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Hofstra Law School
Published July 2008, last updated June 2010
Hofstra Law School, based in Hempstead, NY, is one of many different law schools that feed into the New York City market. Currently ranked 100 by US News and World Report, the school enjoys a better reputation than some of its peers (NYLS, Touro, etc.). However, that being said, risk-averse applicants might want to think twice about attending without significant scholarship money. The school’s claim of a median post-graduate salary of $160,000 is suspect, especially in the currently struggling economy. Academics and facilities at the school are slightly lacking, and the school’s tuition for full-time students is quite high at $41,780 per year. If you factor in the expensive cost of living near New York City (the ABA estimates that students will spend over $20,000 per year on living expenses alone at Hofstra), students can spend over $60,000 per year for their degree.
This is not to say that applicants shouldn’t consider Hofstra as a viable option. However, it is important to be realistic about your exit options. Being near the top of your class is almost a prerequisite to finding a well-paying job, and without significant financial aid, your school debt can be crushingly high.
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Tuition and Fees
As mentioned above, Hofstra’s tuition is expensive. Full-time students end up paying $41,780 per year in tuition, and part-time students pay $31,259. With $626 in fees and an estimated $21,679 in living expenses, students can end up paying over $60,000 per year to attend Hofstra.
To help combat this debt, the school offers a number of its students grants and scholarships. In the last data reported to the ABA, 556 out of 1,142 total students received grant money. Fewer part time students received aid (only 60 out of 272) than full time students (496 out of 870). For those who are selected to receive aid, the school is extremely generous: 306 (or 26.8%) received less than half tuition, 179 (or 15.7%) received half to full tuition, and 71 (or 6.2%) received full tuition. The median grant amount was $16,202 for full time students and $10,000 for part time students.
The most prestigious scholarship that Hofstra offers is its Dwight L. Greene Memorial Scholarship, where students receive full tuition and fees for all three years of law school plus an additional annual stipend of up to $5,000. Only one incoming first year student receives the award each year, and they must have “demonstrated a commitment to advocacy on behalf of minority groups.” To read more about the scholarship and its requirements, click the link above.
However, most of Hofstra’s scholarships are contingent upon maintaining a GPA of 3.25. For most classes, the school requires that the mean class GPA falls between 3.0 and 3.2, and that the following grade distributions are met:
In other words, keeping your scholarship can be difficult, especially with the seemingly arbitrary nature of law school grades. Students should be prepared to study and work hard in order to keep their scholarships, as the debt will quickly pile on if loans have to be taken out.
As with most schools, the GPA and LSAT requirements for admission to Hofstra continue to climb. In the last data reported to the ABA, only 38.5% of applicants were admitted to the school. The school received 5,050 applications, and made only 1,945 offers. Of those 1,945 offers, 380 students decided to matriculate. The school reported the following data for the entering full-time class of 2009:
The school is currently not accepting part-time students for its evening program, but Hofstra does offer a part-time day program for those who “are unable to carry a full, five-course load. “ Graduating with a part-time degree takes four years, and classes meet five days a week. The school emphasizes that being admitted to the part-time program is just as competitive as the full-time program; they write, “The admission requirements and procedures for part-time consideration do not differ from the full-time program.” As a side note, the school only considers an applicant’s highest LSAT score, as they clarify on their website. To learn more about preparing for the LSAT from some of the highest scores on TLS, click here.
Hofstra’s personal statement prompt is very similar to most other schools. The school asks for a statement limited to two double-space pages that “demonstrate[s] the ways in which you can contribute your talents and experiences to the Law School.” The application instructions continue:
The school’s website further clarifies:
In addition, students can submit an optional “diversity statement” where they can include “any background or experience that you believe contributes to the diversity of our student body.” The school lists as examples:
Finally, make sure to include your printed name as well as your LSAC account number (or Social Security number) on all of your attachments. You don’t want the school misplacing a vital component of your application! If you’re interested in improving your personal statement or even just looking for ideas to write about, Ken DeLeon, the creator of Top-Law-Schools.com, wrote a fantastic guide to personal statements which can be found here for free: http://www.top-law-schools.com/guide-to-personal-statements.html.
