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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Travesty That Is UMass Law

Over the past couple of weeks, students like myself in higher level political science and philosophy classes have been getting a new pitch about UMass Law. This is because the July Bar exam results have recently come out, and UMass couldn’t be happier with its pass rate. UMass is rightly celebrating a pass rate of 92.6 percent, a figure which places Massachusetts’ only public law school’s pass rate in the top three alongside Harvard and Boston University. This statistic, and the school completing its probationary period with the American Bar Association, is why students are strongly encouraged to apply to UMass Law.
What a crock of shit. First of all, I’m someone who has religiously tracked the Massachusetts Bar pass rates since 2013 and I can tell you that UMass Law is selling you a statistical anomaly. These numbers represent the highest bar pass rate for UMass Law since I started keeping track five years ago. They ignore a history of statistical bottom-dwelling where UMass Law has struggled to outperform Mass Law (which is statistically speaking the Commonwealth’s worst law school). The overall pass per attempt rate for UMass Law is a whopping 52.11 percent, which is downright abysmal. Until the July 2018 numbers came out, UMass Law has been that school that you don’t even apply to as a safety!
So why are the July numbers so drastically different? It could be that some of those institutional changes that UMass sought to bring to the once-failing private law school known as Southern New England School of Law, are kicking in. Maybe “the old guard” that was bringing the school down has finally been chased out, as one recent UMass Law graduate said. Or maybe it’s that only 27 people from UMass Law sat for the Bar. That’s the lowest number since July of 2015 and represents only 50% of the school’s average class size.
Now, I’ve been beating up UMass Law for capitalizing on a statistic that is CLEARLY an outlier. That being said, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge that UMass Law is showing signs of improvement. Over the years the Bar pass rate for first time takers has been slowly but steadily climbing; this is great news for people who are considering UMass Law another five years from now. UMass Law may also represent a very viable option for individuals who can’t afford the private law school options in this state. However, to try and sell it as a school that is setting students up in a similar fashion as Harvard and Boston University, or doing a better job than Boston College or Northeastern, is a farce. UMass Law has a LONG way to go before it even earns a U.S. News and World Report ranking that it will allow to be published, let alone a ranking that puts it in contention with any of the more prestigious law schools in Massachusetts.
The fact of the matter is that students who attend UMass Law, just like students who attend UMass Boston, are going to have to work twice as hard as their colleagues in other law schools in order to break into the legal job market. UMass Law simply hasn’t been around long enough to offer what even 144th-ranked Suffolk University can offer: a reputation. Reputation is the most heavily weighted metric in the law school ranking matrix, and UMass Law doesn’t even have one.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, if people don’t go to UMass Law it will never get better and never get a reputation.” Look, people are going to go to that school, just like people still go to Mass Law, and as one professor likes to joke, “The University of Phoenix Online from Jamaica.” That doesn’t mean it has to be you. Don’t feel the pressure of this university system, or some screwed up sense of loyalty, to attend a shitty little law school down in Dartmouth. Let other people—dumber people—bite the bullet of building UMass Law’s reputation.
If the cost of tuition is a major motivator for you then maybe you should take some time off, or just consider a different career field because initially, you are going to get out of your legal education what you put in, and that includes money. UMass Law, no doubt, has some success stories that they will champion as a representative of what you can do with a UMass Law education. These champions are anomalies, just like the pass rate for the most recent Bar exam, and those kids who go on to play professional football. Let some other schmucks be the sacrificial lambs for UMass Law; don’t be duped by a statistical outlier. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!