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School of Law shows improvements in applications, acceptance rate, test scores, GPA, job placement, bar passage since 2015

The University of Dayton School of Law has been riding a wave of success in the last four years, posting improvements in acceptance rate, applications, median Law School Admission Test scores and GPAs of incoming students, the bar passage rate, and job placement.

"I am extremely thankful for the hard work everyone at the School of Law put in to achieve these results," Dean Andrew Strauss said. "None of this happens without our faculty, staff and students in every corner of Keller Hall doing their parts to improve their areas. This is a total team effort."

In the past four years…

* Applications have jumped 66 percent from 639 to 1,062; the School of Law is just one of two law schools nationwide to have at least a 50 percent increase.

* The School of Law has been more selective in admitting students, improving the acceptance rate from 58 percent to 39 percent.

* The most recent incoming class has a median LSAT score two points better than the incoming class of 2015 (150 vs. 148). The median GPA for the incoming class of 2019 is .24 better than the incoming class of 2015 (3.38 vs. 3.04).

* Graduates are finding full-time, long-term positions requiring or preferring a law degree at a better rate, too (75.6% for the class of 2018 vs. 63.4% for the class of 2014). The School of Law is fourth in the state, according to stats reported to the American Bar Association.

* Eighty-nine percent of graduates who took the Ohio bar exam for the first time in July passed, good for third in the state and seven points higher than the state average.

"When Andy Strauss became dean in July 2015, he made it his first order of business to lead the faculty in a fundamental restructuring of the school's curriculum and teaching with the intention of improving several metrics that would lead to improved bar passage. That restructuring was implemented for the entering class of 2016, which sat for the bar this July and demonstrated major improvement in bar passage," said Paul Benson, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs.

The School of Law attracted more applicants and more academically accomplished students by offering flexibility with additional options like an online hybrid J.D. program, 3+2 programs for faster completion of bachelor's and law degrees, and a Leadership Honors Program featuring full tuition scholarships, custom-designed leadership training and mentoring by prominent judges and lawyers.

Once here, all law students participate in a curriculum and have access to a support system geared toward passing the bar exam.

"We increased the credit hours for several foundational courses and spread them over the first four semesters rather than to force them all into the first year. The additional hours are intended to increase coverage of bar topics and create a pace more conducive to building analytical skills," said Lori Shaw, associate dean for academic affairs. "We also are focused on getting students more involved in learning than the traditional Socratic method, which too often allows students to passively take in information and never interact with it."

Students and professors keep track of students' progress with at least three tests a semester, rather than one at the end of the semester, so students see where they need improvement or review. Such assessments allow for students to gain regular feedback on their performance and make mid-course corrections before it is too late. Students identified as at-risk by the new multiple assessments are now referred to the school's academic support team, which has doubled since 2015.

"Gone are the days when students who could be saved are left to their own devices to fail or fall into an achievement hole from which they will spend the rest of their law school careers trying to emerge," said Micheline Kidwell, assistant professor of academic success and director of bar preparation. "We can help struggling students with individualized support that will enable them to succeed not only in law school, but also on the bar examination."

The school also added two required academic support courses and strengthened the rigor of the final semester bar course by using letter grades, rather than pass/fail. Successful completion of the course is a requirement for graduation.

After graduation, the School of Law provides summer accommodations for those wanting to stay on campus to prepare for the bar.

"Our law faculty, students and staff have worked very hard to achieve these results, and Dean Strauss's vision and leadership have been essential for achievement of these milestones," Benson said. "These results are strong indicators the reforms are working and investments we have made in those reforms were wise.

"Our School of Law has turned a major corner in student success."

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson1@udayton.edu.


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