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I went and visited Seattle and U of Washington several weeks ago (sorry for the delayed review, been busy with Wisconsin Hockey winning the National Championship!).  Because of the few week delay, I might be off a little in the minor details (like the names of places, etc.) but I’ll do the best I can.  As usual, I am sure many of you reading this will already know a lot of the things I mention, but I am going to write it as if someone knows very little about the school, to be safe.

I arrived on the weekend and spent the first few days exploring the city of Seattle.  It is a cool city.  It feels relatively small.  I was surprised to find that it reminded me more of an east coast city, it wasn’t as modern or technologically advanced as I thought it would be; it had an older feel to it.  Pike’s Place Market is a cool place down by the water that has lots of little shops (Seafood, Flowers, little trinkets).  The downtown has various sections, including a shopping district, the old town “Pioneer square”, Space Needle Area, etc.   

The UW campus is not right downtown, it is about a 10 minute drive away.   I arrived in the morning and was paired up with a student who was from Wisconsin (I like when schools match me up with someone from the same state/UG, makes for some nice comparisons that I can understand).  The first class I went to had about 60 students and was a criminal law class with an older professor (who has been there for some time).  He wasn’t the greatest.  The topic was interesting (Statutory Rape), yet he was able to make it pretty boring.  He was pretty slow and dull.  He was also quite harsh to the students at times, giving them a hard time if they didn’t answer the question he was asking.  Towards the end of the class, he lightened up a bit and the class was joking around and having a better time.   All in all, it was a pretty typical law school class, nothing special.   

The second class I went to was much better.  It was held with a younger, energetic professor.  Again, there were about 60 students, but this class was held in the much bigger, and very impressive, moot court room (more on the building later).  This class was pure Socratic, but in a gentle way.  Questioning of students was typically about only one, short response, and the prof. quickly moved on if a student was struggling.   This class was very enjoyable and interesting.   Students were having a much better time, were joking around and seemed to really be enjoying themselves.   

As I am sure most of you know, the building is relatively new, constructed mostly with Millions donated by Bill Gates.  It is quite an impressive building.   When I walked in, there is an electronic guide that has floor plans of the building and locations of all the profs’ offices…I knew I had stepped into a tech advanced law school.   The building is a bit smaller then I would have thought….it could lead to a bit of claustrophobia after many hours/days in there.   The class size at UW is so small though, so there isn’t really a need for a bigger place.  The main hallway has a gigantic glass wall on one side, which is nice to get in natural light in rainy Seattle.  On the main floor is a little coffee shop with seating for about 20-40 people.  This is the main area for students to eat lunch.  It was a little small, but pleasant.  The classrooms are on the 1st and 2nd floor, and are all very modern and nice.  They have comfy, padded chairs, are clean and comfortable.   The moot court/mock trial rooms are gigantic and gorgeous.   Also, every student gets nice big, wood lockers.

The best part of the building is the library.   It has three gigantic skylights that bring in lots of natural light.  They have lots of study tables and personal carrels that are very new and professional looking and look like great places to study.  One annoying thing is that the library is open to undergrads and the public.   Often UG students will come and study in there, but they tend to stick to the lower level while the upper level is usually only law students.  Since the school is open to the public, I guess occasionally homeless people will come and hang out in there.   It seems really weird because the place is so fancy looking, but I guess they don’t bother anyone.  I think there were a few there when I was there, and they seemed to be pretty relaxed and clean.   The library also has a number of group study rooms.  The best part is the law student lounge (which is accessed by electronic card, so no UGs or public).  It is a room in the library with couches and computers and looks like a really great place to relax/study.  I think that food might even be allowed in the lounge.

