« on: April 10, 2007, 06:47:07 PM »
University of Colorado School of Law (CU Law)
CU benefits greatly from the small size of the school, which helps them to be more selective and strengthens the quality of the class considerably. I firmly believe that the 7 spot jump to 36th is part of a 3-5 year prestige/rankings climb related to the building upgrade. The previous building was terrible, so bad that the ABA threatened to take away accreditation to the school. The new building is just night-and-day better, and I think this difference will boost selectivity #s and overall rankings up to 25-30 range. Perspective students may have opted for Utah or another regional school before, but a larger percentage will now consider CU.
While the CU system is constantly in a state of financial crisis, some programs are mostly exempt from this problem. The Physics department receives millions in govt grants. The medical school is in the process of a multi-billion dollar expansion (a combo of free land, heavy donations and fed research dollars) The law school falls somewhere between the undergraduate system and these two examples. I believe it is under funded, and that tuition will continue to rise to meet the considerable gap between CU and peer institution prices. However CU has always pursued attainable goals without major spending initiatives, and there is no reason to believe that they will not continue to budget cautiously and successfully. (If it helps, think of the Oakland As in baseball)
CU has always drawn some faculty from the “experience” track rather than the “academic” track that many Tier1 schools use. This means that some profs are actually experts who played a major role in the topic they are teaching. It also means that CU suffers for academic measures. I recently emailed a CU law prof. on this topic, and he told me that they’ve shifted recently to the HYS law review, etc..method in an effort to improve peer rankings. I expect new hires to improve in scholarly quality (and potentially decline in actual experience in the field) This should have a positive effect on CU’s prestige/peer rankings in USNWR.
I am totally unimpressed with their lame website and inexplicably outdated informational booklet. Seriously, they built a new building, complete with a SCOTUS speech, and they can’t afford to include this in a shiny portion of the brochure? Instead I see an artist rendition of the building and a one page flyer announcing faculty changes and the new location…poor form. I think this is a good example of the trade off for a cheaper education. I should also note that one of the assistant deans has assured me that website/promotional stuff is one of the top priorities of the administration.
CU is mostly constricted to the regional market. Denver, while a healthy legal city, has no especially litigious concentration of corporations. Dallas has insurance. Houston has big oil. Denver has some banking, some land use, and some telco, but mostly there is no dominant economic force comparable to these other cities. This means that biglaw opportunities are much smaller at CU than at say, UH or Fordham.
The upside to this market is that while you’ll make less money (+/- $75,000 salary is typical) you will also have a much lighter billing load than the biglaws in DC or NYC. A Denver law firm may ask for 1800 hours billable where a Houston firm would ask for 2000 and a NY firm would ask for 2200 and a majority stake in your soul.
My understanding of the breakdown is this:
Top 5% - great shape for top jobs in the City. $100,000 - $125,000
Top 10% - great shape for six figure jobs, solid chance at V100 satellites in Denver
Top 25% - can land a good job at one of the large but not international firms (Brownstein, Ragonetti, etc..)
Top 50% - This is where the $75,000 salary comes in to play – midsize firm, sometimes we’re talking out of Denver market
Below – not easy, need connections or spend a few years in govt (DA, PD, Gov offices)
This distribution is probably similar to other regional schools like Utah and Denver. The difference is that the graduating class is much smaller, so there are fewer poorly placing graduates each year entering the market.
As a smaller school, CU’s network is not on par with many peer (and top 25) schools. USC and Notre Dame are very famous for their outreach programs, CU does not have this kind of benefit. However, like any market, several large firms like CU grads, several have CU partners. DU has many more lawyers in the Denver market, which boosts networking potential and helps with fundraising. CU does not have these advantages, but there are thousands of CU grads (undergrad, graduate,etc..) in Denver, and hundreds of lawyers as well.
The Law school has been relocated from Norlin Quad – which is essentially the heart of CU, to the south part of the campus. This was a very wise move. While it’s been noted that the new building is a huge upgrade, it is also a smart relocation. The south part of campus is somewhat removed from the undergraduates and the keystone lite on the lawn atmosphere. It is near the Kittredge dorms, which are best at CU, and usually go to some of the best undergraduates (somewhat more tame). This relocation allows students to feel somewhat removed from the crush of the undergrads, but still a part of Boulder (1 mile from the hill, 2-3 from Pearl St.) Also, the parking is better.