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New England School of Law

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New England School of Law
Location Boston, MA, US
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New England School of Law is located in Boston, MA

The New England School of Law (NESL) is located in Boston, Massachusetts in the theater district. NESL is characterized by substantive instruction with a strong foundation in ethics. The academic program emphasizes extensive preparation in practical skills, including instruction in legal writing and clinical work.

It was founded in 1908 as Portia Law School, the only law school established exclusively for the education of women. NESL has been coeducational since 1938, being renamed New England School of Law in 1969.

New England School of Law is ABA (American Bar Association) accredited and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. With four other independent law schools, NESL is also a founding member of the Consortium for Innovative Legal Education.

The 2004 NESL admitted class is 54% women and 14% people of color. Currently, students come from 43 states, 9 countries and territories; further, 68% of full-time day division students come from a state other than Massachusetts. NESL faculty members have published more than 70 books and articles over the past five years, the international moot court team won the Richard R. Baxter Award for best brief in the 2001 Jessup moot court competition. NESL's 18 clinics in areas such as domestic violence, environmental law, family law, federal courts, health and hospital law, immigration law, and mediation offer opportunities for practical legal experience in varied fields, and each clinic has a required classroom component.

NESL's full-time faculty members are top graduates of fine law schools in the United States and abroad. Many hold advanced degrees either in law or other fields, in addition to their juris doctor degrees. Most have practiced law in the fields in which they now teach, and many have served as judicial clerks (including four as Federal Court of Appeals clerks) before beginning their teaching careers. The full-time faculty of 36 includes two African Americans, one Asian American, and 12 women. NESL also attracts excellent adjunct faculty members from the judiciary, law practice, and government to teach advanced courses in their areas of expertise. Adjunct faculty bring to the classroom their first-hand knowledge of how the law is being applied in the world of practice.


In 1908, two Boston women decided to sit for the Massachusetts bar examination. A lawyer named Arthur Winfield MacLean agreed to tutor them, and other students followed over the next few years. From that beginning, a school was established; MacLean's wife dubbed it Portia Law School, after the heroine of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice." From 1908 to 1938, Portia Law School was the sister school to the all male, Suffolk University Law School, and MacLean was a law partner to Suffolk founder, Gleason Archer, Sr.. MacLean served as the school's first Dean.[1].

Enrollment grew, and the first commencement was held in 1911. Beginning in 1920, Portia graduates received the LL.B. degree. During the school's early years, most women who passed the Massachusetts bar examination were Portia alumnae. In 1922, when the school moved into its first permanent building in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood, enrollment had reached 228, and the results from the December 1921 bar exam showed that all the women who had passed were graduates of the school.

The only law school in the nation founded exclusively for the education of women, Portia Law School became coeducational in 1938. In 1969, the school's name was changed to New England School of Law and accreditation was granted by the American Bar Association. The 1980s began with the school's move to its current location in Boston's Park Square area. In January 1998, the law school was elected to membership in the Association of American Law Schools.

The school's philosophical roots are evident today as it continues to offer a high-quality legal education to qualified students from a broad range of backgrounds.

From its beginnings, NESL has produced alumni whose contributions have enhanced the legal communities of Boston and the region. Early alumnae broke barriers that had impeded the entry of women into the profession, and in doing so, they have paved the way for future generations of women lawyers.

Location and resources

The law school's five-story main building is located at 154 Stuart Street in Boston's theater district, within walking distance of courthouses, federal and state offices. Clinic, administrative, and Law Review/Journal offices are in a nearby building in the Bay Village at 46 Church Street. NESL is easily accessible on the MBTA Green line via either the Arlington station or Boylston station, as well as the Orange line via the New England Medical Center station or the Chinatown station, and the Silver line via New England Medical Center, Chinatown, and Boylston.

The facility includes lecture halls, several of which are hardwired for Internet access and feature presentation technology; seminar rooms; faculty offices; a student lounge; a moot courtroom; and the law library, which was recently renovated in the summer of 2006. Wireless technology throughout the law school allows Internet access from anywhere in the building.

The library collection contains approximately 335,000 volumes and volume equivalents, an audio and video collection, microform materials, CD-ROM titles with multiple legal databases, and several online research services. Collaboration Room Seating is available for 364 students in carrels and study areas, some of which are private collaboration rooms suitable for student meetings and cooperative learning. More than 120 computer work stations and laptops are available for student use.

Offices for the school's administrative departments, clinical law office, and student publications are located in a two-story building in a residential neighborhood, about three blocks from the main building. The law school recently acquired an additional building adjacent to the main facility for future expansion.


NESL has played host to many notable visitors, including Dr. Hans Blix, Chief Weapons Inspector to the UN; Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall; Prince Zeid Raad al Hussein, Ambassador of Jordan to the United Nations; U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; former United States Congresswoman and vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro; U.S. Senator John F. Kerry; Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly; Judge Kenneth W. Starr, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz; and Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Harry Blackmun, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy. In 2006, Justice Antonin Scalia was the keynote speaker at NESL's annual barrister's ball.

Law Review

The New England Law Review was established in 1965 as the Portia Law Journal. When Portia Law School changed its name to the New England School of Law in 1969, the Law Review became the New England Law Review.

Admission facts and figures

For the entering class in fall 2004 NESL received approximately 3500 applications for all divisions. Actual class size on the first day of classes included 256 full-time day division students and 137 part-time day, evening and special part-time divions students. NESL applicants for the full-time day division who scored a 154 on the LSAT put them in the 75th percentile or above. The median LSAT score for admitted day division students was a 152. An undergraduate GPA of 3.42 put day division applicants in the 75th percentile or above of admitted students.

Tuition for the 20042005 academic year was $22,410 for full-time students and $16,810 for part-time students.

Notable Alumni

External links and references

Template:Colleges and universities in metropolitan Boston

  1. Michael Rustad, "Book Reviews," Contemporary Sociology, January 1986, Vol. 15, Number 1, page 102. accessed through JSTOR