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Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Published February 2008, last updated August 2011
*Resident tuition is $27,040; all other costs are equal. **The school’s website states that with Bloomington’s low cost of living, “Most students find that they can live comfortably on $1,200 or less per month.” The maximum budget the university uses for loan eligibility purposes includes roughly twice this amount ($21,082).
The law school admissions game is simple yet arduous: applicants often spend months studying for a single entrance exam and crafting a straightforward two-page essay before enduring a lengthy wait for fairly predictable results. The favored yardsticks for modern law school admissions are LSAT score and undergraduate grade-point average (GPA), two metrics buoyed by their prominent positions in the formula U.S. News & World Report uses to calculate its annual rankings. Applicants at or above both medians stand very good chances of admission; those with one high number and one weak metric are often not out of luck, since the law school can use two “splitters” (one with a high LSAT, one with a high GPA) with much of the same median-boosting effect as taking a single candidate with two strong numbers. The table below is a good starting point for candidates wishing to evaluate their chances:
A look at lawschoolnumbers.com’s admittedly incomplete data underscores the importance of LSAT and GPA for Maurer’s admissions process. The graphs also show that extreme splitters with above-median LSAT scores and GPAs below 3.0 have had some success. Although 90th percentile LSAT scores are scarcer commodities than strong undergrad grades, Indiana’s first-quartile LSAT parameter indicates that plenty of high-GPA splitters attend as well. Almost every reporting applicant below both medians was rejected or waitlisted, and most of these who were accepted were traditionally under-represented minorities.
Still, a law school application comprises more than just a couple of numbers, and Indiana accepts some candidates every year with less-than-competitive numerical profiles. The admissions committee, which makes decisions on a rolling basis with no actual submission deadline, also considers qualitative qualities such as undergraduate institution, letters of recommendation, and post-college employment or graduate study.
The law school has a liberal policy on accepting addenda that explain application weaknesses, such as a low GPA influenced by illness or family emergency. Applicants who feel they have overcome significant disadvantages “because of economic, racial, or cultural factors” may want to inform the committee with an optional statement. According to the school, most students submit some form of diversity statement.[iii]
Applications become available at the beginning of September. As stated above, there is no official application deadline, but applicants can maximize their chances of admission and scholarships by applying in the fall. Even very strong candidates who want scholarship consideration are encouraged to apply by March 1. The Maurer School of Law interviews a small number of candidates.
Letters of Recommendation
IU-B requires two to three letters of recommendation, and notes that letters from faculty members who can speak to a candidate’s academic potential are especially helpful. Those who have been out of college for a number of years may have to substitute letters from employers. As a general rule, recommendations from relatively disinterested people who know applicants well are more effective than superficial letters from prominent or well-connected individuals.
The law school typically admits a handful of students who started their legal educations at other law schools. Whether students wish to transfer to IU-B for personal, educational or career reasons, the odds are stacked against them: the school usually takes no more than five transfers in a year; according to the American Bar Association, just three transfers enrolled in 2009, and none in 2010 (it should be noted that the most recent entering 1L class was overenrolled). Transfer applicants undergo a similar process to that of first-year J.D. applicants, but while factors like undergraduate GPA and LSAT score are taken into account, law school performance is typically the biggest factor. According to the school’s website, successful transfer candidates are usually in the top quartile of their original law school classes. About a dozen IU students transfer out each year.
Early Decision and Direct Admit Programs
Candidates who are certain that Indiana is their top choice law school may apply under the Early Decision Program, which carries a November 15 deadline and guarantees a response by December 15. This program is binding, meaning that students who are accepted must withdraw all other law school applications and decline any other offers of admission. Although applying “ED” has traditionally been seen as a way for marginal candidates to increase their chances, the law school claims, “Early Decision candidates do not enjoy a significant advantage.” Applying with a binding commitment decreases a school’s incentive to offer scholarship money, so prospective ED applicants should be certain that Indiana is a good fit and financially feasible at full cost.
Recently, Maurer has joined a handful of law schools – most notably Michigan and Georgetown – in creating a special admissions program for high-performing undergraduates already at the university. Applicants in the Direct Admit Program apply before their senior years and must write a special essay detailing their interest in the law school. These candidates do not have to take the LSAT as long as they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.8 – conveniently, just above the law school’s current median – but do have to submit other traditional law school application materials as well as an SAT or ACT score report.
