ASU law school welcomes largest class in school history


Douglas Sylvester, dean of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, welcomed 316 new students at the school's orientation this semester: 217 first-year juris doctorates, 8 advanced standing juris doctorates, 11 master of law students, 26 master of sports law and business students, and 54 master of legal studies students with a focus on patent practice, international law and sustainability law, to name just a few.

The class size reflects a substantial growth in master’s level degrees, particularly in sports law and business, and a large entering juris doctorate class. ASU Law experienced growth in juris doctorate applications in 2015, and the yield rate on all offers of admission nearly doubled over prior years. 

The high yield rate and the enthusiasm that applicants show for ASU Law programs are fueled by year-after-year strength in employment. ASU Law is consistently among the top 20 of all law schools in the country for job placement. Further, a tremendous increase in community support for student scholarships totaling more than $45 million allows for greater institution-based financial assistance for students across all degrees. National ranking of prestigious programs in international law, legal writing, health law and dispute resolution are also large draws. Finally, students are attracted to the potential of the new Arizona Center for Law and Society — ASU Law’s state-of-the-art facility in downtown Phoenix, the heart of Arizona's business, legal and political community. The building is due to open fall 2016.

Fall 2015's first-year juris doctorate students hail from 86 undergraduate universities, 30 states and five countries. In addition, ASU Law was once again among national leaders in recruiting talented students from a diverse pool of applicants — with minority students constituting 24 percent of the entering juris doctorate class.

Students’ undergraduate degrees are wide-ranging: political science, business management, biochemistry, physics, international relations, environmental sciences, economics, and many more. And several members of the new juris doctorate class hold master’s degrees or doctorates in areas such as business administration, fine arts and education. The class boasts students who come with a variety of work experience in areas such as teaching, law enforcement, politics, firefighting and the military.

“You are all an extraordinarily talented and credentialed group,” Sylvester said to students during ASU Law’s orientation. “The class has grown, but not at the expense of quality. This entering class, when all the data are in, will rank as highly as any entering class we have admitted and will be among the top in the country. We admitted you, but you chose us. This is your law school — make it a personalized experience.”

As she discussed why she chose ASU Law, first-year juris doctorate candidate Catherine Fu emphasized that the school’s personal touch made all the difference.

“ASU Law is clearly involved in helping students pursue their interests,” she said. “I feel like I got a lot of personal attention during the application and enrollment process. In talking with other students here, they also appreciated the individual care they received.”

The new students already have shown a passion and commitment to community service through their work with AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, Greenpeace and more. Even before orientation, nearly 100 students took part in the annual ASU Law Community Service Project. They worked at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) serving meals, organizing donated clothing, shelving library books and tending to the community garden. Dean Sylvester is on the CASS Board of Directors.

The new building will provide further opportunities for students to conveniently participate in public service and pro bono work, externships, clerkships and clinics.

“I’m excited to get to downtown Phoenix and get in the thick of things where everything is happening,” said first-year juris doctorate candidate Taylor Roderick.

ASU Law ranks No. 14 among all accredited law schools in the nation and No. 5 among public law schools in placing graduates in substantive jobs in the legal field. Within 10 months of graduation, 87 percent of ASU Law’s graduating class of 2014 found employment in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage is required or a JD is preferred. This is well above the national employment average of 71 percent, according to data collected by the American Bar Association (ABA) on the nation’s 204 ABA-accredited law schools. ASU Law’s bar passage rate is No. 1 in Arizona at 89.1 percent, compared with 74 percent statewide.