20 Things You Didn’t Know About The University of Minnesota Law School

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota is a hub of premium quality education. Established in 1851, the university houses the University of Minnesota Law School, which has been responsible for many big names in government and the judicial system. It ranks very high among law schools in the country and has been awarded severally for excellence. Let’s look at 20 things you didn’t know about the law school.

1. It Offers Four Law Degrees

The University of Minnesota Law School offers four law degrees: A Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.), a Master of Science in Patent Law (M.S.P.L.), a Master of Laws (LL.M.), and a Juris Doctor (J.D.). Students that pick the latter have several concentration opportunities and can enroll for a joint or dual degree with other schools within the university.

2. It Is a Highly Ranked School

Law schools can be ranked based on several parameters, including their 5-year bar passage rates, LSAT scores, and GPA. According to the National Jurist, the University of Minnesota Law School comes in first in the entire state in all these categories. The school has some of the highest LSAT and GPA scores in the country. The law school was founded in 1888, and, since then, it has consistently been ranked among the best law schools in the country. The US News & World Report ranked it 20th in 2020, and it has been ranked 17th for the number of graduates getting clerkships in the Supreme Court.

3. Its Curriculum Is Very Broad

The University of Minnesota Law School has a very intensive law program. Per the curriculum, students elect courses during their first year. In addition to some mandatory courses, the options include essentials in legislation and regulation, civil procedure, international law, and business for lawyers. In their second and third years, students must take a writing requirement and three courses. They usually select the courses themselves from a list of several legal concentrations offered by the school. Depending on the student’s interests, they can decide to take labor and employment law, human rights law, health law, and bioethics, or business law, among others. Additionally, the school allows students to complete a joint degree or dual degree through other schools. As mentioned, this option is available to students pursuing a Juris Doctor (J.D.).

4. It Runs a Study Abroad Program in Beijing

UM offers several opportunities for students to study abroad. In 2006, it established a summer study program in Beijing geared toward Juris Doctor (J.D.). students. While the program was initially run in collaboration with the China University of Political Science and Law, it was moved to Renmin University (People’s University) two years later. Also in 2006, the school started a new exchange program partnership with Uruguay, provided by the Universidad de Montevideo.

5. It Has Produced Many Notable Alumni

UM has over 13,000 alumni living in 70 countries and 50 states. 275 of these are state and federal court judges spread across the United States. Even more impressive, the law school has produced 27 US House and Senate members and 12 governors. Notable alumni include American Law Institute former president, Norris Darrell; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton founding partner, Melvin Steen; and the first African American to be admitted to the state bar in Oregon, McCants Stewart. Nonetheless, the most famous name associated with the University of Minnesota Law School is Walter Mondale, former US Vice President and Ambassador to Japan. Other prominent alumni include:

  • Federal judge, Donald Alsop
  • Minnesota State Senator, Ellen Anderson
  • Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Russell A. Anderson

6. Its Students Contribute to Several Respectable Journals

As mentioned earlier, UM students in their second and third years have a writing requirement every semester. More than 95 percent of Juris Doctor (J.D.). students in their second year participate in a legal journal or moot court. One such journal is the Minnesota Law Review, which the Washington and Lee University School of Law ranked 9th in its list of prestigious law journals. Other journals include JLI, MJLST, the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, and the Minnesota Journal of International Law.

7. Its Journals Are Highly Ranked

Among all international law journals, the Minnesota Journal of International Law, to which UM students contribute, was ranked 16th. The ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law comes in at number 4 for employment law and the JLI number one for family law in the last four years. Additionally, JLI has been ranked number 20 in public policy, politics, and the law; 7 in gender, women, and sexuality, and 3 in minority, race, and ethnic issues. For the last eight years, MJLST has been ranked first for energy law. It is also number 10 in intellectual property, 8 in science, technology, and computing, 4 in environmental, natural resources, and land use, and 3 in health law. The University of Minnesota Law School faculty also edits a legal journal called Constitutional Commentary, which has been ranked 9th for constitutional law and 2nd for legal history.

8. It Has a Very Rich Housing History

The UM Law School was founded in 1888 and originally housed in a building named after William S. Pattee, the school’s first dean. His personal books made up the first collection in the school’s law library. The school remained in Pattee Hall until 1928, when it was moved to Fraser Hall. Like the previous location, Fraser Hall was named after the school’s dean Prof. Everett Fraser who was dean between 1920 and 1948. The school then moved to the Law Center in 1978, where it remains to date. In 2001, the school finished expanding its facilities on the University campus’s west bank. Upon completion, the new building was renamed Walter F. Mondale Hall as a nod to Walter Mondale, the former Vice President, and the school’s most notable alumni.

