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The Florida State University College of Law
Updated September 2012. Some information and all photos provided by the Florida State University College of Law.
The Florida State University College of Law is a public law school located in Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee. The school offers students a collegial environment and a world-class faculty that delivers a sophisticated program of study. Faculty members are actively involved with the work of students, as Florida State places great emphasis on collaboration outside the classroom. Because of the school’s location and clinical programs, students have many opportunities to gain legal experience while taking classes. Tallahassee is home to many courts, 500-plus law firms, the Florida Governor’s Office, the Florida Legislature, and many state agencies. Florida State Law is consistently rated one of the nation’s “best value” law schools by The National Jurist magazine. The school has relatively low in-state tuition, and most non-residents reclassify as Florida residents for tuition purposes after their first year.
Admissions and TuitionFlorida State College of Law received nearly 2,500 applications for an entering class of 187 first-year students in 2012. The median LSAT score for the 2012 entering class was 160, and the median GPA was 3.53. Generally speaking, applicants with numbers near or above these medians should be competitive in future application cycles at Florida State Law. Other factors the school considers include exceptional personal talents, interesting or demanding work or service experience, rigorousness of undergraduate course study, leadership potential, graduate study, maturity, and the ability to communicate effectively.
For the 2012-2013 academic year, tuition and fees for Florida residents is $19,731 and $39,744 for non-residents. Non-residents can take advantage of resident rates after their first year at the law school if they are able to demonstrate, through such measures as obtaining a Florida driver’s license and voter registration in the state, among other things, their intention to reside in Florida indefinitely, not just for the duration of their stay at the law school.
Academics and Curriculum
The first-year curriculum provides the foundation in history, doctrine, process, and analysis that students need to fully appreciate more specialized courses offered later in law school. In the second and third years, Florida State’s program is almost entirely elective. Students can choose from more than 100 elective courses to fulfill the remainder of their 88 required credit hours.
Students have many opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom in the real world. Florida State’s clinical programs and location in Tallahassee provide students a wide variety of opportunities to gain the legal experience that employers desire. The law school is within walking distance of the state Capitol, the Florida Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, and a number of government agencies.
The law school offers one of the most extensive externship programs in the United States. Students earn academic credit while working under the supervision of practicing attorneys. The program places students in more than 100 offices throughout Florida and elsewhere. Students may even select international externships in locations around the world including London, the Hague, and Botswana. Many of the school’s externships engage students in actual law practice.
Florida State’s Public Interest Law Center trains second- and third-year law students in legal advocacy, with an emphasis on mentoring, small-group discussions, and role playing. Students are certified by the Florida Supreme Court to practice under the supervision of attorneys. They interview clients, conduct discovery, draft pleadings, and represent clients in a variety of legal forums. Through its three live-client clinics — the Children’s Advocacy Clinic, the Family Law Clinic, and the Medical-Legal Partnership — the Public Interest Law Center provides students with practical skills training and management skills that they will continue to use as practicing attorneys. The Center’s work on children in prison has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2010 landmark decision and featured by national and international media. The law school’s 50,000-square-foot Advocacy Center houses five courtrooms.
Florida State’s co-curricular organizations provide students a wealth of ways to earn credit for “hands-on” legal activities. The mock trial and moot court programs prepare students to be trial and appellate advocates, and the three student-run scholarly journals, including the flagship Florida State University Law Review, give students additional opportunity to hone their research and writing skills.
FSU offers a summer study-abroad program in comparative law at the University of Oxford in England. Students can also participate in exchange programs with five universities in Australia, China, and the Netherlands.
J.D. students can take advantage of one of nine joint-degree programs offered in cooperation with other colleges at Florida State University. The most popular of these is the joint J.D.–M.B.A. program. Others include programs in International Affairs, Public Administration, Social Work, and Sport Management.
Quality of Life
The school’s location in Tallahassee provides students with many opportunities to gain legal experience. Students also enjoy the city’s wide variety of social, cultural, and outdoor activities. Many students take advantage of the law school’s close proximity to beaches, lakes, nature trails, golf courses and springs. Tallahassee also has surprisingly good restaurants, especially if students venture outside the Tennessee Street strip. FSU's numerous sporting events provide additional entertainment options for students.
Florida State's undergraduate community was ranked as the No. 10 party school by the Princeton Review in 2012. In 2010, Above the Law reported that FSU had the third-ranked party law school, though it appears those rankings are no longer maintained.
Employment Prospects and Bar Passage
Law School Transparency reports that nine months after the FSU Law class of 2011 graduated, about 77% of the newly minted J.D.s had long-term full-time jobs requiring bar passage. About 2.9% of graduates got federal judicial clerkships; 6.1% work in large firms (more than 100 attorneys) in some full-time, long-term capacity; and 24.4% work in full-time, long-term public interest or government jobs.
For the class of 2010, U.S. News and World Report published a nine-months-out employment rate of 91.4%. According to Law School Transparency, almost 71% of graduates had full-time legal jobs nine months after graduation.
FSU's class of 2010 NALP report indicates that in total, graduates employed full-time had a median starting salary of $47,500, with the 25th percentile at $41,500 and the 75th percentile at $65,000. For those in the private sector, the median starting salary was $65,000, with the 25th percentile at $55,000 and 75th percentile at $90,000.
For the class of 2011, 81.3% of the students who were employed had jobs in Florida. The next two most popular states were New York (3.2%) and Georgia (2.8%).
After the July 2012 Florida bar exam, FSU ranked second in the state in first-time pass rate, with 89.2% compared to the University of Florida's 91.2% rate. The average for all Florida law schools was 82%.
FSU Law has more than 8,000 alumni in its network and ranks 10th among all law schools in terms of alumni giving rate. Alumni in private firms, the judiciary, government service, and nontraditional legal careers regularly visit campus to talk with students about their specific fields of practice, answer students’ questions and conduct mock interviews. They also host networking events with students in their cities.
U.S. News ranking: 51
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