Massachusetts School of Law

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Massachusetts School of Law
MassLawLogo.png
Established 1988
Type Private
Students 635[citation needed]
Location Andover, Massachusetts, USA
Campus Urban
Website mslaw.edu
Massachusetts School of Law

The Massachusetts School of Law (also known as MSLAW) is a law school located in Andover, Massachusetts. The school was founded in 1988 and claims that its design and curriculum were influenced by the medical school educational model and legal scholars[1] [2]

MSLAW focuses on professional skills training and its advocacy program has won awards at national advocacy competitions. The National Jurist’s PreLaw Magazine recognized MSLAW for its effectiveness at experiential training.[3]

MSLAW graduates have the lowest bar passage rate of any law school in the state of Massachusetts in the two most recent bar exams. 36.9% of its graduates who took the February 2014 MA bar exam passed compared to a state average of 72%.[4] For the July 2013 bar exam, 37.9% of MSL graduates who took the MA bar exam passed, compared to a state average of 84%.[5] Bar passage rates will vary from time to time. In 25 years, fully 82% (2,589 students) of MSLAW graduates who have taken the Massachusetts bar exam have ultimately passed it, with most graduates passing the bar examination on the first or second administration of that examination.

Unlike law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, MSWLAW does not report employment outcomes for its graduates. MSLAW also does not consider LSAT scores in its admission process.

Accreditation[edit]

The Massachusetts School of Law is currently unaccredited by the American Bar Association,[6] but is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).[7]

In 1990, the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education authorized MSL to grant the Juris Doctor degree. MSLAW subsequently applied for American Bar Association approval while filing an action in Federal Court in Philadelphia challenging some of the ABA's accreditation standards, arguing that those standards are of questionable educational value, violate antitrust laws, and needlessly increase tuition costs. MSLAW refused to comply with these standards, and the ABA refused to approve the school. As a result of its actions the MSLAW and Department of Justice filed complaints against the ABA for antitrust violations. The summary judgment dismissing the MSLAW complaint on immunity grounds was granted to the ABA on the trial level and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed in 107 F.3d 1026. The case brought by DOJ was later settled by way of a consent decree between the ABA and the United States Department of Justice in which the ABA agreed to reform its accreditation process and eliminate some of its law school accreditation standards that violated antitrust laws and were outdated.[8] [9]

Among the standards used in that process were several related to student-faculty ratio. Under its standards in effect at that time, the ABA refused to count most of MSLAW’s full-time professors who also maintained a relationship with a law firm or who continued to practice law, or any of MSLAW's 85 adjunct faculty members in computing its student-faculty ratio (a standard that has since been changed as a result of the Department of Justice's antitrust action against the American Bar Association). Many of its graduates now practice law throughout New England and California.

The school continues to criticize ABA standards that it fails to meet, and encourages the Department of Education to strip the ABA of its authority over other law schools. On December 4, 2006, Massachusetts School of Law officials asked a Department of Education committee to limit the authority of the ABA, complaining that the ABA's process was harmful to minorities and low-income students and needlessly drove up the cost of legal education. This action followed the publication of a DoE report that was critical of accrediting agencies for being overly concerned about financial and procedural issues and inadequately concerned about the school's success at educating its graduates.[10]

Admission and academics[edit]

Students at Massachusetts School of Law learn to practice law through classroom instruction, simulated client experiences, and numerous live client experiences. MSLAW does not require the LSAT for admission. However, MSLAW administers its own examination (MSLAT) similar to the LSAT, requires letters of recommendations, and interviews every applicant for admission.

Advocacy program[edit]

MSLAW’s advocacy program has won regional and national awards, including AAJ New England Trial Advocacy Champions, Thurgood Marshall Northeast Region Trial Advocacy Champions, National Criminal Defense Trial Advocacy semi-finalist, and Thurgood Marshall Northeast Region Trial Advocacy 1st Runner Up. MSLAW student advocates have won the Best Oral Advocate Award of the competition they competed in, including Nicole Dion in 2007 and 2008, Allen Woodward in 2009, Paul Stewart in 2010, and Allison Britton in 2014.

Post-graduation employment prospects[edit]

Unlike ABA-accredited law schools, MSLAW does not publish employment statistics for its graduates.

When asked about the employment outcomes of MSLAW graduates in 2012, Dean Lawrence Velvel said, "I have no idea. We have never collected statistics on any of that, so we don’t have any notion."[11]

Only Massachusetts and Connecticut allow MSLAW students to sit for the bar exam immediately upon graduation.[12] After passing either of those bar exams, graduates are then eligible to take the bar exam in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Vermont, Maine, California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and West Virginia.[12] 16 additional states will allow MSLAW graduates to seek admission to their bars after practicing law for 3 to 10 years.[12]

Costs[edit]

Tuition for full-time students at MSLAW for the 2014-2015 academic year is $19,500.[13] That figure does not include fees or living expenses.

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LAW SCHOOL FOR THE WHITE AND WEALTHY Michael L. Coyne - The National Law Journal, April 11, 2011 – 2011 ALM Media Properties LLC
  2. ^ FAILING LAW SCHOOLS (Chicago Series in Law and Society) Brian Z. Tamanaha – Chicago Series in Law and Society – pub June 15, 2012
  3. ^ BEST SCHOOLS FOR PRACTICAL TRAINING Mike Stetz A National Jurist Publication - Spring 2014 Volume 17, No. 4 (p.36-43) http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/prelaw_2014spring/#/42
  4. ^ "February 2014 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools". COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF BAR EXAMINERS. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "July 2013 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools". COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF BAR EXAMINERS. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Alphabetical School List". ABA. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Accreditation & Bar Eligibility". 
  8. ^ United States v. American Bar Association, U.S. District Court (D.C.) http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f1000/1034.htm
  9. ^ "Justice Department and American Bar Association Resolve Charges That the ABA's Process for Accrediting Law Schools was Misused"
  10. ^ Pfeiffer, Sacha (2006-12-05). "Mass. School of Law urges US to reduce clout of Bar". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  11. ^ "A Fast-Track To Law School". New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c "Accreditation & Bar Eligibility". The Massachusetts School of Law. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Affordable Tuition". The Massachusetts School of Law. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  • Barron's Guide To Law Schools, 16th edition.

External Links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°45′35.53″N 71°08′50.86″W / 42.7598694°N 71.1474611°W / 42.7598694; -71.1474611