Posting a review from my visit this week:
I heard some people who said the law school is dark and dingy, and the old wing is pretty dark. However the new one is bright, cheery, and modern. There's a new cafeteria and coffee shop. There's a book store that sells Law School shirts, commercial outlines, all of the law school books, and last minute highlighters. There are even a few study rooms that you can sign out for study groups, complete with conference tables and dry erase boards. With the new addition, they’ve moved all of the clinics to the law building, instead of various law firms around town. They’ve essentially created their own law firm on campus. Several people say they’re competitive, but due to the large amount of time a clinic takes, most people who want to work in a clinic get the chance.
Everyone is soooo nice there: the student ambassadors, the faculty, the admissions staff; you really do feel like you’re wanted. One thing that really stuck out was that as the student ambassador was giving us our tour guide, 25 minutes into the tour we wandered back through a lounge, as she is saying that many students just lounge and study, she points out where she was studying and left her books and coffee to give us a tour. The fact that she just left her stuff out in the open without concern of anything happening to it really spoke to the safety and security of the law school.
Pretty cool fact --- there are no law school courses from 12-1. It's lunch time.
Of course that means the cafeteria is pretty packed then, but it's a nice break. Also they usually use that time for brown bag meetings with guest speakers or profs who hold special sessions.
Several people said that profs truly help the students out, even as far as holding optional mock mid-terms and grading them, so that students know if they're grasping the material and doing the exam the right way.
Whenever I asked a question about how competitive the school is (such as placing all scholarship recipients in one section), everyone either laughed or asked "are there schools that are really like that?". Of course grades are important, but they aren't everything. Top 5% gets onto Law Review, but top 50% is allowed to audition. OCI's are grades and resume driven. Everyone was giddy that next year there's a NYC law firm coming to OCI. Also next year they're increasing the faculty by 50%. Knowing that faculty:student ratio is part of the USNWR rankings, I suspect they'll go up next year as well.
Of course the building is wireless, including access to the law library. Most students were taking notes on laptops. The new classrooms have projectors, so the class I sat in on used PPT to help the lecture. It wasn’t a boring “next slide” presentation, but it was helpful to have the outline of what was going to be discussed up on screen for most of the class.
I met with a realtor and we checked out a few places. There are a few neighborhoods popping up in Brookwood, Cottondale, and Vance, in case you want to live between Bham and Tuscaloosa. Several people at the law school said that they do get a few law students each year who live in Bham. It's pretty rough as a 1L, but as a 2L and 3L if you can schedule your classes on either 3 or 4 days of the week, it's much easier.
The campus itself is beautifully filled with southern architecture. If you like football, law students are eligible for student tickets to the games. If you don’t want anything to do with the undergrads, don’t worry. The law school is in a corner of the campus where you can essentially never see any undergrads from the minute you drive to campus until you leave.
Overall, I was just sooo happy that it was a pretty quiet town. Even the drive from Bham airport at 5pm was pretty easy, just under an hour.
I'm all set to claim my seat in the UA Class of 2010
- just waiting on one final detail about my SO's job to line up first and then I'm sending in the deposit check and picking out a house!