I was able to ask my guide a ton of questions, so I’ll go ahead and try to just describe what I found out about the school.  The 1L class is broken down into 5-6 sections of 30 students.   You have every class with your section, and a different section joins you for each class.  So Criminal Law might be your section and section B, and Con Law would be your section and section D, etc.  Classes are broken into a “quarter” (trimester) system, so that you have 3 ‘trimesters’ of classes (and the summer is considered the fourth) instead of just two semesters.  This has pros and cons.  You end up taking fewer classes each semester, allowing you to focus more on each specific class, so you don’t get overwhelmed with material.  Your classes meet more often though, usually everyday.  This also results in 33% more finals…but it allows you to take a lot more classes your 2nd and 3rd year (and thus enhance your background).  Your first year, you actually spend your first two quarters in the same classes (Torts, Contracts and Civil procedure) and then change for the third quarter.   You take a midterm (worth a measly 10%) between 1st and 2nd quarter just to get a feel for how you are doing.  It won’t affect your overall grade, but just gives you an idea.  You have a writing class that goes all three quarters, but the prof. changes.

The grading system at UW is very interesting.   You never receive an official GPA or class rank (you can figure out your own GPA, if you wish, by combining your grades for each class).  This tends to of course lead to a reduction in competition.  If you are never officially compared to other students, it relieves a lot of the stress.   The curve is also a very favorable B+ average…so even an average GPA would look very good, especially since they don’t compare it to others.  However, most of the local employers know how the grading system works and so they know the curve, but it is also good because they don’t get weirded out by not seeing a class rank.  It might be strange though to try and explain the system if you go out of the area.  Another interesting consequence of the trimester system is that students don’t get their 1L grades until March….so they have nothing to show employers.   In a sense, this might make some employers uncomfortable, but it is a plus to be able to sell yourself without having any grades that will lock you out of certain positions.   

Students were dressed pretty casual and were pretty laid back.  They were friendly, but not overly so (not “Midwest friendly”).   My guide spoke of the “seattle reserve”….that students take a little time getting to know you before they open up, and then they are really nice and friendly.  There is some association with the UG students, a lot of it because of the location on the UG campus (which I like).   Some UG come study in the library and some actually have classes in the building.   

The UW law students do spend time attending pro and collegial sporting events.   They definitely go out and have a good time at the bars and stuff in the campus area, downtown or other neighborhoods.  Students live all over Seattle.   There is a free bus system that goes from all the neighborhoods to the campus.  The busses even have wireless internet!   So people can live further away and do work on the way to school.   Parking is $10/day if you come alone….but if you carpool with 2 other students, it is 0.78 cents/day!  Definitely find people to carpool with. 

My guide was very positive on the school.  She said Career Services is great, and has a new dean that has really stepped things up.   This seems to be true as their employment numbers are amazing (99.4% employed after 9 months).  She said the profs are very interesting and very accessible, often taking students out to coffee or dinner.   The amount of extracurricular opportunities at the school are overwhelming….tons of clinicals, externships, centers, journals, moot court, etc.  The thing that really surprised me was the ability to get involved right away.  My guide was a 1L, but had already participated in a few moot court competitions and was already working with clients in a legal center.   

Lastly, the location of the school is great.  It is right on the UG campus (which is very beautiful) and a block away from “the ave.”  “the Ave.” is a street with tons of shops and restaurants.  I guess students often walk over there for lunch during the day.  It isn’t the cleanest area, and has some homeless around, but it is dominated by students, so it feels very safe.  It is similar to state street in Madison.

Well, overall, I really enjoyed my visit.   I was really impressed by the facilities, the relaxed environment, job prospects, legal extracurricular opportunities, and the campus area.  I am a little hesitant about the gray weather and the location on the west coast/lack of national reputation (my family all lives on the east), but I still really liked the school.   That is why it is one of the three schools left on my narrowed down list! (four if my deferral at Minn turns positive).   Hope this was helpful, and let me know if you have any questions!

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / My Review of Minnesota
« on: April 03, 2006, 06:32:06 PM »
This review will be short (by my review standards).   I actually visited Minn a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to post a review.   The reason this review will be short is because I didn't do as thorough of an investigation job as usually like to do, and that is because 1) I haven't been accepted...I was deferred and 2) My dog, who was staying in the hotel with me, happen to get very sick and I was really worried about him during my whole visit and I was in a rush to get back to the hotel (and for good reason too....I won't go into detail, but it wasn't pretty when I got back to the room).

