Georgia State University College of Law
Located in Downtown Atlanta, the Georgia State University College of Law (GSU Law), despite its ranking, offers low in-state tuition, a compelling bar passage rate, and good employment prospects for those who wish to stay and work in the region.
Admissions & tuition
Georgia State University College of Law is ranked 56th by USNews and World Report, placing it towards the front of the pack of Tier 2 law schools. The median statistics of GSU students is a 3.40 GPA and 158 LSAT score. Yet for its rankings, admissions are quite competitive. Last year, GSU Law accepted only 28.4% of applicants. Nevertheless, individuals with numbers at or above the medians and who have compelling resumes and personal statements should feel confident about their chances. There is no preference given to Georgia residents, but because of the location and cheap in-state tuition, about 90% of GSU Law students are from Georgia.
Admitted applicants considering whether or not to attend GSU Law will no doubt wish to take their tuition into consideration--a consideration which could yield vastly differing results depending on whether or not the applicant in question is a Georgia resident. Georgia residents will find the tuition to be among the lowest in-state rates of any public law school in the nation: A scant $16,378 a year, allowing Georgia residents to complete their three years at GSU Law for less than the cost of one year at top private law schools. This is especially important to individuals who wish to practice lower-paying public interest law, or to those who will be financing their JDs entirely with interest-bearing loans.
Out-of-staters, on the other hand, face a tougher dilemma, as the tuition for them jumps to $35,986. This makes GSU Law comparable, expense-wise, to private schools which potentially offer more national reach, and should be weighed very carefully by out-of-staters who wish to return to their home region to practice law, as GSU Law is a regional law school--most of its graduates take the bar in Georgia and it can be difficult to find work in parts of the country other than Georgia and its immediate neighbors. In-state and out-of-state students alike can expect to pay roughly another $12,000 per year for room and board in Atlanta.
Employment prospects & bar passage
As has been previously mentioned, most GSU Law graduates opt to take the bar in Georgia. For the June 2014 Georgia Bar examination, the passage rate was a very impressive 90.1% (92.0% first time passage rate), compared with a statewide average of 80.4% (84.5% first time), the second highest of all Georgia schools behind the U. of Georgia. The average statistics for all classes graduating between 2003 and 2009 also paint a very favorable picture of GSU Law--the bar passage rate for GSU Law grads during this time averaged 92.8% compared to a statewide average of 85%, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that that statewide average includes a large number of graduates from the much more highly ranked law schools at U. of Georgia and Emory.
Although GSU Law does not release statistics regarding the percentage of the class employed at the time of graduation (a potentially troubling sign), employment prospects for graduates nevertheless seem quite good. Within 9 months, 95% (185/195) of the class of 2013 were employed or were not seeking employment.
A number of interesting academic opportunities exist for GSU Law students. Those interested in pursuing a joint degree have a wealth of options, including a JD/MBA, JD/MPA (public administration), JD with a Master of Philosophy, JD/MSHA or JD/MBA/MHA (health administration), JD/MPH (public health), JD/MPA (professional accountancy), and a JD/MCRP (City and Regional Planning). Due to GSU Law's being in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, there are a number of government-related externships and work opportunities available to GSU Law students. GSU Law offers a number of clinics for students, such as a tax clinic, an investor advocacy clinic, a veterans advocacy clinic, a capital defender clinic, and a medico-legal partnership clinic advocating for low-income children and their families. Each of these clinics allow students to get some work experience while finishing their JDs.
Recently, GSU Law started an LLM program for internationally trained lawyers who either wish to customize their studies in a particular area or to prepare for a bar exam in a qualifying state.
Additionally, GSU Law presents an appealing choice for non-traditional students, as it offers both full-time and part-time JD programs to accommodate various schedules.
Quality of life
Students at GSU Law will not lack for ways to enhance the quality of their lives living in Atlanta. With a population of 5,278,904 at most recent counting, the Atlanta Metropolitan Area is the 9th-largest in the US and is also the fastest-growing major metro area in the US. Despite muggy summers, the weather is mild and those opposed to the cold will find themselves wonderfully situated (climactically speaking) in "Hot-Lanta." The city has a number of museums, cultural offerings, a professional team in every major sport, and nightlife opportunities galore. Because Atlanta is a destination for recent college graduates and young professionals, there is a very active social scent that will provide a great distraction from law school. Crime is a problem, as Atlanta still ranks among the most dangerous major cities in the US, but there has been much improvement on this front since the 1990s.
GSU Law offers a combination of rock-bottom in-state tuition, decent employment prospects and impressive bar passage rates. For students wishing to stay and work in the area, it presents a very compelling choice.
U.S. News Ranking: 56th
LSAT Median: 158
GPA Median: 3.40
Multiple LSAT scores: Are averaged.
Application Deadlines: June 1
Application fee: $50
Yearly Tuition: $16,378(In-state) $35,986 (out-of-state)
Bar passage rate: 90.1%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 95%
Average private sector starting salary: ~$80,000 (Class of 2014)