University of Massachusetts School of Law

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University of Massachusetts School of Law
Type Public
Dean Eric Mitnick
Location North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth - School of Law

The University of Massachusetts School of Law (also known as UMass Law) is a public law school located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It is the successor to Southern New England School of Law, a private law school that donated its campus and its assets to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. As of December 6, 2016, UMass Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association.[1] According to University of Massachusetts School of Law's 2016 ABA-required disclosures, 39.6% of the Class of 2016 obtained full-time, long-term, bar-required employment nine months after graduation.[2] U.S. News & World Report ranks its part-time program No. 61 in the United States.[3]

UMass Law received the 2017 Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Bar Association, recognizing the law school for "its commitment to providing an excellent, affordable and accessible legal education."[4]

The first-time bar passage rate for the July 2017 bar exam was 75%, and the overall rate was 58.1%.[5]



A plan to convert private law school Southern New England School of Law (SNESL) into a public law school for the University of Massachusetts system was first proposed in early 2004. The plan would establish the first public law school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and only the fifth public law school in New England. The Trustees of the University of Massachusetts system voted in favor of the proposal in December 2004, but the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education rejected it in early 2005 as fiscally unsound.

The proposal was brought again in October 2009, when Southern New England School of Law offered to donate real estate, facility, technology and library assets to UMass Dartmouth for the purpose of creating a public law program in Massachusetts. These assets had an estimated value of more than $22 million and would be the second largest donation in the 146-year history of the University of Massachusetts system.[6] The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees approved the plan on December 9, 2009[7] and the Commonwealth's Board of Higher Education did likewise on February 2, 2010.

The first class matriculated in August 2010.[8]

Later developments[edit]

In June 2012, the School of Law received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association after an eight-year quest by SNESL and UMSOL, before receiving full accreditation in December 2016.[9][1]

At a time of declining nationwide enrollment in legal education, UMass Law has stabilized its enrollment at about 75 incoming students per year for the last three years, and applications and the quality of applicants as measured by LSAT scores have increased.[10]

Justice Bridge[edit]

In August, 2014, UMass Law launched Justice Bridge, a legal incubator in downtown Boston, providing reduced-fee legal services to clients of modest means. UMass Law also opened a second Justice Bridge location in New Bedford.[11]

3+3 Programs[edit]

UMass Law announced 3+3 programs, under which students can earn an undergraduate and law degree in six rather the normal seven years, with UMass Dartmouth, UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, Fitchburg State University, and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.[12][13]

Commonwealth Fellows Program[edit]

In December 2014, UMass Law launched the Commonwealth Fellows Program. Under the program, students who are Massachusetts residents or have attended a Massachusetts public college or university as an undergraduate, and who score at least 152 on the LSAT and have an undergraduate grade of point average of at least 3.0, receive an automatic scholarship of $5,000 per year.[14] In October 2017, UMass Law increased the scholarship to $8,000.[15]

Public Interest Law Fellowships[edit]

Up to 25 entering UMass Law students each year are awarded Public Interest Law Fellowships. The Fellowship, which includes a 50% scholarship for both tuition and fees, is designed to train students for careers in public service. Fellowship recipients commit to practice public interest law for at least four years after graduation.[16]


On March 1, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed students and faculty at UMass Law about executive and legislative efforts to combat gun violence.[17]

On May 19, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick served as the Commencement speaker for the 2014 graduating class at UMass Law. During the commencement ceremony, Governor Patrick received the Chancellor’s Medal for outstanding service to the commonwealth.[18]

On May 18, 2015, attorney and national legal analyst Rikki Klieman gave the Commencement address, telling the Class of 2015 "making a living is not the same as making a life." She received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.[19]

On May 16, 2016, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants addressed the Class of 2016, telling the graduates they were "blazing the path for the entire profession of law."[20] Chief Justice Gants received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

