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William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN
by Heather Jung
The school offers a wide variety of study-abroad options. During the school year, students can study in Denmark or the Netherlands; programs in both countries are sponsored by South Texas College of Law. During the summer, the number of options increases. California Western School of Law sponsors the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Summer Program, in which students can study the laws concerning NAFTA. There are two options for students who wish to attend this program: the Montreal/Toronto option and the San Diego/Baja California option.
The New England School of Law sponsors a program that allows students to study international and comparative human rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland. South Texas allows students to study in the Netherlands, the Island of Malta, Prague, or Istanbul. The final study-abroad program offered is sponsored by William Mitchell itself and allows students to study in Scotland and England.
Students are encouraged to take part in the alumni mentor program. Through the program, 1L students are matched with alumni/legal professionals who share common interests. Students and their mentors often meet for the first time at the alumni association's mentor program kickoff held in the fall of each year. They are expected to meet at least three times per semester. An activity of sorts is planned for each month.
In September, mentors and students meet for the first time at the kickoff. October is "take-a-student-to-lunch month," and mentors are encouraged to take their students to lunch to discuss the various aspects of life in law school. In November, mentors take their students to visit their offices. January is "networking month," a time for mentors to take students to networking or business events such as board association meetings or receptions held by law firms. February is "tag-along month," when students attend meetings such as judicial proceedings or mediation meetings with their mentors.
In March, the school hosts an on-campus gathering for students and mentors. In April, the tables are turned, and it is the students' turn to treat their mentors to coffee. In May, mentors invite their students to the alumni association's golf tournament or even take part in it. Through the mentor program, students learn the ins and outs of law school life from those who have already been through it all, as well as make lasting connections for the future.
In his "Message from the Dean" on the school's website, President and Dean Allen Easley states that the school offers an education of "the most distinctive quality." He says that the school is devoted to diversity in every aspect: race, gender, socioeconomic status, and age.
"It is this environment—one that nurtures practical wisdom in our students, giving them an enduring professional advantage—that you will find most distinctive about William Mitchell," he writes. "I'm sure you'll discover many more distinctive qualities here at William Mitchell. Each of us—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—welcomes the opportunity to help you learn more about our law school and answer your questions about a William Mitchell legal education."
Public service is another key factor in the William Mitchell education. Students are not required to do pro bono work, but it is encouraged. Most students choose to participate in the public service program, and almost 50% of graduating students are recognized each year for donating at least 50 hours to public service.
The practical skills curriculum at William Mitchell provides students with means of helping others. Students can represent people who would not normally receive legal help through clinics or externship programs. Students can also find pro bono work and summer clerkship opportunities through the Minnesota Justice Foundation. They can help the community through non-legal work, as well. Volunteer opportunities include a reading program at a local elementary school, blood drives, marathons, and Habitat for Humanity.
Through the Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota (LRAP-MN), students wishing to pursue careers in public service can receive help with paying off the debt they have incurred due to law school loans. According to the website, students who wish to receive aid must be employed full-time by companies or firms that provide "legal services to the poor, enhance[e] the administration of justice, or provid[e] law-related education to the poor."
Because the program relies on "contributions from individuals, law firms, law schools, and bar foundations for more than half of its annual budget," many faculty members contribute to the LRAP through the Faculty Public Service Fund. These contributions allow the program to continue to provide loan repayment assistance to students.
Located on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, William Mitchell is centrally situated. There are multiple coffee shops and restaurants within walking distance for students taking breaks in between classes. There are hundreds of apartments available for students to rent within walking distance of the campus. There are also apartments and carriage houses available for rent in the St. Paul mansions that surround the campus.
The Twin Cities area is a great setting for students pursuing law degrees. Fortune 100 companies such as Target and Best Buy are headquartered in nearby cities, and the area has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other city in the U.S. As Minnesota's capital, St. Paul is home to the state supreme court and legislature, as well as the Ramsey County Courthouse and the Warren Burger Federal Courts Building. Many of the state's largest law firms are located in Minneapolis, along with the U.S. Courthouse and the Hennepin County courts.
There are plenty of opportunities for students to get away from it all. Sports fans can take in a Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, or Vikings game. Avid shoppers are in for a treat at the Mall of America located in Bloomington. Those who prefer the outdoors will not be disappointed, either. As the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Minnesota provides outdoor enthusiasts with numerous recreational outlets, including boating, canoeing, and fishing in the summer and ice-skating, skiing, curling, and broomball in the winter.
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