The Texas A&M University School of Law has reached new heights since the College Station-based higher education institution took over the campus in 2013.
A key accomplishment its leaders cite is a masters program aimed at non-lawyers. In addition, the median LSAT score and GPA of newly admitted students have hit new highs, and its law school graduates are getting a job within 10 months of earning their degrees.
Robert Ahdieh, the law school dean, credits the school’s success and growth to a culture of collaboration with other North Texas colleges and with the Fort Worth community.
“It’s not growth for the sake of growth,” Ahdieh told the Fort Worth Report. “It’s growth that is directed to identifying where there are opportunities where we are adding value in terms of meeting the business community’s needs, the civic community’s needs, the nonprofit sector’s needs — those kinds of things.”
In 2012, the year before Texas A&M took over the law school, the median undergraduate GPA was 3.09 and the median LSAT score was 152, according to university data. Now, the median GPA is 3.84 and the median LSAT score is 163. Ahdieh described both statistics as being huge gains for the law school.
“We think we’ll have the highest incoming GPA of any law school in the state,” Ahdieh said. “There’s a decent chance that we will have the second-highest LSAT score in the state after (the University of Texas at Austin).”
New students at UT-Austin’s law school had a median GPA of 3.8, slightly lower than Texas A&M’s. However, new UT-Austin law students had a higher LSAT score, with 169.
Texas A&M also beat out the University of Houston Law Center, which saw its new class have a median GPA of 3.64 and a median LSAT score of 161.
Ranking among Texas law schools
In 2013, Texas A&M University School of Law was unranked in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of 150 law schools. Today, it is No. 53 and is higher than every law school in Texas besides the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Law and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
Here’s a look at Texas A&M law school’s rankings over time:
2015: No. 149
2016: No. 111
2017: No. 92
2018: No. 80
2019: No. 83
2020: No. 60
2021: No. 53
This type of success in such a short amount of time was not expected.
“If someone had said a few years ago what was Texas Wesleyan law school and became A&M law school would be — depending on the measure — the top law school in the state or the second best law school in the state, anyone at A&M would have said … maybe in 20 years,” Ahdieh said.
Some schools will see improved academics by abandoning diversity efforts, but that hasn’t been the case at Texas A&M School of Law, the dean said. In recent years, more than a third of law students are people of color, according to Texas A&M statistics.
Currently, 1,123 students attend Texas A&M School of Law, according to fall 2021 enrollment figures. They are part of Texas A&M’s largest ever freshman class.
“The demand for a Texas A&M degree continues to increase, as does our ability to meet that demand for more students in more places,” Joseph Pettibon, vice president for enrollment and academic services, said in a statement.
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More students are seeking a master’s from the law school than a traditional law degree, according to enrollment data. Of currently enrolled students, 601 are pursuing a master’s degree while 522 are seeking a J.D. The master’s program started four years ago.
“The idea is that this is for somebody who doesn’t want to practice law, but something about what they do for a living or want to do for a living requires them to have an understanding of law,” the law school dean said.
Both have seen growth, but Ahdieh said it is amazing to see this program start from nothing and overtake the established traditional law degree track.
The law school has seen the number of students passing the Texas Bar grow more than 15 percentage points since 2015 to nearly 90%, according to Texas A&M data.
On top of that, the number of graduates finding a job within 10 months of earning their degree has grown from 67.8% in 2015 to 93.8% in 2020.
Ahdieh expects the law school’s future to be similar to its current trajectory.
“We’re going to continue to invest in figuring out what are areas where there are opportunities for growth and development that are impactful and engaging of the community, and consequential,” the dean said. “There are opportunities for collaboration with all of these different nodes of the Fort Worth community, and there are opportunities to serve as this kind of convening place.”
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.