UC Irvine ranks 6th for scholarly impact


The University of California at Irvine continues to punch above its weight class. The seven-year-old law school ranked 6th in a study on scholarly impact, placing above University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School.

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky started UC Irvine with the goal of attracting the best faculty and helping to establish the school as one of the top ranked schools in the nation. Chemerinsky, himself, receives a large number of citations. Other faculty with high citations include Bryant Garth, Dan Burk and Catherine Fisk. 

The scholarly impact study measures the total law journal citations during the past five years to the work of tenured faculty at each school. 

Brian Leiter, a law professor at University of Chicago, designed the study in 2005 as a way to measurer the scholarly impact of the top 25 law schools. Gregory Sisk, a law professor at University of St. Thomas expanded the study in 2012.

The University of St. Thomas, a 16-year-old school, ranks 39th in the study, but No. 135 in U.S. News & World Report. That is the biggest difference for any school between the scholarly study and U.S. News.

Other schools that perform better in the scholarly report that in U.S. News include Vanderbilt University Law School (No. 9 versus No. 17), George Mason University School of Law (No. 21 versus No. 42) and Case Western Reserve University School of Law (No. 25 versus No. 59).

“The flaw in U.S. News rankings is that they attempt to take a wide variety of information and put them all in the same overall numerical category,” Sisk said. “This study is not a substitute for that because there should be a proliferation of separate rankings for separate interests.”

Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, The University of Chicago Law School, and Stanford University Law School have consistently topped the list each time, although New York University now joins them this year.

Sisk said his motivations for updating Leiter’s study were two-fold. First, he wanted to evaluate just how much law faculty were influencing the profession, given that they write for such a small clique despite the importance placed on high scholarship. Second, he believed that increasing the number of rankings available is a healthy enterprise.

“Like the original study, we felt it was only fair to look at works from faculty traditionally expected to do scholarship,” Sisk said. “Typically, this means clinical or legal writing professors and untenured professors were eliminated. It was very time-consuming, but we benefited from a large response rate from schools.”