Ave Maria School of Law

Ave Maria School of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
AMSOL Logo.jpg
Established 1999
School type Private
Dean Eugene Milhizer (Dean)
Location Naples, Florida, USA
Enrollment 375
Faculty 35
Annual tuition $35,380
Website www.avemarialaw.edu
ABA profile Ave Maria School of Law profile

The Ave Maria School of Law, founded in 1999, is a fully ABA accredited Roman Catholic law school, located in Naples, Florida.[1] In the 2009-2010 academic year, there were over 375 students enrolled from a variety of states, countries, and undergraduate institutions.[2] Classes commenced in the Fall Semester of 2000.

Ave Maria School of Law offers a full-time three year Juris Doctor (J.D.) program that complements a traditional legal education based on the Socratic Method with an emphasis on how the law intersects with the Catholic intellectual tradition and natural law philosophy. The curriculum of Ave Maria School of Law includes a three-semester Research, Writing and Advocacy Program as well as several required courses that focus on law and ethics.[3]


Governance and History

Dean Emeritus Bernard Dobranski
Dean Eugene Milhizer

Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, supports the school through his Ave Maria Foundation and serves as the chairman of the board of governors of the school, which also includes Adam Cardinal Maida, and Michael Uhlmann and included before their deaths Bowie Kuhn and John Cardinal O'Connor.[4]

Ave Maria School of Law was founded in 1999, and for the first nine years of its existence was located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The law school's beginnings lie in discussions between future Founding Dean Bernard Dobranski and Monaghan. The school currently has thirty-five professors including Robert Bork (former United States Supreme Court nominee rejected by the US Senate),[5] several visiting professors, and eight esteemed legal writing professors.[6] Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia assisted Ave Maria School of Law leadership in developing the school's curriculum, and in 1999 Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the school's first annual Ave Maria Lecture.[7]

In a controversial move, the school moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Naples, Florida, opening in the new location in August 2009.


Ave Maria School of Law educates students at The Vineyards Campus in northeastern Naples, Florida. From 1999 to Spring 2009, the Law School was located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[8]

The Vineyards campus consists of six major buildings located on 12 acres (49,000 m2) in the Vineyards community: the Faculty and Administration Building;[9] the Law Library;[10] the St. Thomas More Commons;[11] West and East Halls; and the Clinic/Student Organizations Building. There is an additional 16 villa-style residences available on campus for student/faculty families.[12] Located adjacent to the campus is the Vineyards Elementary School.

The St. Thomas More Commons contains a large classroom for 100+ students, the Moot Courtroom, the Law School Bookstore, the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, a student lounge and coffee shop, and the Office of Admissions.

The Ave Maria Law Library is located between the Faculty and Administration Building and the St. Thomas More Commons. The Law Library includes a large main reading room, multiple group-study rooms, carrel and table seating, and administrative offices for library staff.


The Ave Maria Law Review[13] and the International Law Journal[14] is prepared and published by the students of the Juris Doctor program. The Law School External Affairs Office also publishes the Ave Maria School of Law Advocate, a yearly publication reflecting the status of the school and current events.

Rankings, Bar Exam Pass Rate, Financial Stability, And The Transition From Michigan To Florida

The 2010 Princeton Review Law School Rankings places the Ave Maria School of law in first place for most interesting professors as rated by students. Ave Maria School of Law tied the University of Chicago in this category.[15]

US News and World Report ranks Ave Maria in the fourth tier.[16]

In 2003, the graduating class passed the Michigan bar examination at a rate of 93% among first-time takers, which was the top rate in Michigan. In 2004, the school had 100% Michigan bar passage rate, and in 2006, the passing rate was 96%, which is the highest overall among Michigan law schools. Ave Maria School of Law's Moot court team earned top honors in four of the last six years the school was in Michigan.[17]

Ave Maria School of Law graduates have secured 54 judicial clerkships – 44 of these with federal courts.[18]

Ave Maria School of Law increased enrollment in its entering class of 2009. The class of 2012 has 209 students from 38 states and 148 undergraduate institutions.[19]

