About MSLAW

Dean Velvel

Lawrence Velvel, Dean, Massachusetts School of Law

The Dean’s Message

There are two points that you should be aware of if you are considering Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. The first relates to the overall nature of the school. The second relates to career satisfaction. With regard to the nature of MSLAW, this school is the leader in the now-growing drive for reform in legal education, and the school’s practices and curriculum reflect this.

The many reforms MSLAW has pioneered include:

  • Admitting people on the basis of their entire life-record and their considered aspirations instead of on the basis of LSAT scores.
  • Providing students with extensive training in the practical professional skills needed by practicing lawyers; enhancing practical education with intellectual theory by ensuring that sociological, economic, political and other ideas underlying fields of law are specially discussed in every course.
  • Keeping law school costs down so that tuition can be kept low — MSLAW’s tuition is only about 60 percent of the average tuition of other private law schools.
  • Using these admissions and financial policies to make law school accessible to minorities, immigrants and members of the working class, all of whom have largely been excluded in the last 30 years, and to members of the middle class, who increasingly have been shut out in recent years.
  • Providing small classes which currently average approximately 12 students per class; ensuring that there will be extensive student-faculty contact outside the classroom; giving students extensive, closely supervised instruction in writing and speaking.
  • Incorporating oral presentation skills into numerous courses.
  • Stressing ethics by incorporating them into every substantive course. Underlining the prevalence of moral issues in law by bringing up moral questions in every course.
  • Using expert judges and lawyers — who bring practical knowledge rather than just academic knowledge to the classroom — as an integral part of the faculty.
  • Encouraging our full-time professors to engage in some practice, as many medical professors do, in order to bring practical knowledge to the classroom.
  • Using video, critiques, memoranda and mentoring to ensure good classroom teaching; using a heavily electronic library; creating multi-media electronic casebooks that combine text, audio, graphics and lectures.
  • Giving students a course that helps them prepare for the bar examination.
  • Creating joint programs with colleges under which a student can get both an undergraduate degree and a law degree in six years.
  • Creating joint graduate degree programs with other institutions under which a student can do joint course work for and simultaneously obtain both a law degree from MSLAW and a graduate degree from one of the other institutions.
  • Furthering the dissemination of the best in intellectual ideas by creating a non-legal magazine and non-legal television programs which bring to the general public the best academic and intellectual thinking on important subjects. And creating a television program on law whose purpose is to educate the public on legal subjects.

This extensive menu of innovations pioneered by MSLAW makes clear why the school has been and remains the leader of reform in legal education — which has badly needed reform for at least fifty years. Other schools have individually picked up on and are using some of the same reforms, but there is no school which has instituted so many of them, or has instituted them so quickly.

Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is unique. With regard to career satisfaction, there are alternate ways to obtain such satisfaction after graduating from law school. A significant number of MSLAW graduates use the abilities developed in law school to advance their careers in government or business. But most of MSLAW’s graduates choose to practice law, often in their own local communities.

The practice of law, especially in your own community, can be a great deal of fun, because lawyers are paid for talking, thinking, planning and writing — abilities which are honed by reforms instituted at MSLAW. But for the practice of law to be fun, and satisfying, you should enter the field because you want to help people.

The fun and the satisfaction accrue mainly to those whose goal is to help others rather than to those whose goal is to make four or five hundred thousand dollars a year. The reforms instituted by MSLAW give students the intellectual and practical tools needed to assist others — and to be happier persons because they are doing so.

 

See Also: Accreditation & Bar Eligibility


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