One of New England's oldest law schools, Suffolk was founded in 1906 by lawyer Gleason Leonard Archer as the "Suffolk School of Law." The school was named after its location in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Archer's goal was to provide immigrants, minorities, and the working class with the opportunity to study law. In 1907, Archer moved the school from Roxbury, Massachusetts to downtown Boston. Suffolk Law School's first student passed the bar in 1908. By 1930, Archer developed Suffolk into one of the largest law schools in the country, and the law school received full accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA). Originally an all-male school, with the New England School of Law serving as a sister school, Suffolk became co-educational in 1937. In 1999, Suffolk Law School opened its new building at 120 Tremont Street, near the Boston Common.
Suffolk Law School has a 3-year day program and a 4-year evening program offering a broad selection of courses. The law school maintains a traditional first-year Juris Doctor curriculum which includes the year-long courses of Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, Torts, and Legal Writing, in addition to the semester-long Constitutional Law and Criminal Law courses. A course in Professional Responsibility is required, and each student must also fulfill legal writing and legal skills requirements prior to graduation. Until 2008 Fiduciary Relations, a class concentrating on the law of Agency and Trusts, was required. Upon completion of the required curriculum, students at Suffolk choose from over 200 upper-level courses, many of which focus on learning practical skills, including several legal clinics. Students may also receive credit for diverse internships and clerkships, including those at various courts in the Boston area. Academic concentrations are available in Civil Litigation, Financial Services, Health/Biomedical, and Intellectual Property.
In addition to the JD, Suffolk offers an advanced LLM in Global Law and Technology. Suffolk University Law School also offers joint degrees with Suffolk's Sawyer Business School (JD/MBA, JD/MSF and JD/MPA), and the Suffolk College of Arts and Sciences (JD/MSCJ and JD/MSIE).
The average faculty to student ratio at Suffolk is 16.5 students per faculty member. Tuition for the 2013–2014 academic year is $44,934 for the day division and $33,700 for the evening division.
Suffolk Law School students come from 50 states, 30 countries and more than 375 colleges and universities. Suffolk averages over 3,500 applications for its entering class of 340 full-time students. For the class of 2013, the median GPA for incoming Suffolk Law students was 3.3, and the median LSAT score was 157. The admission rate for the class of 2013 was 47%. The 25th – 75th percentile GPA was 3.0 – 3.5 and the 25th – 75th percentile LSAT was 155 – 159. Entering students from the class of 2013 came from 34 different states and graduated from 247 different undergraduate colleges and universities. Also, 14 countries are represented in the class of 2013.
Employment Outcomes: According to the law professor blog, The Faculty Lounge, based on 2012 ABA data, only 39.8% of graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers), 9 months after graduation, ranking 174th out of 197 law schools.
Suffolk University Law School places graduates in all 10 geographic regions according to the Association for Legal Career Professionals. Suffolk places a majority in its home region, New England, with 71% of its graduates finding employment in region, and 87% of those staying in the New England region obtain employment in the state of Massachusetts. The most popular states for Suffolk University Law School graduates to find employment are in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, and Maine. The table to the right represents regional placement, with percentages, for the most recent Suffolk University Law School graduates. Suffolk University Law School has alumni that practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and twenty-two foreign nations. The ABA also collects data on placement and puts them into seven major categories. They are law firms, business & industry, government, judicial clerkships, military, academia, and public interest. Suffolk University Law School places a majority of its students into law firms, with eleven percent of the entire class working in Big Law, or alternatively twenty-one percent of those working in law firms in Big Law. Additionally, significant portions of the class obtain employment in other fields—business and industry, judicial clerkships and government. The table to the left represents the fields of placement, with percentages, for the most recent class from the Suffolk University Law School.
In 2009 Suffolk University Law School had a first time bar passage rate of 92.82%, fourth out of nine law schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 2008, Suffolk had a first time bar passage rate of 94.37%, third out of nine law schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The median full-time starting salaries for Suffolk graduates was $82,000 in the private sector, and $54,000 in the public sector.
The 2011 edition of U.S. News publication ranked Suffolk 20th in the United States for its legal clinics, 13th for its Alternative Dispute Resolution program, and 15th for its Legal Writing. LawSchool100.com ranked Suffolk University Law School as 98th overall in its 2010 ranking of law schools. The 2010 edition of Judging the Law Schools ranked Suffolk 35th overall in the United States based upon ABA data. In 2010 the Princeton Review's The Best Law Schools publication ranked Suffolk 5th in the United States in "most competitive students". In 2010 the National Jurist ranked Suffolk as the 54th best law school in the country for public interest law. The ILRG also has numerous other categories and ranks Suffolk University Law School as the 68th most selective law school, 45th for job placement before graduation, 78th for job placement after 9 months, 23rd for best bar passer rates among first time takers, 14th when ranking the school versus the state average for bar passage rates, 92nd for student to faculty ratio and 87th overall for student median LSAT/GPAs. Law & Politics' 2010 ranking of law schools ranked Suffolk University Law School 33rd overall. In 2010, The Social Science Research Network ranked Suffolk 25th in the country. Leiter's ranking of most desirable law schools lists Suffolk as the 35th most desirable law school in the country. Law.com ranks Suffolk 54th overall for best job placement and employment trends into "BigLaw" with eleven percent of the class entering Big Law. In 2010, The Hylton Rankings placed Suffolk University Law School 94th overall among all law schools.
In addition to the basic curriculum, moot court, legal clinics, law review publications, and numerous extracurricular opportunities, Suffolk Law School maintains several other programs available to law students. Working with Harvard University, Suffolk runs the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service offering fellowship opportunities for law students. Suffolk also operates the Macaronis Institute, which is led by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice John Greaney, offering practical opportunities in trial and appellate practice. The law school also offers programs abroad, including: the Semester in Sweden Program with Lund University, a university where Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg conducted research for her book on Swedish Law in the 1960s.
