Monday, April 6, 2009

2009 Top Ten Most Mormon Friendly Law Schools

1. University of Nevada, Las Vegas - William S. Boyd School of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students: 80
Percentage of Student Body: 16.98%
Cost of Living: $14,260
Cost of Tuition: $20,302
Distance to nearest Temple: 13 Miles
US News Ranking: 88
Total Points: 409

2. Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students: 70
Percentage of Student Body: 11.12%
Cost of Living: $12,952
Cost of Tuition: $28,856
Distance to Nearest Temple: 10 Miles
US News Ranking: 51
Total Points: 394

3. University of Idaho School of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students: 82
Percentage of Student Body: 26.11%
Cost of Living: $15,270
Cost of Tuition: $20,962
Distance of Nearest Temple: 83 Miles
US News Ranking: 0
Total Points: 384

4. University of Michigan Law School
Number of Mormon Law Students: 26
Percentage of Student Body: 2.3%
Cost of Living: $15,000
Cost of Tuition: $22,250
Distance to Nearest Temple: 44 Miles
US News Ranking: 9
Total Points: 329

5. Texas Tech University School of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students: 38
Percentage of Student Body: 5.41
Cost of Living: $12,990
Cost of Tuition: $20,759
Distance to Nearest Temple: 7 Miles
US News Ranking: 0
Total Points: 326

6. University of Minnesota Law School
Number of Mormon Law Students: 27
Percentage of Student Body: 3.37%
Cost of Living: $13,392
Cost of Tuition: $32,303
Distance to Nearest Temple: 18 Miles
US News Ranking: 22
Total Points: 323

7. University of Nebraska College of Law

Number of Mormon Law Students: 38
Percentage of Student Body: 9.52%
Cost of Living: $11,476
Cost of Tuition: $27,742
Distance to Nearest Temple: 58 Miles
US News Ranking: 73
Total Points: 305

8. Gonzaga University School of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students: 50
Percentage of Student Body: 8.97%
Cost of Living: $14,375
Cost of Tuition: $30,120
Distance to Nearest Temple: 12 Miles
US News Ranking: 0
Total Points: 295

9. George Washington School of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students: 70
Percentage of Student Body: 4.13%
Cost of Living: $20,500
Cost of Tuition: $38,198
Distance to Nearest Temple: 10 Miles
US News Ranking: 20
Total Points: 285

10. Willamette University College of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students:55
Percentage of Student Body: 12.97%
Cost of Living: $15,986
Cost of Tuition: $27,495
Distance to Nearest Temple: 39 Miles
US News
Ranking: 0
Total Points: 284

Honorable Mention: Creighton University School of Law
Number of Mormon Law Students:44
Percentage of Student Body: 9.4%
Cost of Living: $16,530
Cost of Tuition: $28,442
Distance to Nearest Temple: 7 Miles
US News Ranking: 0
Total Points: 282

*Neither Brigham Young University or University of Utah were considered for this list.

Download a PDF of Top Ten List HERE


  1. I know, I know, you are just dying to make a comment about how BYU and U of U should have been considered to be on the list. We knew that they would obviously take the #1 and #2 spots so they were left off to make it more interesting.

    For more information about the criteria used see:

