Massachusetts School of Law
|Massachusetts School of Law|
|Location||Andover, Massachusetts, USA|
|Bar pass rate||54% (July 2017 first time takers)|
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. The school is not accredited by the American Bar Association.
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.
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process and eliminate some of its law school accreditation standards that violated antitrust laws and were outdated.
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.
Admission and academics
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.
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
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."
Upon passage of the Massachusetts or Connecticut bar exams, they are immediately eligible to take the bar exam in New Hampshire, Maine, Wisconsin, California, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. In addition, there are a number of jurisdictions where MSLAW graduates are eligible to take the bar after practicing for the period of time listed below.
Jurisdictions where MSLAW graduates may be admitted to the bar:
Alaska: 5 years; Arizona: 5 years; California: Immediately after passing the Massachusetts Bar exam; Colorado: 5 Years; Connecticut: Immediately; District of Columbia: Immediately after passing the Massachusetts Bar exam*; Florida: 10 Years; Hawaii: 5 Years; Kentucky: 3 Years; Maine: Immediately after passing the Massachusetts Bar exam; Maryland: MSLAW students have received individual permission after admission in Massachusetts; Massachusetts: Immediately; Minnesota: 5 Years; Missouri: 3 Years; Nevada: 10 years; New Hampshire: Immediately after passing the Massachusetts Bar exam, or may be waived in via motion after practicing 5 years**; New Mexico: 4 Years; New York: 5 Years; Oregon: 3 Years; Pennsylvania: 5 Years; Rhode Island: 5 Years; Texas: 3 Years; Utah: 10 Years; Washington: 3 Years + LLM from ABA-approved school; West Virginia: By individual petition to the “Substantially Equivalent Committee”; Wisconsin: Immediately after passing the Massachusetts Bar exam 
Tuition for full-time students at MSLAW for the 2016-2017 academic year is $21,000. There are no additional fees.
- Steven A. Baddour, (1996), Massachusetts State Senator (served 2002 - 2012'
- William M. Gannon, New Hampshire State Senator (served 2016 - present). Former New Hampshire State Representative (served 2014 - 2016).
- Barry Finegold, member of the Mass. House of Representatives (served 1996 - present).
- Eugene L. O’Flaherty, former member of the Mass. House of Representatives (served 1996 - 2013), appointed to the role of Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston in January 2014.
- LAW SCHOOL FOR THE WHITE AND WEALTHY Michael L. Coyne - The National Law Journal, April 11, 2011 – 2011 ALM Media Properties LLC
- FAILING LAW SCHOOLS (Chicago Series in Law and Society) Brian Z. Tamanaha – Chicago Series in Law and Society – pub June 15, 2012
- 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
- "Alphabetical School List". ABA. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Accreditation & Bar Eligibility".
- United States v. American Bar Association, U.S. District Court (D.C.) http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f1000/1034.htm
- "Justice Department and American Bar Association Resolve Charges That the ABA's Process for Accrediting Law Schools was Misused"
- Pfeiffer, Sacha (2006-12-05). "Mass. School of Law urges US to reduce clout of Bar". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-12-05.
- "A Fast-Track To Law School". New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Affordable Tuition". The Massachusetts School of Law. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- Barron's Guide To Law Schools, 16th edition.
- Massachusetts School of Law
- Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools, July 2013
- "Antitrust Division: Antitrust Case Filings: Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, Inc. v. American Bar Association", US Department of Justice.