Joel Nichols.

Metrics Are Great, but Can’t Capture It All

We have so much to celebrate as we end 2023-24! Highlighting what’s great about St. Thomas Law has been one of the best parts of serving as interim dean, so I’m delighted to do so one last time as I depart this role.

By any metric, it was a banner year.

  • For the second consecutive year, St. Thomas Law was ranked in the top 100 law schools nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Our 2023 graduates had the highest “gold standard” employment rate in our history – at 92.5%!
  • We were ranked No. 2 nationally for “practical training,” continuing a decade-long trend of being in the top three.
  • Law faculty collectively rank in the top 15% in the country for “scholarly impact.” To highlight a few individuals:
    • Professor David Grenardo was feted at the U.S. Supreme Court for winning a national prize on professionalism;
    • Professor Rachel Moran was named a U.S. Fulbright Scholar; and
    • Professor Mike Paulsen’s law review article on Donald Trump’s constitutional eligibility to hold the presidency was downloaded so frequently that it literally broke the internet. (Read more about this!)
  • I could continue on about the strength and depth of our student body, fundraising successes, national recognition for our moot court teams, the impact of our students and faculty in our local community, and more.

It’s so gratifying that we have great things to highlight. But these can unintentionally mask the things that, in my view, truly make us the place that we are. Metrics can’t measure the mission. Metrics don’t capture the sense of community. And metrics fail to name the hospitality and welcome embodied by our faculty, staff, students and alumni. St. Thomas Law is a special place because we put people at the center of what we do. Each one of you is part of that, and I am deeply grateful for you.

As you’ll read, this summer we welcome Dan Kelly as our next dean. I am honored to have served as the interim dean for the past two years and to have called St. Thomas my professional home for 17 years. I’m excited to watch the next chapter unfold for this wonderful St. Thomas Law community under Dean Kelly’s leadership. I’ll be cheering you on from further south as I join the University of Alabama Law School as vice dean and professor of law this fall.

I do wish you all the very best and hope you stay in touch.

This letter from School of Law interim Dean Joel Nichols ran in the summer 2024 issue of St. Thomas Lawyer.