  2. I'm a student at George Washington and I'm so thrilled we made the top 10!!

  3. Various rankings seem pretty arbitrary. More like pick-and-choose than worthwhile methodology.

  4. I am again surprised that The Ohio State Moritz College of Law did not make your list. Admittedly I attended Moritz and may have some bias, but based on your criteria alone, it would fall somewhere between 4th and 7th (I can’t tell if you are using in-state or out of state tuition since you list Michigan’s tuition at an amount substantially less than in-state tuition reported by US News). Moritz is ranked 32nd by US News and higher by other ranking services. A student can easily qualify for in-state tuition (approx. $20,000 per year) after their first year and even beginning their first year if they have a spouse who will be working full time when they move into the area. There are approximately 20 LDS students at the law school and 2 LDS professors (not to mention additional LDS law students attending Capital Law School also located in Columbus). There are also many LDS students in other graduate programs which substantially increase the LDS student population in the area (in our family ward Elder’s Quorum alone we have approximately 40 students in a variety of graduate programs and we are only one of 7 or 8 wards with substantial student populations, including a married student ward and two single student wards). There is a student chapter of the JRCLS and a newly formed Ohio chapter of the same with approximately 150 Ohio attorneys on the rolls and growing. The cost of living in Columbus is at the low end with the quality of life for families at the high end (there are many metro parks, the Columbus Zoo, new water park, the Columbus Science Center, and numerous other family friendly activities comparable to other large cities). One family favorite for my family has been the relatively close proximity to several church history sites within driving distance (Kirtland-3hrs; Palmyra-7hrs; Navuoo-8hrs). And finally, but most importantly for anyone who intends to balance their spiritual education with their temporal education, the Columbus Temple is 7 miles from the law school.

  5. I saw you on LDS Today. What an fascinating idea to think about which schools are Mormon friendly. I know when my wife and I were deciding on which law school to attend we often wondered about the Mormon community. Great post!

  6. I was wondering what other schools did you consider?

  7. Here is the main problem with your rankings criteria--expected income (or alternatively--in this economy--ability to find work)is not taken into consideration. Is a place really "Mormon Friendly" if you take on 150k+ in debt and can't pay it off? With the size of Mormon families, I'd say that at least 6 of your top ten are decidedly UNfriendly to Mormons. I'm not just being a rankings snob, either. I am a visiting student at a tier-2 school (after being at a T25 school my first two years), and I feel horrible for the other LDS kids here. Only one 3L has a job lined up, and zero 2Ls have summer associateships. They were lured by scholarships and promises of in-state tuition, and they're now no better off (from an employment perspective) than they were when they were before they started. I'd hate for people to look at your website and decide to go to Idaho over UW (for example) because Idaho is more "Mormon Friendly."

  8. The major flaw with this ranking is that it doesn't factor in financial aid. Most LDS students at Yale, Harvard, and Stanford don't have to pay tuition because of the extremely generous financial aid programs at those schools which subsidize the tuition of students with families. My friend at Harvard has a kid, has never had to pay a cent in tution, and is graduating with under 80K in debt. That might be alot of money, but he will have a degree from Harvard Law and now has an incredible job lined up, so even though I'm graduating with only 25K in debt after attending one of the top three schools on this list, I'd much rather be in his position.

  9. If you are going to focus on cost of living and tuition, shouldn't you also consider average starting salaries?

  10. Next year you have to keep in mind Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, NH. When I was there we averaged between 20-30 LDS students, comprising roughly 5% of the students. Franklin Pierce has a tenured LDS professor and is about 50 minutes from the Boston temple. The faculty and staff all know who the members of the Church are and are well-respected for our beliefs.

    My overall exeperience was that it was very Mormon-friendly.

  11. Err... Michigan costs $41,949 not $22,250. Might want to get that corrected. (See here

  12. You have the same picture for UNL and Willamette. The cherry blossoms are nice, but what school is it?

  13. Good eye Anonymous! It's fixed now! Thanks.

  14. First off, as a matter of full disclosure, I didn't have a hand in producing the list.

    I think this list is interesting, and hopefully it's useful to some people, but I must note that I didn't make my choice for law school based on how many fellow Mormon students I expected to have or how close the school was to an LDS Temple. Tuition and cost of living were factors, but I ended up going to a school that had very high tuition. For me, the most important factors were school rank and location to my desired market. The school I attended would probably rank poorly on this list, but I would prefer it to any of the Top 10 here.

  15. The Willamette picture looks exactly like the view from the City Campus Union balcony at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus looking toward the Northwest.

    But that is the correct picture of the Nebraska College of Law. On the east side of the building, of course...

  16. As a 2005 Willamette University College of Law grad, I can say that photo isn't Willamette University or the College of Law. Not beautiful enough.

