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University of Massachusetts School of Law

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University of Massachusetts School of Law
School type Public
Dean Eric Mitnick
Location Dartmouth, MA, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
Outlines 0 (See List)
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University of Massachusetts School of Law is located in Dartmouth, MA

Not to be confused with Massachusetts School of Law.



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.[1] The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees approved the plan on December 9, 2009[2] and the Commonwealth's Board of Higher Education did likewise on February 2, 2010.

The first class matriculated in August 2010.[3]

Later developments

In June 2012, the School of Law received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association after an eight-year quest by SNESL and UMass Law, before receiving full accreditation in December 2016.[4]

At a time of declining nationwide enrollment in legal education, UMass Law stabilized its enrollment at about 75 incoming students per year, with applications and the quality of applicants as measured by LSAT scores increased.[5]

For the Fall 2018 academic year, first-year enrollment was 94 students, a 17.5% increase from the 2017 first-year enrollment of 80 students and a 42% increase from 2016.[6]

Justice Bridge

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.[7]


Degree Programs

UMass Law offers full-time day, part-time day, and part-time evening/weekend Juris Doctor degree programs. Additionally, they offer JD/MBA and JD/MPP joint degrees with UMass Dartmouth and a JD/MSW joint degree with Bridgewater State University.[8]

3+3 Programs

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, Worcester State University, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Becker College, Westfield State University, Framingham State University, Salem State University, Assumption College, and Anna Maria College[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Legal Clinics

UMass Law has three in-house legal clinics— Community Development (business), Human Rights at Home, and Immigration Litigation—as well as the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, housed in the Bristol County District Attorney's Office, and the Tribal Law Clinic, housed in the South Coastal Counties Legal Service, Inc.[15]

Commonwealth Fellows Program

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.[16]

Public Interest Law Fellowships

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.[17]


  • Ranked #23 in the nation for value-added law schools in a study issued by the American Bar Foundation.[18]
  • Ranked #14 in the nation by National Jurist for preparing students for careers in government[19]
  • 2017 Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Bar Association[20]
  • Library of Congress Burton Award for one of the top 10 student law review articles nationally to UMass Law student[21]
  • Ranked among the best law schools for practical training by preLaw Magazine[22]
  • Ranked as one of the top five law schools for black students in the east by the Black Student’s Guide to Law Schools & Firms[23]

Post-Graduation Employment Statistics

According to UMass Law's official 2017 ABA-required disclosures, 72% of the Class of 2018 obtained full-time, long-term, bar-required employment nine months after graduation.[24] 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.[25]

ABA Employment Summary for 2018 Graduates
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 50 Graduates


Bar Passage Rates

UMass Law's July 2018 Massachusetts first-time bar passage rate was 92.6%, the third highest passage rate of the Massachusetts law schools.[26][27]

The 2017 first-time bar passage rate for all jurisdictions was 72.7%, and the 2017 first-time bar passage rate for the Massachusetts Bar exam was 75.6%. UMass Law's 2015 Ultimate Bar Pass Rate (within 2 years of graduating) for all jurisdictions was 88.7%.[28]

Massachusetts Bar Exam Passage
First-time takers Percent passing Second-time takers Percent passing References
July 2011 27 77.8% 2 50% [29]
February 2012 6 0% 4 75% [30]
July 2012 20 70% 6 66.7% [30]
February 2013 14 57.1% 5 40% [31]
July 2013 58 72.4% 7 42.9% [30]
February 2014 18 55.6% 13 30.4% [32]
July 2014 45 66.7% 9 33.3% [33]
February 2015 20 45.0% 9 44.4% [34]
July 2015 25 60% 8 25% [28]
February 2016 9 55.6% 13 38.5% [28]
July 2016 36 69.4% 6 33.3% [28]
February 2017 14 64.3% 6 66.7% [28]
July 2017 32 75% 22 40.9% [28]
February 2018 3 33% 5 80% [35]
July 2018 27 92.6% 4 50% [26]


The cost of tuition, fees, and health insurance at UMass Law for the 2019 academic year is $29,461 for full-time, in-state students, $38,369 for full-time, out-of-state students, and $31,387 for full-time, Rhode Island and Vermont residents.[36] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $162,311.[37]


On March 1, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed students and faculty at UMass Law about executive and legislative efforts to combat gun violence.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40]

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."[41] 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.[42] Dees received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.[43]

On May 14, 2018, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey addressed the Class of 2018 and received the Chancellor's Medal for her tireless work in Massachusetts.[44]

On May 13, 2019, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth B. Cypher received an honorary Juris Doctorate and addressed the Class of 2019.[45][46]

See also


  1. Archived copy,
  2. Jan, Tracy Full UMass board gives nod to law school planThe Boston Globe  (December 10, 2009)
  3. News & Opinion: Local Coverage,
  4. Carmichael, Mary UMass Law wins ABA accreditation after eight-year battle for respectThe Boston Globe  (12 June 2012)
  5. DeCOSTA, STEVE In era of shrinking enrollment, UMass law school happy to hold its own,
  6. Standard-Times, The UMass Law first-year enrollment
  7. BizJournals,
  8. Law, UMass Degree Programs & Requirements,
  9. UMass Law School offers fast-track program with public universities - Boston Business Journal,
  10. Pre-Law at MCLA,
  11. Standard-Times, The UMass Law announces accelerated completion program with Worcester
  12.  Westfield State University partners with UMass on law
  13.  Becker students can now fast-track their law degree - Becker CollegeBecker College  (2017-12-29)
  14. Standard-Times, The UMass Law partners with Salem State & Assumption College to offer accelerated degree programs,
  15. Law, UMass Clinics, Field Placements & Pro Bono,
  16. UMass law program offers $5K discount to students - Providence Business News,
  17. UMass Dartmouth website,
  18. Ryan, Christopher J. Crunching the Numbers: Rethinking Measures of Quality and Value in National Law School Rankings,  (2015)
  19. preLaw Winter 2018 | the National Jurist,
  20.  UMass Law to receive Massachusetts Bar Association's Public Service Award in
  21. » Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Awards – Law School,
  22. preLaw magazine Spring 2019 Page 20,
  23. Black Student’s Guide to Law Schools & Firms 2019 Edition,
  24. 24.0 24.1 Employment Summary for UMass Law's 2018 Graduates,
  25. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Profile,
  26. 26.0 26.1 July 2018 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools,
  27. Standard-Times, The UMass Law rises to third in Massachusetts Bar pass
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 ABA Bar Passage Outcomes,
  29. July 2011 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results,
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 February 2012 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results,
  31. February 2013 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results,
  32. February 2014 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results,
  33. pdf,
  34. February 2015 Massachusetts Bar Examination Results by Law Schools,
  35. February 2018 MA Bar Exam results,
  36. UMass Law Tuition and Fees,
  37. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Profile,
  38. AG Holder Addresses UMass Law Students About Gun Violence,
  39. Governor Deval Patrick to speak at UMass Law graduation - Gate House,
  40. Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts National legal analyst Rikki Klieman tells UMass Law Class of 2015,
  41. Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts UMass Law graduates "blazing the path for the entire profession of law" says SJC Chief Justice,
  42. 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",
  43. Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Morris Dees: Founder and Chief Legal Counsel, Southern Poverty Law Center,
  44. Fraga, Brian UMass Law graduates ready to serveThe Herald News, Fall River, MA
  45. Brown, Curt 'This is amazing': 47 receive degrees from UMass Law,
  46. Law, UMass Justice Elspeth B. Cypher addresses the UMass Law Class of 2019,

External links