University of Washington School of Law
The University of Washington School of Law is the most highly regarded law school in the Northwest, as well as one of the most reputable public law schools in the nation. Located in Seattle on the scenic University of Washington campus, the school offers qualified applicants the opportunity to study law in a remarkable setting, while its stellar job placement throughout the Northwest ensures that students are able to reap the fruit of their labor upon graduation. Especially for Washington state residents, who can take advantage of the school's lower in-state rates, the University of Washington Law School is a great place to pursue a legal education.
Admissions & tuition
With an annual acceptance rate of approximately 22%, Washington is a highly selective law school. In the 2011 application cycle, of the nearly 2,656 applicants who petitioned for entry into the school, 586 were accepted, 182 of whom matriculated to form the 2011 entering class. This entering class boasted a median GPA of 3.67, while the median LSAT score of the class was 164. Future applicants with numbers near or above these medians can expect to be competitive in the school's admissions process. Of course, like other elite law schools, Washington looks beyond an applicant's numbers in making decisions on applications, and aims to compose an entering classes diverse in ethnicity and background. As such, applicants able to successfully demonstrate ways in which they can bring diversity to the law school could significantly increase their chances at admission.
As previously mentioned, because Washington is a public law school, residents of Washington state who attend the school can attain an elite legal education at a bargain price. For the 2011-2012 academic year, tuition for resident students at the school was $25,780, while non-resident students paid $39,850. Although residents, who comprised approximately 65% of the 2011 entering class, certainly receive the larger bargain, the non-resident tuition rate of Washington is still several thousand dollars less than that of similarly regarded law schools. It should be noted that, unlike other states in which students can attain residency status after their first year in law school, the University of Washington does not consider those who reside in the state for educational purposes as bona fide residents, and thus is unlikely at any point to grant residency status to students who enter as non-residents.
Academics & curriculum
Due in large part to its experienced and well-published faculty, Washington enjoys a stellar academic reputation, and because of its impressive 10-to-1 student to faculty ratio, the school's students are able to establish close contact with the faculty. Although first-year courses are prescribed and 1L sections contain up to 90 students, nearly 70% of upper-level courses contain less than 25 seats, further adding to the student's ability to interact with professors and fellow classmates. In all, 181 course titles were offered beyond the first-year curriculum in the 2010-2011 school year, allowing Washington students to tailor their legal education to their needs and interests in their second and third years at the law school. Also of note are the school's nine clinics, which range in topic from environmental law to unemployment compensation and refugee advocacy, and also its concentration tracks, offered in Asian law, intellectual property law, and other popular areas. Lastly, the school demonstrates its dedication to the community by requiring all students to perform 60 hours of public service legal work in their time at Washington.
Quality of life
Widely considered to be among the most livable cities in the nation, Seattle offers Washington students various ways to spend their free-time. The city is home to a tremendous live-music scene, houses all sorts of bars and nightclubs, and is especially known for its abundance of excellent and exotic restaurants. The University of Washington campus also offers distractions to law students with its Greek system and weekend party scene, and the law school hosts weekly Thank Goodness It's Thursday get-togethers that allow the student body to meet and mingle. Students also enjoy the state of the art William H. Gates law building, donated by the world's wealthiest man, whose father is a Washington Law School graduate, as well as access to the university's extraordinary fitness center and other amenities. This high quality of life comes at no small price, however, as life in Seattle comes along with a high cost of living, though not nearly as high as that of New York or the major cities of California.
Employment prospects & bar passage
In recent years, Washington has continued to demonstrate tremendous ability to place its students into some of the top law firms and judicial clerkship positions of Washington state and the Northwest. Of the class of 2010, 96% of graduates were employed within 9 months of graduation, roughly 69% of whom secured employment within the state of Washington. 43% of graduates accepted jobs with private law firms, with a median starting salary of $95,000, while 15% took on judicial clerkships. Outside of the Northwest, job prospects are predictably less stellar for Washington students, although the school's alumni network allows students the opportunity to pursue employment in all corners of the nation.
On average, the bar passage rate of Washington graduates is approximately 88%, while the rate for all test takers in the state of Washington is about 78%. While the vast majority of the school's graduates sit for the exam in the state of Washington, several take the California bar exam each year, and these graduates also pass the exam at a higher rate than the state average.
The University of Washington Law School has long been considered the finest law school in the Northwest, and perpetuates this reputation with its continued access to the region's top law firms and clerkship opportunities. Especially for applicants hoping to secure employment in Seattle and the state of Washington, UW is a great place to pursue a legal education.
U.S. News Ranking: 30th
Application Deadline: 2/15
Application fee: $60
Entering class size: 182 (2008)
LSAT median: 164
GPA median: 3.67
Yearly Tuition: Resident: $25,780, Non-Resident: $39,850 (2011-2012)
Bar passage rate in Washington: 86% (2010)
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 96% (2010)
Median private sector salary: $95,000 (Class of 2010)