Michigan State University College of Law

Coordinates: 42°43′32.6″N 84°28′24.2″W / 42.725722°N 84.473389°W / 42.725722; -84.473389
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Michigan State University College of Law
Parent schoolMichigan State University
Established1891; 133 years ago (1891)
School typePublic law school
Parent endowmentUS $4.4 billion (2021)[1]
DeanMichael Sant’Ambrogio (acting)
LocationEast Lansing, Michigan, United States
Faculty51 full time, 73 part time[2]
USNWR ranking108th (2024)[3]
Bar pass rate77.46% (2022 first-time takers)[4]
ABA profilewww.abarequireddisclosures.org
Michigan State University College of Law Logo

The Michigan State University College of Law (Michigan State Law or MSU Law) is the law school of Michigan State University, a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan. Established in 1891 as the Detroit College of Law, it was the first law school in the Detroit, Michigan area and the second in the state of Michigan. In October 2018, the college began a process to fully integrate into Michigan State University, changing from a private to a public law school. The integration with Michigan State University was finalized on August 17, 2020.

The college is nationally ranked #108 by U.S. News & World Report out of 196 ABA approved schools.[5][3] By counting flagship journals not separately ranked by Washington & Lee School of Law (W&L Law) in its Law Journal Rankings, Michigan State Law Review was the 63rd highest-ranked flagship print journal in 2022 with a score of 14.55 out of 100 and, per W&L Law, the 99th overall law journal.[6]

For the class entering in 2023, the school had a 39.37% acceptance rate, 35.37% of those accepted enrolled, and entering students had a median LSAT score of 159 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.55.[7]

For the 2022 graduating class, 72.25% of graduates obtained full-time, long term bar passage required employment (i.e. employment as attorneys), while 11.45% were not employed part or full-time in any capacity, within ten months after graduation.[8]

Notable alumni include current Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer, current Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice and mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice and United States federal judge George Clifton Edwards Jr., former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Fieger, former Michigan Senate majority leader and former U.S. Representative Mike Bishop, and former mayor of East Lansing Mark Meadows.[citation needed]


Detroit College of Law[edit]

Etching of Detroit College of Law, Elizabeth Street Building, Detroit 1937–1997

Detroit College of Law opened in 1891 with 69 students and was incorporated in 1893.[9][10] Among the first class of students to graduate were a future circuit judge and an ambassador.[11] It was the oldest continuously operating independent law school in the United States until it was assimilated by MSU in 1995.[12][13][failed verification][14] The college was affiliated with the Detroit Young Men's Christian Association.[15][A]

In 1937, the school broke ground and relocated to a new building at 130 East Elizabeth Street in Detroit, where it stayed until 1997. The Building was designed by architect George DeWitt Mason.[17] It had been located at the former Detroit College of Medicine building on St. Antoine Street from 1892 to 1913; and the Detroit "YMCA" building from 1913 to 1924; the ground on which the building stood was under a 99-year lease from the YMCA.[14][18] The last location of the Detroit College of Law in Downtown Detroit is commemorated by a plaque at Comerica Park, the home stadium of the Detroit Tigers baseball team, which now occupies the site.[19][20]

Affiliation with Michigan State University[edit]

The college became affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995 to enhance the college's curriculum and reputation.[21] It relocated to East Lansing in 1997, when its 99-year lease with the Detroit YMCA expired, and the original building was demolished to make way for Comerica Park. The newly located college was called "Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University".[21] The affiliation was celebrated at a function where former President and Michigan native Gerald Ford joined more than 2,500 guests at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts Great Hall. Ford characterized the affiliation between Michigan State University and the Detroit College of Law "a bold new venture" that presents "a singular opportunity to help shape the changing face of American legal education well into the next century."[21] In April 2004, the school changed its name to the MSU College of Law, becoming more closely aligned academically with MSU.[21] MSU Law is currently fully integrated as a constituent college of the university: academically, financially, and structurally.

View of the MSU Law building from the southeast.

