Wayne State University Law School

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Wayne State University Law School
WSU LS logo.png
Established 1927
Type Public
Dean Jocelyn Benson
Location Detroit, Michigan, USA
Campus Urban
Website http://law.wayne.edu/

Wayne State University Law School is located in Midtown, the City of Detroit’s Cultural Center, and is one of the schools of Wayne State University. It is one of two public law schools in the state of Michigan and has educated and trained lawyers since 1927. Wayne Law’s more than 11,000 alumni include judges, justices, law firm partners and government officials working in all 50 states and at least 12 foreign countries.[1]

The Law School offers a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in day, night and combined programs. It also offers a number of dual degrees, including the J.D./M.B.A. combined program, and J.D./M.A. programs in business administration, criminal justice, economics, history, dispute resolution and political science. The Law School also maintains a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program with concentrations in corporate finance law, tax law, and labor and employment law.

International students can earn an LL.M. in U.S. law. The Law School's Program for International Legal Studies organizes conferences and speaker series, brown-bag lunches, legal research, study abroad, faculty scholarship, guidance in selecting international courses and career services related to international law.

As a participant in Detroit's economic revival, Wayne Law operates eight clinics that provide casework to law students while assisting residents of the Detroit Metropolitan community, and its Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law offers early-stage legal assistance to local startups. Its Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights addresses the civil rights needs of southeast Michigan and beyond by promoting the educational, economic and political power of underrepresented communities in urban settings.

There were approximately 419 students enrolled in the Law School’s J.D. program as of 2014. According to American Bar Association data, entering law students in 2014 had undergraduate GPAs ranging from 2.99 (25th percentile) to 3.52 (75th percentile), and LSAT scores ranging from 152 (25th) to 160 (75th). The Law School’s 2014 acceptance rate was 49%, and graduates maintained a 2013 bar passage rate of more than 78%, above the state average of 69% for all takers of the Michigan Bar Exam.[2]

U.S. News & World Report's rankings for 2015 placed Wayne Law at 87 out of 194 accredited law schools.[3] Wayne Law's alumni continue to outpace all other Michigan law schools, including U of M Law School, on the "Super Lawyers" list within the state of Michigan, representing 29 of the Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers.[4] This list encompasses lawyers who have achieved or continue to achieve success in the field of law.

Wayne Law was recognized as a Best Value law school for 2014 by The National Jurist and its sister publication, preLaw magazine. Wayne Law was the only Michigan law school recognized. Criteria for selection includes price of tuition, student debt accumulation, bar passage rate, cost of living and employment success.[5]


The Law School was founded in 1927 and was originally named the Detroit City Law School as part of the City Colleges of Detroit. Allan Campbell served as the Law School’s founding dean, which graduated its first class with the Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree in 1928.

The City Colleges of Detroit thrived and was subsequently renamed Wayne University in 1933. In 1956, the university joined Michigan State University and the University of Michigan as one of the state’s three major public research institutions and was renamed Wayne State University.

The Law School received full American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation in 1939. The school’s Moot Court program (originally called the Case Club) was established in 1938, and the Wayne Law Review began publication in 1954. As an additional honor, members of the Wayne Law Review were awarded Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees rather than LL.B. degrees (J.D. degrees were awarded to all law students with an undergraduate degree beginning in 1965). In 1965, the Law School’s students founded the Free Legal Aid Clinic, which is now operated in conjunction with Lakeshore Legal Aid and Neighborhood Legal Services.

At the urging of the ABA and the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners, Wayne State University Law School and the University of Michigan Law School joined to form the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in 1960. The institute provides Michigan lawyers with accessible continuing legal education and resource materials that enable them to practice law more effectively, and is now one of the largest organizations of its kind in the nation.

Deans of the Law School have included Allan Campbell (1927–1937), Arthur Neef (1937–1966), Charles Joiner (1968–1975), Donald Gordon (1975–1980), John Roberts (1980–1987), John Reed (1987–1993), James Robinson (1993–1998), Joan Mahoney (1998–2004; first female law school dean in Michigan history), Frank Wu (2004–2008), Robert Ackerman (2008–2012) and Jocelyn Benson (interim 2012–2014; permanent 2014–present). Benson is the youngest woman ever to lead a U.S. law school.[6]


According to Wayne State University's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 53.4% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar-passage-required employment within nine months of graduation.[7] Wayne State University's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 31.0%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[8]


Tuition and fees at Wayne State University Law School for the 2014–15 academic year are $15,012.85 per semester (for 15 credits).[9] In October 2014 Wayne Law announced a tuition freeze through at least the 2015–16 school year, as well as additional scholarships that amount to the equivalent of a 14% tuition cut for all incoming students.[10]

Campus and resources[edit]

The Law School moved to its present location in 1966. In 2000, the Law School completed a $17-million addition and renovation project.

