The College of Law’s history dates to 1891 when the Detroit College of Law was established to serve residents of Detroit. Before the Law College’s founding, the only way a Detroit resident could become a member of the bar without leaving the city to study was by “reading” law in local attorneys’ offices. The Law College’s founders were a group of such “readers”—law clerks and students in southeastern Michigan. As a result, during the first two years of the school’s history, its directors were themselves students—a unique situation.
The first class of 69 graduates included a future circuit court judge and a future ambassador. A woman in the first class and an African American in the second exemplified the Law College’s commitment to offering all sectors of the population an opportunity for a quality legal education.
In 1995, the Law College affiliated with Michigan State University, thereby providing students with access to a wealth of resources and opportunities while preserving the school’s student-centric culture. As a private, non-profit, independent law college that is academically integrated into one of the nation’s premier research universities, the Law College’s academic policies are aligned with those of the university, and our dean represents the Law College whenever MSU deans gather. Law College faculty serve on university committees, curricular changes move through the university’s academic systems, and MSU Law students are represented in and sometimes lead the university’s Council of Graduate Students.
The College of Law is led by a Board of Trustees comprised of highly accomplished professionals drawn from the fields of law, business, and higher education. The Board provides strategic direction and counsel for the long-term success of the Law College. The president of the university serves as the president of the Law College, the Provost of MSU serves as Provost of the Law College, and one third of the Law College’s Board of Trustees are appointed by MSU’s Board of Trustees.