Law school tuition at public universities has risen dramatically in recent decades, and out-of-state tuition at IU-B now rivals that of Ivy League schools, though few East Coast cities match Bloomington’s enviable cost of living. Fortunately, the law school’s scholarship pockets are deep, filled to the brim by now-namesake Michael Maurer’s 2008 donation of $35 million and an aggressive, ongoing fundraising effort. These scholarships are primarily based on GPA and LSAT score, especially the latter. About four-fifths of students receive grants, with over a third of these scholarships covering half-tuition or more. According to a current out-of-state student, the university frequently awards out-of-state students scholarships that cut tuition to the in-state sticker price.[iv]
Lawschoolnumbers.com gives prospective students some indication of the financial aid they can expect to receive. In the most recent cycle, applicants with LSAT scores of 166 or higher almost universally received renewable grants covering most or all tuition costs. Indiana does not place stringent stipulations on scholarship retention: students who remain in good academic standing keep their aid for all three years.
Public Interest Support
Many a young person attends law school with dreams of serving the common good, only to be discouraged by high debt loads and low public sector salaries. Indiana does not offer guaranteed summer funding to students pursuing public interest internships, although some support is available through opportunities like the Milton Stewart Fellows program. Outside scholarships are also available, as are fellowships such as those sponsored by Skadden and Equal Justice Works.
Until recently, IU-B maintained a multi-tiered loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) that supported rising 3Ls and recent graduates starting public interest careers. The current Kathleen A. Buck Loan Reduction Assistance Program disburses grants to cover bar review classes and living expenses for recent graduates, but does not provide 3L grants or long-term aid like traditional LRAPs. This consolidation follows an increase in merit scholarship funds and the passage of federal Income Based Repayment, which allows graduates to reduce their monthly student loan payments to a manageable amount and offers long-term loan forgiveness but may actually increase the amount owed for those who enroll in the program for a longer period of time.
Law School Culture
“Law school” and “fun” rarely share the same irony-free sentence, but Maurer students seem to enjoy one another’s company. Although pop culture portrayals of law school (The Paper Chase, One L) depict a stressful, cutthroat environment, at least one current student finds life at Indiana Law fairly pleasant:
IU-B has its share of gunners, but overall the people here are really cool and a lot of fun to hang out with. I've had classes with a few gunners and it can be annoying when they waste your time in class, but usually they aren't too bad to talk to one-on-one. I know that you always hear the horror stories of being locked in the library all the time and giving up your social life, but I managed to have a hell of a good time last semester and still get decent grades.
Maurer students hang out informally around campus and at Bloomington bars, coffee shops and restaurants, and also get together for organized events like Socctoberfest – an intramural soccer tournament that teams J.D. and LL.M. students and culminates in a cookout – and a classic, black tie Barrister’s Ball.
In recent years, the law school has made efforts to encourage diversity along a number of fronts. Despite the lure of resident tuition, nearly three-quarters of the most recent entering class hailed from outside Indiana, including thirteen overseas countries.[v] The school’s LL.M. program brings many international students to campus, while greatly expanded scholarship funds should help increase socioeconomic diversity. As of 2010, just over one-fifth of J.D. students self-identified as students of color. African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics were the three largest minority groups.[vi]
The law school is heavily male: just 35% of the most recent entering class was female. A slim majority of the Class of 2013 came directly from college, with 26% carrying some post-college work experience and an additional 12% having completed previous graduate studies. Less than one-third of this most recent class hails from Indiana.[vii]
Although market demands may finally be pushing law schools to provide more skills-based education and Indiana in particular prides itself on a newly innovative curriculum, the first year of law school at IU-B still looks pretty familiar. 1Ls take Criminal Law, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Property, and Torts, along with two semesters of Legal Research & Writing. However, first-year students do take a unique course titled “The Legal Profession,” in which they learn about legal ethics and economic concerns, working in teams to apply this knowledge to issues that might arise in everyday practice. The course, only a few years old, gets mixed reviews from students, but professors and administrators see huge potential for the program in preparing students to meet the challenges of a changing marketplace. In another effort to encourage practical focus and planning from day one, the school assigns 1Ls to a “Practice Group Advisor” who helps students explore career options and plan their wide-open upper-division schedules.
