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Published April 2010, last updated August 2013.
The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University is a new program; the school opened its doors in August 2006 and received full accreditation by the ABA in August 2011. Unfortunately, as Drexel's first few graduating classes found out, novelty alone won't get you a job as a lawyer. Law School Transparency gave Drexel's class of 2012 an employment score of 46.5%, which means that as of nine months after graduation, only 46.5% of graduates were able to secure full-time, long-term employment in a position requiring bar passage—that is, a job practicing law.
As law school tuition skyrockets and the number of entry-level legal jobs dwindles, those considering law school should avoid high-cost, low-outcome schools such as Drexel.
The most important statistic available to prospective law students is Law School Transparency's employment score. That indicates the number of graduates who, nine months after graduation, were able to find long-term, full-time jobs requiring bar passage. For Drexel's class of 2012, the employment score is only 46.5%. That means that on average, a Drexel student has a better chance of predicting the result of a coin toss than getting a job as a lawyer. One hundred fifty-five students graduated from Drexel in 2012, and only 75 obtained full-time jobs as attorneys.
If you take on a typical amount of debt to go to law school (over $100,000), there are only a few jobs that pay well enough to allow you to service your debt load. Those jobs are usually in large law firms (more than 100 attorneys) or with federal judges, whose clerks can often land the big-firm jobs afterward. One student obtained one of those coveted clerkships, and a total of nine (less than 6% of the class) secured jobs in large firms. On the positive side, 14.2% of graduates obtained long-term, full-time employment in government or public interest positions.
Drexel did not release any salary information for the class of 2011. (The information for the class of 2012 nationwide is unavailable until September 2013.) TLS urges anyone considering applying to Drexel to call the admissions office at 215.895.1529 and demand that the school release all the information it has regarding student outcomes, including salary statistics. U.S. News reports that the median private-sector salary of Drexel grads is $62,200, with 80% of private-sector employees reporting salary information. The magazine also reports that the median public-sector salary is $43,437. The source of this information is unclear. Keep in mind that Law School Transparency's estimated total debt-financed cost of attendance is a staggering $208,865, which means a monthly payment of $2,482 on a ten-year repayment plan.
The three most common employment destinations for Drexel grads were Pennsylvania (72 alumni), New Jersey (14), and New York (4). In the July 2012 administration of the Pennsylvania bar exam, 80.91% of Drexel alumni passed on their first try, compared to 83% of all first-time bar takers in the state. Among all the law schools that place significantly in Pennsylvania, Drexel's employment score is the second-worst, behind only Widener University.
Admissions and tuition
Tuition and fees
As with most law schools these days, Drexel's tuition and cost of attendance are astonishingly high. For the 2013-2014 school year, the school itself projects that the total cost of attendance for 1Ls will be $61,475, of which $40,230 is tuition.
A couple of years ago, Issa DiSciullo, the assistant dean for admissions, gave the following statement about financial aid:
In 2012, the ABA reported that 85.5% of Drexel students received grants, with a median grant of $20,000. Still, according to U.S. News, the average indebtedness of Drexel grads in 2012 was about $100,000, before interest. In 2011, a whopping 45 out of 124 students had their conditional scholarships reduced or eliminated.
For the class of 2015, Drexel’s LSAT median stands at 157, with the 75th percentile and 25th percentile at 159 and 154, respectively. The undergraduate GPA median is 3.28, with a 75th percentile of 3.60, and a 25th percentile of 3.02. The class of 2012 had an admit rate of about 40%. Law school admissions is a numbers game, especially given the recent dip in application numbers. If you are above both medians, you are likely to be admitted.
Law school culture
Located in the “heart and soul of Philly,” Drexel offers its students a good quality of life. Its western Philadelphia campus is right next to the University of Pennsylvania, which allows for a “very nice college environment right in the middle of such a large metro area.” Students can enjoy an array of restaurants, museums, and bars.
If you’re interested in sports, the city provides plenty in that regard as well. The Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers are all renowned sports teams with rich histories. In your scarce free time as a law student, you should have plenty to do in the bustling city of Philadelphia.
Housing options for students are numerous and students tend to “live all over the city.” One friend of two Drexel students remarked that they lived “within walking distance of the law building,” but students come from areas as diverse as the “Atlantic City area, Lancaster and Reading.” Even if you don’t live within walking distance of the law school, there are public transportation options available in Philadelphia.
Finally, with around 30 organizations on campus, students have plenty of different extracurricular activities to choose from. Those interested in politics can get involved with the Drexel Law Democrats or the Drexel Law Republicans, and the school offers clubs for many different ethnicities (the Black Law Student Association, the Latin American Law Student Association, etc.). Some other choices include the Business Law Organization, OUTLAW (LGBT Students), and the Running Club.
In 2012, the student body (422 total) was made up of 68.2% white students and 31.8% nonwhite students. The class was divided between 56.7% male and 43.3% female. Thirty-one U.S. jurisdictions were represented in the class of 2015, and students hailed from 90 different undergraduate institutions.
Because the law school building was only built very recently, its facilities are new. The school boasts such amenities as “a 2-story atrium and balcony area for informal meetings, receptions, and group study,” “campus-wide internet access,” and a two-story library complete with quiet study areas. The school also has several large classrooms, one of which doubles as a moot courtroom.
Students at Drexel Law can participate in the Drexel Law Review, a student-run journal. Membership on the journal is determined solely through a write-on competition, where students are required to pass a Bluebook citation test. Even if you’re at the top of your class, you need to make sure to do well on the write-on competition.
Drexel offers a "co-op program," which is basically a one-semester externship program with local legal entities and government bodies organized by the school. The school also offers several clinics as part of its practical training opportunities.
Drexel requires its students to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono work. Clinical work counts toward the requirement. Students can also get involved in other public interest opportunities provided by the school.
Drexel offers what it calls a "loan repayment assistance program." But unlike real LRAP loan-forgiveness programs, Drexel's program provides $2,000 loans annually (or less, if the budget runs out) to students making less than $50,000 in certain public interest jobs.
Students considering law school in this economy should ignore most school sales pitches. Things like specialty rankings, joint degrees, emphasis on practice versus theory, and admissions statistics will not get graduates jobs. Unless you have a job already lined up, base your decision solely on cost and employment outcomes. Remember, retaking the LSAT and not going to law school are always options.
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law
U.S. News ranking (2013): 126
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