What general advice would you like applicants considering Michigan to know?
We are committed to considering a wide variety of factors in the admissions process and put an enormous amount of effort into assessing applications. Often, students will measure themselves by our median LSAT and GPA and make broad assumptions about the likelihood, or lack thereof, of their admittance — a calculus that can be quite misleading. We would encourage all applicants, both those whose scores are stellar and those whose scores are more modest, to be careful to communicate the skills, experiences, and characteristics that they believe make them great candidates for law school. In other words, take time with your application, and make sure that it reflects what it is about you that you want us to know.
Your Summer Start program allows students to begin their law studies at a less hectic time of year and it also allows them additional flexibility over the second and third years. Early decision applicants enroll in this Summer Start program. Is it also an option for other applicants?
A regular decision applicant may choose to apply for either term, Fall term only, or Summer term only. An early decision applicant is restricted to a summer start only. Early decision applicants are not permitted to switch admission terms after admission. The Summer Start program is perfect for those students who wish to acclimate to law school and Ann Arbor during a less hectic time of year.
What opportunities are available to your students to gain practical law experience prior to graduation?
In addition to the opportunities mentioned in the question regarding changes on campus (our first-year Legal Practice program, our upper-level courses focusing on transactional skills, and pro bono practice opportunities), we would point more broadly to our very strong clinical program, established over the last 30 years, covering eight different areas including housing, child welfare, environmental protection, domestic violence, criminal defense, and poverty law. A somewhat different model is offered through our Family Law Project, in which students are trained to assist in domestic violence cases, and Wolverine Street Law, in which students are trained to teach community members about legal rights in a variety of areas. In addition, our students perform a variety of externships in public interest and government offices; this fall, roughly 30 students are spread all over the country. Students interested in international careers go as externs each fall to South Africa, to work in various public interest agencies there, and as interns each summer to Cambodia, to work in fields ranging from intellectual property to human trafficking prosecutions.
Finally, the Office of Career Services and the Office of Public Service have incredibly strong programs for helping our students find summer work in the field and location of their choice. In the fall, for example, more than 8,600 on-campus interviews of 2Ls and 3Ls typically occur.
Can you elaborate a bit on the multidisciplinary approach used at Michigan? With so many other highly-ranked graduate degree programs, it must be a bit easier to excel in a multidisciplinary approach to learning.
The University of Michigan Law School has a lengthy history of attracting faculty who have demonstrated success in the independent rigors of two or more disciplines, and the depth and breadth of such scholars at the Law School is unparalleled at other schools. The University of Michigan as a whole similarly attracts such faculty, resulting in a community that thrives on interchange and multi-disciplinary approaches without sacrificing the academic integrity of any one discipline. We make it administratively easy for students to take up to nine credits in graduate-level work outside the Law School, and because the Law School is situated in the middle of campus, it is also logistically easy to take advantage of those opportunities. Roughly 100 students a year are joint-degree students, pursuing interdisciplinary studies in an intensive fashion; we offer 13 formal joint degree programs (ranging from public policy or business to a Ph.D. in economics to master’s degrees in a number of area studies such as Japan and Eastern Europe), and are happy to work with students who would like to pursue a joint degree in a field where there is no formal offering.