NCCU School of Law
Founded in 1940 and ABA-accredited in 1950, the North Carolina Central University School of Law is a historically black law school located in Durham, NC. It was the first school in North Carolina to offer African-Americans a legal education.
Admissions & tuition
The LSAT and GPA profile of the class entering NCCU full-time in 2009 was fairly low. The 75th and 25th percentile GPAs were 3.43 and 2.99, respectively, and the median GPA was 3.21. The 75th and 25th percentile LSAT scores, meanwhile, were 148 and 142, respectively, with a median LSAT of 145. In spite of these fairly low numerical standards, admission to NCCU is competitive; the full-time acceptance rate is only 17.5%, and 48% of those accepted choose to attend. In addition to GPA and LSAT, the admissions committee considers a student's life history and work experience as it evaluates the contribution that student could make to the school. The school's full-time program takes between 170 and 190 students every year, while the part-time evening program, which is intended for students with full-time jobs, takes around 40 students.
Admission to the part-time program is significantly more competitive than the full-time program. Matriculants sported medians of 3.48 and 151. The 25th to 75th percentiles for GPA were 3.16 to 3.67, and the same range for the LSAT was 148 to 155.
NCCU's tuition rates are extremely low, especially for North Carolina residents. For the 2010-2011 academic year, the administration estimates that in-state tuition for full-time law students will be $3,531.50 per semester, or around $7,000 a year. Including all fees and room and board, the university estimates that the full cost of attendance for the 2010-2011 academic year will be $19,000 - a pittance compared to the cost of many similarly ranked schools. Out-of-state students, however, will pay higher rates: $20,000 in tuition for a year of full-time enrollment, and a total of $32,000 for cost of attendance of the 2010-2011 academic year.
NCCU bills itself as one of the most diverse law schools in the country. Although the school actually has lower percentages of Asian and Hispanic students than most nationally recognized law schools, it has, in keeping with its status and mission as an HBCU, consistently recruited and enrolled high proportions of African-American students. In 2009, 48.8% of the student body was African-American.
Academics & curriculum
The first-year curriculum at NCCU is fairly standard. Students take two semesters each of Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Torts, as well as one semester each of Criminal Law, Legal Reasoning and Analysis, and Legal Research and Persuasion. There are nine required upper-level courses, including common courses such as Constitutional Law and Evidence as well as a course that focuses specifically on North Carolina law.
In addition to the J.D., NCCU offers two dual-degree programs: a J.D./Master of Business Administration, and a J.D./ Master of Library Science. Each takes four years to complete. There are also two faculty-run institutes for students with special interests. The Dispute Resolution Institute offers courses, training, and a certificate in alternative dispute resolution. Meanwhile, the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Law Institute aims to make academic contributions to the field of biotechnology and pharmaceutical law while also offering students the opportunity to complete a certificate in the subject.
NCCU offers a variety of clinics focusing on topics such as domestic violence, small businesses, civil litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and veterans law. It also offers a fairly unusual course called Street Law, wherein students are placed in local middle or high schools to teach a series of classes on legal topics. Before beginning these classes, they have to opportunity to learn about teaching methods, plan lessons, and observe the classes they will be teaching. Students who hope to deal directly with clients or juries in their careers report that Street Law helps them learn to explain complex issues in ways that non-lawyers can grasp.
In addition to its own course offerings, NCCU has an agreement with the nearby Duke and University of North Carolina law schools that allows its students to take elective classes at these schools while still paying tuition at the NCCU rate.
A potential disadvantage to NCCU is its high 1L attrition rate (22.1% for the class entering in 2008 and 17.9% for the class entering in 2007). According to LSAC, 22 of the 42 students who entered in 2007 and did not return for a second year were academically dismissed, as NCCU dismisses students who have not achieved a GPA of 2.0 or higher at the end of their 1L years.
Employment prospects & bar passage
NCCU does not advertise its career placement statistics, but according to data collected by LSAC, the NCCU graduate's career prospects are slightly shaky and extremely regional. 92.7% of the class of 2008 responded to the employment survey. Of these, only 82.6% were employed. So, 76.6% of the total class was known to be employed. Of those graduates who found employment, 50.5% were in law firms, 11.6% in business and industry, 18.9% in government, 10.5% in public interest, 4.2% in clerkships, and none in academia. 84.2% were employed in the state of North Carolina.
81.9% of the class of 2009 passed the North Carolina bar. This is significantly higher than the state average of 74%.
Just as it does not offer information on the percent of graduates that find employment, NCCU does not publish starting salary data in its promotional materials, nor is this data available through LSAC (as most schools' starting salary data are). However, in response to an e-mail inquiry, the career services office stated that, "[c]onsistent with the national trends for the class of 2009, the median salary for NCCU graduates is $60,000."
Quality of life
Most students live off-campus, although on-campus housing is available for students who are not married. The campus is located in a very modest residential area, so houses and townhouses within walking distance are available to rent for as low as $750 for three bedrooms or around $500 for two bedrooms. However, students who are interested in studios or one-bedroom apartments or who want more luxurious surroundings should be prepared to commute a few miles and pay a little more. Apartment buildings, mostly north and west of Duke University (which, in turn, is located about four miles northwest of NCCU), offer 1-bedroom apartments for between $400 and $1000 a month.
The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area benefits from the presence of NCCU, Duke, and UNC, because the large concentration of students supports a varied array of dining and entertainment options. The area's fusion of big-city convenience with college-town charm, combined with North Carolina's warm climate, makes Durham a fun place to attend law school.
NCCU places over four out of five of its employed graduates in the state of North Carolina, so prospective students hoping to secure jobs outside that region should be cautious. However, students who do hope to work in North Carolina and who are unable or unwilling to pay the high tuition rates at NCCU's more prestigious neighbors may find a good fit in NCCU. In addition to a desirable location and a tradition of social change as an HBCU, NCCU offers a few unique academic opportunities, such as its Street Law program.
North Carolina Central University
640 Nelson Street
Durham, NC 27707
Phone: (919) 530-5243
Estimated 2010-2011 Tuition: $7,063 in-state; $20,000 out-of-state
2009 Bar Passage Rate: 81.9% (NC)
% Employed 9 months after graduation (2008): 82.6% (92.7% response rate)
2009 Median Starting Salary: $60,000 (salary stats not listed in US News)
Entering class size: 169 (FT), 35 (PT)
Median GPA: 3.21 (FT), 3.48 (PT)
Median LSAT: 145 (FT), 151 (PT)