Message from Admissions
|Before I started working in Admissions, I spent two years in the Office of Career Services; the transition from one job to the other has always informed my approach to Admissions, because it has always been very clear to me that the vast majority of people choose to come to law school in order to pursue their vision of a particular sort of career for which the JD is a necessary precursor. And if that’s your reason for considering law school, then Michigan is a great choice.
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|Now, I think there are lots of reasons to choose Michigan--I hope you’re already familiar with our stunning architecture, our famously collegial student body, our quintessential-college-town setting, our world-class law library, our diverse and world-renowned faculty, and our wealth of international and clinical opportunities. |
But if you’re wading through a 3-foot stack of glossy mailings from just about every law school in the country, you may be finding it difficult to distinguish one school from another, or to decipher how all of these amazing resources translate into practical advantages for you and your future career.
Here are just a few of the things you’ll find at Michigan Law that are rare among law schools, and that you certainly won’t find all together anywhere else, along with my take on why you should care:
You’ll get the hands-on training you’ll need to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market. Perhaps contrary to your expectations of a top law school, Michigan offers practical, discipline-specific instruction and real-world experience in addition to a rigorous theoretical education.
- Michigan’s Legal Practice Program will mold you into an excellent legal researcher and writer by the end of your 1L year. Full-time faculty, not adjuncts or fellow students, will meet with you one-on-one to give meaningful feedback on your work. Employers report that Michigan students reliably deliver high-quality research and drafting in their first summer jobs, performing as well as or better than 2Ls and recent grads from other schools. Want specialized expertise? Michigan offers upper-level writing courses in transactional drafting, negotiation, appellate practice, bankruptcy, dispute resolution, and securities regulation; most schools offer no upper-level writing instruction at all.
- In our 14 different clinical programs, doing both transactional and litigation work, you can represent real clients beginning in your 2L year, allowed by law in only one other state. (Under court rules in 48 states, only 3L students can represent clients in court; 2Ls who participate in clinics at most other schools can have only research and supporting roles.) At Michigan, you can get an early start working with clients, and you’ll have time to try out more than one practice area, or take an advanced clinic to work on more complex cases. Hands-on experience in high-profile clinics tackling issues as diverse as exonerations for the wrongly accused, human trafficking, and micro-lending is useful training for a wide variety of career paths.
- In a recent survey by New York Law Journal, 70% of employers surveyed said they think law schools should focus more on transnational studies and offer study-abroad opportunities. Michigan was the first top law school to require that all students study transnational law, and our opportunities to study and work abroad are unparalleled. Michigan students can spend a semester-long externship at one of 21 international agencies in Geneva, research European Union legal issues at the European University Institute in Florence, or spend a semester at Waseda University Law School in Tokyo, to name only a few.
- In the same survey, every single responding employer said they’d like law grads to have a better understanding of the practice of law as a business. Michigan offers several courses to help you do just that: sign up for Law Firms and Legal Careers to gain understanding of law firm management, from profitability and marketing to governance and partnership considerations; learn how to read corporate financial statements in Accounting for Lawyers; or take one of our more specialized courses on the Law and Management of IP Organizations, In-House Counsel, the Law of Managing Money, and more. Or walk across the street to the world-famous Ross School of Business, and consider a completely different array of possibilities!
- Which leads nicely to this point: Michigan Law is unusually interdisciplinary among top law schools. Seventeen professors hold joint appointments in other schools or departments, and both their colleagues and the curriculum are enriched by this diverse expertise. Law students may take up to 12 credits of coursework throughout the University of Michigan’s other excellent graduate programs, or participate in one of 14 established dual degree programs (or create your own). Law doesn’t arise in a vacuum; it arises in the context of a multiplicity of settings, each with its own distinct influences and assumptions. Learning how to approach legal problems through the lens of diverse intellectual and professional perspectives is key to success as an advocate and counselor.
You’ll have the connections you need to find and land the job you want, where you want.
- In the past five years, Michigan graduates have gone to an average of 31 states each year. It is rare for a law school to be so truly national, and it means that no matter what employment market you are interested in, you are likely to find a significant number of Michigan Law alumni to connect with.
- For more than a decade, Michigan routinely attracted more than 700 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms and other legal employers to interview our students on campus each year. Now we’re in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and how has Michigan fared? This year, Michigan will host almost 500 employers during our Early Interview Week in August, and will host many others throughout the remainder of the academic year. Employers come to Michigan from all over, including New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, as well as our closer metro areas of Chicago and Detroit. Bottom-line, you won’t be competing with your classmates for a handful of opportunities in a single market.
- Michigan offers excellent support to students and alumni applying for judicial clerkships, as increasingly more judges are hiring clerks with one or more years of post-grad experience. In any given year, roughly 100 Michigan Law grads will be clerking. And Michigan Law has sent 12 clerks on to United States Supreme Court clerkships in the past 10 years.
- For those who plan to work in the public interest, enrolling at Michigan Law means becoming part of an impressive tradition. Whether it’s government service at the highest levels or nonprofit work in the trenches, our graduates pursue important paths in the public sector. Michigan graduates one of the largest percentages among top schools for people going into public interest or government work—on average, 10%—and is one of only 3 law schools whose graduates have received one or more coveted Skadden Fellowships each year for the past 7 years. Our voluntary Pro Bono Pledge ensures that interested students get exposed to relevant work and start building their network at an early stage, and the considerable funding we provide (through our post-graduate Debt Management Program, our post-graduate fellowship program, our 2L Public Service Guarantee, and institutional support for 1L Student Funded Fellowships) means tangible financial aid allows students to seek employment in these lower-paying fields.
- If you’re planning a career in academia, you will receive additional support: a faculty member will review your CV, which will then be included in a CV book sent to hiring committees at schools across the country, and you can participate in our Michigan Aspiring Academics Camp, where you can practice your job talk in front of faculty and alumni. You’ll be in good company, as Michigan Law is one of the top-five feeders for legal academia.
Whatever your plan for the future, I hope you’ll consider how Michigan Law can help you achieve it. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office by email or phone. We’d love to help you figure out how Michigan Law can prepare you for the career of your dreams, or to put you in touch with a current student who shares your goals.
Sarah C. Zearfoss
Senior Assistant Dean
The University of Michigan Law School