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The University of Michigan Law School


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Introduction

The University of Michigan Law School, founded in 1859, is one of the nation’s finest institutions of legal education. The school’s distinguished and diverse faculty, many preeminent in their fields, have a history of devotion to both scholarship and teaching. Our students come from around the globe to contribute their remarkable talents and accomplishments and make the Law School both a collegial community and one that exudes a sense of serious purpose, academic achievement, and social commitment. Never restricted to the privileged, in 1870, Michigan—then the largest law school in the country—became the second university to confer a law degree on an African American. That same year, Michigan became the first major law school to admit a woman, and in 1871, its graduate, Sarah Killgore, became the first woman with a law degree in the nation to be admitted to the bar.

Faculty

Michigan has more than 80 full-time faculty members, with many distinguished visiting scholars further enhancing course offerings. While maintaining a long tradition of eminence in constitutional, corporate, criminal, and international law, the interdisciplinary breadth and depth of the faculty is reflected in an extraordinary range of expertise, including classics, economics, feminist theory, history, life sciences, natural resources, philosophy, political theory, and public policy. And with 10 legal practice faculty, 6 professors from practice, 2 business law faculty fellows, and 29 clinical professors, our faculty is as adept at experiential instruction as theory.

Physical Facilities and Library

The striking Gothic-style buildings that form the Law Quadrangle include Hutchins Hall, a majestic multiuse building dating from the 1930s; the Legal Research building, which contains the magnificent Reading Room; and a naturally lit underground library addition, regarded as an architectural tour de force. The law campus also contains the Aikens Commons, a gorgeous glass-roofed gathering place for the entire Law School community, and the certified LEED Gold South Hall, containing state-of-the-art classrooms, comprehensive clinic facilities, and faculty and administrative offices.

With more than one million volumes, the Law Library’s comprehensive collection covers Anglo-American, foreign, comparative, and international law, and includes legislation, court reports, and administrative material from all US jurisdictions, Great Britain, Europe, and most Asian and South American countries. In 1957, the library became the first depository of EU documents at an American university. It is also a selective depository for US government publications and extensively collects documents of international intergovernmental organizations. There is special depth in collections relating to indigenous peoples. Law students also have access to all university libraries.

Curriculum and Clinical Opportunities

As one of the leaders in American legal education, Michigan’s curriculum is strong across the board. Students with interest in business, corporate, and securities; intellectual property; criminal; international; tax; constitutional; environmental; and public interest law should pay special attention to Michigan’s extensive offerings.

Recognized as preeminent in interdisciplinary legal studies, the insights and methods of many other fields are apparent throughout our broad curriculum. Formal dual-degree programs are available in 13 disciplines, while others are created ad hoc (sometimes with other institutions). Alternatively, students may count 12 credits of graduate-level work in any other university department toward their JD. With the Law School located at the center of the university, it is easy for students to take advantage of these options, and more than one-fifth of our second- and third-year students typically do so. And our new Problem-Solving Initiative uniquely capitalizes on this setting to offer classes with teams of faculty and students from across the University, tackling complex, multi-disciplinary problems: Building Social Capital in the Inner-City Entrepreneurial Ecosytem; Expanding Renewable Energy Markets; Sustainable Food Systems. This innovative offering allows our students unparalleled opportunities to collaborate with and learn from a variety of experts in developing potential solutions to demanding modern problems.

Particularly renowned for international scholarship, Michigan’s leadership in recognizing the centrality of the field to modern lawyering is evident from its broad and deep international, comparative, and foreign law curriculum. The Geneva Externship Program provides 20 students annually with a unique “in” to extremely competitive jobs in the public international field, while other programs, such as the South Africa Externship Program, the India Externship Program, the Program for Law and Development in both Cambodia and Namibia, and our AIRE Centre internships provide students with advanced training in international areas of interest. We also offer nine study-abroad programs with institutions in Asia, Europe, and South America.

Michigan is committed to the union of theory and practice, and our clinical program, with more than 30 years of experience, is unquestionably one of the nation’s best. Michigan is one of only a handful of states to allow students to appear in court as early as their second year, which means that our students have more opportunities to represent clients selected from a rich pool of cases—often in smaller jurisdictions, where a faster timetable allows students to handle many cases from beginning to end. We are also one of only two law schools to offer an administrative law clinic that allows participation as early as the second semester of 1L year. Our 18 diverse offerings include litigation clinics, such as our general Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic that offers a variety of trial work from immigration and refugee law to employment discrimination, along with more specialized offerings in Child Advocacy, Child Welfare Appellate, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Appellate Practice, Federal Appellate Litigation, and Human Trafficking, and our groundbreaking non-DNA Innocence Clinic; transactional clinics such as Community and Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, International Transactions, Low Income Tax Payer, and Transactional Lab and Clinic (in which students work with private-sector corporate clients); the interdisciplinary medicolegal Pediatric Advocacy Clinic; an Environmental Law Clinic run in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation; a Civil Mediation Clinic; and the administrative Unemployment Insurance Clinic. Our newest clinic is the Veterans Legal Clinic, which provides both general litigation and specific service-related legal help. This broad array allows us to guarantee interested students the ability to enroll in at least one clinic, and further means that the vast majority of students are given their first or second choice.