When to Apply
The school has two different options for applicants. First, early birds can take advantage of Hofstra’s non-binding Early Action (or EA) option, where applicants can get their decision mailed by December 15th. To
Other students can apply using the Regular Decision (or RD) option, where applications are due by April 15th. Note that April 15th is the priority deadline; the school explains:
The earlier you get your application in, the better! While the school offers full consideration for all applications submitted before April 15th, it is a fact that the school begins sending out offers of admission by December. That means that there are less spots open for you, and your chances continue to diminish the longer you wait. The school writes as much on their website:
Letters of Recommendation
Hofstra doesn’t require that students submit letters of recommendation with their application, but it’s a good idea anyway. The school’s website had the following to say about whom to ask for letters of recommendation:
Submitting one or even two solid letters of recommendation could enhance your application considerably. This holds particularly true if you have been out of school for a few years and are trying to mitigate a low UGPA; a glowing recommendation from an employer can show your growth in maturity since your college years. To get some additional advice on obtaining letters of recommendation, click here.
Hofstra doesn’t have much information about its waitlist on its website, but if you are waitlisted, be prepared for a long wait. You can improve your chances by sending in periodic LOCI (or letters of continued interest) with any significant updates to your application. These might include new publications, a new job, a new semester that improved your UGPA, a new LSAT score, etc. This will also show that you are interested in Hofstra, and they will appreciate the attention! That being said, don’t hound them with dozens of letters; just significant updates will do.
URMs (or Underrepresented Minorities)
Because of their disadvantaged histories in the United States, certain minorities enjoy a significant boost in the application process. To read more about this boost and to see whether you classify as an URM, click here. In addition, there are many pre-law programs specifically created to help URM applicants get accepted to top schools. To read more about some of these programs, click here.
A considerable number of students transfer in (and out!) of Hofstra each year. In the last report submitted to the ABA, the school noted that 28 students transferred out and 19 students transferred in. Concerning new transfer students, Hofstra’s website explains: Successful candidates maintain an A-/B+ average and are usually in the top 15% of their current class. Transfer students can apply for either the fall or spring semester and must have attended at least two semesters at an ABA-accredited school in order to be considered. You will also need to acquire one letter of recommendation from a law school professor. The school also has an option for visiting students to attend Hofstra for one year and transfer credit back to their home institution. To find out more about the transfer and visiting processes at Hofstra, click here.
Final Thoughts about Admissions
With the rising standards for being accepted into law school, students should make sure to put together a strong application. Including a letter of recommendation or two (even though they’re not required) is a great idea, and one should be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time brainstorming about, writing, and revising one’s personal statement.(back to top)
Law School Culture
As mentioned previously, Hofstra Law is located in Hempstead, NY, which is on Long Island. This means that students are reasonably close to New York City, but students can find plenty to do closer to home. The school’s website boasts:
In addition, Hofstra University has its own Cultural Center, which operates “primarily through the medium of the international scholarly conference.” The school breaks down symposia topics into three different categories: “conferences dedicated to monographic study of world historical figures,” “conferences dedicated to historical, cultural, political, or artistic problematic,” and “a series of conferences dedicated to the Presidents of the United States.” The center has analyzed the presidencies of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, etc., and is also proud of its focus on historical figures such as Einstein, James Joyce, and Van Gogh. Notable past topics include “The Trotsky-Stalin Conflict in the 1920s” and “Inscription as Art in the World of Islam,” among many others.
Students who are interested in finding out more about the different restaurants, museums, and other attractions in the Long Island area can click here. With 33 different beaches and parks being listed on this page alone, it is clear that students will have plenty of opportunities to get away from the rigor of law school, and the 129 museums given on this page only further emphasize this. Needless to say, students will have ample chance to have fun in Hempstead!
Hofstra students also have plenty of different choices when it comes to on-campus dining. The school’s website explains some of the options: “a Student Center café that offers an authentic Asian food station, a gourmet salad bar, Cabo Caliente (Mexican cuisine), In the Raw sushi bar, Charcoals Burgers,” and many other restaurants. The school also has a “California-style juice bar” and a “gourmet coffee shop.” So, even if you don’t have time to go off-campus for a bite to eat, there is plenty of variety available.
Finally, the school has a number of safety initiatives to help keep Hofstra students out of harm’s way. For instance, the school has two different “courtesy buses” that are operational 24 hours a day. They are “designed to give optimum service to those who may need transportation around campus and to other designated locations.” To find out more about public safety at Hofstra, click here.Housing
Because the school is located in Hempstead and away from New York City, housing prices tend to be slightly more reasonable than in the Big Apple. One student writes:
Another student emphasizes that off-campus housing is the way to go:
The first student above suggests searching for a place on craigslist or using the Hofstra off-campus housing website, found here.