    I was surprised at the number of LDS students at WUCL, but was not surprised to hear why. I had a discussion with those involved in the admissions process, and was told they love to see applications from LDS students, who tend to be more stable, mature, and focused. The Admissions Department peruses LDS applicants very aggressively. The experience I had at WUCL was spiritually and academically rewarding, and my degree hasn't hindered my professional development ("US News Ranking: 0"), as I currently work alongside Stanford, U of Chicago, BYU, U of U, Washington and Lee, George Washington, and U of Virginia law grads.

  17. I second the comment about financial aid--I am an HLS student with no kids and only pay 14K in tuition.

  18. The new per-capita factor is bogus... there is no reason to level the playing field for smaller schools. The real number of LDS classmates is what will make a significant impact on your law school experience--not the size of your voting bloc.

  19. I disagree with your ranking because it puts too much weight on the number and percentage of law students. I love the idea of creating a list that ranks schools by looking at the criteria that LDS law students care about, but that requires you to look at all the criteria that LDS law students care about (not just the uniquely "mormon" aspects of a school). I would not find this list to be very helpful if I were deciding were to go to school. I have no problem with any of the criteria you looked at, but you should also look at potential income, job prospects, and other things that all students care about. If the intent is just to have an interesting list for people to look at, then I think this list is OK, but it isn't very helpful.

  20. From the Above the Law thread:

    "Here's the truth. The top 14 law schools for Mormon students are as follows:

    1. Yale
    2. Harvard
    3. Stanford
    4. Columbia
    5. NYU
    6. Chicago
    7. Penn
    8. UVa
    9. Michigan
    10. Berkeley
    11. Duke
    12. Northwestern
    13. Cornell
    14. Georgetown.

    Sound familiar?"


    "Top 20 law schools where BYU undergrads ACTUALLY matriculate:

    1. BYU
    2. Utah
    3. Arizona State
    4. George Washington
    5. UNLV
    6. Georgetown
    7. Duke
    8. U. Arizona
    9. George Mason
    10. Michigan
    11. Virginia
    12. William & Mary
    13. Texas
    14. Harvard
    15. UCLA
    16. Columbia
    17. Chicago
    18. Stanford
    19. Berkeley
    20. Oregon"

    Any Latter-day Saint knows they need to do their best -- go to the best school you can. Go for cheaper tuition only within the same peer group. Just because a temple isn't close and there aren't over 20 LDS students doesn't mean the school isn't "Mormon-friendly." Also, if this list continues to be made, it must include average starting salary -- the cost of tuition means nothing without this context.

  21. Should have covered William & Mary in this list. It's a major Mormon enclave.

  22. Hey Clint,
    This is a really great top ten list, but I am extremely surprised that there are so many Law Schools that have such a high proportion of Mormon students. Although you did not consider the schools in Utah, I wonder what percentage of enrollments at those schools are Mormon. You can post this to our site and then link back to your site. We are looking for top ten lists and our users can track back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  23. Wouldn't trade anything for my experience at a school that would never make the list... but made me a stronger person and pretty darned good lawyer.

    IGNORE this stuff. This is baloney. Instead, why not go where the Spirit tells you to go.

    Liz Osborn
    University of Colorado Law School
    Class of 2008

  24. I appreciate this list of objectively selected "Mormon-friendly" law schools. If you are considering a school or group of schools, however, I would highly recommend that your search extend beyond a top 10 list of "Mormon-friendly" law schools. I think the truth of the matter is that several law schools are "Mormon-friendly" because LDS students tend to be very well respected by faculty, staff, and peers.

    With that said, there are several factors that you should consider in your decision, and the factors are likely different for each individual. I would highly recommend speaking to the career services at any school you plan to attend to learn about where most students secure employment, what percentage of students secure employment before graduating, and how much the average student earns after graduation. These questions are significant because, take for example, the locations of where students secure employment. If you attend a school that places the majority of students only in the state where the school is located, and you have no desire to practice law in that state post-graduation, that school is of little value to you. Also a school may appear a good value because you graduate with only $50,000 debt, but the average student earns only $60,000. Whereas you could attend a school where you would incur $100,000 debt but be able to earn $160,000 upon graduation.

