Florida can be a spectacular place to study and practice the law. The state's status as a hub for multinational business, a significant entry point for immigration, a unique environmental setting, and a popular retirement destination means there are limitless opportunities for lawyers in many different practice areas.
The following article reviews some important considerations in choosing a law school and provides some useful links to prominent schools.
Florida law schools offer a wide range of options, depending on what you are looking for from your legal education. Some schools have a stellar reputation that could lead to big firm employment. Others may offer a more flexible schedule, great opportunities to get experience practicing law in legal clinics, the chance to work on respected law journals within their area of the law, and financial aid or affordable tuition.
As you begin the search for the right law school, you should carefully consider your goals for yourself in your legal education and the career that will follow. Although this is true wherever you study, it can be beneficial to understand the culture of a Florida law school before seeking admission.
You can find a wealth of information about each school on their respective websites, but we've laid out the highlights below:
University of Florida Levin College of Law
The top-ranked law school in Florida, Levin College of Law produces leading research in health law. Law students interested in artificial intelligence and technology can learn this cutting-edge discipline from Levin's impressive faculty. Levin is also highly regarded among public schools in tax law, trial advocacy, environmental law, and business law.
The school's location in Gainesville provides students with ample outdoor activities to help them unwind after class. Or maybe you'd rather check out one of the city's many craft breweries. Since Gainesville is very much a college town, you should have no trouble finding housing close to campus.
Tuition at Levin for Florida residents is around $22,000 per year; out-of-state applicants can expect to pay around $38,000 a year.
Florida State University College of Law
Located in the heart of downtown Tallahassee, FSU College of Law provides many opportunities for students interested in government work. The school has been ranked #4 for government careers and is among the best value law schools.
For Florida residents, tuition is $688 per credit hour (about $20,000 a year). If you're coming in from out of state, you'll pay about $40,000 for at least your first year. But, most non-residents can reclassify as Florida residents for tuition purposes in their second and third years.
University of Miami School of Law
Students at the University of Miami School of Law can choose from 18 different programs and areas of study, including environmental law, sports and entertainment, human rights, and immigration. Or they can pursue a Doctor of Juridical Science, an advanced research program for aspiring legal scholars.
Miami is a prominent international banking center, so students interested in banking or finance will likely find opportunities there.
If you're looking for hands-on learning, the school offers eight different practicum courses, such as the Affordable Housing Practicum and Social Impact Advocacy Practicum.
University of Miami law grads achieve impressive bar passage rates; around 82% of first-time test takers passed in 2021, compared to the statewide average of 71%.
Tuition at Miami Law is about $60,000 a year.
Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law
NSU Law has been nationally recognized for its health law program, trial advocacy, and legal research and writing. And the NSU Law Mentoring Program helps current students connect with alums to expand their professional network and learn from local attorneys.
If you're interested in a dual degree, NSU Law has several options, including:
- Law & Accounting (J.D./M.Acc.)
- Law & Business (J.D./M.B.A)
- Law & Computer Information Systems (J.D./M.S.)
- Law & Osteopathic Medicine (J.D./D.O.)
- Law & Real Estate Development (J.D./M.S.R.E.D)
Full-time J.D. students pay around $45,000 per year for tuition at NSU Law. In 2021 the first-time bar passage rate for NSU grads was slightly lower than the national average at 62%, but roughly 85% of students pass the bar within two years of completing the program.
Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
Like its parent university, Barry Law is a private Catholic school sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan. Law students complete their studies at the university's Orlando campus, about 15 minutes from downtown.
Barry Law's environmental law program has become a major draw in recent years. Students interested in this field can earn an honors certificate in environmental and earth law, participate in lake cleanups, and assist attorneys at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. There's even a stipend available for eligible students pursuing environmental law.
Many Barry Law grads go into public interest or government work, or they land positions at small law firms. Tuition is around $40,000 per year for full-time students. And if you finish first year in the top ten percent of your class, you could be eligible for a 75% scholarship.
Stetson University College of Law
Stetson Law is best known for its advocacy program. U.S. News & World Report's Best Law School rankings placed it at #3 in trial advocacy and legal writing for 2023. While most classes take place on the main campus in Gulfport, Stetson's Tampa Law Center shares space with Florida's Second District Court of Appeal.
For anyone itching to get into a courtroom, Stetson's moot court and dispute resolution teams boast impressive national and international records, including 86 national championships.
Tuition for full-time students is around $49,000 a year. In 2021, around 76% of Stetson grads passed the bar on their first try — that's about 6% higher than the national average. Ninety-one percent passed within two years of graduation.
St. Thomas University School of Law
Florida's other Catholic law school, STU College of Law has been nationally ranked for providing the best resources for minority students and as one of the top schools for racial justice. The Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice promotes civil rights and social justice initiatives as well as its "Bald Eagle Initiative," a program focused on providing opportunities to Black male law students.
Those interested in technology can also check out STU Law's new online Master of Legal Studies program in Cybersecurity Law & Policy. Aspiring human rights scholars might find their calling in the Intercultural Human Rights J.S.D. program.
Tuition at STU Law is comparable to other private Florida law schools at around $45,000 per year. Eighty-three percent of the class of 2021 was employed within a year of graduation, many at law firms but some in government and public interest positions.
Finding the right Florida law school is just the first in a long series of important decisions you'll need to make on your path to a career in law. Fortunately, there is a wealth of materials that can help you make informed decisions. Find articles, worksheets, and other resources throughout FindLaw for students.