With only three American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools in the state, options for studying the law in Tennessee are somewhat limited. However, the state's law school market also includes a state-accredited school that exclusively hosts night classes. Choosing the right school will involve considering your goals and resources as well as the attributes of the schools themselves.
The following article provides a brief overview of Tennessee's law schools to help you make an educated choice about your legal education.
University of Memphis
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has a reputation for providing a high-value education at a reasonable price. With tuition of around $20,000 a year, it is the cheapest ABA-accredited law school in the state.
Memphis Law is housed in a new downtown Memphis location in a gorgeous former government building. The school's moot court/mock trial program is highly regarded, and the school regularly sends teams to national competitions. The bar passage rate is frequently among the highest in the state, although that number has dipped in recent years, and more than 98% of graduates are employed within nine months of graduation.
University of Tennessee Knoxville
UT Law is only marginally more expensive than Memphis Law, but the city of Knoxville often ranks among the most affordable cities in the United States. Bar passage rates for UT Law grads have also been very good recently, with around 88% of first-time test takers passing in 2021.
If you are interested in a career in politics, particularly conservative politics, Tennessee Law may be the right choice for you. Glenn Harlan Reynolds, the author of the prominent libertarian blog Instapundit, is a professor at Tennessee Law, and the school boasts a number of graduates who went on to work as politicians and diplomats.
Vanderbilt University Law School frequently ranks among the top 20 law schools in the nation. Alums include numerous high-level judges and politicians, including former Vice President Al Gore, and Vanderbilt's law review is among the most respected in the nation. Plus, the school's location in Nashville puts students close to many internship and job opportunities.
Bar passage rates for Vanderbilt grads are very high — around 95% of first-time test takers passed the bar exam in 2021. But Vanderbilt's prestige doesn't come cheaply. It is the most expensive law school in the state, with tuition of around $67,000 a year.
State-Accredited Law Schools
The Nashville School of Law is a private, non-profit law school offering a four-year J.D. program consisting exclusively of night classes. It is not ABA-accredited, but it has received accreditation from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, meaning that graduates are eligible to sit for the state bar exam. However, graduates may not be eligible to sit for the bar in another state, depending on that state's rules for admission to practice law.
The good news is that Nashville Law is far and away the cheapest option for obtaining a legal education in Tennessee. The program's total cost is comparable to one year at many nationally accredited law schools, around $38,000. So if you're a working professional who plans to stay in Tennessee, NSL may be a good option for your legal education.
More Law School Insights
There is no such thing as being too informed or prepared for law school. Throughout your legal education, you'll face new problems like financing your education, choosing extracurricular activities, studying for law school exams, and passing the bar. You'll find articles and linked content about these and many other relevant topics on FindLaw for Law Students.