    Another factor that I believe is significant is the number of LDS students at a school. A school having 60+ LDS students may appear very "Mormon-friendly," but a school having only 20 LDS students may give you several opportunities to be "Mormon-friendly." I attend a school with under 20 students, and I have had 2 experiences in particular that I do not think I would have had at a school having 60+ LDS students: (1) because of the smaller group of LDS students, we have a very strong bond and friendship, which has allowed us to help each other in our law school experience; and (2) our group is small enough that we are not surrounded by LDS students all of the time, which gives us opportunities to establish friendships with several non-LDS students and have a positive influence on them.

  25. Although it is normal to want to be in a community with some other LDS students, especially for those who desire a support system for their wives, the emphasis on number of LDS students is misleading in that it supposes that the higher the number of LDS the better -- we should never be clannish among ourselves and law school is an especially important time to branch out.

  26. The post by the Willamette student is a little deceiving. I have no doubt that he works alongside lawyers from top schools. I'd be willing to bet that you're in Portland, correct? Portland is a very loyal market to Oregon, Willamette, and L&C. I'm at a T25 school and I didn't get a single callback, even though I'm on law review and am in the top 20% of my class. The reason? The firms told me that they interview with the Oregon schools first, then cherry pick kids from the rest. Therefore, the way that Portland firms recruit lends itself to placing Willamette grads next to lawyers from T15 schools.

  27. Harvard is the Most Mormon Friendly law school in the country--end of story! I'm headed to Harvard next year, and I'm already drinking the koolaid. Harvard has the best financial aid out of any law school. Most of the 40 LDS Harvard Law Students don't pay tuition, and Harvard has the best debt forgiveness program (LIPP) out of any law school. If you have at least 1 kid, you won't pay any tuition at Harvard, and if you take a government job after graduation, Harvard will make your student loan payment for up to ten years. Actually, LIPP is available to all Harvard grads for up to ten years after graduation, so if an HLS grad leaves BigLaw after a few years and heads over to public interest, HLS will pay his or her student loans. And don't forget that HLS students don't have to kill themselves while in school to get a great job, leaving more time for family and church callings while in law school. Remember that Harvard doesn't even have grades anymore!!! So basically, LDS students with families can go to school for free and have time to spend with their families while in law school. I just got into Harvard, and there is no question where I'll be headed next year: THE MOST MORMON FRIENDLY LAW SCHOOL--HARVARD!

  28. George Mason should have been on the list. More than 10% of my class is LDS; it is a top-tier law school and rising in the ranks; it is relatively inexpensive for in-state students, which, granted, is difficult to attain; there is a sizable LDS population; the temple is not too far away; jobs are plentiful; you don't have to travel in the summer for internships. The negatives are that housing costs are fairly high; as an up-and-coming school, it is less well known outside the Washington, DC metro area. Mason is still a good school, deserving of its place in the top tier, and has become a bastion for classical liberal jurists.

  29. Is the question "what school is the most Mormon friendly" or rather "which school has the most friendly Mormons?"

  30. Why is UVA not even on the list of schools that was considered?

  31. Why wasn't the University of Texas considered when Texas Tech was? I'm a 3L at Texas (who really wishes that Texas paid tuition for students with kids like Harvard does), and there are several LDS students here. The only reason that I can think of considering Texas Tech for the list is that Lubbock has a temple. However, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas all have temples, and they're not that far away from Austin (by Texas standards).

  32. Re: "The post by the Willamette student is a little deceiving."

    I don't practice law in the Pacific Northwest. It would have been easier for me to practice if I had stayed in the area, instead of trying to break into a market where interviewing firms didn't even know how to pronounce "Willamette". The key is the interview. A name-brand degree does tend to get a resume through a screening process a little easier, but a name-brand degree does not guarantee the quality of the education nor the quality of the individual.

  33. Yeah for Nebraska!

    Go! Big! Red!