On May 15, 2017, Morris Dees, co-founder and chief legal counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, gave the Commencement address to the Class of 2017.[21] Dees received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.[22]

Post-Graduation Employment Statistics[edit]

According to UMass Law's official 2016 ABA-required disclosures, 39.6% of the Class of 2016 obtained full-time, long-term, bar-required employment nine months after graduation.[2] UMass Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 28.3%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2016 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[23]

ABA Employment Summary for 2016 Graduates[24]
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 53 Graduates

Bar Passage Rate[edit]

Massachusetts Bar Exam Passage
First-time takers Percent passing Second-time takers Percent passing References
July 2011 27 77.8% 2 50% [25]
February 2012 6 0% 4 75% [26]
July 2012 20 70% 6 66.7% [26]
February 2013 14 57.1% 5 40% [27]
July 2013 58 72.4% 7 42.9% [26]
February 2014 18 55.6% 13 30.4% [28]
July 2014 45 66.7% 9 33.3% [29]
February 2015 20 45.0% 9 44.4% [30]
July 2015 25 60% 8 25% [5]
February 2016 9 55.6% 13 38.5% [5]
July 2016 36 69.4% 6 33.3% [5]
February 2017 14 64.3% 6 66.7% [5]
July 2017 32 75% 22 40.9% [5]


The cost of tuition, fees, and health insurance at UMass Law for the Fall 2017 semester is $27,291 for full-time, in-state students and $35,688 for full-time, out-of-state students.[31] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $162,311.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b "Employment Summary for 2016 Graduates" (PDF). 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "UMass Law to receive Massachusetts Bar Association's Public Service Award in May". Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "July 2017 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools" (PDF). 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Jan, Tracy (December 10, 2009). "Full UMass board gives nod to law school plan". The Boston Globe. 
  8. ^ "News & Opinion: Local Coverage". 
  9. ^ Carmichael, Mary (12 June 2012). "UMass Law wins ABA accreditation after eight-year battle for respect". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  10. ^ DeCOSTA, STEVE. "In era of shrinking enrollment, UMass law school happy to hold its own". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  11. ^ "BizJournals". 
  12. ^ "UMass Law School offers fast-track program with public universities - Boston Business Journal". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  13. ^ "Pre-Law at MCLA". Retrieved 2017-11-02. 
  14. ^ "UMass law program offers $5K discount to students - Providence Business News". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  15. ^ Law, UMass. "Law News: UMass Law increases Commonwealth Fellows Scholarship - UMass Law". Retrieved 2017-11-02. 
  16. ^ "UMass Dartmouth website". 
  17. ^ "AG Holder Addresses UMass Law Students About Gun Violence". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  18. ^ "Governor Deval Patrick to speak at UMass Law graduation - Gate House". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  19. ^ Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts. "National legal analyst Rikki Klieman tells UMass Law Class of 2015". UMass Dartmouth. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  20. ^ Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts. "UMass Law graduates "blazing the path for the entire profession of law" says SJC Chief Justice". UMass Dartmouth. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  21. ^ Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts. "Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees urges UMass Law graduates to defend the rule of law over the "rule of the mob"". UMass Dartmouth. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  22. ^ Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts. "Morris Dees: Founder and Chief Legal Counsel, Southern Poverty Law Center". UMass Dartmouth. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  23. ^ "University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Profile". 
  24. ^ "Employment Summary for 2016 Graduates" (PDF). 
  25. ^ "July 2011 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results" (PDF). Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  26. ^ a b c "February 2012 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results" (PDF). Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "February 2013 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results" (PDF). Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "February 2014 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results" (PDF). Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  29. ^ " pdf" (PDF). 
  30. ^ "February 2015 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools" (PDF). 
  31. ^ "UMass Law Tuition and Fees". 
  32. ^ "University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Profile". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°39′40.67″N 70°59′17.26″W / 41.6612972°N 70.9881278°W / 41.6612972; -70.9881278