FIU's upstart law school kicks UM's aristocratic ass

Oh, the difference a decade can make. Eleven years ago, Miami's aspiring lawyers either had to fork over a fortune to attend the University of Miami's carefully manicured campus in Coral Gables or relocate to Gainesville or Tallahassee. There was only one real show in town, and tickets were expensive as hell.

Not anymore. According to bar exam results released last week, the mighty UM law school has fallen — hard. The Hurricanes finished sixth out of 11 Florida schools in terms of the percentage of students passing the test. UM's misery was compounded by the exam's unlikely leader: Florida International University's upstart law school, which was founded in 2000.

As in football — where FIU has left UM in the dust this season — the Golden Panther barristers are on the rise. Nearly 90 percent of FIU students passed the exam, a full 7 percent more than at UM. Hell, the Hurricanes didn't even finish second in the city: that honor went to Nova Southeastern's law school, with 87.4 percent passing the bar. Rumors are that UM law dean Patricia White is livid.

The results wouldn't be so galling if UM didn't cost more than twice as much as FIU. According to UM's website, tuition at the law school is roughly $40,000 per year, compared to just $15,000 for its public school counterpart. The University of Florida, which finished just behind FIU on this year's bar exam, costs slightly more, around $17,000 for a full-time in-state student.

But cheer up, UM 3-Ls — things could be worse. You could be enrolled at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, where less than half the students passed the bar exam this year. Founded in 1999 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ave Maria was competing with local rival Michigan for the best bar results in the state, if not the nation, before it was even fully accredited.

Tom Monaghan, the school's conservative Catholic founder and former Domino's Pizza magnate, then decided to uproot the school to Southwest Florida. The results speak for themselves.

 
My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
Nacho
Nacho

As with many regional schools (one of which UM's School of Law is not), the primary focus of the educational program is on Bar Passage. At UM, the students are given a comprehensive legal education, and expected to study for the Bar on their own, as opposed to being prepared for one test. Each type of program can be expected to laud the merits of their format, but there is the old Med School joke: What do you call the student with the lowest passing Board score? Answer: Doctor.

Jgoldstein1
Jgoldstein1

Being a recent UM law grad, I really don't have a lot of good to say about the place. However, these numbers are misleading. While UM is a regional school, it's graduates fan out all over the country. Many of the recent grads I know left S. Florida to take bars in other states or are planning to do so. Meanwhile, FIU mostly caters to students from the area...who are almost all going to take the bar (and practice) in FL. I got out of FL ASAP and I'm going to take the Feb. bar in the northeast. Adios Miami, you all suck.

FIU1stClass
FIU1stClass

FYI: FIU's College of Law opened its doors to its first class of students in August 2002. The first class sat for the bar exam in July of 2005 making this achievement that much more impressive.

recent_graduate
recent_graduate

Dean White needs to look in the mirror if she is going to be livid. She has done nothing than plummet UM Law's rank and diluted the talent pool by doubling the incoming class sizes. She has eviscerated the LRW program of its best (and actually currently practicing) instructors - replacing them with stay-at-home attorneys who barely have experience to provide thoughtful guidance to 1L students. Since arriving at UM she has been on a war path to take away student control over student-run organizations that have achieved higher national rankings than the overall lawschool for as long as one can find records (see Moot Court). Instead of collaborating with the most prestigious organizations on campus, she is destroying them. She is nothing more than a lackey for the US News & Review with her cites set on short term ranking improvements (which she has wholly failed at) rather than focusing on the long term improvement and health of UM Law. Please leave so we can be ranked in the 50s again - I don't appreciate the devaluation of my degree that you have caused.

Jwestinghouse55
Jwestinghouse55

As a current 3L at the University of Miami I can say that the results of the most recent Bar examination were a disappointment. However, the key to why UM is still far more appealing than FIU for those of us staying in the South Florida region is the alumni base. Alumni provide jobs. Jobs provide money. Money provides happiness. Or so the law school mantra goes. Oh and not everyone is on loans so if you don't have the money, FIU is a better option. Don't saddle yourself with insurmountable debt just because you think UM has better name recognition. But what do I know, I'm just an elitist rich kid that goes to UM...

michael wind
michael wind

great news more attorneys,just remember if they catch you take the fifth,and we need more part time teachers to teach the students,ponzi,fraud,and all white collar crimes,have rothsteien,shapiro,maddoff,and some locals like jose smith the city attorney for miami beach and issac salver the councilman from bay harbor island,and let the students learn how to be a criminal at all beach towns in miami dade, best wishes to all.

Guest
Guest

Well, here is some fact checking: Miami in 2010 was 60 in the USW&N rankings, now they are 77... when I was accepted there they were 52... This seems to be a trend. The Only thing keeping them up as high as they are is their great alumni network. A school like FIU has 600 alumni... they are only going to get better with time. A cheap public law school in Miami turning out quality lawyers is a huge problem for the over priced UM.

Solution: Smaller 1L classes. I think they have around 400 3L's now and I remember they let in too many people in 2009. If they only take in 150 students, they can lower operating costs and (slightly) lower tuition. They need to only take top quality students, this year it was just as hard to get into FIU as UM, and FIU had more applications. This needs to be fixed.

Amalia Gonzalez
Amalia Gonzalez

FIU has come in between 1st and 4th place every Feb. & July when students take the bar. It is great that we are #1 this time, but it is NOT surprising.

Absurdity524
Absurdity524

The "U" stands for Unsubsidized Loans! FIU Wins!

Imposterwen
Imposterwen

NOVA isn't in Miami, and the bar passage rate doesn't change the fact that Miami is ranked higher than any other law school in South Florida. Fact check you dumbass, we aristocrats can do it.

Happyspecialk21
Happyspecialk21

cua cua cua!! This would be a sweeter victory if the law students actually had to paid their student loans after they graduated.....but we all know their mommies and daddies have them covered. ... but still -.-...

DB1954x
DB1954x

Hmmm classy isn't he? And so loyal ...

W Kruse
W Kruse

You are only partially correct. I am an FIU Law graduate who went on to take the Missouri and Illinois bar exams, and now I practice in Washington, DC. I have worked cases in federal and state courts in 10 different states. I have former classmates on both coasts (of the US, not FL). Both schools have students who remain South Floridians, and both schools send students across the US.

UM is probably a decent school, but I am sure glad I didn't have to go there and pay that ridiculous tuition.

W Kruse

Jgoldstein1
Jgoldstein1

And before I get crap for "it's"...the iPhone does what it wants.

pantherondeck
pantherondeck

FIU Law was the youngest school to make a jump from Tier 4 to Tier 3 in decades in 2007. With continued success like this they will be ahead of U Law in about 20 years max.

lawstudent13
lawstudent13

not all of us have mommies and daddies covering us for law school. don't be so closed minded. some of us work hard and pay our OWN loans

Mattitude
Mattitude

Don't worry FIU students, your degree will be worth something some day!

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...