    I am at Nebraska Law. I couldn't have picked a better situation. We have the best collection of outlines at the school, we all get along and the Lincoln wards are amazing.

    Plus... being able to attend football games with the 86,000 Greatest Fans in College Football?


  34. Willamette Grad:

    I'm definitely impressed then. Kudos to you.

  35. NEBRASKA all the way!! It really should be higher on the list. You can get in state tuition, without living there before. I moved here in August and had in state tuition the same month. Best value ever!

  36. Just wanted to add a point for when you do this again next year: George Mason is 12 miles from the nearest temple. I think that it got flipped on your data.

  37. As regards George Mason, I think you may have calculated the distance from the temple from the main campus instead of the law school campus, which is in Arlington. The change would increase George Mason's score to 263, not enough for top 10, but we're working on it :)

  38. I am LDS and attend the Hamline University School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. There are actually three Mormon students in my class, very surprising. The student life here is not very Mormon friendly, but the challenges I face here everday make me a stronger person.

  39. I am LDS and will be attending NYU Law in Fall of 2009. I don't mean to be a snob, but I feel like many LDS people shoot themselves in the foot by attending lower-ranked schools than their scores/experiences merit, simply because there is an LDS "presence" there or someone has led them to believe that the school is "LDS-friendly". The median first-year base salary for an NYU Law grad in the private sector is 160k, with the 25th and 75th percentile all being the same: the BigLaw golden 160k. That is higher than every school on your top-10 list, including Harvard (in some cases, such as UNLV, it is more than double). I agree that salary and employment statistics should be included in any future analysis, especially for those of us who wish to raise a decent-sized family in a semi-nice area.

  40. NYU anonymous, don't forget the 8.14% New York State income tax and 4% New York City income tax! And Nevada doesn't have either a state income tax or any city income taxes. Plus, for $2,500 a month you can have a really nice house with a short commute or you can a 90 minute commute (each way) to pay $2,500 for a crappy townhouse in New Jersey.

  41. Here's the simple truth from a graduate of a top 5 law school who has practiced law for many years -- and happens to be LDS:

    Forget the Mormon friendly nonsense and go to the absolute best law school you can get into (no matter the cost), work your tush off to get the best legal education you can get, try for the best job you can get out of law school, do a great job for your employer and live happily ever after.

    Of course, in doing all of that, make sure you retain your values and testimony. You might even make some non-member friends (shocking concept) if you attend a so-called non-"Mormon Friendly" school. Why do you think you need to be surrounded by members to be happy?

    Folks, there is no free lunch here, and all of you should know that. Don't look for the easy way out. As the saying goes, the practice of law is a stern mistress, but it is rewarding. Make the sacrifice and reap the reward. Good luck and work hard.

  42. I've known people who went to both Michigan and Tech and both had good experiences.

    I'm assuming that this list is for information, all other things being equal, so that the "best for LDS" is merely a tie breaker input, and a useful one.

  43. I'd add Suffolk University Law School to that list. I have no idea what percentage of the student population is LDS, but it's situated in the middle of a fairly LDS-heavy community. The Cambridge Student Ward, which is right across the river, is HUGE, and boasts a tremendous amount of diversity. With Institute classes, active LDS student organizations at all the major universities in the area (BU and Harvard are both next door, and Wellesley is down the road), it's a really welcoming place to active LDS students.

    Moreover, SULS itself, with its strong emphasis on moral action and personal righteousness, is, while not LDS, certainly LDS friendly. It's a community even the most enthusiastically personally conservative student can feel at home (trust me, I know).

    The Boston, MA Temple (which is actually in Belmont) is right up the road, is popular with the student population. I personally know many, MANY people under 30 (and many under 25) who attend the Temple regularly.

    A lot of places are good to be LDS, and an LDS family can thrive pretty much anywhere, but not that many places are good to be young and LDS, or, indeed, young and single and LDS. Although it might seem strange, Boston is right up there next to Happy Valley as a really cheerful, sustaining place to be.