I went on a Monday, which is the "official" day to visit.  I was with a group of about 10 students.  The majority were not admits...they were either deferred, still hadn't heard yet or were applying for next year (this may due to the fact that an admitted student day was not that far away, and so most might have been going to that).  We first went and viewed a power point presentation.  It was pretty informative.  Some basic info, but helpful nonetheless.   After the presentation, we went on a tour with a law student.  My tour guide was a "non-traditional"...she was in her 30's and married with kids.  Since I am pretty much straight form UG, I was hoping for a similar perspective.  she also was not that outgoing, and spent more time repeating facts that we had just heard in the presentation than actually showing us around the building.  After the "tour" we were allowed to sit-in on a class, but I passed so that I could get back to my dog.

From what I saw of the building, I was pleasantly surprised.   Contrary to what many on here have said, it was actually quite nice.  A little "institutional," but not run down or anything.  It reminded me of a government building or something.  It was pretty big.  There was a nice student lounge and a cafeteria (which the tour guide said was actually pretty good).   The classrooms looked pretty average.   Unfortunately, I didn't get to see most of the library.

Parking is a pain there, and essentially impossible (unless you wanted to pay the hourly charge, which would end up costing a fortune).  Most take public transportation in or live within walking distance.  Something like 66% of 1Ls live in the 2 main apartment complexes right across the street (One is nice and expensive, one is cheap and crappy).   

The immediate area around the law school is pretty nice.  There is about 1 square block of newer shops/bars/restaurants across the street (Noodles, Chipotle, convenient mart, some bars).  Besides that little block, there isn't much in the immediate vicinity.  It gets a little bit sketchier once you start walking a few blocks away from the area.   The law school is right on the bridge connecting the west bank of campus to the main, east bank.   On the east bank, about a 10 minute walk across the bridge (Covered for those cold winter days) there is a ton of stuff.  lots of stuff to do, so if you are not lazy, you can always walk to the east bank for stuff to do.

People in the city seemed pretty friendly.  I had several discussions with people in the street and a pair of them even asked if they could be my friend!  :D  How nice...I love the midwestern friendliness.  I checked out a bit of the downtown Minneapolis area, and it was very nice.  They have this strip that goes down the city which is essentially a pedestrian mall.  Very clean and very nice looking. 

I hope this was at least a little bit helpful.  If I do end up getting in, I might drive over and take a better look at the school.   Overall, I was pretty happy with what I saw.  Nothing spectacular, but nothing that really turned me off either.  Good luck on those deciding on Minn!

I've posted this on here before, but now it is updated with the newest "2007" (I call 2006) rankings.

Paran0id and I put this together (most of the work by Paran0id).  They are excel spreadsheets of the USWR rankings of the Top 50 schools since the rankings creation.   The sheets include all schools that have ever been in the top 50, and include year by year rankings for all these schools.   There are also sheets that group schools that have only missed the T50 once, and are averaged and ordered over 12, 6, and 3 year spans.   LOTS of info.  Check it out.

Make sure you scroll through all the different spreadsheets by using the arrows at the bottom of excel, there are 12 sheets in total.

There were three schools that jumped up a spot in their 12 year average based on the newest rankings (although U.S. news began publishing annual rankings in 1990, they didn't publish rankings of schools higher than the top 25 until 1995...hence that is why I started with that year. Plus the older rankings are starting to become meaningless...)  Stanford topped Harvard, UCLA jumped above UCLA and BU moved in front of U Washington. 
To see a full list of the 12 year averages of schools that have consistently been in the top 50, you can download the above excel file, or visit my LSN profile:
The Excel file has much more info though, so I would recommend it.

On Emory's application, they asked how many other law schools I had applied to.   It wasn't listed as an optional question.  Can they use this info in the decision process or can it only be used for statistical purposes only?

