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History of Michigan State University College of Law

Michigan State University College of Law is a private institution of higher learning exclusively devoted to professional education in law. Founded in 1891 as the Detroit College of Law, it was the first law school in Detroit, and is one of the oldest continuously operating independent law schools in the United States.

Before the founding of the College, 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 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.

The Detroit College of Law affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995, expanding its long-held tradition of educational excellence. This affiliation enabled the College to build state-of-the-art facilities in the heart of a leading research university, connecting students to a wealth of resources and opportunities while preserving its student-centric culture.

Michigan State University College of Law continues to pursue its original purpose of providing a superior legal education to qualified men and women. Many of Michigan's most eminent attorneys, judges, public officials, and business executives are graduates of this distinguished institution, as are a growing number of practitioners throughout the United States and around the world. MSU College of Law alumni carry on our great school's commitment to excellence as they contribute to the legal, commercial, and public life of the wider community.


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