The New England School of Law (New England Law) was founded as an all women’s law school in Boston in 1906 to help educate more female lawyers and diversify the practice of law. The school’s original name–the Portia School of Law–paid homage to a William Shakespeare character who disguised herself as a man in order to practice law. The school would later admit men as well as African-American students. In 1923, one of New England Law’s graduates became the first African-American woman admitted to the Massachusetts bar. The law school continues to be a pioneer in increasing diversity in legal education. New England Law’s alumni have become distinguished judges, served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and served as Lieutenant Governor of the state.
The Juris Doctor degree at New England Law may be earned through a number of pathways including a full-time day program, part-time day or evening programs, or a flexible J.D. program that combines both day and evening classes to accommodate working professional or parents. All pathways to a J.D. share the same core requirements. In the “first-year” curriculum, students complete nearly 30 hours of coursework including the six core courses of American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students complete a two-semester course covering legal research and writing. This skill-based course is completed with an additional semester taken in the second year (or later for part-time students). All students are also required to complete additional substantive courses in both evidence and criminal procedure. The remainder of course selections are elective although all students take a final course covering advanced analysis skills, complete a substantial writing project, and satisfy the requirement to complete six hours of experiential education in clinical-based courses.
To help guide students in the remainder of their academic coursework, New England Law offers concentrations, certificates, and pathways to the legal profession. Concentrations required completion of various courses that prepare students for certain legal fields. The concentrations are focused on in-demand practice areas to maximize students’ career options. Certificates require additional expertise in a practice area including experiential learning requirements to demonstrate a mastery of a field. Certificates are noted on a graduate’s transcript. The Pathways program is a more informal but excellent way for students to explore coursework while also discovering what areas of law most interest them. Developed by the Consortium of Innovative Legal Education, the Pathways program is intended to guide and prepare students to succeed in their professional careers.
For international students, New England Law offers an affordable, one-year Master of Laws (LL.M) program in American studies. This program is specifically designed to introduce foreign attorneys to the foundation of the American legal system, provide them with experiential opportunities, prepare them to sit for the bar exam in the U.S. and increase their professional opportunities. The program begins in August and is completed on a full-time basis. LL.M candidates choose from the law school’s extensive course catalog as well as leverage New England Law’s complete bar exam training program.
Career and Career Services
Based on the most recent employment outcomes, over 81% of all graduates of New England Law are employed within 10 months of graduation most (over 88%) in long-time, full-time careers. Additionally, the majority of graduates find careers that either requires a law license, prefer a J.D. degree, or a professional position in a non-legal field. The most popular career choices for graduates include small law firms of less than 10 attorneys (29% of employed graduates), business sector careers (21%), and government positions (22%). Smaller percentages of students opted for mid or large law firm work, public interest positions, or judicial clerkships. Almost three-quarters of all graduates remain in Massachusetts to begin their professional careers.
The Career Services Office (CSO) at New England Law is staffed by all former attorneys who bring a wealth of institutional knowledge and expertise to each students’ job search. This process begins with the school’s unique career preparation course–“The Lawyering Experience.” This program includes a range of classes that introduce students to various job search strategies as well as the many career options for graduates. As students progress towards their professional careers, the CSO staff works to help develop each student’s professional brand, refine their professional documents, and prepare for interviews. The CSO also administers a mentor program with recent graduates who can help students transition successfully into their professional careers.
All students at New England Law are guaranteed an opportunity to participate in the school’s clinical and externship programs. This reflects the centrality that practical experience plays in the educational program at New England Law. In most years, upwards of 90% of all students participate in one or more legal clinics. The in-house clinical options include opportunities to work with real-clients in civil litigation situations or with the Greater Boston Legal Services.
New England Law’s externship program also places students in working legal offices around the city for a semester program where they practice law in a variety of legal contexts while also building their professional networks. The law school offers over a dozen externship opportunities. In these external field placements, student spend hours each week in virtually every type of legal setting from government offices to judicial chambers.
Students at New England Law also build practical skills through the school’s many pro bono activities such as tax assistance program for low-income residents. Students compete as part of the school’s active moot court and mock trial teams where students master advocacy skills in a competitive environment.
Although New England law does not offer a distance program, their flexible path J.D. allow students up to six years to complete the program through a mix of day and evening classes.
In the country’s most renowned college towns, New England Law students a campus that is committed to diversity and student success. The school’s student organization program give voice the student body’s diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Students get to know each other on deeper level and form life-long relationships. Alumni also help students through the school’s mentor program. These services reflect the student-centered approach at New England Law. The law school offers all student a full range of on-site counseling options as well as wellness programs throughout the year.
In Boston, New England Law offers students support in finding housing in the metropolitan area. Thanks to the city’s advanced public transportation system, students can live in almost any area and a range of price options. The city also provides endless recreational opportunities from ice-skating on the iconic pond in the Commons to attended a Red Sox game. Boston is a city full of history, museums, and entertainment.