Michigan State University College of Law is a private institution of higher learning devoted exclusively to professional education in law. Founded in 1891 as the Detroit College of Law, it was the first law school in Detroit.
Before the founding of the College, the only way in which a resident of the City of Detroit could become a member of the bar without leaving the city to study was by "reading" law in the offices of local attorneys. The founders of the College were a group of such "readers" – law clerks and students in the southeastern Michigan area. As a result, during the first two years of the school's history, the directors of the College were, themselves, students – a most unique situation.
Among the first class of 69 students to graduate were a future circuit judge, a Supreme Court justice and an ambassador. A woman in the first class and an African American in the second were precursors of the Law College's commitment to excellent educational opportunity for all sectors of the population.
To extend its commitment to educational excellence, the Detroit College of Law affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995. This affiliation has enabled the Law College to build state-of-the-art facilities and provide to students the benefits of a Big Ten campus while maintaining the small school culture.
Michigan State University College of Law continues to pursue its original purpose of providing superior professional education to qualified men and women. Moreover, it continues, through its thousands of alumni, to contribute greatly to the legal, commercial and industrial life of the wider community. Many of the most eminent lawyers, judges, public officials and business executives in Michigan are graduates of this distinguished law school as well as a growing number of practitioners throughout the United States and around the world.
MSU College of Law strengthened its affiliation with Michigan State University in 2004, becoming more closely aligned academically. The association between the two schools has led to a comprehensive interdisciplinary legal education program at the law college. Today, the college remains one of only two private law schools to be affiliated with a research university. The law college is financially independent and receives no financial support from MSU or the State of Michigan.