Pace Law School
Admissions & tuition
3016 people applied to the Pace University School of Law for 2009 entry. 1173 of these were accepted (39% acceptance rate), and 262 ultimately chose to attend (22% yield rate). The 25th and 75th percentile GPAs for the full-time class matriculating in 2009 were 3.20 and 3.61, respectively, with a median GPA of 3.39. The 25th and 75th percentiles for the LSAT, meanwhile, were 152 and 157, respectively, with a median of 154. The same ranges for Pace's part-time program were 3.08-3.27-3.43, and 149-153-155 for GPA and LSAT respectively.
Pace offers an optional admissions interview. An applicant may request an interview once his/her file is complete, and these requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until the limit of 450 interviews has been reached. An interview is not required for admission.
Tuition for the full-time J.D. Program in the 2009-2010 academic year was $39,546. Part-time tuition was $29,662. (Because the full-time program takes 3 years while the part-time program takes 4, overall tuition would be about the same in both programs.) The school estimates that living expenses will come to $19,368 if the student lives on campus and $20,470 if s/he lives off campus. Interestingly, the school also gives a figure for students who are living with their parents ($7,558). Overall cost of attendance, then, would be around $60,000 per year. According to the school, 65% of the school is receiving scholarships, with an median award of $8,000 for full-time students, and $7,000 for part-timers. Graduates in 2009 left with an average of $83,500 in debt.
Academics & curriculum
Pace requires the completion of 88 credits for a student to earn a J.D.; 35 of these credits come from required courses. In the fall, full-time 1Ls have traditionally taken 4 credits each of Contracts, Property, and Torts, and 3 credits each of Civil Procedure and a combined Criminal Law / Legal Analysis and Writing class. In the spring, 1Ls continued with Civil Procedure and Criminal Law / Legal Analysis and Writing, as well as taking 4 credits of Constitutional Law. Starting in 2010, the Criminal Law / Legal Analysis and Writing course will be broken up into two separate courses. Students will take four credits of Legal Writing during their fall semesters, while during their spring semesters they will take one credit of Legal Writing and three of Criminal Law.
The only other required courses are Professional Responsibility and Federal Income Tax, both taken during the second year. Students are also required to complete an upper-level writing requirement, but this is not tied to any particular course; it can be completed in any course whose professor agrees to supervise the student's project, and students who are on journals may satisfy the requirement with their notes or comments.
Pace Law School's primary claim to fame is its environmental law program, ranked third in the nation in 2009 by US News & World Report. The school's focus on environmental law is evident from its LLM programs, joint degrees, and law centers, outlined below. The school also prides itself on its legal writing program, although it does not appear among the 27 schools in the US News legal writing rankings.
In addition to four LLM programs (Climate Chance, Environmental Law, Comparative Law, and Real Estate Law), Pace offers six joint degrees: a J.D./M.B.A., J.D./Master of Public Administration, and J.D./B.S. or J.D./B.A. within Pace University, a J.D./M.A. in Women's History with Sarah Lawrence College, a J.D./M.S. in Environmental Policy with Bard College's Center for Environmental Policy, and a J.D./Master of Environmental Management with the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Two of the LLM degrees, LLM in Real Estate Law and LLM in Environmental Law, can also be completed as joint degrees with the J.D. Finally, the school offers a Doctor of Juridical Science in Environmental Law.
Six specialized centers offer students the opportunity to conduct research and gain real-world experience in the surrounding community. These are the Land Use Law Center, the Real Estate Law Institute, the Center for Environmental Legal Studies, the Energy and Climate Center, the Center for Judicial Studies, and the Women's Justice Center.
Pace Law School's academic regulations state that, for all 1L courses except Criminal Law/Legal Analysis and Writing (or, starting in 2010, Legal Writing), the mean grade must fall between a 2.5 and 2.95. (For upper-level students, the curve is less harsh. In the required upper-level courses, the mean grade must fall between 2.65 and 3.10, while for all other upper-level courses, this curve is merely recommended.) If a student finishes his/her first semester with a GPA of 1.5 or below or any subsequent semester with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or below, s/he is academically dismissed. (Students who are dismissed with a GPA between 1.5 and 2.0 may petition for readmission.) The school reports that the norm for students receiving a 2.0 or below in 1L classes is 17%, so it is likely that the grading curve and academic dismissal policy are what accounts for the school's fairly high 1L attrition rate of 16.7%.
