Since its inception in 1958, the University of Michigan Law School has made its present known as one of the largest law schools in the country as well as one of the most diverse. As early as 1870, Michigan Law graduated its first African-American students–the second in the United States. A year later, Sarah Kilgore became the first woman to graduate from law school and pass the bar exam in the country. Despite the large size of its incoming classes (almost 350 students are admitted each year), the Law School still only accepts 25% of its applicants each year. Consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the country, Michigan Law has produced three Supreme Court Justices in its storied history as well as countless politicians and notable jurists. The law school is located in the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan roughly 50 miles west of the metropolis of Detroit.
Due in part to the size of the incoming classes, the first year of law school is largely prescripted in terms of classes and schedules. First year students are grouped into smaller sections of roughly 75-80 students who study five core classes during the first year together. Students also take a section on legal writing and research as well as two sections on practical legal skills. Students also choose one elective for their spring semester.
Upper class students enjoy more flexibility and one of the largest course offerings in the country. Students must satisfy requirements for a course in professional responsibility, a senior level writing requirement, a course in comparative law, and a class in statutory or regulatory law as well as satisfy the requirement for experiential learning. The experiential learning requirement is satisfied by work in the law clinic, simulations, or externships.
Michigan Law also provides its students with an exception study abroad program which allows its students to spend a semester at one of its partner schools in Europe, Asia and South America.
The University of Michigan Law School has one of the oldest Masters of Law (LL.M.) programs in the country. The one year program is highly competitive accepting students from all over the world and will satisfy the requirements to sit for the NY State Bar Exam. In addition to the LL.M. degree, Michigan Law also offers a unique Master of Advanced Corporate Law (MACL) degree which spans a compressed 3-4 month schedule over the summer and is intended to provide additional education for professional unable to attend an entire year of residential education. Finally, the Law School supports approximately 10 students in residence for the Doctor of the Science of Law (SJD) degree which requires an LL.M. as a prerequisite.
In addition to their advanced degree programs, the Michigan School of Law has established dual degree programs with 10 graduate programs ranging from Business Administration to Information Technology. In total, students can complete one of 18 different dual degree programs or, in the alternative, design their own dual degree provided the second degree compliments their legal education.
Career and Career Placement
Graduates of the University of Michigan Law School are sought after in all sectors of the practice of law as reflected by an employment rate that tops 98% within 10 months of graduation. Career paths for graduates stretches from the most common (large law firms) to an increasing number of judicial clerkships, government jobs, and public interest work. The median salary for graduates is $30,000 above the national average. Interestingly, students from Michigan Law overwhelmingly practice in other jurisdictions with only 11% of graduates remaining in Michigan.
The University of Michigan School of Law Office of Career Planning has undergone recent changes to meet the demands of its students. The OCP now manages both public and private sector jobs. The combination and increased focus on career services has resulted in additional hiring of career counselors (the staff is now over 12 persons), increased funding for summer internships, and a dramatic increase in networking and recruiting to boost employment opportunities.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Michigan Law School’s dedicated to the practical skills of practicing law dates back to the late 1960’s with the founding of one the first legal clinics in the country. The Law School maintains 16 legal clinics in all practice areas and allows for all students to take a least one clinic. In their clinics, students are able to represent real clients in real legal situations with the assistance of faculty and traditional classroom learning. The clinics at Michigan Law School are also notably interdisciplinary by incorporating experts from numerous fields as well as international with opportunities for students to work in a range of international courts.
The Law School also offers a variety of practical simulations which allow students to gain hands-on, practical skills in mock (and sometimes) real cases in a variety of practice areas including tax planning for business, joint ventures, antitrust advocacy, and appellate work. These simulations emphasize the robust combination of theoretical work with real-life legal experiences.
Michigan also offers students an opportunity to receive a full semester’s worth of academic credit to work in anywhere in the world in a government or public interest role. This offering reflects the law school’s commitment to both public work and practical experience.
The Law Schools sits in the heart of the robust community of Ann Arbor, Michigan which is full of art and recreation. The city itself is renowned for its park system and bikeways. Since the University is enmeshed into the life of the city, there are countless options for art, dining and entertainment in the city center–less than four blocks from the law school. Each year Ann Arbor hosts one of the most renowned film festivals in the country as well as the international auto show. For students who want to explore a more metropolitan area, the city of Detroit is a short drive away and Chicago is easily accessible by car or train. The law school does offer unique student housing on campus plus the city offers an array of housing options.
The Law School has a full time staff in the Office of Student Life as well as a staff psychologist. The Student Life Office reflects the school’s commitment to health and wellness. The office also oversees the abundance of student run organizations as well as the eight student run journals and publications.