As reported in the Chronicle of Education, Ave Maria School of Law was one of 114 private colleges nationwide to fail a federal financial responsibility test in 2007, 2008, and 2009.[20][21] In a statement about the Chronicle report, the 10-year-old law school said its low asset-to-debt ratio was “typical of recently founded institutions” and “represents no change in our fiscal health and should not be cause for concern.” Ave Maria School of Law founder and Domino’s Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan also has committed to cover the school’s operating deficits until 2017.[22] In 2010, Ave Maria's Dean Milhizer said, "The Law School's finances are very strong and our fundraising results were up in the fiscal year that closed June 30 compared to the past few years. We project this trend will continue and grow stronger in the years to come as our student population increases in size and fundraising results continue to improve." Since the move of the law school in 2009, both enrollment and selectivity of students has increased dramatically from the drop it initially suffered when the move occurred. In 2010, the school's director of external affairs, John Knowles, said the quality of the incoming classes was improving and in 2010 the school's selectivity rate improved to 46 percent - the best in the school's history.[23] Ave Maria Law School is not affiliated with Ave Maria University, which has not been cited in any federal financial test.

In 2011, the last graduating year with students that entered in Ann Arbor Michigan, Ave Maria officials claim that the move from Michigan to Florida "could still be felt". For Florida bar exams taken in July 2011, 11 of the 23 of Ave Maria Law School graduates taking the exam passed, placing it last among Florida's eleven law schools. Although concerns remain about the transitional adjustment period from Michigan to Florida, and the effect that the difference between Florida and Michigan law may have on bar exam outcomes, students interviewed by Gannett were very positive, with third-year law student Royce Hood noting “I feel like I'm getting a top-notch education.” The school added a mandatory class on the bar exam about a year prior to the 2011 testing.[24][25]

The Ave Maria School of Law has drawn national attention in 2010 by becoming the only law school in the United States to agree to provide detailed post-graduate information to the Law School Transparency Project.[26]

Alumni Advisory Council

During the annual alumni meeting in late 2009, Ave Maria School of Law Dean Eugene R. Milhizer announced the formation of an Alumni Advisory Council to support the law school’s alumni, and to help the school in admissions and development. The Council will work closely with Dean Milhizer on a variety of critically important projects including the reception for alumni and students following the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

According to Dean Milhizer, the members of the Alumni Advisory Council were chosen because of their high character, proven leadership ability, and their outstanding dedication to their Alma Mater. Dean Milhizer will be turning to the Council frequently in the times to come for counsel and collaboration on critical issues affecting the Law School’s alumni.

The alumni who have accepted this appointment to the Alumni Advisory Council are:

Admissions: Bill Baaki '04, Craig Jorgenson '08, Mary Wilcox '09, Cody Barnes '09, Amanda Caldwell '08, and Tom Byrnes '04.

Development: Dan Myers '03, Catherine Tramer- Wagner '04, Willis Whitesell '08, Jared Haynie '09, and Kellie Fiedorek '09.[27]


  1. ^ American Bar Association Grants Full Accreditation to Ave Maria School of Law [1]
  2. ^ Academic Information
  3. ^ Curriculum
  4. ^ Board of Governors List
  5. ^ Faculty Profiles
  6. ^ Research, Writing, and Advocacy
  7. ^ Lectures
  8. ^ Location
  9. ^ Faculty and Administration Building
  10. ^ Law Library
  11. ^ St. Thomas More Commons
  12. ^ Housing
  13. ^ Law Review
  14. ^ International Law Journal
  15. ^ Princeton Review Law School Rankings
  16. ^ = US News and World Report Rankings
  17. ^ Moot Court
  18. ^ Alumni Placement
  19. ^ Admissions Profiles
  20. ^ Karen Sloan (August 13, 2010). "Government says law school's financing lags". The National Law Journal. http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202466359471. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  21. ^ Goldie Blumenstyk and Alex Richards (August 11, 2010). "149 Nonprofit Colleges Fail Education Department's Test of Financial Strength". The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/150-Nonprofit-Colleges-Fail/123878/. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  22. ^ http://m.naplesnews.com/news/2009/jun/10/report-ave-maria-law-school-fails-federal-financia/
  23. ^ http://aveherald.com/news/685-ave-maria-law-schools-bar-passage-rate-lags-most-florida-schools.html
  24. ^,61675a51&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=TgRYmuocq5SnNqWoRxYjQA--
  25. ^ http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/sep/21/ave-maria-law-ranks-last-state-bar/
  26. ^ http://aveherald.com/news/685-ave-maria-law-schools-bar-passage-rate-lags-most-florida-schools.html
  27. ^ Alumni Council Lead The Way
  • "Ave Maria founder Tom Monaghan is a man of faith, plans and action," Marci Elliott, Naples Daily News, April 13, 2003. Archived at Catholic Education Resource Center, accessed October 9, 2006

External links

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