If you’re interested in lifting weights or running while you’re at Hofstra, their recreational center is the place to be. The school’s website explains:
However, that being said, some current students seem dissatisfied with the Rec Center. The recreational facility has been under construction for a number of years, and only recently reopened. One student writes in the Hofstra Chronicle, the official Hofstra newspaper:
While the situation will most likely improve after the school finishes its construction, this is obviously not much use to current students. Thus, be warned that you may have to join a local gym in the area if you want to get reliable and easy access to weights.The Student Body
The school gives the following breakdown for the entering class for the fall of 2009:
The student body at Hofstra tends to be quite collegiate; one student writes, “The competition is not cut-throat. I studied in groups and got outlines from other students and myself personally was always willing to explain something.” With abundant clubs and other organizations on campus, students can be assured that they will have plenty of opportunities to get to know their classmates. Some examples include the Health Law Society, the Art Law and Culture Society, and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, just to name a few. To find out more about these organizations and others, click here!Journals
There are four different journals that law students can get involved with at Hofstra. They include the Hofstra Law Review, the Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal, the Family Court Review, and the Journal of International Business and Law (or JIBL). The school had the following to say about journal selection:
The Hofstra Law Review has been the school’s “flagship journal” since 1973 and is published quarterly. The journal is “currently the 48th most cited Law Review in the country,” and membership is extremely difficult to obtain. Students are immediately invited to join if they are in the top 5% of their class as a first-year or if they are one of the five winners of the journal’s annual writing competition. The rest of their membership is formed on the basis of GPA and their “writing competition score.” A new and exciting part of the law journal is its “Ideas” section, a home for short pieces (three to ten pages in length) that serve as “brief observations on important legal questions.” The Hofstra Law Review also recently started up an alumni newsletter in order to “help build a strong network of Law Review alumni.” With 37 different volumes tackling subjects as varied as the death penalty, sentence bargains, and capital mitigation, the Law Review is Hofstra’s most esteemed legal publication and is a major feather in the cap of students that manage to be accepted as members.
Another longstanding journal at Hofstra Law is the Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal. With an expansive 26 volumes, this journal is “widely regarded as one of the premier authorities in the fields of labor and employment law and as one of the preeminent specialty journals in the US.” Much like the Hofstra Law Review, applicants must have top notch grades and must do well in the writing competition conducted by the Hofstra Law Review in order to be accepted. In addition, students are “required to take Labor Law, Employment Law or Employment Discrimination during their first or second semester after they become staff members.” The journal also has a symposium series; recent topics have been, “Uncertain Times, Uncertain Jobs & Benefits, Can We Really Stabilize Healthcare?” and “Ledbetter Fair Pay Act & Pay Equity Panel Discussion:The Past, Present & Future.”
Since its humble beginning as a newsletter, the Family Court Review has spanned over 40 different volumes and has become a “respected journal with an international following of family law professionals.” The journal is published quarterly and has recently addressed issues like adoption, mediation, and court affiliated parent education. The FCR believes that its longevity and success can be attributed to its adherence to the following three core values: “respecting the interdisciplinary nature of our work,” “recognizing that our world expands beyond national boundaries,” and “focusing on the families and individuals served by the family law professionals.” Students obtain membership by the writing competition conducted by the Hofstra Law Review, and those who express serious interest in “family law and family dispute resolution” are given priority in the selection process.
Finally, the Journal of International Business and Law (or JIBL) is interested in exploring the “interaction of business and law in the global marketplace.” The newest journal at Hofstra, JIBL has nonetheless made a significant splash in the Hofstra community. For instance, the journal recently ran a conference on investment management that had Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as its keynote speaker. As a joint project of the law school and the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, the journal “draws on the different perspectives of its members” to create an interdisciplinary approach. Recent topics have included compulsory licenses, 21st century pensions, and accounting. Students are selected on the basis of their grades and the writing competition previously referenced. In addition, members of the journal are required to “take a course related to International Law during the Fall of Spring semester of their first year as a part of JIBL.”
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As is the case at most other law schools, first-year students at Hofstra Law take a fixed schedule consisting of classes like Torts, Contracts, Property, etc. However, for their second and third years, students have a wide variety of courses (“nearly 200,” according to their website) to choose from. A full listing of available classes can be found here.
