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University of Mississippi School of Law
Published July 2010
Founded in 1854 and ABA-accredited since 1930, the University of Mississippi School of Law is located in Oxford, MS. Oxford lies on land once purchased from the Chickasaw nation and has been home to both William Faulkner and John Grisham.
Admissions and Tuition
In admissions criteria, the University of Mississippi is on par with most other third- and fourth-tier state law schools. For the class entering in 2009, it accepted 489 out of 1550 applicants, resulting in an acceptance rate of 32%. 173 of the 489 admitted students chose to attend, giving the school a yield rate of 35%. For this entering class, the 25th and 75th percentile GPAs were 3.27 and 3.71, respectively, while the 25th and 75th percentile LSAT scores were 151 and 157, respectively. The class had a median GPA of 3.49 and a median LSAT of 154. The application fee was a relatively inexpensive $40.
For the 2010-2011 academic year, full-time tuition for Mississippi residents will be $10,275. Tuition for non-residents will be $22,470. The school does not have a part-time J.D. program.
The school states that Mississippi residency is a consideration in admissions, but it does not reveal how important a consideration this is. The school does recommend, however, that non-residents might indicate somewhere in their application their reasons for being interested specifically in the University of Mississippi. Mississippi allows people to gain state residency after living in the state for twelve consecutive months, so a student who works in Mississippi during the summer of his/her 1L year would be eligible to become a Mississippi resident for his/her 2L year.
Academics and Curriculum
1L students take 15 credits in the fall semester and 16 credits in the spring. These 31 credits are made up by two semesters each of Contracts, Torts, and Legal Research and Writing, and one semester each of Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, and Property. After 1L, the only required courses are a skills course, an advanced writing course, and a course called Legal Profession. The student fills the rest of his/her schedule with electives, of which the school has a wide range.
The school offers two special certificate programs: one in Criminal Law, and one in Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law. The latter program is unique to the University of Mississippi and, as well as offering courses in air and space law, requires the student to complete either an independent research project or an externship in that field.
There is no L.L.M. program, but the school offers three dual-degree programs in conjunction with other divisions of the University of Mississippi: students may earn a J.D. in conjunction with an M.B.A., a master’s in tax (M.Tax), or a master’s in accountancy (M.Accy.).
The school offers numerous co-curricular activities. Student may participate in the Criminal Appeals Program, which offers third-year students training in appellate advocacy, and the Prosecution Externship Program, both of which are coordinated by an organization within the university called the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law (NCJRL). An externship in Business Regulation is also available (not through the NCJRL). The curriculum is further enriched by the presence of the Mississippi Law Research Center and the Croft Institute for International Studies. The school is also affiliated with the Mississippi Innocence Project and the Mississippi Judicial College, which provides continuing education to judicial personnel. Finally, students may study abroad for a summer in Cambridge, England, and participate in the school’s civil legal clinic.
The University of Mississippi School of Law has a fairly low 1L attrition rate by comparison with its peer schools. Of the class entering in 2009, only 7.3%, or 12 students, did not return for a second year. Three of these students transferred to other law schools.
Bar Passage and Career Prospects
The career outlook for University of Mississippi School of Law graduates is strongly regional and skewed towards small firms, but solid in terms of the number of graduates who are successful in finding work. For 2009 graduates, employment status was known for 94.4% of the class, or 153 of the total 162 students. Of these, 89.5% were employed, meaning that 84.6% of the total class had found work. 3.7% of the class were pursuing graduate degrees, 1.2% not seeking employment, and 4.9% unemployed.
Of the 84.6% of the class (or 137 graduates) that reported employment, 59.1%, or 81 graduates, were in private practice. Almost half of these were employed either as solo practitioners or in firms with 2-10 attorneys; only three were at firms with over 100 attorneys. 17 graduates (12.4% of those who reported employment) were judicial clerks, while 18 (13.1%) were in government. 12 graduates (8.8%) were in business and industry. The school further specifies that four of these 12 graduates were in “non-legal” positions. Three students (2.2%) went into public interest, another three into the military, and three into jobs classified as “other.”
The University of Mississippi publishes an unusually open and detailed report of its students’ career placement, which includes salary data. 29 of the 81 graduates in private practice (35.8%) reported their salaries. The median private practice salary was $82,000, and the 25th and 75th percentile salaries in private practice were $60,000 and $103,000, respectively. Eight of the 18 graduates working with the government (44.4%) reported their salaries; the median was $42,000, while the 25th percentile was $38,000 and the 75th percentile $55,400.
The majority of graduates take the Mississippi bar. In 2009, 92.2% of first-time takers from the University of Mississippi passed the bar exam. This is slightly higher than the state average of 88%. Employed graduates were concentrated heavily in and around Mississippi. Of the 137 2009 graduates who reported employment, 125 also reported the location. Of these, 72, or 57.6%, were employed in Mississippi. 13, or 10.4%, were employed in Tennessee. Washington D.C., Alabama, and Georgia each claimed 6 graduates (4.8%), while 7 (5.6%) were employed in Texas. The remaining 15 were scattered among Virginia, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania (the sole representative of the school’s “Northeast” category), Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and California.
Quality of Life
Oxford is the seat of the University of Mississippi (more commonly known as Ole Miss), and it is generally described as a college town. It is home to fewer than 20,000 people but boasts more cultural amenities – international cuisine, a music scene, etc. – than most towns of comparable size. As Oxford is located in the northern part of the state, the closest major city is Memphis, TN, about 1.5 hours’ drive north. (Memphis is also the closest major airport, and it is a hub for Delta Airlines.)
Oxford also offers an extremely low cost of living. One-bedroom apartments less than a mile from campus are available for $400-$500 per month. Some of these are reserved only for graduate and professional students, which may be a plus for some students. Two-bedroom apartments are even more affordable, starting at around $500 per month within one mile of campus and dipping below $400 for students willing to commute two or three miles.
Although it appears to offer little national placement, the University of Mississippi has very low tuition for Mississippi residents and places well within the state. Accordingly, it would be an excellent affordable choice for a Mississippi resident (or someone who can plan to stay in the state during his/her 1L summer in order to obtain residency) who plans to stay in the area after graduation.
The University of Mississippi School of Law
Phone: (662) 915-9610
2010-2011 Tuition: $10,275 (in-state); $22,470 (out-of-state).
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