In 1999, after construction of the new law school building was completed, the John Joseph Moakley Library moved to its new home, on the 5th through 7th floors, in Sargent Hall. The library contains over 450,000 volumes, and budget of new acquisitions reaching approximately $2 million, covering common law and statutes from all major areas of American law in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and with primary legal materials from the U.S. federal government, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the European Union.
The library also features a substantial treatise and periodical collection and houses the John Joseph Moakley Archive and Institute. Some of the collections in the Archive include the Congressman John Joseph Moakley Papers, a collection of the late U.S. Representative's papers which he gave to the school in 2001; the Gleason L. Archer Personal Papers, founder of the Law School and University; the Harry Hom Dow Papers a 1929 Law School graduate; the Jamaica Plain Committee on Central America Collection; and the Records of Suffolk University. The Library also houses law review journals from all ABA accredited law schools in the United States as well as numerous journals from European and Canadian law schools. Suffolk also records and broadcasts oral arguments for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and has archives of those proceedings available in the library and online.
Suffolk University Law School maintains five student-run publications.
According to Suffolk Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 37% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation. Suffolk Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 35.3%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Suffolk Law for the 2014-2015 academic year is $68,371 for the day division and 56,529 for the night division. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $255,308.
The Suffolk University Law School Alumni Association, operates chapters in all 50 states throughout the United States and 22 different countries. Throughout Suffolk's history, faculty, alumni, and former students have played prominent roles in many different fields. Eleven Suffolk University Law School graduates have represented the States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives in every Congress since the start of the 70th Congress in 1928, including two current members John F. Tierney, since 1997 from Massachusetts' 6th congressional district, and William R. Keating, since 2010 representing Massachusetts' 10th congressional district. Suffolk University Law School alumni also hold a plurality in the Massachusetts Senate, Massachusetts House of Representatives, Rhode Island Senate, and Rhode Island House of Representatives, including Senate President Pro Tempore John F. McBurney III of the Rhode Island Senate. Other Suffolk alumni include the current, and 41st, Attorney General of Rhode Island Patrick C. Lynch since 2003, current, and 33rd, New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells since 2006, current, and 26th, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin since 1995, current, and 57th, Attorney General of Maine William Schneider since 2011 and General Treasurer of Rhode Island Frank T. Caprio since 2006. Suffolk University Law School alumni also hold a majority of the District Attorney positions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; they include Jonathan W. Blodgett of Essex County, Gerard Leone of Middlesex County, Tim Cruz of Plymouth County, Daniel F. Conley of Suffolk County, and Michael Morrissey of Norfolk County. Attorney Marsha Kazarosian has handled high-profile cases, including a teenaged defendant from the 1991 Pamela Smart murder case in which a newlywed bride conspired with a teenaged lover to have her husband murdered.
Alumni include:Joe DiPietro Vice President of Kent Hospital
Jerald G. Fishman President and CEO of Analog Devices
Oz Griebel CEO of BankBoston
Other Suffolk alumni have also held Chancellor, President, Vice President, and Dean positions at universities including Robert L. Caret President of Towson University, Ronald Machtley President of Bryant University, Marty Meehan Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, David Sargent President of Suffolk University.
Suffolk University Law School alumni have also made contributions to the judiciary. Suffolk alumni are present in both the Federal and State Court systems. Suffolk alumni who currently work as Federal judges include: Gustavo Gelpí a United States District Court Judge for the district of Puerto Rico, Richard J. Leon a United States District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, Martin F. Loughlin a District Court judge for New Hampshire, Michael Sullivan, District Court judge for Massachusetts.
On the State level six alumni currently serve on State Supreme Courts in four different states. They include Linda S. Dalianis, chief justice in New Hampshire, Paul Reiber chief justice in Vermont, Peter Zarella justice in Connecticut, Maureen Goldberg and Francis Flaherty justices of Rhode Island and Paul Suttell chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Suffolk alumni also serve in various other judicial positions including Associate Justices Elspeth B. Cypher and Joseph Trainor of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Associate Justices William E. Carnes, Francis J. Darigan, Patty Hurst, Susan E. McGuirl, Daniel A. Procaccini and Melanie Wilk Thunberg of the Rhode Island Superior Court. Chief Judge George Healy.Barry Brown, former Professor of Property, Interim President 2010-2012; now president of Mt. Ida College
Joseph Glannon, Professor
John Greaney, former director of the Macaronis Institute, Justice on Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Joseph P. Hoar, Trustee, Commander of U.S. central command
Charles P. Kindregan, Jr. Professor of Law, Family Law author
Michael Rustad, Lambert Professor of Law, Author on Intellectual Property
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States
William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Stephen Breyer, Justice U.S. Supreme Court
Antonin Scalia, Justice U.S. Supreme Court
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice U.S. Supreme Court
Andrew Card, Chief of Staff to George W. Bush
Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, Green Party Presidential nominee
Edward Kennedy, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist
Edwin Meese III, U.S. Attorney General
Richard Posner, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals
Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York City
Robert S. Mueller III, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey
Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican Candidate for President and former Governor of Massachusetts
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews
The Practice, ABC (1997–2004) Bobby Donnell is a Suffolk Law alumnus played by Dylan McDermott.
The Departed (2006) – In the film, Matt Damon plays a Suffolk Law School night student, Colin Sullivan, parts of the movie are filmed at Suffolk.
Boston Legal, ABC, (2005–2006) Justin Mentell plays Garrett Wells, a hot shot attorney who graduated at the top of his class from Suffolk Law.
The Late George Apley, In this 1937 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, the gardener's grandson, pensioner of a wealthy family, attends Suffolk Law.