Students tend to be satisfied with their professors; one writes, “As for the professors, I have learned a lot and find that most of my professors really care about how we do and are very approachable. Even the ones that aren't always around school can be easily emailed.” However, the same student warns applicants that putting in a decent level of effort is necessary for a good education:
Thus, even though the professors are invested in your education, it is up to you to make the most of your three years in law school.
Students who enroll in the part-time program follow a similar schedule to full-time students, only taking four years to complete the JD program instead of three. Part-time students can also switch to the full-time program after their first year, assuming “they are in good standing and have the Dean's approval.” As mentioned previously, the admissions standards for the part-time program are the same as the full-time program; the lower admissions numbers for part-time students found on the most recent ABA report refers to the part-time evening program, which is “no longer admitting new students.” The school emphasizes that part-time students have access to all the same opportunities as full-time students, including but not limited to, “the Office of Career Services, the deans, the Hofstra Law Review and other journals, moot court competitions and clinics.”
LL.M. / Joint Degrees
The school has two different LL.M. programs for students interested in getting specialized degrees: a Family Law program and an American Legal Studies program. The school is proud that its Family Law program is the “only program of its kind in the eastern United States, and one of only three programs in the country.” Students take 24 credits in the course of a year (or two to three years if they’re part-time) and learn to become “skilled and compassionate family lawyers.” The same credit load and time frame is true for the American Legal Studies program, where foreign students “obtain legal training in U.S. law and practice in order to compete more effectively with U.S. law firms operating in foreign countries.”
The school also offers a joint JD / MBA degree in cooperation with the Frank G. Zarb School of Business. This joint degree generally takes four years to complete, and students must apply to and be accepted to both programs in order to proceed with the degree. That being said, if you manage to get accepted to Hofstra Law, then it seems like the school will pull some strings for you to be accepted to the business school: they waive the GMAT and may waive the regular application fee for the business program. Students who majored in business as an undergraduate may have a leg up in the program because of their prior coursework; other students will most likely have to take “core competency courses” as part of their business degree and will “incur additional tuition charges.” To read a TLS article about why one might pursue a JD / MBA, click here.
Finally, students have the option to complete a JD / MA degree in Applied Social Research and Policy Analysis. This four-year degree is for those who are looking to get involved in policy creation and analysis, community planning and development, and several other fields. The degree teaches “social research skills” and also “create[s] proficiency in data collection and analysis.” Examples that the school gives as potential employers include “research organizations, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, community service groups, social service organizations and criminal justice agencies.” Much like the JD / MBA, students must be accepted to both programs individually. To read a TLS article about JD / MA degrees, click here.
Hofstra Law offers several different fellowships, where students receive considerable tuition aid while getting hands-on experience in various areas of the law. The fellowship programs include: the Child and Family Advocacy Fellowship, the Fellowship for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, the Fellowship for Health Law and Policy, and the William R. Ginsberg Environmental Law Fellowship. As an example, students selected to be a part of the Child and Family Advocacy Fellowship can receive “a maximum $10,000 tuition fellowship each year over three years of law school and up to two $7,500 summer externship stipends to cover living expenses.” Finalists for the program are required to attend an interview, where they will be judged by the Fellowship Selection Committee on their academic record and accomplishments. Like the other scholarships that Hofstra offers, continued involvement in the program is contingent upon maintaining a GPA of 3.25 or above. The school explains the purpose of the Child and Family Advocacy Fellowship as to “work collaboratively with those from related disciplines to improve the family court system in America.”
The other fellowships are equally prestigious in their respective fields; for instance, the Fellowship for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights can include a “substantial tuition fellowship each year over three years of law school and up to two $7,500 summer stipends to support two summer externships related to LGBT advocacy.”
The school offers seven different clinics that student in which students can get involved. Hofstra’s website explains the purpose of clinical work:
The different clinics available for students include: the Child Advocacy Clinic, the Community & Economic Development Clinic, the Criminal Justice Clinic, the Law Reform Advocacy Clinic, the Mediation Clinic, the Political Asylum Clinic, and the Securities Arbitration Clinic. In all of these clinics, students get valuable hands-on experience that will undoubtedly help them with their budding legal careers. To see short descriptions of each clinic, click here.
