“Rankings are important because people pay attention to them,” Shaw said. “What they really signify is a little bit less certain than what people think they may signify. I believe that UNC Law School ... is available to working class North Carolinians and others. I believe it continues to be a great Law School.”
The UNC Center for Civil Rights was banned from entering litigation from the UNC Board of Governors in September, which hindered the center from defending marginalized clients. Shaw said that although the Center was a valuable addition to the Law School, it wasn’t clear that it had a direct effect on the drop in rankings.
“The Center for Civil Rights litigation program was a plus for UNC Law School, but I don’t wanna go too far-field with any concrete evidence that the Law School slipped in ratings because of it,” Shaw said.
Out of the 83 public law schools in the country, UNC is ranked 22. Yet, compared to other prominent public law schools like the University of Michigan, Shaw said UNC has a smaller endowment and has less resources.
“Carolina is a truly ‘public,’ public law school, which is something I admire in many respects,” Shaw said. “It’s not as well resourced, and that is a challenge to the law school.”
When Dean Martin Brinkley took charge of the School in July 2015, the School had a ranking of 34. The rankings released the following year placed UNC at 38, and then 45 for this year.
However, Brinkley said factors outside of the faculty’s control affected the rankings.
“Most of those factors relate in one way or another to financial resources, which play a substantial role in how U.S. News & World Report calculates our ranking,” Brinkley said in an e-mail. “We have already been working hard to address this problem, and there is more work to do.”