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Michigan State University College of Law

Note: This profile is eventually going to be replaced by the TLS wiki profile for Michigan State University College of Law.

Published June 2010

East Lansing, Michigan

The Michigan State University College of Law was founded in 1891 as The Detroit College of Law. The school became affiliated with Michigan State in 1995 and moved to Michigan State’s main campus, located in East Lansing, in 1997. The Law Building is centrally located on the campus, which is one of the largest research institutions in the United States. With approximately 350,000 alumni from Michigan State University and the resources of a Big Ten school, there were more than enough reasons for the law school to make the move from Detroit to Lansing. Lansing, being the state capital, also offers students the advantage of being moments away from the capital building and state government.

The admissions process is conducted on a “rolling admissions” basis starting in early November and running through late spring. In 2009, the school processed 2,729 applications and offered admission to 1,265 applicants. The class matriculated to 288 for the fall semester. The upper quartile LSAT score was 159, with a median of 155. The upper quartile GPA was 3.61, with a median of 3.36. Admissions to the school are getting tougher each year and those medians are on an upward trend, so students hoping for admission to MSU Law should be at or above those medians.

Although the law school recently became affiliated with Michigan State University, it continues to operate privately. Students experience a unique situation where the school has the feel and amenities of a big public university, but still remains independent of state funding. This makes tuition a little higher for students who currently reside in Michigan, but also makes it a flat price of $33,785 across the board for tuition. After fees, books, room and board, and other miscellaneous expenses are totaled the yearly cost is $48,959. Laptops are required for all students, and are permitted for use in almost every class. This is an expensive price tag that could easily leave graduates with a debt total into the mid 100,000 dollar range. This is something to consider for students who do not receive financial aid in the form of scholarships.

Financial Aid
The school is rather generous with financial aid and that can significantly aid students with paying the private school tuition. Over 50% of the 2009 class received scholarship assistance with the average award totaling $22,009. The school awarded 38 full tuition scholarships, so students with numbers at or above the median LSAT and GPA should have a good chance of receiving an attractive scholarship. The financial aid helps out a lot with the expenses and could easily make the school an affordable choice for a well-qualified applicant. With a scholarship, particularly a full ride, this school could be a great choice for those who wish to stay in or around Michigan.

The first-year courses at MSU Law are the same as those at other law schools – torts, contracts, civil procedure, etc. The school allows students to focus into specialty areas after the first-year courses and offer a very wide array of options for students to choose from. There are 10 focus areas, and three potential certificates that students may use elective credit hours to fulfill. The school also offers a variety of joint degree programs, and will work with students to combine their JD with nearly any other graduate program Michigan State has to offer. The JD-MBA program should be of particular interest to students concentrating in business law, due to Michigan State having a globally ranked MBA program.

Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Board, and Law Review
MSU Law has a very successful Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Board that is an annual contender in competition. The team received 7 awards in 2009 including; Best National Brief-ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, Third Best Regional Oralist-ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, and Fourth Best Regional Brief-ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition. The law review at MSU has been continuously functioning since 1931, and is completely run by the students. The top 5% of the 1L class is offered a spot on the review and the other positions are filled with a writing competition. The law review offers great experience to anyone who makes the cut.

Clinical Opportunities
There are currently five clinics offered at MSU Law – low-income taxpayer clinic, rental housing clinic, small business and nonprofit law clinic, plea and sentencing clinic, and chance at childhood clinic. The school is planning to open new clinics in the near future and has new facilities where the current clinics are located. These clinics offer students great experience that is practical and allows for hands on learning.

Study Abroad
MSU Law offers students the opportunity work for credit in Washington D.C. with any federal agency for an entire semester. This program opens doors and offers excellent experience to those who choose to participate in the program. Students wishing to go a little further away may also choose to study abroad in Canada, Japan, and Mexico.

MSU Law has 86 full and part-time faculty members, which makes for a 16.6 student to faculty ratio. The faculty is committed to keeping an open door policy and allowing ample opportunity for students to interact with professors, both in and out of the classroom. Students say the professors are very down to earth and accessible, particularly at exam time when stress levels are heightened.