I'm not saying I would have gotten in had I not listed the info (I think a waitlist is a perfectly reasonable decision based on my numbers), but I can't help but wonder if seeing that I had applied to 22 other law schools didn't put up a bit of a red flag and scare them a little bit (in terms of yield protection).   Any thoughts/comments?

Acceptances, Denials, and Waitlists / In at U of Washington!
« on: March 22, 2006, 08:43:24 PM »
Holy Crap, I am excited.  This was probably the last of the 5 schools I've yet to hear from that I am super interested in (besides the Minn deferral).  Man, it makes decision time difficult though. I hope to get out there to visit ASAP!

I found out via e-mail.  very short e-mail just letting me know I was accepted and that there is a letter to follow.  Was sent at around 7pm Central time, 3/22.

Sorry if there is an old thread on UW, thought I would start a new one cause I couldn't find anything a few pages back....Good luck to eevryone else watiing, guess this means the decisions will start rolling in.

So in my continuing journey to law schools, I visited Boston this weekend.  Since I have already heard back from BC and am still waiting on BU, my visit was more focused on BC.   Also, BU only gives tours/class sit-ins on M/TH, and I could only make it there on a Tuesday, so my visit was brief.  I'm sure some of this information will be old news to many of you, but there are probably some who don't know much about the schools, so i will try and go into as much detail as possible.  Here I go  (WARNING: My review is LONG!)....

Boston College
I arrived at 9am only to be told that they had accidentally told me the wrong time, and the class didn't start until 10.  not the best way to start, but I just went and hung out in the cafeteria for an hour, not a big deal.   The cafeteria is very nice.  It is shared with the 700 UG Frosh who live on campus, but it seemed to be dominated by law students.  It is very looks like a ski resort cafeteria (far from the high school cafeteria I was once familiar with).  They have different stations.  There is a cold sandwich/deli section, a pizza station, a hot foods station (i.e. chicken parm, FF, hamburger), large salad bar, baked goods and random other stuff (Cereal, yogurt, snack food).  I had the pizza and it was cafeteria pizza I have had (greasy NY style). 

I arrived to my 10 am Property with Prof. Platter (spelling?) to find that I was not the only admitted student there visiting.  There were 5 others with their SO and/or parents visiting too.   Kind of random since I had just called and asked if I could come that day, it was not any sort of special day.  Turns out two of them went to Indiana-bloomington and really loved it...good to hear nice things about another school I'm considering.  But anyway, the class was great!   It was definitely the best class I have been to at all the law schools (and I have been to a bunch).  The Prof was very passionate, outgoing and funny.  The whole environment of the class was relaxed and happy and there was excitement about the material (which is often hard for a property class).  He worked on a purely volunteer basis (no Socratic) and there was never a shortage of volunteers.  Actually, often he had to be quick with his responses because he knew he wouldn't get to finish the class otherwise.  Students seem to be fine when others asked questions, but it was a little awkward when the student asking wouldn’t understand the initial reply from the prof and would probe further.  The class seemed to be only tolerant of a certain amount of class time being devoted to the specific questions of one student.
(sidenote: When i told some students I really liked the property class with prof platter, they slyly responded with "wait until you have to take one of his tests") 

The students were very friendly and eager to talk to us or show us around.   They are definitely a more "preppy" bunch then I have witnessed at other schools.   Most Male students were in button up shirts with only a few "sweatshirt" guys.   At Colorado, I would say that almost no one was dressed up (two ends of the spectrum). 

After class we had a tour.   This was a low point.  not because of the law school facilities, but because it lasted a whopping 15 minutes.  We took about two steps in their “newish” library and then walked out.   Fortunately, I would get to go on a more in depth tour later on with a student that I had set up a day with (I'll explain further later).  The tour guide was nice and answered questions, but just not thorough on a tour.  After the "tour" the admitted students just kind of hung around wanting more and we sort of went on a 2nd impromptu tour following the tour guide around.

