Law School
University of Michigan

4.7 of 5 stars Average Student Rating (of 112 Student Reviews)

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4.8 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

I loved classes at Michigan. The professors are exceptionally accessible and brilliant. There is a general focus on theory but there are also seminars that allow for more practical application. Also, the clinical program is great, and a structured externship program (seminar paired with support in finding an externship placement) is offered periodically (approximately once per year). I didn't find it to be competitive at all, although that might be changing as the job market gets tougher. Most professors use the socratic method 1L year and in large, basic classes (evidence, crim pro, etc); it tapers off for upper-level classes and is nonexistent in seminars. There is a great externship program for students to work with NGOs in Geneva (Switzerland), although the number of students that can participate is limited. It seems that research opportunities exist, but generally students are approached by a professor rather than the other way around. Most of the classes I took were large (around 100 students), but each semester I had at least one smaller lecture or seminar; in my later semesters, a number of my classes were small. Getting into seminars can be competitive, and in some cases the professors get to pick their students, but students generally get most of the classes they want. The workload is tough, as it is at any law school, but students found ways of managing their stress and choosing a mix of classes such that it was manageable.


Quality of Life

Ann Arbor is a great place to live. It's not too expensive and housing options are varied. Housing right near campus is not that nice for the price (perhaps $800-$900 for a one-bedroom) but students that are willing to walk for 15 or 20 minutes might not be able to find a cheaper place, but they can find a nice one for the price. The campus is beautiful and the law quad is one of the most picturesque places I've ever seen. The library and computer labs are excellent. There is a moot courtroom that is used by clinical students and it is good, including advanced A/V capabilities. There is dorm housing that people seem to like, although it does not include kitchen facilities; I believe that the dorms are about to be renovated. The neighborhood is safe and fun, as campus is integrated with downtown Ann Arbor. Community relations, crime, and safety are all very good. In general, students are very happy.


Admissions

Michigan asked us to write an essay basically indicating why we wanted to go to law school. There was also an LSAT requirement. The admissions process was very standard. Financial aid seems to be generally in the form of merit scholarships and loans, although some students might also get need-based grants. It seems that merit scholarships are somewhat more available for in-state students. I received a merit scholarship in an amount equal to half the yearly tuition at the time I enrolled; this scholarship helped a lot but as tuition rose in my 2L and 3L years, the scholarship covered a decreasing share (as the scholarship did not go up each year).


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4.8 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

Classes are predominately theory based, but you can find some practical gems which are spectacular opportunities. The professors are eager to find research aides or unique academic opportunities for their students. Large population interested in international law leads to numerous study abroad opportunities. Depends on the professor whether the class is taught socratically or not, but class sizes are small generally after the initial first year sections. Academics are very demanding, students are very dedicated to their work and success. Very close knit student body, very little competition.


Quality of Life

It is what you make of it. I found it to be a good balance between school work, social life, and down time. I also held a job which I did not have trouble making time for. I know some students who were always under a mound of work, but I never felt that way. Ann Arbor is a fantastic place to live, very accessible and very intertwined with the life of the University. It isn't overly expensive and is a very safe and friendly community.


Admissions

Pretty standard/typical: Application essay, LSAT, LSAC references, etc.


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5.0 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

I found the professors engaging in class and available outside of class. Class sizes were sufficiently large, and the reputation of the school sufficiently sound, that there was very little pressure to claw your way to #1. Colleagues were cooperative - sharing notes was the norm.


Quality of Life

I lived in the Lawyer's Club - on campus law student dorm - for two years. I found the environment very encouraging and friendly. It is a safe atmosphere, and the community dining experience is excellent for bringing law students together.


Admissions

I filled in an application, wrote several essays, took the LSAT and applied. I did not participate in financial aid/scholarships.


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5.0 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

The classes are of very high quality. Many involve a modified socratic method in which teachers' questions and students' responses drive the classroom dynamic but in which cold-calling and stumping students is avoided. Professors focus on giving students solid groundings in course materials while also teaching them to think like successful lawyers. Class sizes vary, but there are as many opportunities for small classes as anyone could want. Students at Michigan are much more cooperative than competitive, so collaboration and community dominate the atmosphere and the classroom. Michigan is a first-class university over all, and quite large, so no matter what interest a student has, Michigan is very likely to have a strong program that encompasses that area. For similar reasons, there are tons of opportunities for research. Michigan's large classes are graded on a standard curve; smaller classes are not ,which generally means pretty high marks are given out. Michigan has innumerable leading faculty. Michigan has extensive study-abroad opportunities as well as domestict out-of-residence programs. Like any top law school, Michigan offers its students opportunities to learn a great deal, so enthusiastic students will find no shortage of opportunities to learn.


