Ave Maria School of Law
|Ave Maria School of Law|
|Dean||Eugene R Milhizer (Dean)|
|Location||Naples, Florida, USA|
|ABA profile||Ave Maria School of Law profile|
The Ave Maria School of Law, founded in 1999, is a fully ABA-accredited Roman Catholic law school, located in Naples, Florida. In the 2009-2010 academic year, there were over 375 students enrolled from a variety of states, countries, and undergraduate institutions. Classes commenced in the fall semester of 2000.
Ave Maria School of Law offers a full-time three year Juris Doctor (J.D.) program that complements a traditional legal education based on the Socratic Method with an emphasis on how the law intersects with the Catholic intellectual tradition and natural law philosophy. The curriculum of Ave Maria School of Law includes a three-semester Research, Writing and Advocacy Program as well as several required courses that focus on law and ethics.
History and governance
Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, supports the school through his Ave Maria Foundation and serves as the chairman of the board of governors of the school, which also includes Adam Cardinal Maida, and Michael Uhlmann and included before their deaths Bowie Kuhn and John Cardinal O'Connor.
Ave Maria School of Law was founded in 1999, and for the first nine years of its existence was located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The law school's beginnings lie in discussions between future Founding Dean Bernard Dobranski and Monaghan. The school currently has thirty-five professors, several visiting professors, and eight esteemed legal writing professors. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia assisted Ave Maria School of Law leadership in developing the school's curriculum, and in 1999 Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the school's first annual Ave Maria Lecture. Former professors include Robert Bork.
Ave Maria School of Law educates students at The Vineyards Campus in northeastern Naples, Florida. From 1999 to Spring 2009, the Law School was located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Monaghan planned to construct a new building for the law school on Ave Maria University's campus in Ave Maria, Florida. But, he has stated, the troubled Florida real estate market means that the law school had to shelve its plans for a building in Ave Maria, as its existing campus is worth less than was paid for it.
The current campus consists of six major buildings located on 12 acres (49,000 m2) in the Vineyards community: the Faculty and Administration Building; the Law Library; the St. Thomas More Commons; West and East Halls; and the Clinic/Student Organizations Building. There is an additional 16 villa-style residences available on campus for student/faculty families. Located adjacent to the campus is the Vineyards Elementary School.
The St. Thomas More Commons contains a large classroom for 100+ students, the Moot Courtroom, the Law School Bookstore, the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, a student lounge and coffee shop, and the Office of Admissions.
The Ave Maria Law Library is located between the Faculty and Administration Building and the St. Thomas More Commons. The Law Library includes a large main reading room, multiple group-study rooms, carrel and table seating, and administrative offices for library staff.  
The Ave Maria Law Review and the International Law Journal are prepared and published by the students of the Juris Doctor program. The Law School External Affairs Office also publishes the Ave Maria School of Law Advocate, a yearly publication reflecting the status of the school and current events.
Rankings, bar exam pass rate, and financial stability
According the law professor blog The Faculty Lounge, 35.5% of the Class of 2012 was employed in full-time, long-term positions requiring bar admission, ranking 186th out of 197 law schools.
In 2003, the graduating class passed the Michigan bar examination at a rate of 93% among first-time takers, which was the top rate in Michigan. In 2004, the school had 100% Michigan bar passage rate, and in 2006, the passing rate was 96%, which is the highest overall among Michigan law schools. Its Moot court team earned top honors in four of the last six years the school was in Michigan. Graduates have secured 54 judicial clerkships – 44 of these with federal courts. Ave Maria School of Law increased enrollment in its entering class of 2009. The class of 2012 has 209 students from 38 states and 148 undergraduate institutions.
As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Ave Maria School of Law was one of 114 private colleges nationwide to fail a federal financial responsibility test in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In a statement about the Chronicle report, the ten-year-old law school said its low asset-to-debt ratio was “typical of recently founded institutions” and “represents no change in our fiscal health and should not be cause for concern.” Tom Monaghan also has committed to cover the school’s operating deficits until 2017. In 2010, Ave Maria's Dean Milhizer said, "The Law School's finances are very strong and our fundraising results were up in the fiscal year that closed June 30 compared to the past few years. We project this trend will continue and grow stronger in the years to come as our student population increases in size and fundraising results continue to improve." Since the move of the law school in 2009, both enrollment and selectivity of students has increased dramatically from the drop it initially suffered when the move occurred. In 2010, the school's director of external affairs, John Knowles, said the quality of the incoming classes was improving and in 2010 the school's selectivity rate improved to 46 percent - the best in the school's history. Ave Maria School of Law is not affiliated with Ave Maria University, which has not been cited in any federal financial test.
The Ave Maria School of Law drew national attention in 2010 by becoming the only law school in the United States to agree to provide detailed post-graduate information to the Law School Transparency Project. It subsequently reversed its decision; according to the Law School Transparency Project, “the school does not want to act before the ABA opines on the issue, seeing as ABA reform is on the way. Part of Ave Maria’s concern is also that, if the school is the only one to comply with the LST Standard, it will not be useful to prospective students because they will not have anything with which to compare Ave Maria’s employment data.”
Impact of the relocation from Michigan to Florida
In 2011, the last graduating year with students that entered in Ann Arbor, Ave Maria officials claim that the move from Michigan to Florida "could still be felt". For Florida bar exams taken in July 2011, 11 of the 23 of Ave Maria Law School graduates taking the exam passed, placing it last among Florida's eleven law schools. Although concerns remain about the transitional adjustment period from Michigan to Florida, and the effect that the difference between Florida and Michigan law may have on bar exam outcomes, students interviewed by Gannett were very positive, with third-year law student Royce Hood noting “I feel like I'm getting a top-notch education.” The school added a mandatory class on the bar exam about a year prior to the 2011 testing.
- American Bar Association Grants Full Accreditation to Ave Maria School of Law 
- Academic Information
- Board of Governors List
- Research, Writing, and Advocacy
- Faculty Profiles
- Sparks, Evan (Spring 2012). "New U.". Philanthropy. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Faculty and Administration Building
- Law Library
- St. Thomas More Commons
- of Public Services and Adjunct Professor
- Law Review
- International Law Journal
- US News and World Report Rankings
- Rosin, Gary. "Full Rankings: Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long Term", The Faculty Lounge, 30 March 2013. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
- Moot Court
- Alumni Placement
- Admissions Profiles
- Karen Sloan (August 13, 2010). "Government says law school's financing lags". The National Law Journal. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- Goldie Blumenstyk and Alex Richards (August 11, 2010). "149 Nonprofit Colleges Fail Education Department's Test of Financial Strength". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "Premier National Catholic Law School to be Established in the Ann Arbor Area," Ave Maria School of Law media release, April 7, 1999
- "Ave Maria founder Tom Monaghan is a man of faith, plans and action," Marci Elliott, Naples Daily News, April 13, 2003. Archived at Catholic Education Resource Center, accessed October 9, 2006