After my "official" BC visit had ended, I met up with a 3L who is an intern at my bro-in-laws office.  I spent the rest of the day with her, and she did a great job on showing me much more of BC.  First thing we did was go on a more thorough tour.

The law school is made up of 3 buildings that are connected.  They are located on the Newton Campus, which is about a mile and a half from the main UG campus.  A shuttle bus comes by about every 15 minutes to take you to the main campus.  Parking is available at the law school to all those who want for appx $200/yr.  If you can drive, most recommend it because otherwise you would have to take a T to the main campus and then the shuttle to the law can be slow.  There are Frosh dorms on the same campus as the Law school.  There is some green space around the school which would be nice for studying when the weather is warm.  The whole Newton campus is small and pretty isolated.  There isn't much going on around there besides the law school.

The library is very new.  It is very nice and clean and modern.  There isn't really any natural light though (not really any big windows with a view or anything).  It is more of an office type feel with fluorescent lights.  There looked to be enough study space with tables for group work or big carrels for personal studying.  There was a computer lab with free printing and specific lexis and westlaw computer labs as well.  Overall, nice library.

The other two buildings have their nice parts and not so nice parts.  The hallways and bathrooms of the buildings aren't so great (pretty old).  But the important parts (the classrooms) were all very nice and modern.  While they haven't renovated every part of the building, they had clearly renovated the classrooms.  Even the older, smaller ones were very adequate (though not as nice as the big lecture halls).   The moot court room was nice, but small.   They have to have the moot court finals in the lecture hall to accommodate the crowd.

besides the library, other study areas include little couch/chair areas spread out throughout the building, a big area next to the cafeteria with tables (more of a "eat food and study in groups" type place) and a student lounge.  The student lounge is pretty no thrills.  A few old chairs and small tvs on those "high school" tv stands.  This area is supposed to be more for socializing then studying.  No one was in there went I saw it, but I am told people get together to watch sports games or study in there.  Nice to have more places where one can study.

Next I ate lunch with my guide and her friends in the cafeteria (which is open until about 9-10ish at night).  It was great to talk to a bunch of students.  5 of the 6 of them have already secured their jobs (2 judicial clerkships, 2 large firms and forgot the 5th).  The 6th was frustrated as she was top 25% and still having trouble.  They all seemed to be frustrated with career services, saying that they focus solely on BIGLAW (the CSO was what most of them said was the worst part about going to BC).  I was told from another source that they are trying to improve the CSO.  They all agreed that the best part of BC is the people (also mentioned Boston and the accessibility and quality of the professors).  They felt that the class was very supportive and collegial.  They all agreed that they would feel completely comfortable to sit and eat lunch with anyone of the other 270 of their classmates (in other words, it is “cliquish” but there is much more mobility and cross-clique socialization than in highschool).  They weren't sure if it was something that BC did to foster this environment or whether people heard that is how BC is and self-selected to be in that type of environment…either way, it is great.   

So as for studying and socializing, the perspectives differed.  Some told me that they studied between classes and by the time the day of classes was done, they finished all their reading/studying for the night.   Others said they would study from when they got home until they went to bed (5pm-11pm).  Reading is approximately 20 pgs per class per night.  Some didn't go out all that much, and others said they would go out drinking on weekdays and followed a strict "tv watching routine."  Some outlined throughout the semester and others outlined only in the end to study.  Despite these differences, all of them had very similar grades, and all above the middle of the class.  So it seems that you can be successful with different styles at BC, just whatever suites you. 

As for sports, they were all enjoyed BC and/or Boston sports (FYI, they were all girls). Some would go to the occasional BC Fball game or bruins game and watch the red sox with friends at the bar, and some had season tickets to BC Fball.  So there is definitely the opportunity for that if interested.