9. It Has an Extensive Clinical Program

The University of Minnesota Law School has an extensive clinical program, with students having access to 25 clinics. The clinics are designed to offer real-world experience allowing students to practice what they learn in class in real-life settings. Additionally, the school has 10 research institutes and centers for this same purpose, including the Human Rights Center and Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. A significant portion of the UM curriculum focuses on practical training. First-year students must go through a course called Law in Practice, offered alongside leadership training, externships, concentrations, and simulation and policy development capstone courses. Generally, these courses are designed to prepare students for their future careers.

10. It Puts on National Full-Length Musicals

Every year, the University of Minnesota Law School student body puts on a full-length musical. The musical is usually produced, directed, performed, and written by the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless (T.O.R.T.), which is made up entirely of students. Initiated in 2002, it is a particular highlight and an event the whole student body looks forward to every year. More than 1,000 people attend the musical every year, and some renowned Minnesota legal community members and UM alumni make cameo appearances. In 2006, T.O.R.T put up a West Side Story spoof titled West Bank Story, and the tickets sold out within 72 hours.

11. It Has an Active Hockey Team

UM Law School has a hockey team called the Fighting Mondales, which participates in rivalry games, club play, and intramural play during the season. During the fall, it plays in the school’s intramural season, then moves on to competitions in the Spring against William Mitchell College of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law, and Hamline University School of Law. The winner of this annual game wins the Golden Gavel.

12. The Fees Are Relatively Steep

Full-time tuition in UM Law School costs $46,641 for in-state students and $55,617 for out-of-state students. While these fees are relatively high, more than 95 percent of the students receive funding for their education through financial aid. This includes scholarships ranging from $5,000 to full tuition.

13. It Is Very Active in the Society

The University of Minnesota Law School has 35 active student organizations. This includes the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless, the Asylum Law Project, the Women’s Student Law Association, and the Black Law Students Association. In 2015, students and faculty from the school presented a case all the way to the Supreme Court while working in the Center for New Americans. The team won, bringing to play a landmark policy that changed immigration law in the area.

14. It Has One of the Highest Bar Passage Rates in the Country

In 2019, half of the class scored above 3.76 on their GPA and recorded LSAT scores above 164. At 96.91 percent, UM Law School has one of the highest five-year average bar passage rates in the country.

15. It Has Produced Many US Supreme Court Clerks

Among schools that produce graduates who secure Supreme Court clerkships, the University of Minnesota Law School ranks 17th alongside Cornell Law School. The school has produced several clerks in recent years, including Amy L. Bergquist, who graduated in 2007 and clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2010, and Kyle D. Hawkins, who in 2013 clerked for Justice Samuel Alito.

16. It Founded the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction

In 1982, UM Law School founded the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) in collaboration with Harvard Law School. CALI, whose offices remain at the University of Minnesota Law School, has since grown its membership to include almost every law school in the US.

17. It Has One of the Largest Law Libraries in the US

The University of Minnesota Law School’s library is called the Law Library and is the 7th largest library of its kind in the country. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the entire year. Within the esteemed library is the Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center, which contains a collection of rare legal texts – one of three such collections in the US. The school also holds Clarence Darrow’s papers, which it acquired for its millionth volume.

18. It Has a Moderate Acceptance Rate

Yale and Harvard accept students with an average GPA of 3.93 and 3.86, respectively. In comparison, applicants must have an average GPA of 3.79 to join UM Law School. According to experts, the school is marginally competitive with a slightly lower acceptance rate than other law schools in the country. The national average is 45 percent while UM Law School’s acceptance rate ranges from 30 and 44 percent depending on several internal and external factors. In 2019, the school sent 879 offers out of 1,978 total applicants.

19. Graduates Have a High Median Salary

Graduates from the University of Minnesota Law School are very marketable and tend to get employed fast after graduation as well as earn high salaries. According to 2019 career statistics, the median starting salary for UM Law School graduates employed in law firms was $140,000. Numbers also show that 93 percent of the 2015 class were employed by March 2016 and earning a median starting salary of $115,000 (private sector).

20. Its Students Have Received Several Writing Awards

UM Law School students have been awarded the Burton Award for Legal Achievement a remarkable nine times in the past. This feat makes the school one of only seven law schools in the country to have received the award eight or more times. In 2018, Franklin R. Guenthner of the University of Minnesota Law School received the award for his article titled Reconsidering Home Rule and City-State Preemption in Abandoned Fields of Law.


The University of Minnesota law school has been noted for its world-class instruction in the fields of Trial Advocacy and Litigation, IP Law, Employment Law, Environmental Law, International Law, Business Law, Family Law, and Legal Technology. Over the years, its programs have produced some of the most distinguished leaders and law experts in the United States. The school also held the Attorney General of Minnesota office from 1929 to 2007 uninterrupted.

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