Albany Law School
Founded in 1851 and located in the capital of the Empire State, Albany Law School is the oldest independent law school in North America. It is also noted for being the only law school in Albany, located minutes away from New York's highest court, federal courts and state legislature. The law school's most distinguished alumni include President William McKinley and two Supreme Court Justices, David Brewer and Robert H. Jackson.
Admissions & tuition
Students in the Class of 2012 had median GPAs and LSAT scores typical of a third tier law school: 3.30 and 155. However, students who fall below these medians should not be discouraged from applying to Albany Law. The school accepts approximately 43 percent of all applicants.
Of course, admission to Albany Law brings the challenge of paying for a legal education. As with any law school, the tab can be steep. Tuition is over $39,000 a year; however, grant aid is available -- the median grant provided is $18,000. Despite the school's financial aid initiatives, the average 2009 graduate who took loans graduated with $120,722 of debt.
1Ls at Albany Law must adhere to a strict course schedule. Students undergoing the 1L experience take classes in lawyering, civil procedure, contracts, constitutional law and property law. Incoming classes are split into sections of about 80 students who spend the majority of their first year working and studying together.
The law school offers joint degree programs in law and bioethics, business administration, public administration, regional planning and social work. Albany Law also offers fourteen concentration areas that students can opt into. These areas encompass civil, tax, labor, family, health, business and other specific fields of law, and allow the focused law student to dedicate his or her curriculum to a particular interest.
The student to faculty ratio is 13.8 to 1.
Quality of life
For a student used to the big city lifestyle, living in Albany, N.Y., can be an off-putting change of pace. Many students complain there is nothing to do on the weekends, except for drinking, studying and frequenting the local mall. Albany Law does not offer separate housing for law students, but does offer shared housing between law, medical, and pharmaceutical students. The buildings and facilities at Albany are quite good, however, and wireless Internet runs throughout the entire law school.
Employment prospects & bar passage
Among the Class of 2008, 93.9 percent were known to be employed within nine months of graduation. Of those graduates, 86 percent opted to stay and work in New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Because Albany Law is the only law school in the capital's region, students may enjoy an advantage with internships and inroads into prestigious New York State government jobs. In fact, Albany Law students claim that the majority of working opportunities can be found in the capital itself, with state agencies and the legislature. The median starting salary for 2008 graduates working in the private sector is $63,000. In the public sector, it is $50,500.
Albany Law students had an 85.8 percent first-time passage rate on the New York State bar exam in 2009. While this is above the state average of 85.6 percent, it remains middle-of-the-list for New York's 15 ABA-accredited law schools.
For someone looking to live in upstate New York and to work in government on the state level, Albany Law School may be a fine option. Their proximity to and monopoly over the region's legal market should give Albany Law students a leg up in this area of the country. The hefty cost, however, is something to consider. Also, like most law schools outside of the top 100, national placement is difficult for Albany Law alumni, and prospective students should consider this before applying.
U.S. News & World Report ranking: Tier 3
LSAT Median: 155
GPA Median: 3.30
Application Deadline: March 1
Application fee: $60
Entering class size: 255 (Class of 2012)
Yearly Tuition: $39,050 (2009-2010)
Bar passage rate in New York: 86%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 93.9%
Median private sector salary: $63,000 (Class of 2008, 55% reporting)