If a student finishes his/her second or any subsequent semester with a GPA above 2.0 but below 2.3, s/he is placed on academic probation. Once a student has been placed on academic probation, failure at the end of any semester to achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or above will result in academic dismissal.
Employment prospects & bar passage
In 2009, most Pace graduates took the New York bar exam. Of these, 81% passed, giving the school a bar passage rate just above the state's average of 77%.
Pace reports that 91.8% of the class of 2008 was either employed or pursuing graduate degrees nine months after graduating and that 90.9% of the class of 2009 "reported professional employment" after the same period. The 90.9% employment rate for the class of 2009 reflects a respectable 90.8% response rate to the employment survey.
In 2008, the average starting salary of all employed graduates was $88,693. The average for graduates in government work was $53,875, $46,000 for those in public interest, $109,188 for private practice, $93,222 in business, and $56,768 in clerkships. It was not reported what percentage of the class of 2008 fell into each career category, or what the median income for each category was. US News reports that Pace's median private sector salary was $100,000 with 62% of the relevant graduates responding. The median for public service was $53,500.
Pace does report what percentage of its 2009 graduating class went into each field: 39.7% went into private practice, 25.1 into government, 21.2% into business, 7.3% into clerkships, 4.5% into public interest, and 1.7% into academia. No data is volunteered on the average or median starting salary within each of these fields, but the overall average starting salary fell sharply in 2009 to $68,616 - over $20,000 less than the average reported just one year earlier.
Interestingly, despite the school's proximity to New York City, only five New York firms attended on-campus interviewing in the 2007-2008 academic year. They were joined by three Washington D.C. firms and just one from California. The total number of firms at on-campus interviewing was 16. Of the class of 2009, 68.2% are employed in the state of New York.
Quality of life
Pace University School of Law is located in White Plains, NY, surrounded by the county of Westchester and a positively alarming density of country clubs and golf clubs. The campus is a half-hour train ride or 45-minute drive (up to 1.5 hours in traffic) from New York City. The suburban setting provides plentiful opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as a large system of public parks that includes three outdoor swimming pools and an ice-skating rink. The campus is also a mere two-minute drive from the large Westchester Mall, home to many upscale shops. Overall, White Plains offers both the advantages and the pitfalls of a wealthy suburb: pleasant, well-landscaped surroundings and convenient dining and entertainment options, but a decided lack of eclecticism.
There are several large apartment complexes within walking distance of campus, but a 1-bedroom apartment in these areas is likely to cost between $1500 and $2000 a month. Students with cars may find cheaper housing by commuting from northern New Jersey, southern Connecticut, New York towns further north than White Plains, or even the Bronx.
Pace Law School is expensive, and the new employment statistics it provides are missing several important measures - response rate, for example - that would make its employment data easier to interpret and rely upon. Although Pace boasted a high median starting salary for the private sector in 2008, only a fraction of the class has a chance getting those jobs, especially now with the legal market in a downturn. Furthermore, the lack of firms at recent on-campus interviewing periods suggests that Pace graduates are not sought after by major firms. Therefore, the prospective student should be well-informed on his/her financial situation and take the time to do some research on job placement. The school's financial aid website indicates that it is not unheard of for students to live with their parents, which suggests that this is one way for students from the area to cut costs. Pace does have a reputation for excellence in environmental law that is well deserved, as evidenced by its broad academic and extra-curricular offerings in that area. So, for students who have ties to the White Plains area and a solid plan regarding how to finance their educations, or for students who have a firm desire to study environmental law, Pace may be an option worth considering.
Pace Law School
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
Phone: (914) 422-4205
2009-2010 Tuition: $39,546
2009 Bar Passage Rate: 81% (NY)
% Employed 9 months after 2009 graduation: 90.9% (90.8% response rate)
2009 Average Starting Salary: $68,616
2009 Median Private Sector Salary: $100,000 (62% reporting)
2009 Entering Class Size: 204 (FT), 58 (PT)
2009 Median GPA: 3.39 (FT), 3.27 (PT)
2009 Median LSAT: 154 (FT), 153 (PT)