After lunch, I went to a 2L/3L Trust and estates class. This class was quite different then the other one.  It was slow and boring.  Granted. the prof was sick, but still, pretty bland.  I had to struggle to stay awake.  She practiced the socratic method by going somewhat alphabetical.  She was completely cool with repeating the question or letting the student ask others for help if they didn't know, so it was a laid-back-socratic approach.  I guess this class just goes to show that clearly not all law school classes are going to be gems.

(Continued on next post below...)

I wasn't admitted yet (hopefully "yet"), and want to go tour the school next Monday (3/20).  I was told they give tours on mondays.  Unfortunately, they are on spring break now so I can't get a hold of anyone.    Has anyone been to a Monday tour/class?  What time were they at?  I am trying to plan accordingly and need to know what time everything is.  Thanks!

p.s. does anyone think since they are having the admitted students even that Friday/Saturday, that they won't have tours on the monday?

Choosing the Right Law School / Best Big Ten College Town
« on: March 15, 2006, 11:46:53 PM »
So there are a lot of posts asking about Iowa vs Ill or Wisc vs OSU, IU-B vs Minn, etc, etc.....So I thought I would share this information. A while back, the Badger Sports Board had a question "Least favorite/ favorite big 10 city?"  There were a ton of replies and I thought I would share them here if people are interested.   Now granted, these are all coming from Badger fans, so obviously they are biased (Everyone has Madison as their #1 and some don't even list Madison because it is clearly their #1), but it is cool to see what they have to say about the other big ten schools.  There is so much text, I had to paste it into three posts.  Hope you enjoy it.

Least favorite/ favorite big 10 city?


Favorite is obviously Madison.

Least favorite of the one's I've been to would be West Lafayette. Although I've never been to Ann Arbor, East Lansing, or Happy Valley.
Evanston does NOTHING for me.
Madison and Iowa City are excellent, Champaign, West Lafayette and Ann Harbor are average.
Evanston is a very nice town that just happens to have a Big Ten university. It really doesn't feel like a true Big Ten town and their facilities certainly don't do much to help that. Minneapolis/St. Paul is the same. Nice place and nice people (outside of the sporting fan world), but it has no Big Ten feel to it.

Taking Madison out of the equation
Favorite: Bloomington, IN, beautiful campus, buildings in Indiana Limestone, excellent bars, Lake Monroe is close

Least Favorite:East Lansing. MSU, enough said
I thought Bloomington was this "gorgeous" city on par with Madison - this is what I've been told.
Bloomington would be my favorite outside of Madison.
If your choices aren't West Lafayette and Madison, you've been to neither.  Whoever said Evanston isn't a true big ten city is right, but as a place to live it far outweighs West Laf. I also think the area around OSU is pretty crappy, but Columbus is alright as a city. I like Iowa City and Ann Arbor too.
The MSU campus is absolutely beautiful -- probably the prettiest in the Big Ten. The bar scene was pretty boring the weekend we were there, though.

West Lafayette is pretty drab. Never been to Ann Arbor or Bloomington.
Having grown up there, while I don't root for the team anymore, I still love Ann Arbor. A notch below Madison (no lakes, no Capitol, smaller city, more spread-out campus, much less enthusiastic fans), but a very similar feel.
in terms of having a good time it is West Laffyette(?) in a landslide. there was two bars in a strip mall.
Other than Madison...

1. Minneapolis: yeah, its a big city, but isn't that the point? The Stadium Village and Dinkytown areas alone are better than what you get in Evanston, WL, or CU.
2. Columbus: gritty, but I like it. I know the city pretty well, and if you know your way around (German Village and the Brewery District are great), it is a blast.
3,4. Iowa City/Ann Arbor: both nice cities, plenty of good bars and dining establishments.
5. East Lansing: not bad. EL is fine, Lansing is subpar.
6. Bloomington: too fratty for my tastes
7. Happy Valley: wasn't impressed, but want to go back on a football Saturday sometime.
8. CU: great school, nondescript atmosphere. Most good MAC schools are more rocking.
9. WL: ugly and not a lot to do.
10. Evanston: hated it. Food/drink selections are severely lacking, and the students are um, not exactly friendly. Ugliest women in the B10--without question.
Pearl: I gotta ask...what about Champaign lifts it to the 'average' status for you? The reason I ask is that the area around the sports complexes are surrounded by an ever present stench emanating from agricultural facilities, and that part of Champaign is pretty old and unesthetic.

