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Go Mormon! Reasons to Apply to Brigham Young Law School

Vivia Chen

September 6, 2013

Mormon © stormy - Fotolia.com

Attention, bargain hunters: Do you know which private law schools gives you the most run for your money?

Instead of just focusing on academic reputation, The National Jurist, a publication aimed at law students, takes a much more holistic approach: It weighs the law school's tuition, typical student debt, and the location's cost of living, along with data about employment and bar passage rates. Based on those criteria, law schools are graded on a A-B-C-D-F scale. The result: Middling to low-ranking law schools dominate the list, though there's a light sprinkling of top 10 schools.

Here are the schools that got at least a C+, according to The National Jurist:

Brigham Young University (A)

Baylor University School of Law (B)

Notre Dame Law School (B)

Duquesne University (B)

Hamline University (B)

Boston College Law School (B-)

Boston University School of Law (B-)

Chicago-Kent College of Law (B-)

Drake University (B-)

Emory University (B-)

Lewis & Clark Law School (B-)

Mercer University (B-)

SMU Dedman (B-)

South Texas College of Law (B-)

St. Mary’s University (B-)

Stanford University (B-)

University of Richmond (B-)

Yale Law School (B-)

Quinnipiac University (C+)

Villanova University (C+)

Washington and Lee University (C+)

It's not often that Yale and Stanford appear on the same list as St. Mary's, Mercer, South Texas or Quinnipiac—but let's not get snotty.

Instead, let's take a closer look at BYU Law School, which is number one on the list and the only school that got a solid A rating. So what's so wonderful and special about BYU? For starters, its tuition is really, really low, and as a result, the students carry very little debt (about $56,000). According to BYU Law School's website, tuition runs $10,950 annually if you're a member of the Mormon church, and $21,900 for everyone else. Even for non Mormons, that's quite a bargain—I mean, that's way below what you'll cough up annually for three days a week at a nursery school in Manhattan!

How does BYU manage to be so generous? BYU's website states:

The tuition at BYU Law School is among the lowest in the nation because more than 50 percent of the cost of operating the Law School is paid from the tithing contributions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All students benefit greatly from this support.

And the support doesn't stop with tuition. BYU (which ranks a respectable 44th place in U.S. News & World Report) "boasts not only an impressive alumni network, but also affiliation with a large number of Mormon lawyers who graduated from other law schools," says Top-Law-Schools.com. According to that site, two-thirds of BYU graduates make an average of $114,000 their first year. What's more, for a non-top 10 school, it boasts an "impressive record of placing students into prestigious Supreme Court clerkships, ranking 18th on the list of schools with the most Supreme Court clerks between 1991 and 2005."

Pretty awesome, right? So ready to move to Provo, Utah and possibly sign on with the Mormon church for the extra tuition discount? Well, here's the fly in the ointment: BYU's honor code bans liquor, coffee, and tobacco, as well as pre-marital sex and homosexual relations. That means you can't even hang out at Starbucks (assuming there are any in town).

Which means you won't have much time for sin and debauchery. Of any sort.

But, then again, maybe that's the winning formula for success in law school and landing a terrific job. Besides, who has time for sex in law school anyway?

 Hat tip:  Above the Law

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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