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Akron Law rises in U.S. News & World Report rankings

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 24, 2024

Administrators and educators at The University of Akron School of Law got some good news recently when U.S. News & World Report unveiled its 2024 edition of Best Law Schools.
Overall, Akron Law moved up 14 places in the rankings to no. 136, with multiple programs seeing better numbers as well.
The positive change reflects the hard work of faculty and students, said Akron Law Dean Emily Janoski-Haehlen, who points to the school’s high job placement and bar passage rates, which have been climbing in recent years.
“We are very proud that 97% of the graduating class of 2023 was employed 10 months after getting their degrees,” said Janoski-Haehlen. “Our ultimate bar passage and first-time bar passage rates have been steadily increasing since 2021.
“U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on outcomes and we are driven to improve the success of our students, ensuring that they pass the bar, are practice-ready and get jobs.”
A number of programs also jumped in the rankings, with intellectual property rising 15 spots to no. 36, making it first among Ohio law schools and the fourth highest in the extended region encompassing Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
The IP program includes over 30 courses in the field, a trademark clinic and a Washington D.C. externship option, with more than 20% of the student body patent bar-qualified.
The institution’s Center for Intellectual Property Law & Technology has gained nationwide attention for its annual symposium, which features high-profile speakers and addresses cutting-edge topics.
“This year’s IP Law symposium was very successful, with former USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) director Andrei Iancu serving as the keynote speaker and the event focusing on the impact of artificial intelligence on IP law, among other important issues,” said Janoski-Haehlen.
As for the program’s boost in the rankings, Janoski-Haehlen said there were a number of factors.
“First I think we have some of the best and brightest IP faculty,” she said. “They include Mark F. Schultz, the director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Technology, Associate IP Center Director Emily Michiko Morris, Visiting Assistant Professor Michael Doane and our former IP Center director, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Ryan T. Holte, who now serves as jurist-in-residence.
“Judge Holte has done a lot to increase our visibility and reputation,” said Janoski-Haehlen. “He supervises our D.C. externship program, teaches our IP Practicum and IP survey courses and hires our graduates as law clerks.
“Akron Law’s strong relationship with Judge Holte gives our IP students an opportunity of a lifetime to work within the federal court system and learn from an experienced judge.”
Also helping to raise the school’s profile, said Janoski-Haehlen are its strong relationships with businesses like The J.M. Smucker Company and Goodyear along with area law firms.
“Our top IP students complete externships and fellowships with our partners in IP, which gives the students valuable practical experience,” she said.
“Taken together, these factors are adding up to our students getting amazing placements in Big Law, not just in Cleveland, but in New York City, D.C. and Chicago,” said Janoski-Haehlen.
In addition to IP, Akron Law’s Trial Advocacy program ranked no. 42, tying for second highest in the state and third highest in the broader region.
“We are incredibly proud that the Akron Law Trial Advocacy Team brought home the national championship in trial advocacy this year and two of the competitors will return as third-year law students to compete again,” said Janoski-Haehlen.
The part-time program also jumped three spots to no. 47, while legal writing broke the top 100 at no. 78 and international law moved up 41 spots to 122.
“Akron Law’s hybrid approach to the part-time program where students attend in-person classes two nights a week and complete the remainder of their coursework online during the semester makes the program more appealing to working professionals and students with commitments to family,” said Janoski-Haehlen.
Earlier this year, Akron Law also earned 2024 top school ratings from the National Jurist’s PreLaw magazine for both trial advocacy and IP law.
“We are proud to be recognized again by U.S. News and PreLaw magazine for our long-standing strengths in trial advocacy and intellectual property,” Janoski-Haehlen said.
In addition to its improved ranking numbers, Akron Law recently updated its 3+3 juris doctor agreement with Youngstown State University, which was signed in 2017, by adding a new pathway.
YSU students in the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences & Education (BCLASSE) who are pursuing a B.A. in philosophy can now earn their bachelor’s and J.D. degrees in six years versus the traditional seven.
The agreement previously included pathways for students enrolled in the Williamson College of Business Administration and the philosophy and political science departments.
To apply for the 3+3 program, students must have 90 credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree, an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher, an LSAT score of 151 and be enrolled in one of the designated pathway programs.
In a press release, Barbara DiGiacomo, associate dean of administration and enrollment management at Akron Law stated, “We’re pleased to enter into this updated agreement with Youngstown State University. It is designed to enhance this exceptional education opportunity for eligible YSU BCLASSE students.”
Mark Vopat, professor of philosophy and director of the Dr. James Dale Ethics Center at YSU, also expressed enthusiasm.
“This new agreement should afford more Youngstown State students the opportunity to pursue a law career path with greater ease and support from both YSU and Akron Law,” Vopat stated in the press release. “The 3+3 program decreases the time it takes to earn these two degrees, reduces the overall cost to the student, and helps them graduate on time and with less debt.”
In addition to YSU, Akron Law has 3+3 program partnerships with Central State University, Indiana Institute of Technology, Kent State University, Robert Morris University, University of Mount Union and Walsh University.
UA undergraduates majoring in business law, economics, history, philosophy or political science are also eligible for the 3+3 program.
“The 3+3 program provides more financial flexibility to students who want to complete their degrees in less time and creates another pathway to law school which make the programs a win-win for Akron Law and its partner schools,” said Janoski-Haehlen.