Southern University Law Center
Southern University Law Center, located in Baton Rouge, emerged in response to a 1946 lawsuit by an African-American resident of Louisiana who sought, and was refused, a legal education at a state institution. SULC was approved the following January by the state Board of Education. In that September, it opened its doors to train African-American lawyers. Today, the law school prides itself on educating lawyers from under-represented racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
Admissions & tuition
In 2009, matriculating full-time students at SULC had a median LSAT of 146 and a median GPA of 2.86. Numbers for part-time students were slightly lower, at 144 and 2.72. Of 1125 applicants to both programs, 461 were accepted for a slightly competitive acceptance rate of 41 percent. 156 students enrolled full-time and 83 part-time. Current students say the admissions process was based on, as it is at other schools, a combination of their LSAT score, GPA, resume, personal statement and letters of recommendation.
Tuition rates vary depending on whether a student is full-time, part-time, or a resident of Louisiana. For a full-time resident, the yearly cost is $7,978. For a full-time nonresident, the cost is $12,580. Tuition for a part-time resident cost $6,668, while tuition for a part-time non-resident cost $11,268. Rates are slightly higher for part-time students who attend evening classes. Only full-time students received grant aid in 2009, at a rate of 31 percent, with a median amount of $1,864. SULC offers its students a loan repayment assistance program.
The law school has 55 total teaching faculty members and a low student-to-faculty ratio of 12.4 to 1. The required courses include torts, contracts, criminal law, civil procedure and legal research. Students say the workload is heavy and the grading curve (set to a hard C) is difficult. The heavy workload and difficult curve tend to weed out students early on, as roughly 20 percent of students do not return for a second year. Professors at SULC are described as intelligent, amicable and approachable. Students seem to take advantage of the low student-to-faculty ratio by seeking one-on-one time with their professors.
Quality of life
Baton Rouge, also home to Louisiana State University, is both a college town and the state capital, so there are plenty of recreational and employment opportunities available nearby. The city hosts a number of parades and festivals throughout the year, and for those seeking a weekend out of town, iconic New Orleans is about an hour east. Cheap housing is prevalent off campus, which is a plus, though the city's crime rates, well above the national average, are a minus.
SULC stresses diversity, and in 2004 the school was ranked by National Jurist as a Top 20 law school in the overall diversity of its student body. Current students enjoy the diversity on campus and say it adds to their quality of life. SULC also offers a myriad of student organizations and activities through the student bar association.
Employment prospects & bar passage
About 86 percent of the Class of 2007 were known to be employed within nine months of graduation. The law school chose not to report where or in what capacity these students were employed, which makes comparison with other law schools difficult.
In July 2009, 58.3 percent of SULC graduates passed the Louisiana state bar exam, 11 percentage points lower than the state average of 69 percent. This poor showing indicates that, on average, SULC graduates struggle more than other students on the Louisiana bar exam.
The cheap in-state tuition, high student-body diversity and small class sizes are good reasons to want to attend SULC particularly for Louisiana residents. However, the low bar-passage rate should worry prospective students. Lack of information about average student debt and median starting salaries make a more detailed assessment difficult. Living expenses in Baton Rouge are low, but the crime rate is not. Diversity at the school is exceptional, but little can be gleaned about its ability to place students in regional or national jobs. Before making a decision to attend SULC, you should speak with an admissions counselor about any concerns you may have.
U.S. News & World Report ranking: Tier 4
LSAT Median: 146 (FT), 144 (PT)
GPA Median: 2.86 (FT), 2.72 (PT)
Application Deadline: February 28th
Application fee: $25
Entering class size: 156 (FT), 83 (PT)
2009-2010 Tuition and Fees: Resident (FT / PT), $7,978 / $6,668; Nonresident (FT / PT) $12,580 / $11,268
Bar passage rate in Louisiana: 58.3%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 81.8%
Median private sector salary: N/A (School did not fill out US News surveys)