A century ago, hardworking, socially conscious attorneys in Minnesota had a vision for their brothers and sisters in the working world. The idea was to create an alternative avenue for legal education, and to open up the practice of law to working professionals, an idea well before its time, at a point where legal education was the prowess of the elite. The vision culminated in 5 different law school campuses in Minnesota where immigrants, children of immigrants and working adults in fields like banking, insurance and healthcare, could converge on centrally-located downtown campuses and indulge in the rigors of a legal education by night, while maintaining their jobs by day. By 1940, the campuses were consolidated to form one innovative law school, named William Mitchell after the Minnesota Supreme Court justice, whose opinions were regarded as models of brevity and sound judicial reasoning. The founders chose St. Paul as the location for this independent, non-profit private law school.
The St. Paul location has since served the school well in harnessing a strong regional reputation for its graduates. The law school's proximity to the state capital and St. Paul's twin city of Minneapolis provides a treasure trove of opportunity, for both professional growth and personal development. Students are readily able to take advantage of several large firms, government institutions at the capital and up to 15 of the Fortune 500 firms, headquartered there. Furthermore, the city consistently ranks as one of the most livable in the US, as ranked by the Morgan Quitno Press
annual survey of US cities.
Much like other law schools, William Mitchell strives to educate attorneys who will become productive, ethical members of the legal community, both in serving clients and their communities, and by continuing to promote justice and the public good. What truly distinguishes William Mitchell from other schools is the way in which it accommodates the work, family and other needs of its students, something that was inherent in its history as a school designed around the needs of working professionals.
Students at William Mitchell enjoy an integrated curriculum which is focused on both theory and practice, along with a strong emphasis on ethics and the public good. In keeping with the practice skills approach, the law school was one of the first in the nation to dedicate several full-time tenured faculty members to clinical teaching. The school offers a plethora of both civil and criminal clinical programs, in addition to a legal writing program that includes diverse skills like contract negotiation and client counseling, in addition to the traditional legal writing exercises.
Today, William Mitchell boasts a 335-member first year class with an average age of 25, and with 25% of its students hailing from outside of Minnesota. Furthermore, the most impressive factor is the stellar employment record the school's graduates enjoy. With well over a 95% employment rate most years, William Mitchell produces well-balanced professionals who take on the practice of law as they have learned it. Among the most notable of William Mitchell's alumni are Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger '31, Minnesota Supreme Court Justices Sam Hanson '65 and Helen M. Meyer '83, and Minnesota's first woman on the Supreme Court Justice Rosalie E. Wahl '67.
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