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University of South Carolina School of Law

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South Carolina Law

As one of only two law schools in South Carolina, the University Of South Carolina School Of Law dominates the state-wide market. What's more, tuition for South Carolina residents is remarkably low. Career prospects are poor, however, and many graduates face limited options upon graduation.

Admissions & tuition

With a rank of 87th nationally (USNews), South Carolina Law cannot afford to have awfully high standards for admission. Nearly 32% (~640 of 1,975) of applicants were granted admission last year. Of those matriculating, the 25th to 75th percentile GPA range was 3.14-3.70 and the range for the LSAT was 156-160. The medians for those crucial admissions factors were 3.46 and 158, respectively.

In-state students enjoy a huge tuition discount at South Carolina Law, paying only $19,034 annually. Out-of-staters face a significantly higher bill, paying $38,014 per year-a rate comparable to that of many private schools in the country. Obviously, this makes South Carolina substantially more attractive to South Carolina residents.

The Financial Aid Office at South Carolina is fairly generous, especially considering the school's already low in-state tuition rates.  Among students receiving financial aid last year, the median grant was nearly $8,200 per year, according to LSAC. That would almost halve the cost of tuition for South Carolina residents. The full range of grants, for the 25th to 75th percentiles, was $4,100-$16,000. Even with the strong financial aid program, roughly 80% of South Carolina students end up borrowing money to finance their legal education. This does not result in enormous debts, however, as the average indebtedness per student is only about $56,000.

Employment prospects

South Carolina Law
The large majority of South Carolina graduates take the Bar in-state. The school sports a passage rate of 92.4%, which is quite strong compared to the state-wide passage rate of 82%. Once the Bar is behind them, South Carolina graduates struggle to find immediate work. In fact, more than 38% of graduates were unemployed at the time of graduation in 2007, according to USNews. This is the type of statistic that should inspire serious worry in prospective students, though they should keep in mind the fact that fewer than 6% were still unemployed nine months after graduation.

For those who do find work, private-practice is the most popular choice, with over 50% of South Carolina grads taking this route.  Judicial clerkships were also quite popular, attracting 16% of graduates, as were government, public-interest, and business jobs, attracting, 14%, 7%, and 10% respectively. Without contest, those who entered the private sector were paid the most, starting with an average salary of $75,000. Those in public service earned $40,000, on average. 

Academics

South Carolina is not able to prepare its pool of future lawyers with nationally-recognized programs or clinics. Instead, S.C. Law students take advantage of the resources provided by the school's location and strong alumni network. The South Carolina Law campus is just minutes away from the State Supreme Court and the State Legislature. This, combined with the fact that the large majority of attorneys in the state graduated from South Carolina Law, allows students to gain practical experience not readily available to those at other schools. Taking advantage of such resources, however, can only carry students so far. The lack of strength in particular fields forces students to take pre-determined routes towards job security and disallows them from exploring their academic interests to the extent they may desire. 

Many also cite the school's poor facilities as a stain on their academic experience. One student, interviewed by the Princeton Review, reported "Apparently [they] have been planning on building a new [law school building] for decades but instead have used duct tape to keep it together. Literally, the window next to me is held up with duct tape."

Quality of life

Social life at South Carolina Law is much like social life at the schools undergraduate counterpart, with which it shares a campus. This means that two things become the object of the large majority of social activities: football and beer. Naturally, certain students will be more drawn to this scene than others. Some will enjoy the school spirit and "let-loose" atmosphere, while others, seeking more culturally stimulating social activities, will find disappointment instead.

Off campus, students can enjoy the charm of Columbia, the state capital and South Carolina's most populated city, which is a nice southern town. The weather is wonderful, and there are plenty of opportunities to get outside, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy that laid-back atmosphere that only the South can provide.

Synopsis

There are a number of pros and cons for students weigh when forming their opinions of South Carolina Law. Tuition is low, but job prospects are weak. The weather is great, but the campus is rowdy, etc… The bottom line, however, is that South Carolina Law has graduated handfuls of happy and successful lawyers. The resources are in place; prospective students simply have to decide if South Carolina Law would suit their particular interests.  Due to the much lower tuition granted to South Carolina residents it is a much more attractive option for in-state students.

Quick reference

U.S. News Ranking: 87
LSAT Median: 158
GPA Median: 3.46
Multiple LSAT scores: Average
Application Deadlines: 04/01
Application fee: $60
Entering class size: 240
2009-2010 Tuition: $ 19,034 (In-state) $38,014 (Out-of-state)
Bar passage rate: 92.4%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 94%
Median private sector starting salary: $75,000 (Class of 2007, 62% reporting)