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St. Thomas University School of Law
Published January 2010, last updated November 2012.
Founded in 1984 and located in Northwest Miami, St. Thomas University School of Law has been ABA-accredited since 1988.
Admissions and tuition
In 2011, matriculating students had a median GPA of 3.03 and a median LSAT score of 150. The law school accepted 46 percent of its 2,040 applicants in 2011. Of 938 total acceptances, 251 enrolled. The 25th and 75th percentiles for LSAT scores and GPAs were 148 and 153 and 2.66 and 3.32, respectively. Current students describe the admissions process as normal and the admissions staff as “friendly and helpful.” The most common reasons current students say they chose STU were location, diversity, and faculty.
Annual tuition at STU costs just over $34,600. In 2011, according to U.S. News & World Report, STU provided 43 percent of its students with grant aid, and the median amount of aid was $14,000. Eighty-one percent of students borrowed money to attend STU. Of those who borrowed, the average indebtedness of students graduating in 2011 was almost $138,000. The law school does offer a loan repayment assistance program to some students committed to practicing public interest law.
Employment prospects and bar passage
St. Thomas releases very few data about its graduates' jobs and salaries. What we know is this: According to Law School Transparency, of the 221 graduates in the class of 2011, only 109, or about 49%, have found employment in long-term, full-time positions requiring bar passage. Five more were pursuing further degrees, and 11 had an unknown employment status. Two graduates were known to be working long-term in law firms with more than 100 attorneys. Most employed graduates (132 out of 159) worked in Florida; four found jobs in New York, three in Georgia, and two in other countries.
Again, St. Thomas does not release detailed salary information. According to U.S. News, the class of 2010 had 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile private-sector starting salaries of $46,500, $53,500, and $60,500. Seventy-one percent of those employed in the private sector reported salary information.
In July 2012, 71.4 percent of STU graduates passed the Florida bar exam on their first try. That was the second-lowest rate among Florida law schools, higher only than FAMU. The average pass rate of all first-time test takers from Florida law schools was 82.0%.
STU has a typical first-year lecture size of 68 students. The law school has 70 full- and part-time faculty members (about 47% part-time) and a student-to-faculty ratio of 16.1 to 1. First-year students all take the same required course schedule, which includes legal writing and the typical core 1L courses.
Students say the curriculum at STU is well-rounded with a healthy mix of theoretical and practical classes. Use of the Socratic method varies, as does teacher quality. The workload is described as heavy, and the harsh C curve often makes students anxious and competitive. The workload and grade curve cause nearly a fifth of students to drop out before the second year. Another 4-plus percent leave during their second and third years.
Quality of life
Students are divided about the quality of life at STU. Some say it could not be better. They say the facilities are top-notch, the dining choices are perfectly adequate and the South Beach lifestyle is to die for. Others say the opposite: that the neighborhood is dangerous and the facilities left them wanting more.
Housing is available both on and off campus, though most law students seem to choose the latter. Cost of living in the city can be high, but Miami offers beaches, bars, restaurants, boardwalks, and a lifestyle that draws the world’s rich and famous. It is one of the most diverse and exciting cities in the United States, which STU students, on the whole, seem to appreciate.
U.S. News & World Report ranking: rank not published (Tier 4)
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