The school was created by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a highly respected legal scholar. Chemerinsky's goal was to attract top faculty and establish the school as one of the best in the country. Other faculty members whose work is highly cited include Catherine Fisk, Dan Burk, and Bryant Garth.
The study examined total law journal citations during the past five years and compared it to the work of tenured faculty at each law school.
A law professor at the University of Chicago, Brian Leiter, created the study in 2005 to measure the scholarly impact of the top 25 law schools in the country. Gregory Sisk, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, expanded the study three years ago.
The University of St. Thomas came in at number 39 in the study. It has been open for 16 years. At number 135 in U.S. News & World Report, the University of St. Thomas experienced the largest gap between the scholarly study and U.S. News.
Sisk commented, "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. This study is not a substitute for that because there should be a proliferation of separate rankings for separate interests."
Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago Law School, and Stanford have frequently topped this list. New York University joined the top ranks this year as well.
Sisk remarked that he wanted to expand the study for a couple of reasons. First, he wanted to see how much faculty members were influencing the legal profession, since they write for a small audience. He also felt that increasing the number of rankings available was a good move.
Sisk explained, "Like the original study, we felt it was only fair to look at works from faculty traditionally expected to do scholarship. 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."