The school also has seven different centers/institutes where students can get involved with specific areas of the law. These centers include: the Center for Applied Legal Reasoning, the Center for Children, Families and the Law, the Center for Legal Advocacy, the Institute for Health Law and Policy, the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, the Institute for the Study of Gender, Law and Policy, and the Institution for the Study of Legal Ethics. Just as an example, the Institute for Health Law and Policy offers a concentration in Health Law for Hofstra students, as well as a Fellowship for Health Law and Policy, which “provides scholarships for entering J.D. students who are planning a career in health law and wish to be leaders in the field.” To find out more about Hofstra Law’s selection of different centers and institutes, click here.
For those students who are interested in studying abroad, Hofstra Law offers four different opportunities. Students can choose to study in Curacao, the Dutch Antilles; Pisa, Italy; Freiburg, Germany; and Sydney, Australia. Just as an example, the winter program in Curacao is an “intensive three-week course of study in international and comparative law.” The school’s website further explains:
To find out more about the Curacao program as well as other study abroad opportunities, click here.(back to top)
Applicants should be suspicious of Hofstra’s salary claims for its graduates. The school claims a private sector median salary of $160,000; however, this number is based on incomplete and deceiving data. First, let’s look at the most recent employment statistics on Hofstra’s website. This data was assembled from the class of 2008 nine months after graduation:
With almost half of the class being placed into law firms, these look like pretty good numbers. However, let’s break down the law firm employment by size of firm:
Keep in mind that these percentages apply to the students who found jobs in law firms (only 48% of the students!) and not everyone in the graduating class. In other words, the 16.9% of students that found work with firms of 501 or more attorneys only represent 8.1% of the graduating class. The numbers are even worse for the next two brackets down (3.1% for 251 to 500 attorneys and 1.2% for 101 to 250 attorneys). You can also see that the largest bracket by far is comprised of the firms that only have 2 to 10 attorneys (23.1%). The school gives the following breakdown in terms of firm size and median starting salary:
Even only taking into account this data, one can clearly see that getting a high paying job out of Hofstra is difficult. However, it gets worse; these numbers are based on the graduates who reported both their employment status and their salary to the school. While nearly all graduates (99.7%) report their employment status, only a very small percentage reports their salaries as well. For instance, the median salary of $160,000 claimed for the Class of 2007 is compiled from only 23% of the class. The data set being so small makes this information virtually useless for applicants. Combine this problem with the fact that the economy has taken a nosedive since the Class of 2008 found jobs, and it quickly becomes apparent that students cannot bank on making anywhere near the reported $160,000 median salary for private sector jobs.
It is also undoubtedly true that Hofstra is an expensive school to attend without considerable financial aid. Thus, most students should be wary of attending, as graduating with a rank high enough to secure a decent job is getting absurdly difficult. One current student writes, “If you stay at Hofstra, you probably need to be in the top 10% to increase your chances of biglaw but it’s probably still probable if you are in the top 20%.” This student might even be understating the problem slightly, but doing this well in law school is extremely difficult, despite what your LSAT or UGPA record is like. A common idiom on the TLS forums is that “only 20% of the class gets to be in the top 20%.” While this might sound obvious, you really need to consider what will happen if you get unlucky on an exam or two and discover yourself at median or below. Without significant financial aid, this could mean years of crushing debt without strong prospects for a well-paying job to offset large loan payments.
New York City is the largest legal market in the United States, but Hofstra graduates have to compete with myriad graduates from more respected schools. With graduates from Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Cornell, and Fordham vying for big law jobs (and not to mention other schools like Brooklyn, St. John’s, and Rutgers), it is getting increasingly difficult for Hofstra grads to find jobs that will actually allow them to pay off their law school debt at a reasonable speed. In addition, most Hofstra graduates seek work in the nearby area: for the Class of 2008, 89% accepted jobs in New York and New Jersey. Thus, you will be competing with the vast majority of your classmates for jobs in the same area. All of these factors combined should make any law student wary of attending Hofstra without a full scholarship (or close to one), and even that option is suspect because of the school’s steep GPA requirements for its scholarships.
Hofstra Law isn’t a fantastic school; it has a high tuition and limited job prospects for most of its graduates. In most cases, going to a more affordable state school might be the right decision. However, there are numerous academic opportunities for ambitious students that seek them out. For those who want to take a gamble and go for that big New York City paycheck, Hofstra might just be the perfect school. Just remember to work hard, pursue any leads that come your way, and keep a level head about your job prospects.
U.S. News Ranking: 100 LSAT
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