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Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, Louisiana

published July 21, 2008

( 212 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)

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According to US News & World Report's 2007 findings, Tulane Law School ranks 40th in the country, and its environmental law program ranks sixth. The law school is unique in the breadth and depth of its curriculum, allowing students to survey a broad range of subject areas or to concentrate in one or more. The program's strengths include international and comparative law, maritime law, and environmental law. Its environmental law and sports law programs are among the best in the nation, and its maritime law program is considered by many to be the best in the world.

Five certificates of specialization are offered in European legal studies, civil law, maritime law, environmental law, and sports law. The program offers seven different live-client clinics: criminal defense, civil litigation, juvenile litigation, environmental law, domestic violence, mediation, and legislative and administrative advocacy. The law school is robust in its business and corporate course offerings as well as its intellectual property law curriculum. Tulane Law School was the first in the nation to require pro bono legal work as a condition of graduation.

Usually receiving approximately 2,500 applicants each year, Tulane Law School is rigorous in its acceptance of applicants. For the entering class of 2007, the school received approximately 2,300 applicants, of which 833 were approved. For this entering class the 25th- and 75th-percentile LSAT scores were 158 and 163, while the 25th- and 75th-percentile undergraduate GPAs were 3.4 and 3.75. Generally, but not always, students hoping to gain admission to Tulane Law School should have numbers that fall within these ranges.

The admissions process does, however, depend on a full review of each application. For students applying to the JD program, this means that in addition to examining the standard predictors of success in law school — the LSAT score and the undergraduate academic record — Tulane gives significant weight to each candidate's personal statement, letters of recommendation, and previous accomplishments. For international candidates evidence of facility with the English language is noted.

The tuition at Tulane Law School is competitive ($36,670) and is as costly as that of schools ranked by US News & World Report in the prestigious top 14. Tulane, however, is known to be generous with its scholarship offers, bolstered by the fact that nearly two-thirds of the student body typically receive some form of grant or financial aid.

Tulane's uptown campus occupies more than 110 acres, facing Charles Avenue and directly opposite Audubon Park. The campus is only a few blocks from the Mississippi River and a 25-mile bicycling/jogging path that borders it. The campus is less than 15 miles from downtown New Orleans, the largest city in Louisiana and the state's banking, judicial, medical, and cultural center. The shipping industry has been a key contributor to the prominence of New Orleans as a center of admiralty law and international trade. The city has developed rich ethnic traditions and been the South's port of call for over 200 years.

Many students agree that the quality of life at Tulane is unmatched due to the close proximity to New Orleans. The metropolis provides Tulane Law students endless nightlife options, including its famous restaurant scene and a wide variety of bars and nightclubs on Bourbon Street. The annual Mardi Gras festival is a major draw, and students also have monthly opportunities to browse the bars of the city via school-sponsored bar reviews.

Some parts of New Orleans are dangerous and have all the trappings of a large city. The Tulane campus, however, is in one of the safer sections of the city, one that was remarkably unscathed after the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. This area contains many affordable housing options for law students, many of whom choose to live off-campus, although graduate dorms are available.

While many similarly ranked schools have regionally limited reputations, Tulane Law School's reputation seems to have a more pronounced national reach. Most of the school's students leave Louisiana to begin their legal careers, and a large number of students land jobs in New York, in Washington, DC, and on the West Coast.

More than 95% of students seeking employment are typically employed within nine months of graduation, many of whom choose to enter the private sector. For the class of 2006, the median first-year salary of 66% of graduates who entered the private sector was $96,356. Usually about 80% of Tulane Law graduates sitting for the bar exam in the state of Louisiana pass the exam on their first attempt, compared to an average statewide passage rate of about 70%.

Located in the endlessly charming and vibrant city of New Orleans, Tulane University Law School offers its students a tremendous quality of life and surprisingly excellent job prospects nationwide after graduation. Students who are looking for a sterling education and a colorful environment should give the school serious consideration, as should students considering the field of environmental law, a traditional strength of Tulane Law School.

Activities to get involved with include 35 student organizations (such as the Environmental Law Society), the publication of eight journals, including the highly acclaimed Environmental Law Journal, and the intra- and inter-school competition-based moot court program, which counts among its alumni state and federal judges, members of Congress, ambassadors, and state governors. Notable alumni include Jim Garrison, New Orleans district attorney, who became involved in the John F. Kennedy court proceedings after the assassination, and the notorious governor of Louisiana Huey Long.