Quality of Life

Ann Arbor is much less expensive than an urban area. The unviersity of Michigan as a whole and the law school in particular (especially with its brand new, super-modern, spacious, beautiful new building) is really wonderful. There are multiple gyms, lots of top libraries and computer labs, an impressive moot courtroom, beautioful old rooms on the law quadranagle itself that are attached to a dining hall, and more. Ann Arbor is a university town, so community relations are great. It is also very safe. Michigan students are, on the whole, a very happy lot.


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5.0 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

Many classes and all first year classes are Socractic method. Profs are very well versed in the field, some having written the case books that we use. Other students are only somewhat competitive--not at all typical for a top-10 law school, but still very intelligent and hard working, so the competition is intrinsically high but not necessarily direct or mean-spirited. Grading seems fair and work-load also seems appropriate for the credits. Many clinics offered for both litigation and transactional work and some research opportunities with profs exist. Notable faculty include profs Uhlmann (environmental law), Pritchard (securities law), Krier (property law), Simma (sitting ICJ judge), Kethledge (Sixth Circuit Judge), Green (Detroit Deputy Mayor), among others. Sections are approx 24 students, and first year classes are from 2 to 4 sections together. Most popular upper level classes might have 100-120 students, but seminars are much smaller (15-25). Many study abroad opportunities exist, including Geneva, South Africa, and many others that I'm not entirely familiar with.


Quality of Life

Cost of living is relatively high for Michigan but relatively low for what I'm used to (New York City). The campus and the facilities are beautiful, but I wish the library would stay open past midnight. Other libraries and the reading room are open until 2am (undergrad libraries later I think, but I never go there). Computer labs and available computers are plenty and very up to date. The housing is fine but is currently going through a $20 million renovation so I imagine will be much more impressive in a year or two. The dining is absolutely mediocre, but I have high standards and some of my friends love(d) it. The area is relatively exceptionally safe and overall I like it a lot. Lots of bars and restaurants near campus as well. Happiness, especially for being in law school, is relatively high.


Admissions

LSAT, standard essay, optional "Why Michigan?" essay, 2-3 letters of recommendation, standard financial aid, extra scholarship for having done TFA.


Level

3L


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5.0 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Quality of Life

The lawyers club was great when I lived there, but they are making massive renovations that will make it even better. Significantly so.


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5.0 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

Michigan has a wide variety of classes in almost any discipline you can think of, ranging from large classes with professors who focus on theory and love the socratic method to tiny seminars, clinics, and practicums, where students get to engage in actual law practice (from clinic in tax, family law, environmental law, real estate, health law, or corporate work, to practicums in evidence, intellectual property, negotiation, and alternative dispute resolution). Following 1L year, I'd say 25-30% of courses are based on the socratic method.


Quality of Life

If you want to live near campus, Ann Arbor has surprisingly high rent--it is a university town, after all. However, prices drop rapidly as you move in any direction away from campus and/or consider taking on roommates. I spent my first year in the Lawyer's Club, the law school dormitory that wraps around two sides of the gorgeous law quad. The Lawyer's Club is not for everybody (you do sleep in twin extra long beds and eat your meals out of the dining hall), but I wouldn't trade my experience living there for anything. It created an incredible sense of community among the ~50% of the 1L class living there and allowed me to make friends out of my immediate section. Meal times became a welcome break from the hub bub of school, I was able to eat fresh fruit and vegetables without out when and how I was going to get a car to go to the grocery store, and the dining hall staff was very receptive (even acquiescing with my request to add Honey Bunches of Oats to the cereal bar). I spent my third year in the Kerrytown historic district, a quick 15 minute walk but worlds away from the more "fratty" undergraduate areas immediately adjacent to campus. In Kerrytown, I had the farmers market, the natural foods coop, a small grocery store, a wine store, a few bars, some asian restaurants, a coffee shop, and the famed Zingerman's Delicatessen all within a two minute walk. It was also a stone's throw from the trails around Argo pond, and closer to the State Street and Main Street eating and drinking establishments. Ann Arbor is not a New York or Chicago by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a vibrant college town with two independent movie theaters and an awesome performance lineup each semester. I definitely could have seen more of town with a car, but was able to function quite well with just my own two feet and a bicycle.


