News 2020: UMass Law first-year student enrollment up more than 30 percent for fall 2020
UMass Law first-year student enrollment up more than 30 percent for fall 2020

Overall enrollment nearly doubled over past four years with academic stature soaring while maintaining the smallest typical first-year doctrinal course size among MA law schools

Umass law building

UMass Law begins its academic year today with 146 new students, a 30.4 percent increase over last year, bringing total enrollment of the Commonwealth’s only public law school to 360 students. Only one other ABA-accredited law school experienced greater growth since 2017.

At the same time, incoming student LSAT and undergraduate GPA medians set an institutional record, making this year's incoming class the most academically qualified in the school's history. Despite the school's remarkable enrollment growth and continued lower tuition, UMass Law has maintained by far the smallest first-year class sizes among all law schools in the state, with a typical first-year doctrinal class size of 46 students, which is nearly half to one-third the course sizes at the private MA law schools.

“UMass law has a powerful national brand, a unique identity as the commonwealth’s first and only public law school, and a critical public service mission that resonates with prospective students looking to make a difference in their communities,” said UMass Dartmouth Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chancellor Mark Preble.

Before this record-setting class, UMass Law’s enrollment growth over the past three years ranked third among the more than 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the country on a percentage basis.

“I think the reason for our growth is simple,” said UMass Law Dean Eric Mitnick. “Students are looking to pass the bar exam and get a job without accumulating an inordinate amount of debt, and on each of those fronts, we deliver. We are both more affordable and we outperform in bar passage and employment outcomes.”

UMass Law has seen dramatic performance increases among all key metrics:

  • First-year enrollment – up 121%, from 66 in fall 2016 to 146 in fall 2020
  • Overall enrollment – up 94%, from 186 in 2016 to 360 in 2020
  • LSAT/Undergraduate GPA – record medians, making the incoming 2020 class the most qualified in the history of the school.
  • Bar exam success – 82.6% of UMass Law first-time takers of the Massachusetts bar exam passed the test in July 2019, fifth-best among the nine Massachusetts law schools, and 80% passed in February 2020, third-best among the nine schools. UMass Law’s rapid improvement in its bar passage rate was recently highlighted in a national publication.
  • Employment success – 85% of UMass Law’s 2019 graduates secured employment or were pursuing further graduate degrees, with 60.9% in “gold standard” (full-time, long-term, bar-required) jobs, fifth highest among the nine law schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  • Practical Training – UMass Law was ranked among the top law schools in the country for practical training by preLaw Magazine for the past two years in a row, placing 3rd in Massachusetts and 5th in New England in 2020.
  • UMass Law ranks 1st among the fifteen law schools in New England over the past five years (2014-2019) for the percentage of graduates (27%) entering public service.

UMass Law continues to have one of the most diverse student bodies among New England law schools, with over 30 percent being students of color, including approximately one-third of the first-year students. In 2019, students of color made up 39 percent of UMass Law’s graduating class, a higher percentage than any other law school in New England.

The entering students were born in 16 different countries and come from 31 different states with the largest cohort (43 percent) being Massachusetts residents. They graduated from 110 different colleges and range in age from 20 to 55 with an average age of 26.

Established in 2010, the UMass School of Law is one of seven colleges and schools of UMass Dartmouth. Its students, through the law school curriculum and outreach clinics, have provided more than 150,000 hours of pro bono legal assistance and related community service across the Commonwealth.

Besides holding its tuition to about half the price of private law schools, UMass Law has established 3+3 programs with 13 colleges across Massachusetts to further reduce the cost of law school. These programs allow students to apply credits earned during their first year of law school to their final year of college, saving students thousands of dollars in tuition payments. Partner colleges include Assumption College, Anna Maria College, Becker College, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Regis College, Salem State University, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, Westfield State University, and Worcester State University. In addition, UMass Law and Bridgewater State University offer a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Social Work program that allows students to earn both degrees in four years rather than five. By collaborating on the program, the schools are enabling students to enter public service with a uniquely defined skill set and less student debt.