College of Law
Melanie Jacobs, Interim DEAN
HISTORY AND AFFILIATION WITH MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
Michigan State University College of Law represents the functional academic integration and collaboration between a private law school and a Big Ten university.
Founded in 1891, the Michigan State University College of Law remains one of the oldest continuously operating independent law schools in the United States. The law school affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995 to extend its academic excellence and offer more interdisciplinary programs to its students and to provide Michigan State University with a law school fully accredited by the American Bar Association. The law school has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1946. In 1997, the law school moved from Detroit to its state-of-the-art law building in the heart of Michigan State University 's East Lansing campus.
Through the affiliation, the programs and identities of the two institutions are aligned, and the Michigan State University College of Law faculty and students are able to participate fully in Michigan State University academic life. The name change and full academic participation were approved by the law school’s Board of Trustees on April 14, 2004 and by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees on April 16, 2004 . The law school now fully participates in the same manner as MSU's constituent colleges, although it remains financially independent and receives no state or Michigan State University funding.
The mission of the Michigan State University College of Law is to provide a rigorous educational program, preparing a diverse community of students to become leaders in private legal practice, business and industry, government service, and legal education. The Law College draws upon a century of service, an association with a major research institution, a commitment to broad educational access, scholarly excellence, and service to society.
The Law College teaches core legal skills, supplemented with academic concentrations, specialized programs, and scholarly research. The college stresses ethics, good lawyering, professionalism, and service. Consistent with these values, it instructs students in the arts of client representation and trial advocacy, and the tenets of legal principles, private rights, and public policy.
The Law College strives continuously to strengthen academic quality in all of its programs and activities. The college is committed to offering opportunities for professional growth, innovation, research, and scholarship to its faculty. The faculty embraces its mandate to provide excellence in instruction with significant contributions to legal research, public service, and community outreach. The staff contributes service, support, and creativity.
The Law College aspires to preserve its educational heritage while seeking sound innovation through a flexible and creative program of academic growth, development, and opportunity. The College fosters an environment of trust, collegiality, and inclusion for faculty, students, and staff.
The Michigan State University College of Law legal education program leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is designed to offer integrated learning, combining theory with practice. The Law College wants its graduates to be ready to practice law in real-world settings. This goal is accomplished in and out of the classroom. The classroom provides skill-based learning — especially writing and advocacy skills — and legal theory. Out of the classroom, experiential learning opportunities such as internships, externships, and clinical experiences provide opportunities to apply classroom lessons.
A distinction of an Michigan State University Law education is the substantive collaboration with other disciplines and programs at Michigan State University. College areas of focus and certificate programs allow students to build expertise in a specific area of law, and include opportunities to take graduate-level courses throughout MSU. This interdisciplinary approach to legal education results in a greater understanding of how law is practiced in society and how it affects other disciplines. For those who wish to take Integrated learning a step further, dual-degree programs allow students to earn both a law degree and another graduate degree in four years. Of particular note is the dual-degree program with the University of Ottawa School of Law, which enables students to earn the U.S. and Canadian J.D. in four years. This program provides a deeper understanding of international law and practice in cross-border situations.
Michigan State University Law offers other degree opportunities: The Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree is designed for students who have earned their J.D., LL.B. or comparable law degree. The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) degree is designed for individuals who do not have a law degree, such as doctoral students in other disciplines, policymakers, government officials, business executives, intellectual property agents, journalists, media professionals, scientists and computer programmers. The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) degree in Legal Doctrine and Analysis is designed for students who have met the admission criteria for the J.D. degree and have successfully completed the first-year required J.D. curriculum.