Following a non-traditional admissions cycle that was disrupted by the pandemic, 310 members of the Class of 2023 recently began their 1L year at Michigan Law. "Having spent this past summer counseling many about their decision to plunge into the unknown of our pandemic law school experience, I think that their choice speaks volumes about their considerable strength of spirit and resilience," said Sarah Zearfoss, '92, senior assistant dean for admissions. "We have ourselves a bunch of winners."
For the fourth year in a row, the incoming class has a median LSAT score of 169, the highest in the Law School's history, and the median undergraduate GPA of 3.77 is the third-highest ever (tied with the Class of 2021). Members of the class studied 60 different undergraduate majors, with 10 or more students coming from political science, economics, philosophy, history, international studies, English, and public policy. STEM majors account for more than one-fifth of the class.
The Class of 2023 is the most racially diverse in the school's history, with 36 percent of incoming students identifying as people of color. Twelve percent of incoming students identify as LGBTQ+, 10 percent report a history of significant socioeconomic disadvantage, and nine percent report that they are in the first generation of their family to receive a college degree. This year's 1Ls are also geographically diverse: Michigan residents make up 21 percent of the class, with the rest coming from 44 other states, Washington, D.C., Guam, and 21 other countries. They attended 158 different undergraduate institutions—30 more schools than last year's incoming class.
Students, faculty, and staff are navigating a semester unlike any other at Michigan Law, and the pandemic has required substantial changes to normal Law School operations. Some classes, including Criminal Law with Professor Barb McQuade and Torts with Professor Sherman Clark, have a combination of virtual and in-person instruction for those who choose to attend in the Quad, while other courses are entirely virtual. Social distancing restrictions are in place throughout campus, with significantly reduced capacities for the Reading Room, the Law Library, every classroom and academic space, and all public areas.
Despite the changes, there remains a determination to make this academic year as challenging and engaging as any other year. "I have witnessed so much hard work this summer from all corners of the Law School—a breathtaking amount," said Zearfoss. "I know there is a great deal of hard work yet to come over the next few months, but I feel full of pride to be part of this community."