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University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, MN

published May 14, 2007

Heather Jung
( 16 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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"We're seeking really to help our students draw on themselves and their faith, whatever their faith is, and some of them have no faith, to define and describe their goals and their purpose and their identity while they are in law school so that they can become the kind of lawyer they want to become, not the kind of lawyer someone else is telling them they should be," Dean Thomas Mengler said.

While the University of St. Thomas is affiliated with the Catholic Church, the School of Law, which opened its doors in 2001, admits students of varying faiths.

"We have been very deliberate about being ecumenical and being inter-faith. We really want to be a law school that is not trying to indoctrinate anyone—indeed, very much the opposite," Mengler said. "We are trying to help our students grow themselves, develop as individuals, and help them with the formation process, the important moral and developmental formation that a young adult has to continue to undertake while they are in law school."

Holding true to its Catholic roots, the School of Law requires each student to do 50 hours of community service over the course of his or her three years at law school. The school provides students with a list of pro bono and volunteer opportunities available to them in the Twin Cities, including opportunities with the Salvation Army, the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center, the Minnesota AIDS project, and the Neighborhood Involvement Program.

Before beginning their first year of law school, students are encouraged to attend a four-day academic-support program. Over the course of the four days, students learn how to make the most of their law school careers, gaining knowledge regarding everything from how to write and create outlines to how to participate in class to how to answer essay questions. Academic support does not end with the summer program, however; tutoring services, skills training, and other services are available throughout the year.

While the school does not offer formal concentrations, students can develop foci for themselves by taking specific groups of classes covering a wide variety of topics. The school also offers several joint degrees for students with varying interests: a J.D./M.B.A., J.D./M.A. in Catholic Studies, J.D./M.A. in Educational Leadership, J.D./M.A. in Professional Psychology, and J.D./M.S.W.

When the school was established, its founding administration decided it should be kept small. The 2006 entering class enrolled 155 students with median GPAs ranging from 3.71 to 3.91 and median LSAT scores from 153 to 159. Members of the class represent 71 undergraduate institutions.

If students are looking for a law school with a unique mission and a personal, small-school environment, they should look no further than St. Thomas University School of Law.

"We felt like we are addressing a particular market, if you will: a market of individuals who want to go to law school and integrate themselves and their faith into their professional identity. There aren't a lot of law schools around like that," Mengler said.

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