at all of the approximately 200 accredited law schools in the country.
Over the last 20 years, Texas A&M rose from the resulting assessment score of 1.1 to a 2.6 – by far the largest improvement of any law school – due mainly to the growth of the Law School faculty and its rapidly expanding scholarly and policy impact.
“Moving the peer reputation numbers is notoriously difficult,” Ahdieh said. “Even a movement of 0.1 or 0.2 is a big deal, and only 12 schools have moved by more than 0.3 in the last 22 years. Not only has Texas A&M Law been the biggest mover in peer reputation over that time frame, but no one else is even close.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, classes at the Law School moved online this spring, but Ahdieh said it was a relatively smooth transition.
“On any given day, there were only about five to 10 of us in the building, but more than 600 students engaged in active learning,” he said. “To a person, the Law School faculty stepped up to offer live, highly-interactive classes to our students – and ones that ensured we were providing our students the very best education possible.”
He added that the Law School faculty administered several thousand exams and more than 150 students graduated last week.
“Even amidst all that, meanwhile, the Law School faculty found the time to produce some incredibly well-executed webinars for public education purposes,” Ahdieh said. “For all the challenges of the current moment, we are confident that the future of the Law School remains bright. For all we’ve accomplished to date, we believe the best days remain ahead of us here in Aggieland North.”