I don’t put a lot of stock in college rankings in US News and other publications. The formulas are too contrived, too subject to manipulation and present too great a temptation for institutions to misplace priorities in order to rank higher.

They can distort high education much as over emphasis on standardized testing has distorted elementary and secondary education, with school systems requiring teachers to teach for the test rather than teaching kids and inspiring creativity. But I am not running for public office and this is not a blog post about educational policy in America.

While I generally disdain the rankings, I still look at them. And if they make my alma mater look good, I might inappropriately brag a little.

This week, the 2015 US News national rankings of law schools came out. My alma mater, Emory, moved up 4 places from #23 (tied with Notre Dame) to #19.  I enjoy maintaining Emory ties through co-teaching a clinical course on small firm practice, supervising a student extern at my office and participating in the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory. I am glad to see an increased emphasis on developing practice skills and exposing students to the real world.

Dean Robert Schapiro, who has become my good friend over the past couple of years, leads a great team on the faculty and staff of Emory Law School.

The University of Georgia Law School tied for # 29. Georgia State University, perhaps the most cost-effective choice for Georgia residents who want to practice in Georgia, did not make the top 30 list, perhaps in part because it is a young law school not yet that well known outside our area. Nor did Mercer, a great law school in Macon, or John Marshall, a proprietary law school in Atlanta and Savannah.

The entire “top 30” list is as follows:

1. Yale University

2. Harvard University

3. Stanford University (-1; tied for #2 last year with Harvard)

4. Columbia University

4. University of Chicago

6. New York University

7. University of Pennsylvania

8. University of Virginia (-1; tied for #7 last year with Penn)

9. University of California at Berkeley

10. Duke University (+1; ranked #11 last year)

10. University of Michigan (-1; tied at #9 last year with Berkeley)

12. Northwestern University

13. Cornell University

13. Georgetown University (+1; ranked #14 last year)

15. University of Texas

16. University of California at Los Angeles (+1; ranked #17 last year)

16. Vanderbilt University (-1; tied at #15 last year with Texas)

18. Washington University in St. Louis (+1; tied at #19 last year with Minnesota)

19. Emory University (+4; tied at #23 last year with Notre Dame)

20. George Washington University (+1; tied at #21 last year with Alabama)

20. University of Minnesota (-1; tied at #19 last year with Washington University in St. Louis)

20. University of Southern California (-2; ranked #18 last year)

23. University Alabama (-2; tied at #21 last year with GWU)

24. University of Washington (+4; ranked at #28 last year)

24. College of William & Mary (+9; three-way tie last year at #33 with Georgia and Wisconsin)

26. Notre Dame University (-3; tied at #23 last year with Emory)

27. Boston University (+2; tied at #29 last year with Arizona State)

27. University of Iowa (-1; tied at #26 last year with Washington & Lee)

29. University of Georgia (+4; tied at #33 last year with William & Mary)

29. Indiana University-Bloomington (-4; ranked #25 last year)

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Johnson & Ward 

 Johnson & Ward, was the first and best personal injury specialty law firm in Georgia from its founding in 1949. The firm’s founders were also founders of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Built upon traditional, word-of-mouth referrals from other professionals, the firm has never needed to advertise on TV or billboards. Firm alumni have served as judges of Fulton County Superior Court and the Court of Appeals of Georgia, and current partners include former  presidents of the Atlanta Bar Association and State Bar of Georgia.


Ken Shigley, an Emory Law graduate and a partner at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia. In 2019, he received the “Tradition of Excellence Award” for lifetime achievement in the legal profession. Mr. Shigley was lead author of eleven annual editions of a book about Georgia’s civil trial practice. He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy in trial practice and truck accident law. He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School. He also completed certificate programs in mediation and negotiation at Harvard Law School. A widower, he has two adult offspring. His son is a golf fitness trainer  and his daughter works in hospice with terminally ill patients.