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Topics - JSFisher

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Louisville / My two cents on Louisville: from a 3L perspective
« on: September 12, 2010, 12:23:47 PM »
(This is essentially a sorter version of a previous post that I put here during my 2L year in 2009.)

First, let me state that I feel like I have gotten my money's worth from my education at the University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law. I have learned a lot, I have had ample opportunities for personal and academic enrichment, I have developed the necessary skills to be competitive in the marketplace.

I believe that Louisville provides the opportunities for any prospective lawyer to succeed professionally.

So, with that said, I would like to offer my perspective for prospective students to the school, both pro and con.

Likely, if you are considering this school, your UGPA and LSAT place you somewhere between a 3.4-3.8 and a 155-159 LSAT score. This means that, like me, you are faced with the reality of being able to reasonably gain entry into the bottom 25 of the top 100 law schools out there and into the Tier 3 schools. You probably aren't going to Harvard. And that is just fine, because I'm personally convinced after 3 years of law school that people in Harvard don't learn how to be lawyers so much as how to be the kinds of people who can rationalize "citizens united" and other nonsensical cases you will be reading shortly. 

What you should know at the outset is that a degree from any of these schools is likely to offer you about the same mix of opportunities for advancement, education, and practical experience as the next. Law school is a highly personal decision and I chose Louisville above other higher ranked schools because it fit me and my needs.

What Louisville has to offer in this realm is quite substantial for a school that has around 400 students. First, it has a great location that by itself affords substantial opportunities for the motivated law school student. Louisville is a fairly major urban area, with 1.2 million people in the region including southern Indiana. You have ample opportunities to expose yourself to real civil and criminal law in practice, something that might not be available to more isolated schools in college towns. It is something that few law students (I suspect) consider. Frankly, if the only real world experience you get is during summers off, you aren't taking full advantage of law school, and Louisville offers those year-round sorts of enrichment opportunities.

Secondly, the school has a close knit legal community around it. There are a ton of alumni who work in the area and care about the school, and this provides substantial benefits in terms of working with practitioners and post-law school employment opportunities in the area. If you are either hoping to work, or find working in Louisville an acceptable option, this is a great place to start. It is the biggest city in Kentucky, and it does have significant prospects for post-graduation employment, probably one of the reasons the school has such high employment statistics despite its size and regional nature.

Thirdly, the faculty and staff are quite remarkable. For a small law school, there are quite a few stellar academics. Professor Tony Arnold is highly regarded in the area of property law, while within the state, professors Abramson and David Leibson literally wrote the book on Criminal Practice and the UCC, respectively. There are also a number of respected constitutional scholars at the school, and a variety of authority figures in the areas of Health Law, Disability law, and Tax. In short, the school, despite its size, does not lack in terms of faculty who are respected within the wider legal community and within the state. The Career Services department works tirelessly on behalf of students, making your chances of success post-graduation quite high.

Finally, as a purposefully small law school, Louisville offers opportunities for students to excel. This is not the sort of law school where you are a number, or a statistic on a page, where your chances for meaningful participation in Moot Court activities or Law Review are rather improbable. The school has externships and law clinic opportunities for students to engage in real trials before graduation. A motivated and energetic student has the opportunity to significantly contribute to the school and grow the resume at the same time. The School offers two alternative journals (the Journal of Law and Education, written in conjunction with the University of South Carolina's Law School, and the new Journal of Animal and Environmental Law, a student-led, online publication: Besides the main law review, the University of Louisville team won the Spring 2010 National Immigration Moot Court competition, and participates in twenty-odd additional moot court competitions throughout the Nation, and internationally (via the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, in Vienna, Austria). The school has numerous active and engaged student organizations as well, which bring a wide variety of views on important legal topics into the classroom.

There are, of course, downsides to any law school. Louisville's size is also a liability: you won't find many people outside the region with more than a passing familiarity with the school, or some of the more famous alumni (Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is a graduate, as well as Newsweek Editor Howard Fineman, among others).

The school also suffers from the same fate as many public institutions. It has a mandate for certain performance and yet is hampered by state bureaucracy and legislative decision-making when it comes to funding, salaries, and a number of other areas that directly and adversely affect students. The fact that Louisville is largely reviled by the rest of the state, culturally and politically, means that Louisville gets the short end of the funding stick vis-a-vis UK (where the majority of the state's lawyer-legislators attended law school, incidentally).

 Additionally, the facilities are modest. The library, while certainly sufficient in terms of material and space, is rather musty. The orange carpet throughout is a bit retro-disgusting, and the propensity for the school to put laminate throughout the basement floors is rather aesthetically displeasing. Compared to other (private) schools I've toured, the campus isn't as nice.

I hope this helps any students considering U of L Law in the future. Good luck to you.

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