After 1L year, students have few requirements beyond completing a total of 88 credit hours before graduation. 2Ls and 3Ls choose all of their courses, although they must take at least one seminar, one writing-intensive course, and one clinic or other class that emphasizes practical skills. Most of the over 130 upper-division courses are capped at 25 students or less, encouraging a more personal learning experience.[viii]
The Maurer School of Law employs a traditional letter grading system with plus and minus grades. GPA calculation is also standard: A and A+ grades receive 4.0 points; A- grades, 3.7; B+, 3.3; and so on. A 2.3 GPA is required for graduation, and a C is required to receive credit for a class. With the exception of seminars, course medians are generally required to be between 3.2 and 3.3. Legal Writing and Research is graded differently, with High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail designations. Curiously, transcripts – so crucial for helping employers differentiate between students – lump HP, P, and LP together, reflecting only a passing or failing grade. Summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude honors go to the top 1%, 10%, and 30% at graduation, respectively.[ix]
Law students often seem in awe of their professors, and for good reason: sterling credentials have traditionally been requisite to teaching at any respectable law school, and a combination of solid pay, intellectual challenge, and enviable working hours continues to attract scholars and practitioners with impressive resumes. This enthusiasm extends to Maurer students; what’s more, there seem to be few reports of distant professors who see teaching as a pesky distraction from scholarship. One student gushes:
If I had to use one point to sell the Maurer School of Law to 0L's [prospective students], it'd be the professors…. All of my professors were amazing in their own way. They're either excellent in class teachers, or, in the case of some, willing to go out of their way to help you outside of class.[x]
Another Hoosier on the TLS forums echoed this sentiment of accessibility, recalling one professor handing out his cell phone number to first-years in his Property class. In addition to classroom chops, many IU-B professors are at the top of their fields. While not competitive with the most elite faculties (the most recent academic reputation survey used by U.S. News and World Report put the school in a tie for 30th) the school boasts some impressive young hires, as well as established stars such as Craig Bradley (Criminal Procedure) and Leandra Lederman (Tax). Indiana’s student-faculty ratio, at 11.4, compares favorably to its peers.
Employers and clients are demanding more and more of young attorneys, forcing law schools to impart practical skills beyond the ability to “think like a lawyer.” To this end, Indiana offers a range of opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. The law school offers six traditional clinics in which professors instruct students but mainly supervise their work with real clients who might not otherwise be able to afford legal services. Students can help community residents with family law issues (Community Legal Clinic, Family and Children Mediation Clinic) or lend a hand to small start-ups (Elmore Entrepreneurship Law Clinic). Hoosiers can also get credit for advocacy in environmental or disability law, and even work closely with a federal judge. The Intellectual Property Practicum focuses on “soft” intellectual property, such as the legal issues involved in producing a film or other artistic project.
Indiana’s externship program provides students with even more options by letting them work under not just faculty members, but also practicing attorneys outside of academia. Externships receive academic credit commensurate with time commitment, and cover criminal and civil law in the public and private sectors. While most externships are arranged in the Bloomington area, the Washington Public Interest Program allows a handful of committed public interest students to hone their skills in the nation’s capital. Students who wish to design their own externships have some latitude to do so.
Some students might want some of the benefits of the above programs without committing the time or credit hours to a clinic, externship, or practicum. The school’s pro bono program offers students less time-intensive experiential learning opportunities while providing valuable services to those in the community.
Although today’s law students get a far more diverse educational experience than their forebears, Indiana has joined the overwhelming majority of respected law schools in offering a variety of joint degrees to satisfy the most interdisciplinary (or indecisive) of souls. Joint degree students take a traditional slate of first year courses and then mix law and non-law classes for the remainder of their time at the university. Though joint degrees extend the period of study, most joint degrees can be earned in less time than it would take to complete both degrees independently.
The Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Administration degrees have traditionally been among the most attractive for J.D. students, and Indiana law students can earn an M.B.A. from the Kelley School of Business (currently ranked 23rd in the country by U.S. News & World Report) with just one extra year of study, or earn an M.P.A. or Master of Science in Environmental Science from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Joint programs also cater to those with a professional interest in Communications, Journalism, Library and Information Science, and Russian and East European Studies. Those who don’t want to spend the time or money to get a full joint degree can earn a 12-credit “minor” in Gender Studies or Business
For students whose curiosity crosses borders as well as subjects, the law school offers a range of study abroad programs. Summer study takes Maurer students to traditional European destinations, each city having a special focus: London for business law, Paris for the cultural considerations in international transactions, Florence for soft intellectual property (read: art law), and Barcelona for a survey of European Union issues. Smaller, semester-long exchange programs broaden these options to include law schools in Germany, Poland, New Zealand, and even China.
