Michigan State University College of Law

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Michigan State University College of Law
MSU Law School 2.jpg
Parent school Michigan State University
Established 1891
School type Independent, non-profit corporation
Parent endowment US $2.145 billion[1]
Dean Lawrence Ponoroff
Location East Lansing, Michigan, United States
Enrollment 907[2]
Faculty 136 full time, 63 part time
USNWR ranking 94th[3]
Bar pass rate 81% (MI)[2]
Website www.law.msu.edu

The Michigan State University College of Law is a private law school located in East Lansing, Michigan which is affiliated with Michigan State University. 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. According to Michigan State University's official 2016 ABA-required disclosures, 49.5% of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[4]The school's rank among the nation's top 100 law schools slid to 94 in 2015, from 80th in 2013, according to U.S. News and World Report.[5]

History and background[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. It was the oldest continuously operating independent law school in the United States until it was assimilated by MSU in 1997.[6][7]

In 1937, the college broke ground and relocated itself in a new building at 130 East Elizabeth Street in Detroit, where it stayed until 1997. The Building was designed by architect George DeWitt Mason. 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.[7][8] 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.[9][10]

Among the first class of 69 students to graduate were a future circuit judge and an ambassador.[citation needed] A woman in the first class and an African American in the second were precursors of the Law College’s commitment to excellent educational opportunity for all sectors of the population.[citation needed]

Move, transformation and renaming[edit]

The Law College Building.

The college became affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995 to enhance that school's curriculum and reputation.[11] 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".[11]

The affiliation was celebrated at a function where former President 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."[11]

The association between the University and the College has led to a comprehensive interdisciplinary legal education program at the law college.[11] Today, the college remains one of only two independent law schools to be affiliated with a research university.[A]

In April 2004, the school changed its name to the MSU College of Law, becoming more closely aligned academically with MSU.[11] Although it operates as a constituent college of the university, the college of law remains financially independent and receives no state or university funding.[12]

Joan Howarth began her deanship at Michigan State University College of Law on July 1, 2008. Howarth is the 11th dean and 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.[13] She retired at the end of the 2015-16 school year.[14] Lawrence Ponoroff became the Dean in the fall of 2016.

The college is nationally ranked within the Best Law Schools in U.S. News and World Report, currently sitting at the 94th spot.[15] The Michigan State Law Review is ranked 48 out of 317 by Washington & Lee University School of Law, which is the main leading source for law journal rankings.[16][17]


The school also currently houses the Center for Legal Services Innovation--LegalRnD for short. In addition to a website, the program has both a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

LegalRnD was introduced in 2015.[18] Its director is the school's current Assistant Dean for Career Development and former Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn partner Daniel W. Linna Jr. The program allows the students to take innovative and technology oriented classes, such as Legal Analytics, Entrepreneurial Lawyering, and E-Discovery. The goal is that once the students go through the program, they will be better-equipped to find innovative ways to deliver legal services to clients and those in need.

LegalRnD likely replaced the school's former ReInvent Law program, which was founded by the school's former Daniel Martin Katz and current Renee Newman Knake. ReInvent Law likely ceased operations when Daniel Martin Katz obtained a new job at Chicago-Kent College of Law.[19] A popular piece of legal technology that sprouted from the ReInvent law program is the StandIn phone app, which was partially founded by school graduate Andrew Johnston. [20]

Currently, this program is a differentiating aspect when comparing Michigan State University College of Law to other law schools. In the short time that it has existed, it has partnered up with Michigan-based intellectual property law firm Brooks Kushman in order to find an innovative way to provide legal services to startups and entrepreneurs;[21] and it has partnered up with Canada's MaRS.[22] LegalRnD also helped to launch a ZeekBeek directory for law students[23] with the objective being more exposure for the law students before graduation. The program has even garnered the attention of legal blogger Kevin O'Keefe. [24]

Academic journals and publications[edit]

Law journals at the law school are nationally ranked[25] and include:


According to Michigan State University's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 36.9% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[32] Michigan State University's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 38.9%, 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.[33]

ABA Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates[34]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed: Bar Passage Required
Employed: J.D. Advantage
Employed: Professional Position
Employed: Non-Professional Position
Employed: Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed: Start Date Deferred
Unemployed: Not Seeking
Unemployed: Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 301 Graduates


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Michigan State University Law School for the 2013-2014 academic year is $51,270.00.[35] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $190,000.[36]

Clubs and school organizations[edit]