In 2011, Wayne Law opened the two-story, 10,000-square-foot Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, named in honor of Judge Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, an alumnus of the Law School. Keith Center programming is funded by more than $2.5 million in endowments and includes the Damon J. Keith Collection of African-American Legal History.[11]

Located on the university's main campus, the Law School complex features:

  • the 250-seat Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium, used for lectures, visiting court sessions, and public events
  • a moot court facility
  • seminar rooms and five large lecture halls with multimedia equipment and terraced seating
  • casual seating areas for student conversation and study
  • offices for student services and organizations
  • facilities for the Law School's clinics
  • faculty and administrative offices
  • Arthur Neef Law Library

Community involvement[edit]

Wayne Law operates eight clinics:

  • Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic
  • Business and Community Law Clinic
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Clinic
  • Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic
  • Disability Law Clinic
  • Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic
  • Patent Procurement Clinic
  • Transnational Environmental Law Clinic

The Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic, a medical-legal partnership between Wayne Law and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, was named one of the nation's most innovative law school clinics by The National Jurist magazine in January 2015.[12]

The Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law coordinates Wayne Law’s business law courses, clinics, internships, and extracurricular/co-curricular and community engagement activities. The program offers early-stage legal assistance to local startups and creates forums for entrepreneurs to receive general legal guidance and access community resources.[13]

The Wayne Law Alumni Group is a nonprofit firm that trains new attorneys as they assist Detroit entrepreneurs with growing their businesses.[14]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

  • Marilyn Jean Kelly, distinguished jurist in residence; former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice
  • Jocelyn Benson, expert on civil rights law, education law and election law; Wayne Law dean
  • Hon. Gerald Ellis Rosen, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • Laura B. Bartell, expert on bank financing and bankruptcy; former private practice attorney; extensively quoted by media related to Detroit bankruptcy
  • Peter J. Henning, expert on white collar crime, constitutional criminal procedure and attorney ethics; former senior attorney in the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; author of "White Collar Watch" column for The New York Times DealBook
  • Robert A. Sedler, expert on constitutional law and conflict of laws; recipient of numerous major awards for civil rights work and teaching

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Why Wayne Law?". 
  2. ^ "Wayne State University 2014 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). American Bar Association. 
  3. ^ "Wayne State Law School makes surge in national rankings". Crain's Detroit Business. 
  4. ^ "Top 100: 2014 Michigan Super Lawyers top list". Super Lawyers. 
  5. ^ "Best value law schools". The National Jurist. 
  6. ^ "Wayne State names Jocelyn Benson as law school dean". Detroit Free Press. 
  7. ^ "Wayne State University School of Law Required Disclosures". 
  8. ^ "Wayne State University Law LST Profile". 
  9. ^ "Wayne State University Law School Tuition & Fees". 
  10. ^ "WSU law school to freeze tuition, offer scholarships". Detroit Free Press. 
  11. ^ "Attorney General Holder Launches Keith Center At Wayne Attorney General Holder Launches Keith Center At Wayne". Michigan Chronicle. 
  12. ^ "The most innovative clinics". The National Jurist. 
  13. ^ "Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law". Wayne State University. 
  14. ^ "Wayne Law launches independent, apprentice-model law firm". Detroit Legal News. 
  15. ^ "Damon Keith". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "John Conyers". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ex-Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly joins Wayne State Law faculty". Detroit Free Press. 
  18. ^ "Susan Bieke Neilson". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  19. ^ "Arthur Tarnow". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "David M. Lawson". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Nancy Garlock Edmunds". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  22. ^ "A resolution commending Annice Wagner". Open Congress. 
  23. ^ "Marcia Cooke". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  24. ^ "Pistons owner William Davidson dies at age 86". USA Today. 
  25. ^ "How Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert made his fortune". Washington Post. 
  26. ^ "Dorothy Comstock Riley". Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. 
  27. ^ Laitner, Bill. “He can run with anyone.” Detroit Free Press. 29 October 2006.
  28. ^ "Judy B. Calton". Honigman. 
  29. ^ "Gary Peters". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  30. ^ "Wolverine World Wide Inc". Business Week. 
  31. ^ "Stephen Ross". Forbes.