Ave Maria School of Law

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Ave Maria School of Law
AMSOL Logo.jpg
Established 1999
School type Private
Dean Kevin Cieply (Dean)
Location Naples, Florida, USA
26°14′32″N 81°43′53″W / 26.242147°N 81.731321°W / 26.242147; -81.731321Coordinates: 26°14′32″N 81°43′53″W / 26.242147°N 81.731321°W / 26.242147; -81.731321
Enrollment 270
Faculty 28
Bar pass rate 51.3% (July 2017) [1]
Website www.avemarialaw.edu
ABA profile [3]

The Ave Maria School of Law, founded in 1999, is an ABA-accredited Roman Catholic law school, located in Naples, Florida.[2] In the 2014-2015 academic year, there were over 270 students enrolled from a variety of states, countries, and undergraduate institutions.[3] 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.[4] The school also offers various summer courses.[5] Ave Maria devotes four core classes to the interrelationship between law, ethics, and Catholic moral and social principles.[6]

In July 2017, 51.3% of Ave Maria graduates who took the Florida bar exam for the first time passed, vs. a 71.3% pass rate overall. This performance tied Ave Maria for second-to-last in the state.[7]

According to Ave Maria's ABA-required disclosures, 57.1% of the Class of 2016 found long-term full-time employment where a JD is required.[8]

In 2016, Ave Maria School of Law was sanctioned by the American Bar Association due to lax admissions standards.[9][10]

History and governance[edit]

Dean Emeritus Bernard Dobranski
Dean Emeritus Eugene Milhizer

Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, supports the school through his Ave Maria Foundation and has served as the chairman of the board of governors of the school, which also includes Adam Cardinal Maida, and Frank Joseph Dewane and included, before their deaths, Cardinal Edward Egan, Bowie Kuhn and John Cardinal O'Connor.[11]

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 29 full- and part-time faculty.[12] 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.[13] Former professors include Robert Bork.[14]

The school moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Naples, Florida, opening in the new location in August 2009.

Dean Kevin Cieply, JD, LLM, became the third President and Dean of the Law School effective July 1, 2014.[15]


Ave Maria School of Law educates students at its Vineyards Campus in northeastern Naples, Florida. From 1999 to spring 2009, the school was located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[16] The school moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Naples, Florida, opening in the new location in August 2009. The move caused a great deal of controversy among the faculty and student body, with some claiming that the move jeopardized the future existence and reputation of the school.[17]

The current campus consists of six major buildings located on 12 acres (49,000 m2) in the Vineyards community: the Faculty and Administration Building;[18] the Law Library;[19] the St. Thomas More Commons;[20] 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.[21] 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 Director and Law Professor is Ulysses N. Jaen. The collection contains Legal History, Legal Ethics, Bioethics, the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Legal Ethics and Canon Law.[22] The Library’s materials can be located and accessed via the law library online catalog.[23][24] In addition to serving Ave Maria Law members, the school’s library is also open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.[25]


The Gavel Law Journal[26], The Ave Maria Law Review[27], and The International Law Journal[28] 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.


U.S. News & World Report ranks Ave Maria in the fourth tier of U.S law schools.[29]

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.[30][31] 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.[32] 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.[33] Ave Maria School of Law is not affiliated with Ave Maria University, which has not been cited in any federal financial test.


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Ave Maria for the 2015-2016 academic year is $63,506.[34] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $231,707.[35] Prospective students with an LSAT score of 154 or above and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.20 may qualify for a full tuition scholarship.[36]


  1. ^ http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/barscores/Results%20-%202017/July/09-18-2017_Bar-Scores-Comparison.pdf
  2. ^ American Bar Association Grants Full Accreditation to Ave Maria School of Law [1]
  3. ^ Ave Maria School of Law: In Brief
  4. ^ Curriculum Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  7. ^ http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/barscores/Results%20-%202017/July/09-18-2017_Bar-Scores-Comparison.pdf
  8. ^ http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/
  9. ^ Rasmussen, Kristen (November 21, 2017). "10 Law Schools Sanctioned by ABA for Lax Admissions". Law.com. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Ave Maria School of Law Public Notice of Specific Remedial Action" (PDF). American Bar Association. August 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  11. ^ Board of Governors List Archived 2012-12-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-24. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  13. ^ Lectures Archived June 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "History Timeline - Ave Maria School of Law". Ave Maria School of Law. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-02. 
  16. ^ Location Archived June 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/feature/pie_in_the_sky.php?page=1
  18. ^ Faculty and Administration Building Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ The Law Library
  20. ^ St. Thomas More Commons Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Housing Archived December 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ "About The Collection". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-02. 
  24. ^ http://www.avemarialaw.edu/faculty/profile/Ulysses.Jaen
  25. ^ "Welcome to the Ave Maria School of Law Library!". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ Law Review Archived June 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ International Law Journal Archived June 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ US News and World Report Rankings
  30. ^ Karen Sloan (August 13, 2010). "Government says law school's financing lags". The National Law Journal. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  31. ^ 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. 
  32. ^ http://m.naplesnews.com/news/2009/jun/10/report-ave-maria-law-school-fails-federal-financia/
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-15. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  35. ^ "Ave Maria School of Law Profile". 
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 

External links[edit]