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Seattle University School of Law
Published June 2008, last updated October 2009
With a new building and a great location, the Seattle University School of Law will prove to be an attractive option for many students hoping to practice in the Northwest. Career prospects are weak, however, and prospective students should keep this in mind as they make their final decision.
Admissions & Tuition
Standards for admission at Seattle are consistent with the school’s ranking (77th according to USNews). Roughly 35% of applicants were granted admission last year (1011 out of 2,907). For those who matriculated, the 25th to 75th percentile GPA range was 3.17–3.60 and the range for the LSAT was 154-160, according to LSAC. The medians for such measures were 3.37 and 157, respectively.
Like many other urban-based law schools, Seattle also accepts applicants on a part-time basis; and, as is almost always the case, admissions standards were less demanding compared to those of the school’s full-time program. GPA’s ranged from 3.14 to 3.56for the 25th to 75th percentiles, and LSAT scores ranged from 154 to 160.
Seattle is one of the less-expensive private schools in the country. Full-time students pay only $35,340, per year, while part-timers pay $1,178 per credit hour. Room, board, and expenses are also reasonable, with the average student spending roughly $17,300. These figures put the annual cost of attendance at roughly $53,000 for full-time students and $45,000 for part-timers.
Regardless of the cost of attendance, there will always be students who cannot incur the financial burden on their own. At Seattle, 91% of students borrow money to finance their education. As a result, the average indebtedness for Seattle graduates hovers around $94,000, according to USNews. The school’s financial aid office does its part, but can hardly be considered generous. Last year, the median grant amount was $7,500 while the 25th and 75th percentiles were $4,750 and $10,000, respectively.
Bar Passage & Employment Prospects
LSAC reports that 76.9% of Seattle grads pass the Bar the on their first try, slightly lower than the state-wide passage rate of 78.1%. This does not immediately translate to equally strong career prospects. In fact, only 68% of Seattle graduates are known to have employment at the time of graduation. While this is quite telling, the rate of employment nine months after graduation is perhaps more important. Here, Seattle grads fare much better, with a stellar 93.3% employment rate.
Given that Seattle’s reputation does not extend well-beyond the Washington area, it is not surprising that most graduates (a whopping 84%, according to USNews) build their careers in-state. Some graduates did make it to other regions—and a few even made it to other countries—but no region outside of the Pacific Northwest collected more than 3% of Seattle University School of Law graduates.
Seattle graduates enjoyed much more diversity with respect to the various fields of law in which they ended up practicing. USNews reports that 42% entered private practice; 28% went into business; 15% found government work; and 11% went into public-interest, giving Seattle one of the higher percentages of public-interest graduates in the country. Unsurprisingly, it was those who entered the private sector that made the most, earning a media starting salary of $80,000. The median in public-service was $51,000 to start.
While Seattle University may not be as well-equipped academically as the University of Washington (also in Seattle), the school certainly has its strong points, including a Top-40 clinical training program and a Top-3 legal writing program (based on the USNews specialty rankings). It is the latter program that Seattle University School of Law is best known for and which, as one student interviewed by the Princeton Review put it, “you will despise while you are in it, but will be utterly grateful for when you are through."
The school also boasts a new, tech-friendly building that is sure to enhance the law school experience. Not all is peachy in the classroom, however, as the grading curve makes life tough for many students, and the growing class size is sure to reduce students’ access to professors. Further, students complain that the shortcomings of the administration create unnecessary and frustrating obstacles.
It does seem however, that Seattle’s strong points, like its varied clinical offerings, stellar legal writing program, and location near downtown Seattle—which allows for numerous externship opportunities—make for a positive academic experience overall.
Quality of life
Seattle is an active city that is increasingly popular among young people (though the school itself is known for attracting older students). There is urban night-life to be enjoyed, as well as a plethora of outdoor activities in and around the Seattle area. As far as life on campus is concerned, while the grading curve can be expected to make things competitive, The Seattle University School of Law is not known to have a particularly ‘cut-throat’ student-body.
The Seattle University School of Law is a Jesuit institution, and so there is an emphasis on social justice in many of the school’s clubs and social activities. This seems to be about as far as the religious affiliation goes, however, as students of all religions are encouraged to apply and attend.
Seattle is a great place to spend three years. What’s more, the new building and the school’s strong legal writing and clinical training programs demonstrate the school’s ability to prepare its students for a wonderful legal career; starting such a career may prove to a problem however, as Seattle’s weak career prospects will continue to be an issue.
U.S. News Ranking: 77
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