Indiana boasts of “one of the largest graduate legal programs in the Big Ten” and offers more graduate degrees than most law schools. The biggest and most traditional of these – a Master of Laws (LL.M.) – targets foreign-trained lawyers who want to learn about the United States’ common law system and shares much with a Master of Comparative Law degree also offered by the university. Maurer also confers a Doctor of Juridical Science (a degree most often undertaken by those with serious research interests) as well as two Ph.D. programs, which engage other departments in the university. International applicants who wish to work in the U.S. should carefully examine the bar entrance requirements of their preferred states, since few allow foreign attorneys to sit for the bar exam after completing an ABA-approved graduate program.
Indiana Law’s webpage currently lists 34 student organizations that bring students together over common backgrounds (Black Law Students Association, Women’s Law Caucus), interests (International Law Society, Health Law Society), or causes (Tenant Assistance Project, Law Students for Reproductive Justice). These organizations put on fun events, like the trick-or-treating held by the Older and Wiser Law Students and the treat-sampling of a different sort at the annual Environmental Law Society Oliver Winery Event. In addition, students take pivotal roles in organizing moot court, a crucial training ground for many of Maurer’s future litigation stars.
Law journals have long been some of the most time-intensive and competitive activities undertaken by law students. Journal editors hone their writing skills, gain familiarity with legal citation protocols, and gain valuable résumé lines that are especially valuable for future litigators or would-be judicial clerks.
Maurer publishes three traditional journals, as well as two online periodicals. The flagship Indiana Law Journal is the most selective and prestigious, generally taking those in the top 10% of the class after 1L year and the most outstanding performers in the annual “write-on” competition held after first-year exams. The Federal Communications Law Journal, which the law school bills as the oldest of its kind, and the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, both publish more specialized articles and are slightly less selective on 1L grades and writing scores. IP Theory – “designed to occupy a niche” between “journal and blog,” per the school’s website – and the Journal of Law and Social Equality have more relaxed membership policies largely dependent on interest. The most recent ABA data reported 156 students participating in journals, roughly a third of the law school’s eligible 2L and 3L students.
For many, “Indiana” brings to mind corn, Larry Bird, and Gene Hackman – not gorgeous campus architecture. But perhaps it should. The Bloomington campus boasts almost 2,000 acres of abundant greenery punctuated with beautiful limestone buildings in a mix of Gothic and modern styles. The Old Crescent area, home to buildings erected during a late-nineteenth century reconstruction, is especially impressive. One Hoosier writes with some enthusiasm:
For anyone who hasn't personally visited, IU-Bloomington is spectacularly beautiful. Especially during the fall and spring seasons, the weather and wooded areas out and around campus are gorgeous. The campus itself is also very nice and a far cry from the perception that out-of-towners may have of Indiana as a cornfield state. Campus life is vibrant and fun, especially during basketball season.[xi]
The law school sits on the southwest quadrant of campus, placing it close to the center of Bloomington. A single large building houses classrooms, offices, and an impressive law library that National Jurist recently ranked as third in the nation. The ground floor holds both student and faculty offices, as well as lockers that will remind many of high school glory days (or, more realistically for law students, unwanted temporary cages). A student lounge, ample seating areas in the lobby and library, and an outside terrace provide plenty of room for study breaks.
The university’s gyms and recreational sports programs have been featured in Sports Illustrated. One student details Maurer students workout options:
There are two main gyms on campus, the HPER [Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, sometimes used interchangeably with the Wildermuth Inttramural Center] and the SRSC [Student Recreational Sports Center]. They're both pretty centrally located. The HPER is more old school, and most grad students I know go there. It has a lot of basketball courts and around 10 racquetball courts. Then it has a bunch of alternative gyms around the building where clubs like Tae Kwon Do and Dance hold practices. There are a bunch of outdoor tennis courts, too. You can rent your own locker or check out a locker every day for free. Towel service is available for a pretty low annual or semi-annual charge. The SRSC is "nicer", whatever that means. It's a bit more undergraddy and fratty, but hey, that's alright. It also has basketball courts and racquetball courts. In addition, the SRSC has a really nice pool. Like the HPER, it has locker rental, locker check-out, and towel service. They have a bunch of classes like spinning, boot camp, etc., which all cost extra money but they're not terribly expensive (spinning is like $3 per session if you buy a pack of 7).[xii]
Overall, Maurer students should have no shortage of pretty buildings to look at, nor any excuse not to burn off superfluous stress-related calories around exam time.