Student Activities

Approximately 550 students participate in eight journals:

  • Michigan Law Review
  • Michigan Journal of Law Reform
  • Michigan Journal of International Law
  • Michigan Journal of Gender and Law
  • Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review
  • Michigan Journal of Race and Law
  • Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law
  • Michigan Business and Entrepreneurial Law Review

Students interested in honing advocacy skills may choose to enter numerous moot court competitions. The Law School Student Senate funds more than 70 student organizations dedicated to affinity group membership and legal interests; students also participate in university groups and governance. Our voluntary Pro Bono Pledge gives students yet one more outlet to serve the world outside the Law School with their developing legal skills; projects range from client-facing local to global impact opportunities in providing underrepresented individuals with valuable expertise.

Financial Aid

Our financial aid resources are substantial, and we distribute approximately $5 million in grants annually to each entering class. Grants range in size from $10,000 to as much as full tuition plus a stipend, and average about $25,000 annually. Our resources are awarded both with reference to financial need and to past accomplishments and anticipated contributions to the Law School and the profession. Further, summer funding for unpaid public interest or government work is guaranteed in both the 1L and 2L years.

But of course, most of our students—approximately 80 percent—graduate with law school debt. Michigan’s generous income-based Debt Management Program (our loan repayment assistance program) serves as a postgraduate safety net, providing about 300 alumni annually with the flexibility to choose jobs from an unlimited range of law-related opportunities, including lower-paying public interest positions, while still maintaining a reasonable lifestyle.

Career Planning

Michigan offers unsurpassed opportunities for career prospects. Our location in the center of the country means that employers from all major markets target our graduates, and our on-campus recruiting program is consistently one of the nation’s largest, even in comparison to other top schools—both in absolute numbers of employers recruiting and in relative terms of interviews per student. While the majority of our graduates go to the best and largest private-sector firms across the nation, the range of work performed by our alumni is truly extraordinary: Roughly 15 percent enter public interest and government settings annually, and another 20 percent start their careers in prestigious judicial clerkships. Each year our graduates earn prestigious postgraduate fellowships, including those offered by the Skadden Foundation and Equal Justice Works; Michigan is also among the leaders in training people for the state and federal bench, as well as academia. And as one of only a handful of schools regularly sending its graduates to an average of 35 states and abroad, our students have confidence that their degrees will be portable wherever they choose to live. The largest number of our graduates go to New York City, followed closely by equal numbers going to Illinois, California, and Washington, DC. Our reach extends well beyond these cities, though; recent graduates have gone to markets ranging from Seattle to Miami, London to Madrid, and Ulaanbaatar to Hanoi, to name just a few.

We have a staff that includes 10 attorney-counselors, who use their broad legal experience to advise students about the full range of professional opportunities. Both when the market is flourishing and when it contracts, Michigan’s robust recruiting program and the depth of its counselors’ expertise serve students exceptionally well.

Housing

Ann Arbor combines ease of living with superb cultural, athletic, and entertainment offerings. The on-campus Lawyers Club, fully renovated in 2013, houses many first-year, upper-class, and LLM students, allowing easy access to academic buildings and camaraderie of life in the Law Quad. A block away, the brand-new Munger Graduate Residences allow for a multidisciplinary living and learning environment in suites of six or seven students from across a range of fields. High-quality, off-campus housing is available throughout Ann Arbor in a wide variety of choices. Economical, University-owned family housing is also available a short (and free) bus ride away, in northeast Ann Arbor.


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Contact Information

Admissions Office
701 South State Street, Suite 2200
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091

Phone: 734.764.0537
Email: law.jd.admissions@umich.edu
Website: www.law.umich.edu
ABA Data: www.law.umich.edu/aboutus/Pages/ABA-Required-Disclosures.aspx

Applicant Profile

We choose not to provide an applicant profile because we do not believe a grid based on undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores can accurately reflect our comprehensive admission process, which focuses on many elements in an application in order to determine an applicant’s particular intellectual strengths, nonacademic achievements, and unique personal circumstances. We view our student body as one of our greatest assets, and our goal is to admit a group of students who, individually and collectively, are among the best applying to US law schools in a given year. We seek a mix of students with varying backgrounds and experiences who will respect and learn from each other. Our most general measures are an applicant’s LSAT score and undergraduate GPA. As measured by those statistics, Michigan is among a handful of the most selective law schools in the country. However, each of these measures is far from perfect. Even the highest possible scores will not guarantee admission, and low scores will likewise not automatically result in a denial, as both circumstances may have significant offsetting considerations.