Preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its full ABA accreditation next year (2011), the University of Akron has been educating law students in Ohio for nearly half a century. A school unique in its nearly 50/50 split between the full-and part-time programs, The University of Akron provides legal training to a mere 517 students, making Akron one of the nation's smallest law schools.
Admissions & tuition
Despite ranking in the third tier, Akron accepted only 747 of its 1876 applicants in 2009, a mere 39% - quite low when compared to some of Akron's peer schools. Of the 747 students admitted, 202 decided to attend: 117 full-time, and 85 part-time. Statistics for admitted students were about par for the third-tier course: 25th and 75th percentiles for LSAT scores were 150 and 157, and 3.12 and 3.67 for GPA. Like many schools, Akron's official policy is to use only an applicant's highest LSAT score; however, Akron does not accept LSAT scores older than three years, differing from the standard 5. Admission at Akron is offered on a truly rolling basis, thus greatly advantaging applicants who apply early in the fall. Also, there is no firm application deadline - March 1st is the schools "priority deadline," but Akron "always accept[s] applications past March 1st...many applicants will receive admission offers throughout spring and summer."
As with other state schools, tuition at Akron is significantly cheaper for residents of Ohio, $19,570 annually, compared to $30,850 for out-of-state students. Part-time tuition is also less expensive than full-time - $15,958 and $24,962 per year for in- and out-of-state, respectively - though this disguises the fact that part-time students will be enrolled for a greater extent of time. Akron offers most incoming students generous financial aid, with a median grant of just over $14,000 dollars. However, students report that it is difficult for students to retain these scholarships, with Akron's rigorous B-/C+ curve causing many students to dip under the required 3.3 GPA.
The required curriculum at Akron is quite typical. 1Ls have their entire schedules chosen for them (no electives), filled with torts, contracts, and other such common requirements. After the first year, students are free to fill their schedules with electives, with only a handful mandatory for the general J.D. Akron also offers its students the option to specialize in litigation, business, or tax; with these specialties come additional requirements for graduation. The school also offers five joint degree options, as well as an LL.M. program.
The law school has centers for Constitutional Law, Law and Technology, and Professional Responsibility. Akron also prides itself on its Trial Advocacy program, which the U.S. News and World Report ranked 7th in the nation for 2010. In addition to the school's flagship journal The Akron Law Review, Akron offers students the opportunity to work with The Akron Tax Journal and The Akron Intellectual Property Journal; all three of these publications are well-reviewed by the Washington and Lee impact rankings, which are based on number of citations per year.
Quality of life
Students seem to generally enjoy living in Akron, with the low cost-of-living, especially housing, being particularly friendly to poor law students. Though smaller than Ohio's "big C's," Akron is a sizeable city (metro area population of roughly 600,000), offering all the shopping, museums, and other culture one would expect from a medium-sized city. Akron is also located under an hour from Cleveland, where students can enjoy certain attractions, such as professional sporting events, that Akron itself lacks - though the Akron high school basketball scene has certainly enjoyed its fair share of popularity!
At the University itself, however, opinions seem to be more mixed. The unforgiving curve leads to a great deal of stress, and students report constant feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. These factors most likely at least contribute to Akron's extremely high attrition rate: almost 20% of students decide not to return after their first year. Also, the school may be a difficult adjustment for minority and/or international students. Akron is over three-quarters white, and the only countries represented in the admitted class of 2009 (other than the USA) were China and Vietnam.
As should be expected, Akron is a very regional school: 80% of graduates remain in Ohio, at least to begin their careers. Within the state, graduates fare well on the bar exam - nearly 90% of Akron graduates pass on their first try, compared to a statewide average of 87.6%. Unsurprisingly, most graduates are employed in the private sector, 23% in business/industry and 48% in law firms. Though access to true "biglaw" markets (Chicago, NYC, etc.) is limited to say the least, Akron graduates are in a good position to break into the smaller markets throughout Ohio, including the limited market in Akron itself. Also, nearly a fifth of graduates secure government jobs; Akron enjoys a solid reputation within the state, and many alumni are current state judges, senators, etc. As should be expected, careers in public interest and academia are difficult to come by, and are usually reserved for the schools elite students. Similarly, only about 2% of graduates are selected to clerk for federal judges.
The recent economic struggles have hit Akron students particularly hard. Only 74.1% of students are employed at graduation, and only 87.6% within nine months. Couple these statistics with an average indebtedness of nearly $72,000, and one finds a degree from Akron could be of questionable value, especially for lower-ranked students.
Within the state of Ohio, Akron enjoys a fair amount of success. Students who can manage the grades can usually secure mid-law positions in Cleveland and other local markets, and the state government provides many jobs as well. However, a large number of Akron students have difficulty finding jobs, and the relatively low starting salaries (median private: $63,000; median public: $49,210) often saddle alumni - especially those from out-of-state - with debt for years to come.
Ranking: Tier 3
Median GPA: 3.45
Median LSAT: 156
Application Fee: $0 (None)
Application Deadline: 3/1 (priority)
In-State Tuition: $19,570 (full-time), $15,958 (part-time)
Out-of-State Tuition: $30,850 (full-time), $24,962 (part-time)
% Employed 9 Months After Graduation: 86.6%
Median Private Sector Starting Salary: $63,000