Judging from the spate of articles in publications like The New York Times and The Economist, the outside world has finally taken notice of the dire situation facing law students on the job hunt. The disgruntled are usually the most vocal and available measures of career prospects are notoriously imperfect, but it is safe to say that many Maurer grads are struggling to find attractive employment. Moreover, the school’s on-campus interview program (OCI), the most common path to finding work at the biggest and highest-paying law firms and some competitive government and non-profit entities, seems to hold promise only for those with top grades. This climate demands vigorous research and job-seeking activity by students – a process that should begin with carefully evaluating a law school’s placement before attending.
The table below reproduces self-reported data from the classes of 2007, 2008, and 2009 (detailed Class of 2010 data was unavailable at the time this article was written). A few caveats are worth keeping in mind. First, due to a famously bimodal distribution, a school’s median starting salary has limited value. This fuzziness is compounded by less-than-stellar response rates and the probability that underemployed graduates or those with low salaries are less likely to respond. Finally, although U.S. News & World Report and the ABA are attempting to add granularity to employment statistics, employed at graduation and nine months figures gloss over those who are underemployed or involuntary working jobs that do not require a J.D.
*In 2007, 3% of the graduating class (37.5% of clerks) worked for federal Article III judges; in 2008, 6% (55% of clerks); in 2009, 4.7% (63% of clerks) **Percentage reported as academia should not be interpreted as those working as or in the process of becoming professors. Most of these graduates were probably pursuing full-time graduate degrees. For this table’s purposes, those pursuing full-time degrees are counted as “employed.” See Law School Transparency for more detailed analysis.
The power of an Indiana J.D. is undoubtedly regional to some extent, but graduates find work all over the country. In recent years, slim majorities of each graduating class have stayed in Indiana or surrounding states like Illinois and Michigan. Indianapolis is an especially popular market, netting 43 Maurer graduates in 2009. That same year, a dozen grads went to Chicago, while ten journeyed to the nation’s capital; seven went to Biglaw epicenter New York, while nine ended up in California. Indiana’s website includes placement data from the Class of 2009 and earlier, as well as aggregate alumni totals by selected states. The table below includes data reported to U.S. News:
According to the admittedly small sample of current students who post on the TLS forums, landing a job outside of the immediate vicinity is “doable” but by no means easy: good grades and ties to the target market are near-requisite, and commitment and hustle are essential. Chicago, traditionally one of the more accessible big markets for IU students, slashed entry-level positions as much as almost any big city, and jobs are scarce as a result. Indiana has sizable presence in D.C. given its Midwestern location, but relatively sparse placement in New York, the largest legal market by far. Since few coastal employers come to OCI, actively seeking out opportunities and contacts is crucial, and may not be enough in some cases. A student who tried to break into private practice in California shares the following:
Biglaw? I don’t think it’s really possible right now. There were no California main office firms at OCI (non-Intellectual Property, IP is a really different story), though there may be some firms with offices in CA at OCI such as Jones Day and Arnold & Porter. Now if you have a distinct connection with a certain firm that would be more of an option. But the reality is a mass mail before OCI would be pretty tough. A lot of firms in LA just have no idea about anything related to IU; some firms just simply won't hire IU Grads. [As pertains to] government: the main problem is that California is broke. District Attorney hiring is down and same at lot of the other government agencies. [xv]
Still, over half of each class takes first jobs outside of the state, and tight alumni groups can form in the most unexpected of places, as one student relates:
Michael Uslan, the executive producer of the Batman films and an Indiana law grad, was telling us about a group called the Hollywood Hoosiers. Apparently there's a huge grass roots networking movement among Indiana grads in southern California.[xvi]
Office of Career & Professional Development
The six-person staff of the Office of Career & Professional Development helps students navigate the rocky road to gainful employment, from 1L internships to graduation and beyond. In addition to reviewing résumés and managing each fall’s OCI, the office maintains a library of career resources and visits large cities with the goal of improving Indiana Law’s name recognition and placement power. Students visit these cities as well, through off-campus interviewing programs in major markets like Chicago and Washington, D.C. On the TLS boards, some members have griped about “nice people” that “offer more general advice than anything.” But others describe dedicated and knowledgeable professionals:
Instead of trying to leverage a dying system [OCI], they are working on hiring through other routes. They set up private dinners with students and alumni in other cities, they put you directly in contact with alumni in a chosen market, and they work to insure that all students get legal experience their 1L summer.[xvii]
Law firms are the most common landing zones for recent law school graduates, including Maurer grads. Even with the economic downturn, a large plurality of recent classes has gone into private practice immediately following school. “Biglaw” – which refers to large firms with attractive starting salaries, high-profile clients, and correspondingly high billable hours requirements – is more elusive for IU grads. The National Law Journal tracks the percentage of each law school’s graduating class hired by the 250 biggest law firms in America. In both 2009 and 2010, Indiana failed to rank in the top 50 among national law schools, meaning that Maurer placed less than 13.2% (2009) and 10.6% (2010) into the “NLJ250.”[xviii]
Much of this can be explained by geography: outside of the traditional national elite, schools that rank highly on the NLJ250 list tend to be located in or near major legal markets, and several other Big Ten schools that lack an adjacent metropolis place significantly lower on the NLJ250 ranking than they do on reputational surveys or the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Additionally, since NLJ250 firms themselves are only selected based on number of attorneys, the measure leaves off some prestigious or high-paying employers that may be just as if not more desirable than many NLJ250 firms.
Nevertheless, the kind of firm jobs that make paying off a large debt burden relatively easy is hard to come by for Maurer grads. Indianapolis is the most common destination for IU grads, but the number of “market-paying” firms is fairly small: around five, according to one TLS poster.[xix] Others suggest that while there may be a few high-paying firms in Lousville and other Midwestern markets, the large coastal markets are a stretch even for those with sterling credentials.
Large firms are not the be-all and end-all, as this anecdote from a current student illustrates:
In my legal professions class our professor asked how many of us were gunning for Biglaw and like five people raised their hands. Literally one-fourth of the class had no idea what Biglaw even really was.[xx]
Especially at the right price, IU is a great match for many with private sector ambitions; however, prospective students should not take on huge loans expecting a six-figure payday at the end of three years.
Judicial clerks work closely with a judge for one or two years, gaining valuable insight into to the court system and, in many cases, becoming more attractive to potential employers. In recent years, about 10% of each graduating class has gone on to clerk, with about half of these working at the federal level for an “Article III” judge (so-named because the judges are seated under Article III of the Constutution). The Office of Career and Professional Development provides guidance and logistical support for interested students.
Government and Public Interest
Between 2003 and 2009, an average of about 15% of graduates went to work for the government, with another 4% going to non-governmental public interest organizations. For students interested in public service, developing a network of professional contacts and demonstrating commitment through internships, clinics, and volunteer work are especially important.
