The Texas Tech School of Law has been nationally recognized in the National Jurist magazine as the second best school in the nation for student satisfaction and ninth best in overall quality.
The magazine released the rankings in its February publication, reporting it had evaluated 157 law schools in categories like postgraduate success, bar exam passage statistics, student satisfaction, affordability and diversity.
Tech’s law school received an overall 3.38 GPA, a score slightly lower than schools like Stanford University, University of Alabama, Harvard and Columbia, according to the rankings.
It earned mostly Bs in post-graduate employment and bar passage, but the area it excelled in most was student satisfaction, which takes into account affordability, diversity and student opinion on the website RateMyProfessors.com, the magazine reported.
Darby Dickerson, dean of the School of Law, said she was excited to learn of the school’s national recognition, and believes that much of the student satisfaction comes from their emphasis on an open door policy.
“I think a large part of that was accessibility of the faculty,” she said, “and we have a highly accessible faculty. There really isn’t a gatekeeper. The faculty keep open doors, they return emails timely, they work closely with students outside of the classroom, and you don’t get that at all law schools.”
Brian Shannon has been teaching as a professor of law at Tech for 25 years, and said even when he first arrived, the focus always was on the students.
“We very much believe in an open-door policy, that faculty make themselves available to students, both in person and meetings after class, and by email,” he said. “We want to see our students be successful, and a number of us went to larger law schools where the approach was very different, so I think we’re committed to being here for our students, being available and accessible.”
Bar exam passage and postgraduate employment are other areas which Dickerson said the law school tries to emphasize as well, providing measures like a bar preparation resource director and an extensive required first-year curriculum, which helps gives students an edge.
Although she said the law school does not have the best students in the nation, Dickerson said she feels they are some of the hardest working.
“We have very good students,” she said. “We don’t often attract the top students in the pool who have the 180 LSATs and perfect 4.0 GPAs across the board, but we get really good students who want to be outstanding lawyers, and I think we can help develop them into outstanding professionals. We add value, and that’s what this ranking shows that we do.”
Dickerson said she hopes to maintain or improve the law school’s current rankings but does not want to change the methods that have been useful to her students.
“The one thing I’ve learned being a dean — as long as I’ve been a dean — is that you do what’s right for your missions and for the students’ education, and the rest will come, eventually,” she said. “You don’t play, and twist and turn your program just for the rankings.”