Quality of Life
East Lansing is the state capitol of Michigan, and due to that, it offers a wide variety of experiences for students attending MSU. There are a lot of perks that come with being able to see the capital building from campus. East Lansing is geographically located in the center of the state of Michigan and enjoys the beauty of all four seasons. The city has shopping, nightlife, and an immense array of outdoor activities for 1L’s to enjoy in their small amounts of free time. There are parks, biking trails, canoeing opportunities, golf courses, and nearby skiing options…whether or not you ever get time to visit any of it is another story.

The campus has a very welcoming feel, and because the undergraduate school is nationally known for horticulture and agriculture the plant life on campus is always beautiful. Michigan State University is one of the largest undergraduate campuses in the United States, with an enrollment of more than 50,000 students. This provides the College of Law students access to all of the benefits that the campus has to offer. Michigan State is also a member of the Big Ten and that means football and basketball games are always a big deal on campus. The basketball team is a yearly contender both in the Big Ten, and in the NCAA Championship. Nationally ranked athletic teams and a large student body will make for an exciting three years.

The law library, also known as your home for the next three years, is located inside the law building and works diligently to provide for the needs of the students. It stays open late to accommodate for studying into the late evening, and extends hours around exam time. The entire law building was new when the school moved to the MSU campus and due to that it has all of the modern technology and comforts you will need. Wi-fi is available throughout the building and there are multiple printing stations and computer labs for students to utilize.

Students attending MSU Law will find several great options for housing. The campus offers two housing options that are designated for graduate students, which makes them quiet and conducive to studying. There are also great apartment options that are a short drive or bus ride from campus. The city and university bus system is excellent and offers a cheap and efficient way to commute from off campus housing. Apartment pricing is very low in East Lansing, and the cost of living in general is much lower than other cities. Students can easily find apartments within minutes of the school for around $500 a month. Some of the apartment complexes even have buildings with all of the units reserved for law school students.

Bar Passage and Employment Statistics
Pre-appeal results from the state of Michigan’s 2010 Bar exam show 94% of MSU Law first-time takers passed. The statewide average was 86%. They also posted 100% passage rates among 31 first-time testers in Illinois, which is the second most common state for MSU Law students to take the exam. Bar passage is an area where the school has significantly increased in the recent years.

Employment rates for MSU Law graduates are interesting because Michigan got hit by the recession much harder than most other states. The class of 2008 had 92% employed within 9 months, and 43% of those were in states outside of Michigan. The median salary of those reporting from that class is $100,000 for the private sector. Most seek employment in the private sector (43%), but a large number also enter business and industry (23%).

The job market in Michigan is recovering and this school is primarily a regional school. Most students will find great success throughout Michigan, as the MSU name is respected across the state. Students also have placed well in Illinois, and having 100% pass the bar exam in that state certainly helps. The current state of the economy is not the most conducive to finding jobs, but over 90% of students are still managing to find work by the 9 month mark. Employment rates have increased over the last few years and the careers services seems eager to help grads find work, particularly in Michigan. These numbers are not stellar, but they are not something that successful students should lose sleep over.

The Michigan State University College of Law offers a nationally known name and the backing of one of the premiere research institutions in the United States. It is still struggling to distance itself from the old Detroit College of Law, but with time the school will be much easier to associate with MSU. This is a great option for anyone who resides in Michigan, and wishes to practice law in that state. MSU Law offers all of the modern conveniences of a large campus, but still has a private school feel. It presents students with a sense of community and has a lot to offer in terms of quality of life.

Applicants with numbers at or above the median should consider the high number of full tuition scholarships the school offers. Other applicants should consider the $48,000 price tag and be aware of the potential problems one could have in placing outside of the Midwest. MSU Law has the backing of a major Big Ten school and could easily break into the top 100 in the rankings in the future. The school may be a good choice for Michigan residents and anyone who is qualified enough to receive one of those coveted full tuition scholarships, but could be a little less attractive for students who do not wish to find work in that region.

Quick Reference:
U.S. News ranking: Third Tier
Application deadline: 4/30
Application fee: $60
Entering class size: ~290 (2009)
Median LSAT: 155 (2009)
Median GPA: 3.36
Yearly tuition: Resident: $33,785 (2010-2011)
Average private sector first-year salary: $100,000 (Class of 2008)

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