Quality of Life
No one will mistake Bloomington, a city of 80,000 people, for New York or San Francisco. Nevertheless, visitors may be charmed by the college town feel and simultaneously impressed by the range of entertainment options. The 40,000 students at IU ensure a critical mass of young people, and bring surprising cultural sophistication: a diverse and vibrant music scene owes in large part to the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music, and student demand fuels a wide range of ethnic restaurants minutes from campus. Perhaps the most famous institutional tradition is the Little 500, a quirky bicycle race that forms the center of each spring’s biggest social occasion (you may remember it from the classic movie Breaking Away). And of course, there are Big Ten athletics to enjoy, including one of the most storied basketball teams in history. One student writes:
You will learn very quickly that there is a lot of culture with the campus. Lotus Fair (a great indie music festival every year), maybe 30 ethnic restaurants within 5 blocks of the campus, etc. I can honestly say whatever you enjoy, you'll be able to do it in Bloomington. The music scene is good for a town its size. There are tons of bars and tons of acts that frequent the bars, some independent, some local, and some major label. Every year during Little 500 week about three or four frats get bigger named artists to perform. The university also gets a main artist. In the past this has included Dave Matthews, Nelly, The Roots, Michael Jackson, Wilco, and John Mellencamp. The music school is always #1 or #2 in the rankings (with Julliard), and they put on tons of shows. The closest professional sports franchises reside in Indianapolis, a 45-minute drive north. However, the Indiana Hoosiers basketball program is the pride of the state. Every game, every year sells out. The men's soccer program is year-in and year-out the best in the country and actually draws nice crowds. [Last year] season basketball tickets ran $260 for 18 games, and season football tickets were roughly $60 for six games. The rest of the sporting events are free. Every sports bar gets packed for road Indiana basketball games; I suggest you try to arrive at least 30 minutes early.[xxi]
Bloomington is extremely safe and fairly cheap. Students on the TLS boards had not heard of any crime to speak of, with one going so far as to say, “there is no better place in the whole country for drunk girls to wander back home by themselves at 3 in the morning.”[xxii] Kiplinger puts Bloomington’s cost-of-living index right at the national average for metropolitan areas, well below essentially all major cities. Student housing and drink specials can be had especially cheaply. An abundance of green space in and around the town encourages runners, bikers, nature enthusiasts, and even skiers (who can head to nearby Paoli Peaks in the winter) to enjoy the great outdoors. Overall, Bloomington provides a pleasant learning and living environment for all but the most die-hard city slickers, and may even win over a few hardcore urbanites:
There is something charming and quite unexpectedly enjoyable about living in a town like Bloomington. I hated it when I first got there, but once I lost my bias, I ended up loving it. It's much more of a city lifestyle than many larger cities because it’s pedestrian friendly.[xxiii]
Housing and Transportation
Prospective IU students shouldn’t worry too much about finding a convenient place to live at a reasonable price. Most students live within a reasonable walk of the law school, and for those who live with roommates, rent per person can dip well below $400 a month. TLS members recommend looking relatively early – June or July – and inquiring about law student discounts. The Maurer website features links to on-campus and off-campus housing, as well as school information for students with families.
While a car might be nice for weekend getaways to nearby cities – Indianapolis, Louisville, and Chicago are easy drives – it is not necessary for getting around Bloomington. The reliable Bloomington Transit bus system is free for IU students, and stops right by the law school. The university operates a campus bus system as well. Walking and biking to school and around town are also good options. Students’ opinions on the availability of parking differ: some say commuting is a “pain” due to the lack of free parking, while others contend that Bloomington parking compares favorably to that of comparable college towns.
Law school can be stressful, especially in a foundering economic recovery that has yet to see many employers pick their heads up out of the sand. The Maurer School of Law’s gorgeous campus, friendly students and professors, and charming college town location do wonders to reduce this stress; generous financial aid and a flexible clinical program help as well. Though the school is no Biglaw juggernaut and finding a job takes more legwork at present than in years past, IU is a great option for those wanting to practice law in the Midwest.
Office of Admissions
Phone: (812) 855-4765
U.S. News Ranking: 23 (tie)
[i] LSAC Official Guide (2011)
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UC Hastings Law School
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Wake Forest University School of Law
The University of Utah College of Law
University of Florida Levin College of Law
American University College of Law
Pepperdine Law School
The Baylor University School of Law
The Florida State University College of Law
Loyola Law School
SMU Dedman School of Law
Tulane University Law School
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
University of Houston Law Center
Georgia State University College of Law
Lewis & Clark School of Law
Temple Law School
University of Richmond Law
Chicago-Kent College of Law
University of Connecticut School of Law
The University of Kentucky College of Law
Brooklyn Law School
University of San Diego School of Law
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Seton Hall University School of Law
The University of Cincinnati College of Law
The University of Denver Law School
University of Miami School of Law
University of New Mexico School of Law
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law
The University of Tennessee College of Law
Northeastern University School of Law
PSU School of Law
UNLV Law School
LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center
St. John's School of Law
Missouri - Columbia Law School
Columbus School of Law
Michigan State University College of Law
Rutgers-Newark School of Law
Buffalo Law School
The University of Oklahoma College of Law
Oregon School Of Law
Indiana University Indianapolis Law
The University of Arkansas School of Law
University of Kansas School of Law
University of Louisville School of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Marquette University Law School
Santa Clara Law School
Syracuse University College of Law
Rutgers Law - Camden
University of Tulsa College of Law
University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law
West Virginia University College of Law
South Carolina Law
Villanova Law School