Admissions

I received an application fee waiver via LSAC, which encouraged me to apply. I don't recall any unique application questions or essays, but I did receive a scholarship offer with my admissions offer, which was nice.


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4.8 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

The academic experience at Michigan is uncommonly wonderful. Every professor seems to relish teaching both because they generally enjoy teaching and because they are passionate about the subject matter (I'm still not sure if the passion drives them to become experts in the field or if the expertise leads to passion). Either way, both their knowledge and zeal for teaching are evident. Workload is heavy, as can be expected at any law school. Class sizes vary from tiny (less than 10 students) to large (90-100 students). The faculty and staff are all very accessible so academic and career advising is readily available for those who seek it.


Quality of Life

Even during sometimes intense and unnecessarily prolonged winters, Ann Arbor and Michigan Law are beautiful places to be.


Admissions

From what I recall, Michigan had a number of optional essay questions in addition to the main required one from which applicants could choose and answer two. I find these optional essays are a chance to distinguish yourself further and make clear why you are applying to that particular school.


Level

3L


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4.8 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

Quality of classes: outstanding. All all teachers are humanistic, enthusiastic, practical, clear, inspired, brilliant, fun, kind.
Competitiveness: Students work hard, absorb the strain of the curve in a down economy well, without projecting hostility towards classmates via unproductive competitive/alpha attitudes. They display curiosity and engage their developing knowledge and interests in thoughtful conversations in the hallways, dining halls, etc. It's the kind of place where students will volunteer their notes if you have to miss a class.
Class sizes: 1L were mainly 100-person classes, which does not feel big. 1 class was 40.
Sure, it's a top school and it has notable faculty. Personally, I don't believe this speaks to a school's quality of teaching, but rather it's scholarship and prestige.
There are study-abroad opportunities, though I haven't looked into them, so I can't elaborate.
Socratic Method: Yes. All teachers used it in 1L to varying degrees. Some use it exclusively, most use it half the time, a couple used it infrequently. The SM provides a good incentive to read extremely carefully.
There are literally dozens of helpful meetings throughout the year to help students determine what courses or focus they might wish to pursue.


Quality of Life

COL is cheaper than a big city due to small-town locale. The gym, pool, jogging parks, computer labs, library, moot court, etc... are all excellent. The English Gothic campus is gorgeous. Plenty of variety in restaurants. We'd get occasional emails alerting us to robberies around campus... I assume this is typical of a large university, I don't know.


Admissions

Standard in terms of materials required for admission. However, I and many us noted amongst ourselves that the Dean of Admissions is particularly unique. She (Dean Zearfoss) goes above and beyond to communicate with the prospective students she is interested in admitting. Being married and living in a different state, for example, I had particular concerns about going to Michigan and she made every effort to help guide my decision. She also made every effort to ensure I'd attend certain Michigan Law events and discuss whatever concerns I had in person. Once I arrived at the university, Dean Zearfoss had lunch with me and many others and would occasionally check in and discuss or give feedback on opportunities we might be interested in (alumni connections, internship possibilities, ideas for journal notes, etc). She genuinely loves her work and that is amply evident.


Level

2L


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5.0 of 5 stars

2011 | VERIFIED STUDENT


Academics

The academics at Michigan were top notch. I received excellent mentoring from professors, and had the opportunity to interact with them both inside and outside the classroom. There are a number of small classes that allow students to focus on specific areas of the law that interest them. Seminars present a wonderful opportunity to engage in a personal give and take with professors and other students, and represent a very nice change of pace from the more traditional coursework. There is also the chance to conduct original research and independent study.


Quality of Life

I lived "off campus," but just a block or two away from the law quad. Ann Arbor is a great place to be a student--safe, with lots of great restaurants, and, of course, Michigan football.


Admissions

Michigan has excellent scholarship opportunities, including a full scholarship plus stipend (the Darrow Scholarship).


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