  • ABA—Law Student Division Representative
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Society
  • American Constitution Society
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Books to Prisoners
  • Business Law Society
  • Canadian Student Legal Association
  • Chinese Legal Society
  • Christian Legal Society
  • Conservative Law Society
  • Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted
  • Delta Theta Phi
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Family Law Society
  • Federalist Society
  • Hispanic Law Society
  • Intellectual Property Law Society
  • International Law Society
  • J. Reuben Clark Law Society
  • Jewish Legal Society
  • Labor and Employment Law Association
  • Law and Economics Society
  • Law Students for Reproductive Justice
  • LLM Student Association
  • Medical-Legal Society
  • Moot Court & Trial Advocacy Board
  • MSU Behavioral and Mental Health Law Society
  • MSU Law Ice Hockey Club
  • MSU College of Law Athletic Association
  • Muslim Law Students Association
  • Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)
  • O.W.L.S. (Older and/or Wiser Law Students)
  • Phi Alpha Delta
  • Public Interest Law Society
  • Res Ipsa (Student Newspaper)
  • Spartan Law Students Society
  • Sports and Entertainment Law Society
  • St. Thomas More Society
  • Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Student Bar Association
  • Tax and Estate Planning Society
  • Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society
  • Trial Advocacy Society
  • Triangle Bar
  • Wolverine Student Bar Association/Black Law Student Association
  • Women's Law

Notable alumni[edit]



  1. ^ Many Detroit College of Law alumni do not acknowledge their affiliation with MSU, although they were offered MSU diplomas at a cost of $400 after the merger and renaming. The school underwent a series of successive name changes: "Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University," "Michigan State University Detroit College of Law," "Michigan State University DCL College of Law", and finally, "Michigan State University College of Law."


  1. ^ "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2014 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2013 to FY 2014" (PDF). 2015 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Michigan State University College of Law: 2014 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ "2016 Best Law Schools". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Michigan State University Law School 2015 ABA Employment Report" (PDF). American Bar Association. April 7, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  5. ^ Halcom, Chad (March 10, 2015). "Michigan law schools slide in national rankings". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ "History". Michigan State University College of Law. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Detroit College of Law Informational Site" (PDF). City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Detroit College of Law moves to Elizabeth Street 1937". Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Detroit College of Law Elizabeth Street Building historical picture". Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Tetens, Kristan (Fall 1998). "The Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University: Two Institutions One Vision". MSU Alumni Magazine. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  12. ^ "MSU law school name change reflects integration and collaboration" (Press release). Michigan State University. 2004. Retrieved February 20, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Joan W. Howarth". MSU College of Law. 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ "New Deans". LSJ. 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Best Law Schools, 2014". US News & World Report. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Law Journals: Submissions and Ranking, 2006–2013". Washington & Lee University School of Law. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ Marzorati, Erika (February 4, 2011). "'Michigan State Law Review' Climbs Again in National Journal Rankings" (Press release). East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University College of Law. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  18. ^ "New center aims to improve practice of law through science". MSUToday. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  19. ^ "Law and technology innovator Daniel Martin Katz to join IIT Chicago-Kent faculty". IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  20. ^ "Can’t Make it to Court? No Problem. Meet the Replacement Lawyer App - Capterra Blog". blog.capterra.com. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  21. ^ "New legal partnership helps student entrepreneurs". MSUToday. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  22. ^ "Partnering to improve access to legal services". MSUToday. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  23. ^ "MSU Law, Zeekbeek, announce launch of new law student directory". MSUToday. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  24. ^ LexBlog, Kevin O’Keefe |; Ave, Inc 710 Second; Seattle, Suite 660. "Blogs and social media play a role in access to the law?". Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  25. ^ "Law Journals: Submissions and Ranking". Washington and Lee University School of Law. 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  26. ^ Michigan State Law Review. Michigan State University College of Law http://www.msulawreview.org/. Retrieved March 24, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Home page". International Law Review. Michigan State University College of Law. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Home page". Journal of Business & Securities Law. Michigan State University College of Law. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Home page". Journal of Animal and Natural Resource Law. Michigan State University College of Law. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  30. ^ "MSU Law: Student Organizations". MSU College of Law. 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  31. ^ "MSU Law: Amicus". 
  32. ^ "Michigan State University Law School 2013 ABA Employment Report" (PDF). 
  33. ^ "LST Score Reports: Michigan State University Profile". 
  34. ^ "Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates" (PDF). 
  35. ^ "Michigan State University Law School Cost of Attendance". 
  36. ^ "MSU Law LST Costs Report Profile". 
  37. ^ "Dennis W. Archer, Chairman Emeritus". Dickinson Wright PLLC. 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  38. ^ "George C. Edwards Jr. Papers". Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University. 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Judges of the United States Courts: Friedman, Bernard A.". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Mark S. Meadows". Willingham & Coté, PC. 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  41. ^ "Biography: State Representative Mark Meadows". Michigan House Democrats. 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  42. ^ "Wicked Takes the Witness Stand". University of Michigan Press. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  43. ^ "MICHIGAN Half Staff Status". Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  44. ^ http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577_28502_60090-280194--,00.html
  45. ^ http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577_28502_60090-280194--,00.html
  46. ^ "A Foundation of Ethics, Alumnus Antavius Weems, "Super Lawyer" to the Stars" (PDF). Michigan State University Law School. 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]