Joan Howarth began her deanship at Michigan State University College of Law on July 1, 2008 and was the first female dean in MSU Law's 117-year history. Beforehand, she was a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, since 2001.[22] She retired at the end of the 2015-16 school year.[23] Lawrence Ponoroff became the Dean in the fall of 2016, and he served in that role until the end of December 2019. On October 26, 2018, MSU's board of directors voted to fully integrate the College of Law into the University, thereby completing its transition from a private, independent institution to a public law school. At the time, Dean Lawrence Ponoroff said, "Since the original affiliation in 1995, the relationship between the university and the law college has grown increasingly closer and, at each stage, resounded in benefits to both institutions." The full integration was undertaken in order to facilitate collaboration between the law school and other divisions of MSU, opening up development in core areas of curricular strength such as social justice; innovation and entrepreneurship; and business and regulatory law.

Melanie B. Jacobs, professor of law, was then appointed as the law college's interim dean, beginning in January 2020[24] and under her tenure, the integration of the College of Law into the University was completed on August 17, 2020.[25] On June 1, 2021, Linda Sheryl Greene became Dean and MSU Foundation Professor of Law, and is the Inaugural Dean of the College of Law. Dean Greene (a noted scholar in constitutional law, civil rights law and sports law) was previously the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.[26]


For the class entering in 2023, MSU Law accepted 39.37% of applicants, with 35.37% of those accepted enrolling. The average enrollee had a 159 LSAT score and 3.55 undergraduate GPA.[7]

Academic programs[edit]

View of the MSU Law building from the north.

MSU Law also houses the Center for Law, Technology & Innovation (CLTI), formerly named the ReInvent Law Program, and LegalRnD; the Indigenous Law & Policy Center (ILPC); the Geoffrey N. Fieger Trial Practice Institute (TPI); and The Indigenous Law Program.

Academic journals and publications[edit]

Law journals at the law school are nationally ranked and include:

  • Michigan State Law Review, the school's flagship journal, ranked 99th among American law school journals with a score of 14.55 out of 100 as ranked by Washington and Lee University School of Law in 2022.[6]
  • Michigan State International Law Review[27]
  • Animal and Natural Resource Law Review[28]

Additionally, the school also publishes Spartan Lawyer, the law college's bi-annual magazine.[29] Formerly, the school published the Journal of Business & Securities Law.[30]

Bar examination passage[edit]

In 2022, the overall bar examination passage rate for the law school’s first-time examination takers was 77.46%. The Ultimate Bar Pass Rate, which the ABA defines as the passage rate for graduates who sat for bar examinations within two years of graduating, was 88.26% for the class of 2020.[4]

Notable faculty[edit]



Notable alumni[edit]



Public figures[edit]

  • Ivan Boesky, former American stock trader infamous for his prominent role in an insider trading scandal that occurred in the United States during the mid-1980s resulting in his conviction including a record $100 million fine.[32]
  • Ella Bully-Cummings, chief of police of Detroit, Michigan, from 2003 to 2008
  • John Z. DeLorean, automobile engineer and executive; attended, but did not graduate
  • Lowell W. Perry, former government official, businessman, broadcaster, and the first African-American assistant coach in the National Football League
  • W. Clement Stone, businessman, philanthropist and New Thought self-help book author; did not graduate



