The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
Located at the heart of the Southwest in Tucson Arizona, The James E. Rogers College of Law brings a lot to the table. Tuition is low, classes are small, and the clinical offerings are strong. To top it all off, the weather is known to be fantastic. As is the case with many schools of a comparable ranking, though, students should keep their career interests in mind when deciding whether or not to send in that seat deposit.
Admissions & tuition
The University of Arizona College of Law accepts applications only from students who can commit to studying law on a full-time basis. Such a commitment, however, will not be enough to ensure admission; because, although the school's admissions standards are at the lower end for tier-1 schools, they are still competitive. In 2009, the GPA's of matriculating students ranged from 3.32 to 3.70 for the 25th to 75th percentiles, respectively. LSAT scores ranged from 159 to 163 for the same percentiles. The median GPA and LSAT were 3.51 and 161.
Like most public law schools, Arizona offers a considerable tuition discount to in-state applicants. For the 2009-10 academic year, Arizona residents pay $20,895 for tuition, while out-of-staters will face a price-tag of $35,807. The school expects the average room & board for all students (regardless of their state of origin) to be just under $12,000. The total costs then, including other miscellaneous fees jumps to $41,645 for one year in-state, $56,557 out-of-state. Though the latter cost may discourage prospective out-of-state students, Arizona Law is still cheaper than most private schools in its range, and that is a factor to be taken into consideration. Also to be considered is the school's financial aid program, which is strong. Between 2007 and 2008, 12% of students received full tuition scholarships (or higher), and 18% received some amount between half and full tuition. Both of those numbers are quite high compared to most other schools in the top 50 of rankings. Overall, the median grant was $7,500 per year. The average student will graduate with just over $60,000 in debt.
Employment prospects & bar passage
For those that do gain admission, and eventually graduate, employment prospects look pretty good, especially in Arizona. 87.6% of Arizona grads pass the Bar the first time around. This is a strong showing compared to the state's overall passage rate of 78.8%.
After passing the Bar, most graduates found work in Arizona. According to the school's website, 32% of students found work outside of Arizona; but, given the school's small size this only amounts to about 40 students. The other 68% were divided, for the most part, between Phoenix and Tucson. As far as fields of law are concerned, most students end up at private law firms (45% directly after graduation, and another 5% after a judicial clerkship), where the average salary was $105,000. 20% found work in the Government sector, averaging $55,000; 18.5% in a judicial clerkship earning $43,000, and 2% went to public interest.
While these numbers paint a picture of stability, one would be unwise to assume success was guaranteed for all graduates. This is illustrated by the fact that only 75% of graduates secure employment at the time of graduation according to US News. In the school's favor, however, it should be noted that that number jumped to 95% when sampling students 9 months after graduation. The bottom line seems to be that Arizona is not Yale. Every graduate will not have a plethora of high-paying jobs to choose from; but for those that perform, the road to a successful legal career is open and ready to be traveled.
Quality of life
The University of Arizona College of Law is known to offer students all the benefits of the uniquely relaxed atmosphere that is the Southwest. The skies are sunny, and the opportunities to get out and play are vast. Students who enjoy outdoor recreation seem to be especially drawn to Tucson, where running and biking are popular ways to de-stress, as are extreme sports such as rock-climbing. But we can't evaluate the quality of life at a law school without discussing life in the classroom-that is, after all, where most of a student's time will be spent.
It seems that the sunshine even makes its way into the lecture halls, where the small size of the school (only 2 class rooms hold over 100 students) is said to contribute to the non-competitive atmosphere. Students interviewed by the Princeton Review note that while the school does have some gung ho students, overall it is "the opposite of cutthroat." Law school will be stressful at times, that goes without saying; but when the atmosphere is friendly both inside the classroom and out, it certainly makes life go a little more smoothly.
Students should be aware, though, that the law school is connected to the large U. of A. undergraduate campus. This could have an effect on a student's law school experience and whether it is positive or negative likely depends upon your views on a large Greek system.
Curriculum and areas of expertise
Nationally, the University of Arizona fails to stand out. The first-year curriculum does not deviate from the norm in any significant way. Further, the school did not make it onto any of US News' specialty rankings lists. Nevertheless, students have plenty of opportunities to specialize and hone their skills. Take, for example, the clinical offerings that what will allow Arizona grads to have the edge when it comes to jobs in their state. Specifically, Arizona offers clinics that address the geopolitical needs of the state - including Immigration Law, and Indigenous Peoples Law.
Also appealing are the opportunities to obtain joint and advanced degrees. At the University of Arizona, a student can complement their legal studies with a Ph.D. in American Indian Studies, Economics, Latin American Studies or they can add an L.L.M. in International Trade Law. So, while Arizona may not be high on the specialty rankings lists, there seems to be little reason to doubt that students are provided the opportunity to become well-qualified and well-rounded attorneys.
The University of Arizona is not a T-14 law school. It probably never will be. Nevertheless, this school can serve as a launch-pad to a long and rewarding career in law-especially in its home state. What's more, it seems like a heck of a fun place to spend three years.
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. Retrieved September 20, 2014
Rank #48 - University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law (The 2018 BCG Attorney Search Guide To America's Top 50 Law Schools)
U.S. News Ranking: 43
LSAT Median: 161
GPA Median: 3.51
Multiple LSAT scores: Higher score accepted
Application Deadlines: 02/15
Entering class size: 155
Yearly Tuition: $20,895 (In-state) $35,807 (Out-of-state)
Bar passage rate in Arizona: 87.6%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 95%
Average private sector starting salary: $105,000 (Class of 2008)