No surprise that as dean of MCL, I frequently get asked what are the top reasons for choosing MCL over other law school options. My initial response is always the same . . . it is not a question of choosing MCL, it is a question of selecting the law school that is the best fit for your needs. Each prospective law student brings unique needs into the law school experience. For some it is geography, they want/need to be in a certain community. For others it is the cost, they have limited resources and need to get the best value for their educational investment. Some need additional academic support. Others are concerned about their job prospects after graduation. Some are concerned about all of the above!
Value, Reputation, and Small Class Size
If I had to pick the top three reasons that students select MCL, they would be value, local reputation, and the small size. Value is more than just the cost of tuition. Certainly when compared to the cost of private ABA law schools, our state-accredited program is one-third to one-half the cost. However, our recent alumni survey also indicated that for the graduating classes of 2009-2012, 88% were employed within 9 months of graduation and 91% are currently employed. That is the real value measure during a period in which national statistics report as many as 55% of new lawyers are unemployed or underemployed.
Competitive Bar Pass Rates
I would love to take full credit for local reputation, but since MCL and our new branch campus, the San Luis Obispo College of Law, are the only law schools between San Jose and Santa Barbara . . . it isn’t really a fair comparison. That said, since 2005 we have improved our cumulative five-year bar pass rates from 39% to 60%, built a Platinum LEED courtroom and mediation center, added a first-year program in Santa Cruz, and were the first California accredited law school to be authorized to offer the Master of Legal Studies and the advanced LL.M. degrees in addition to our traditional J.D. There is no question that this growth has enhanced an already well deserved positive local reputation.
Finally, with class sizes of fewer than 40 students and a total student population of approximately 120 students, we can offer a personal touch to legal education that is not available in large law schools.
I think that these are all great reasons to select MCL . . . but only if it fits your personal and professional needs.