  1. ^ It was interrelated with the Detroit Institute of Technology.[16]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2021. MSU Common Investment fund (cif) Report and Comparative Endowment Performance (Report). MSU Common Investment fund. June 30, 2020. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Michigan State University Standard 509 Information Report to ABA 08-24-2019". abarequireddisclosures.org. American Bar Association. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Michigan State University Law School Overview". U.S. News & World Report.
  4. ^ a b "Michigan State University - 2021 First Time Bar Passage". abarequireddisclosures.com. American Bar Association. Retrieved March 10, 2024.
  5. ^ "Best Law Schools Ranked in 2023". usnews.com. U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  6. ^ a b "W&L Law Journal Rankings 2022". managementtools4.wlu.edu. Washington and Lee University School of Law. Retrieved March 16, 2024.
  7. ^ a b "Michigan State University Temple - 2023 Standard 509 Information Report". abarequireddisclosures.org. American Bar Association. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  8. ^ "EMPLOYMENT SUMMARY FOR 2022 GRADUATES". abarequireddisclosures.org. American Bar Association. Retrieved March 10, 2024.
  9. ^ Hirsch, William F. Education Work of the Young Men's Christian Association (PDF). Department of the Interior Bureau of Education Bulletin 1923. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 14.
  10. ^ "Detroit Institute of Technology, Detroit, Michigan 1891-1982". lostcolleges.com.
  11. ^ Pursglove, Sheila (November 13, 2015). "MSU Law Dedicates College of Law Plaza". Detroit Legal News.
  12. ^ Finnegan, Dorothy E. (March–June 2005). "JOURNAL ARTICLE: Raising and Leveling the Bar: Standards, Access, and the YMCA Evening Law Schools, 1890-1940". Journal of Legal Education. 55 (1/2). Association of American Law Schools: 208–233. JSTOR 42893900.(subscription required)
  13. ^ "History". Michigan State University College of Law. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Detroit College of Law Informational Site" (PDF). City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2006. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  15. ^ Freedman, Eric (June 3, 1996). "DETROIT COLLEGE OF LAW SUES YMCA IN TRUST DISPUTE". Crain's Detroit Business. The YMCA's involvement with DCL dates back to when it operated DCL, from 1915 to 1940. YMCAs also ran 10 other law schools across the country, an outgrowth of its pioneering activities in higher education. Ties were severed in 1940 under pressure from the bar association, which was unhappy with financial interdependence between law schools and noncollege entities, which could divert law-school revenue. The bar association also conditioned DCL's accreditation on maintaining a separate operation and organization.
  16. ^ "Detroit Institute of Technology, Detroit, Michigan 1891-1982". lostcolleges.com.
  17. ^ "Exterior sketch of the Y.M. C. A. College of Law" (Photograph). Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library. Written on photo front: "1931, Detroit Y.M.C.A. College of Law, Construction Started 11/6/36, George D. Mason & Co., Architects, 440." Written on photo back: "D/Architecture-Mason & Rice Colln. #1, Detroit College of Law."
  18. ^ "Detroit College of Law moves to Elizabeth Street 1937". Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  19. ^ "Detroit College of Law Elizabeth Street Building historical picture". Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "Detroit College of Law Historical Marker, 130 Elizabeth Street on the exterior wall of Comerica Park behind right field". Detroit, the History and Future of the Motor City. 1701.org. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  21. ^ a b c d Tetens, Kristan (Fall 1998). "The Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University: Two Institutions One Vision". MSU Alumni Magazine. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  22. ^ "Joan W. Howarth". MSU College of Law. 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  23. ^ "New Deans". LSJ. 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  24. ^ "The University of Louisville Names New Dean of Brandeis School of Law". Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. March 28, 2022. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  25. ^ "History: Michigan State University College of Law". www.law.msu.edu. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  26. ^ White, Russ (June 1, 2021). "New MSU College of Law Dean Linda Greene Wants Graduates to "Make a Difference"". MSU Today with Russ White. 90.5 WKAR-FM. Archived from the original on June 1, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  27. ^ "Michigan State International Law Review". Michigan State International Law Review. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  28. ^ "Animal and Natural Resource Law Review". Animal and Natural Resource Law Review. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  29. ^ "Spartan Lawyer". Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  30. ^ "Journal of Business & Securities Law". Journal of Business & Securities Law. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  31. ^ Marquis, Albert Nelson (1914). The Book of Detroiters: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit. Google Books (2nd ed.). Chicago: A.N. Marquis. p. 266.
  32. ^ Meserve, Myles (July 26, 2012). "Meet Ivan Boesky, The Infamous Wall Streeter Who Inspired Gordon Gekko". Business Insider. Retrieved September 15, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Guiffre, Donna J (December 31, 2011). A Centennial History of the Detroit College of Law.

External links[edit]

42°43′32.6″N 84°28′24.2″W / 42.725722°N 84.473389°W / 42.725722; -84.473389