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April 16, 2004

MSU law school name change reflects integration and collaboration

Contact: Janet Harvey-Clark, College of Law, (517) 432-6959; or Russ White, University Relations, (517) 432-0923,


Peter McPherson and Clifton E. Haley

From left: MSU President Peter McPherson and Clifton E. Haley, MSU College of Law president. Photo by: Kurt Stepnitz, University Relations.

EAST LANSING, Mich. � The law school at Michigan State University is now named the MSU College of Law to represent the academic integration and collaboration between a private law school on the rise and a Big Ten university, MSU officials said today.

The name change and closer academic integration were approved by the university�s Board of Trustees today and by the law school�s Board of Trustees on Wednesday, April 14.

The change formalizes the fact that the law college is now fully a part of the university in the same manner as the university�s other constituent colleges, said Clifton E. Haley, MSU College of Law president.

�The image and reputation of MSU College of Law will now catch up with the significant improvements in academic and professional standards that have been achieved since the affiliation with the university,� Haley said.

MSU and law college officials said the change builds on the success of their affiliation, aligns their academic reputations and identities more closely, and integrates law college faculty and students more completely into MSU�s academic life.

The law school's partnership with MSU was created in 1995, and the law college moved into a state-of-the-art new law building in the heart of the East Lansing campus in 1997. It remains the oldest continuously operating independent law school in the country. Founded in Detroit in 1891, MSU College of Law affiliated with MSU to extend its academic excellence and provide a greater variety of interdisciplinary programs for its students and to provide MSU with a fully American Bar Association accredited law school.

Although the law college will operate as a constituent law college of the university, it will remain financially independent and receive no state or university funding.

The law college and the university are perhaps more integrated academically than any other law school and parent university, MSU officials said.

MSU College of Law�s affiliation with Michigan State University makes it possible for law students to pursue both a law degree and another advanced degree at the same time. For example, students can earn both a law degree and a master�s degree in just four years. Currently, there are 14 dual-degree programs with MSU with several more planned.

The name change is the culmination of a decade of growth and progress highlighted by these accomplishments:

  • Law students come to MSU from 42 states and 13 countries, a fact bolstered by the affiliation with the university.

  • More than 92 percent of its 2002 graduates were employed within eight months of graduation, higher than the national average of almost 87 percent. For the 2003 class, the placement rate has risen to more than 93 percent.

  • Applications to the law college have more than tripled since the affiliation with MSU in 1995.

  • Bar results for July 2000 through 2003 were significantly above the state average and, in the past two July examinations, the top score on the MultiState portion of the test was achieved by a law college graduate.

  • The Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute at the MSU College of Law offers selected students the opportunity to practice real trial lawyering skills in a courtroom in front of judges, witnesses and juries.

  • Students can distinguish themselves with the law college�s concentrations and certificate programs, where students can take courses in the following areas: corporate; criminal; environmental and natural resource; family; health; intellectual property and communications; international and comparative; and taxation law. The certificate programs are in trial practice and child and family advocacy.

�The college has experienced enormous growth in quality since the affiliation with Michigan State. This reflects all of the work that has been done to integrate our two institutions,� said MSU College of Law Dean Terence Blackburn.

�The name change will make the college's location clearer to outsiders and increase prestige for both the law school and the university.