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UMass Law Pros and Cons

Pros:

UMass President Jack Wilson, Governor Deval Patrick, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack and Southern New England Law School officials contend that the financials for the proposal have been fully vetted and will not incur further costs to the UMass system, but in fact will generate new income:

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth law school, just like every other graduate program developed on our campus over the last decade, would not require any additional tax dollars. It would be funded by the estimated $22.5 million donation of private assets, and by annual law student charges, grants, and private fund-raising.

. . .

 

The UMass Dartmouth School of Law would generate nontax revenue for both the university and the Commonwealth during difficult fiscal times. Priced at just under $24,000 (before financial aid), this school would generate $5.7 million in student charges and become a... read more »

UMass Board of Trustees approves UMass Law plan

Details from the Boston Globe and the Springfield Republican.

The next (and final) step is approval by the state Board of Higher Education, which is expected to meet and vote on the proposal in early February.  If approved, the school is set to accept students for Fall 2010 admission.

 

Please note that acquisition of Southern New England School of Law by UMass would not suddenly make it an ABA-approved law school.  That is a multi-year process, requiring substantial changes and investment.  Provisional ABA-approval would be targeted for 2013.  Accordingly, even if the Board of Higher Ed accepts the proposal, the new public law school would not be an immediate option for students seeking to attend an ABA-approved law school in the Fall.

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Best time ever to pursue public interest law

Even though Harvard just ended its free tuition program for public interest lawyers, they, as well as many other schools, still have a very generous Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), and public interest lawyers from any law school can take advantage of the federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act.

Right now it is more financially feasible than it has ever been for lawyers to practice in government or in the non-profit sector.  If that’s your dream, don’t hesitate to pursue it, and do check out the entire Equal Justice Works website for the best and most recent information on public interest law.

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Are lower ranked schools more innovative than their higher ranked peers?

It seems so, according to this observer.  One of his important points that bears repeating over and over again:  The rankings measure nothing remotely related to innovative or creative legal education methods.  Please keep that in mind as you compile your lists of schools to which you apply.

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UMass Law proposal moves forward

Two committees of the UMass Board of Trustees have voted in favor of the proposal for UMass Dartmouth to take over Southern New England School of Law, and it goes to the full Board next week, on December 10th.  If the full Board approves the proposal, it will go before the state Board of Higher Education in February.  Our local State Senator, Stan Rosenberg, is concerned the school would siphon money away from UMass Amherst.   Governor Patrick has formally announced his support for the proposal.

UPDATE: Private law schools ratchet up their opposition to the plan.

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