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Study that judges schools based on students says BYU is a Top 20 law school

As admission offers started rolling in for Kevin Moscon, he found that choosing a law school was just as challenging as applying.

A graduate of Rice University’s engineering program, Moscon strongly considered Vanderbilt and the University of Texas before ultimately deciding on BYU Law.

Kevin Moscon standing in a suit and tie
Kevin Moscon. PC: Nate Edwards/BYU

“I had an awesome experience during my prospective student visit in the spring,” Moscon said. “The atmosphere among students is extremely cooperative, which seems quite rare for a law school.”

Moscon’s decision goes against the most widely-referenced law school ranking publications. But a new study shows that many talented law school candidates flock to schools like BYU, the College of William & Mary and George Mason University – more than would be expected based on U.S. News rankings.

Christopher Ryan of Vanderbilt University and Bryan Frye of the University of Kentucky conducted the analysis that will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Alabama Law Review.

Their premise is simple: Judge the quality of law schools based on where the most qualified students go. These candidates have the most at stake and gather a huge amount of information, so you can gauge school quality based on their choices.

Compared to their position in the U.S. News rankings, seven law schools made significant gains and placed in the Top 50 of the country's 204 law schools. BYU’s position at No. 20, for example, represents a 26-point improvement.

Mary, George Mason, Southern Methodist, braska, Pepperdine, northeastern, all improved their rankings in the study

“BYU Law attracts outstanding students who are well informed and well prepared,” said Gayla Sorenson, BYU Law’s dean of admissions. “We are pleased but not surprised that a ranking that relies on their assessment of critical factors places us in the Top 20.”

For Sydney Corry, a first-year law student, choosing BYU had a lot to do with where she wants to go in her career.

“I feel like you can pigeon-hole yourself if a school’s connections are all local,” Corry said. “With BYU, the connections are national and international and that was especially enticing to me.”

First-year law student Sydney Corry stands in a hall in a dark suit.
First-year law student Sydney Corry. PC: Nate Edwards/BYU

Gordon Smith, the dean of BYU Law, emphasizes how much your peers influence your education. At BYU, most students speak multiple languages and have lived in a country outside of the United States.

“Most of your time in law school will be spent with other students,” Smith said. “Beyond their academic accomplishments, our students have varied life experiences that enrich our collective learning. This enables and encourages vigorous discussions inside and outside of class.”

Writer: Joe Hadfield