September 8, 2020 : By Garold Smith - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University School of Law continues to receive recognition and accolades as one of the top law schools in the United States. As a result, the demand from prospective students continues to grow, and this year marked the highest number of applications since Liberty Law’s opening in 2004.
Susan Patrick, Associate Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid, attributes this rise to the reputation of the School of Law and its continued high bar exam pass rates among its graduates.
“We had 110 first year (1L) students begin orientation this year, the largest number since 2010,” she said. “Our high percentage of graduates who pass the bar, the high employment rate of graduates, and the low student debt of our graduates make us very attractive.”
The application period for this year’s class was Sept. 1, 2019—Aug. 1, 2020, during which time over 500 applications were submitted. Although final application data will not be available from the American Bar Association until later this year, preliminary reports show a double-digit-percentage increase in applications.
“We have a great story to tell,” said Keith Faulkner, Dean of the School of Law. “Most recently, our 2019 graduates had a 92-percent bar pass rate across 13 jurisdictions, placing us in the top 12 percent of all law schools, and they experienced a 94-percent employment rate within 10 months of graduation. We just received the news that we achieved 100-percent pass rate for those who took the North Carolina bar exam. These numbers, combined with the practical experience of our faculty, and the desire to provide a rigorous legal education, help our school rise to the top and attract applicants who want to be a part of what we are doing at Liberty.”
The Spring 2020 issue of preLaw Magazine included Liberty Law on a list of 19 law schools that received a grade of A+ for preparing students to practice law. The rating was based upon law students’ participation in clinics, externships, simulations courses, and moot court.
Patrick said an attractive element for many students is the fact that faculty have practical experience and are able to impart real-world wisdom.
“For example, Professor Pamela Bell (Director of the Center for Trial Advocacy) can talk about how she presented evidence in the courtroom versus just the theory of doing so,” Patrick said. “Judge Paul Spinden can talk about his experience from the bench and how a judge interprets legal arguments. Professor Joel Hesch can talk about his experience at the Department of Justice. This experiential insight goes above and beyond only providing academic foundations.”
Braxton Todd (’20), who graduated in May with an interdisciplinary studies degree from Liberty, entered Liberty Law as a 1L on Aug. 10. He said he chose to attend because of the school’s dedication to honoring God, the work ethic of students and faculty, and his belief that “… a school that genuinely stands with Jesus will stand for truth and proper application of the law.”
“The Bible says that Jesus is our advocate, and it is very apparent that the professors at Liberty have a genuine relationship with Him,” Todd said. “I don’t think many other places, if any, could offer teachers with that sort of insight. My hope and prayer is to work in ending abortion after graduation … I am certain the guidance I receive at Liberty will prepare me for the task.”
Patrick, a 2010 graduate of the School of Law, said that in addition to the rigorous training that law students seek, they also want a community of peers and professors who care about each other, the practice of law, and making a difference in the world.
“I know from my own experiences as a student and now as an Assistant Adjunct Professor that Liberty Law is different,” Patrick said. “So aside from all of the recognition we are getting as a law school, we are also a family — we care about each other, our callings into the legal profession, and the desire to help others and impact the world.”
Liberty’s mission is to Train Champions for Christ, and Patrick said that the students who come to Liberty Law who are not Christians notice something unique about the school.
“As believers, we are called to care about every human being and their inherent creation in the image of God,” she said. “That is a very different mindset than what students may find in other places. We want all of our students to succeed in the practice of law and in their other pursuits.”