St. Thomas School of Law building.

St. Thomas One of Few U.S. Law Schools Ranked as Politically Moderate

St. Thomas Law is ranked among the country's politically moderate law schools according to a new report by preLaw magazine. Just under 12% of law schools fell into this category.

“We’re pleased for another validation of the balance we seek to achieve,” interim Dean Joel Nichols said. “In pursuit of our mission, we work to create an environment that will draw a diverse set of voices and opinions to our law school. And further, we want to foster an environment where people can express differing views and perspectives, be fully welcomed and learn from one another.”

Ideological diversity among faculty and students is important in law school, he said, because it ultimately creates better lawyers – not only in how they approach the practice of law, but also how they work with their clients.

“Having a diverse set of voices helps students hone their own positions on an issue, and practice articulating and respectfully expressing their views clearly while considering the full perspective of others,” Nichols said. “They need those same skills as attorneys. Those skills are harder to build if everyone around you thinks just like you.”

St. Thomas Law also strives to foster in students the emotional intelligence lawyers need to nurture relationships and to recognize the dignity of every human being.

“To be a good counselor, a lawyer must be a good listener and have empathy for their client’s circumstances,” Nichols said. “Those competencies are important for legal professionals, but also in life. We want to maintain an environment where students can engage with challenging topics and learn how others in good faith arrive at a different position than us.”

To rank law schools, preLaw magazine reviewed two studies and a survey to place them into one of five categories: very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal and very liberal. The two studies – “The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers” and “The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity” – looked at the political ideologies of alumni (in 2016) and professors (in 2018), then ranked schools on an ideological continuum. The survey, by the Princeton Review, asked students to rate their schools on a similar liberal-to-conservative continuum.

In 2018, the University of St. Thomas School of Law was listed among the most politically balanced law faculties in the country, according to a study from Harvard and the University of Chicago.