University of St. Thomas School of Law
The University of St. Thomas School of Law (UST School of Law) was originally founded in 1923, but closed its doors in 1933 due to the Great Depression, opening for business once more in 1999. The first class of students since the new-old law school reopened began in 2001. Since then, the school has worked hard to establish itself in Minnesota.
Admissions & tuition
The admissions process at UST is not terribly competitive. In 2014, the school's 25th-75th percentile LSAT scores and GPAs were 150-158 and 3.17-3.61, respectively. The medians were 154 and 3.41. Applicants with numbers better than those should feel good about their chances of being offered admission; students with lower numbers needn't give up, but they will need to pay more attention to "soft" factors in their application package (personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.)
UST School of Law is a private law school, and as such tuition is not cheap. The cost for a 1L in 2014 is just under $37,000. This includes certain mandatory student fees (a student activity fee and a technology fee), but does not include a myriad of other costs, including housing, food, transportation expenses and so forth. Although Minneapolis is no Manhattan, the cost of living is not rock-bottom either, so students will want to make sure they budget sufficient funds for living expenses. Graduates who took on loans (95% of the class) shouldered an average burden of $92,637 in 2009.
The law school's motto is Inspire Justice, and they try to make this the focus of the academic experience for law students at UST. The school currently is ranked #1 in the nation for practical training, #1 in the nation for externships and #8 in the nation for best professors. It has 11 clinics, including one of the most innovative clinics in the nation, the Federal Commutations Clinic led by Professor Mark Osler. UST School of Law is part of a Catholic university and places a strong emphasis on education and its role in morality and social justice. First-year classes are the standard 1L milieu, plus a two-part class called "Foundations of Justice." 1Ls at UST are divided into sections of roughly 75 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 17.5-to-1. 1L attrition is not a huge factor, but 7.9% of the most recent class did not make it back for a second year at UST. The school is home of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions and has a partnership with the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy. Students with an interest in receiving both their J.D. and an M.B.A., M.S.W., LL.M. in compliance, or master's in public policy and leadership or Catholic studies may be interested in the school's joint degree options.
Bar Passage and Employment Prospects
Given that the school took on its first class of students in 2001, the jury is still out on whether UST will successfully prepare graduates for the bar exam over the long run, but so far things look good: In 2013, 87.13% of UST graduates passed the bar. The school's loyal alumni base, #1 in annual giving in the nation, is boosting employment prospects for graduates.
Even still, most UST graduates are able to find work: Most recently, 62.6% were employed in a J.D.-required or J.D.-advantage job within 9 months of graduation. The median starting salary for a UST graduate working in the private sector is $53,000, which could make paying off $90k+ of student loans a chore.
Quality of life
UST School of Law is ranked #4 in the nation for best quality of life. Despite the brutal winters, Minneapolis is a fantastic city. It contains just about everything one could want in a major city, from art and music to professional sports teams, all at a cost more reasonable than nearby Chicago. It is extremely unlikely that UST students will spend their 3 years of law school bored, but they would be well advised to bring a good coat and learn how to drive in wintry weather.
University of Saint Thomas School of Law has made a name for itself with national rankings in practical training, externships, best professors and quality of life. It is a potentially very compelling choice, especially for Catholic students interested in practicing public interest law in or around the Upper Midwest.
Application deadline: 7/1
Application fee: None
LSAT median: 154
GPA median: 3.41
2014-15 Tuition: $36,844
Bar Passage: 87.13% (3.22% points below state avg.)
Median Starting Salary: $53,000.