The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has approved a plan to open the first public law school in the state. The school is set to enroll students for the fall semester. UMass Dartmouth will acquire the private Southern New England School of Law, which is donating its campus and assets to the state. The new law school will focus on public service law with a curriculum in civil and human rights, legal support for operating businesses, community law practice, and economic justice.
UMass Dartmouth chancellor Jean MacCormack said the public law school would operate without taxpayer funds and eventually funnel millions into UMass Dartmouth and the state through expanded enrollment. It is estimated that the school would grow from 235 students to 559 by 2017. The school will charge $23,500 a year for ins-state tuition and $31,000 for out of state tuition. UMass Dartmouth wants to create a program to give students enrolled in any UMass campus the opportunity to earn an accelerated law degree. In this program a student would complete their undergraduate studies in three years and begin their first year of law school during their senior year.
Three private law schools in the state were strenuously opposed to the plan.