I will say that if you get about a couple miles west of campus, it does pick up and become a little more appealing.
As far as a COLLEGE SPORTS TOWN, the worst has to be Minneapolis. Obviously, the city itself has a lot to offer, but it is a city that, oh by the way, has a Big 10 campus in it. Sort of a "which of these things does not belong" game. Madison is the best, although I have a very bias opinion. I was also not all that impressed with Champaigne the three or four times I've been there. Because most of its students come from the Chicago and St. Louis area, it had a big city feel to it, as well. Although once you get to the Quad area, the buildings are pretty nice. Evanston is pretty, but lets be serious. The facilities do nothing for it.
Where I've been:

1. Madison
2. Ann Arbor
3. Minneapolis
4. Iowa City
5. Evanston
6. West LaFayette
7. East Lansing
8. Champagne

Never been to Happy Valley, Columbus, or Bloomington
From where I've been:

1) Madison
2) Iowa City
3) Ann Arbor
4) Bloomington
5) Minneapolis
6) Evanston
7) EL
9) Champaign

Never been to HV or Columbus.

Loved Happy Valley...
It's a great college town! It's surrounded by a lot of countryside, but the campus area is great. The people are great and know how to have a good time. If it wasn't so damn far away from Madison I'd go more often.
Where I've been:

1. Madison (obvious #1)
2. Iowa City - nice enough campus, very good bar scene
3. Bloomington - pretty, but too many frats for my taste
4. Ann Arbor - most like Madison, just no real highlight
5. Happy Valley - pretty, but in the middle of nowhere
6. Minneapolis - only because it is the second best city. Nothing to do with campus
7- Evanston- It's pretty, but nothing like the rest of the Big Ten from a "feel"
8. East Lansing - a true college, blue collar atmosphere. Average town
9. West LaFayette - good engineering program at least
10. Columbus - too much crap around it. Not a good city
11. Champaign - Nothing good to say except that the academics are good

Is anyone picking a law school that they have not ever visited?   

With the deadlines fast approaching, and several admission decision letters still having a hard time finding my mailbox (nearly 5 months later), I figure I might have to make a decision on a few schools last minute.   It Doesn't seem that weird to decide which schools not to go to without visiting, but how about deciding which school to go to without visiting?  Curious on how many people have done this.

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / My Review of Colorado
« on: March 08, 2006, 06:22:20 PM »
It's time for another installment of "My review of..."  ;D  I just got back from a visit to U of Colorado-Boulder, and had a great time.  Here is my review:

I did not go as part of an admitted students day or anything, just showed up by myself (had called a few weeks ahead).  I received a parking pass to the lot right next to the law school buildings (old and new, they are right next to each other).  I was then matched up with a student who went to the same undergrad as me, very clever and impressive planning on the part of the admission staff.  It was great to talk with someone who had insight as to the comparisons between my undergrad school and town to CU and Boulder. 

The student I was matched up with was very nice and very positive on the school (and very laid back).  We went to two classes together, Property and Criminal Law.   Property was a bit boring and people weren't all that interested, but the prof was intelligent and tried to do the best he could with boring material (and people seem to really like him).   In Criminal law, people were much more interested and had more thoughtful questions.  Obviously a lot of it has to do with the topic.  Both professors were nice and seemed enthused about the material.  Nothing about the classes were "mind blowing" or "completely worthless," just kind of middle of the road, typical law school classes.  Was a fair amount of instant messaging and game playing on the laptops (which seems to be pretty common at most schools) and much more so in property class than Criminal law (crim law was also a smaller class, so that could be a reason as well as the interest of the material).

I ate lunch with my guide at the law school cafeteria for free.  Certainly nothing to brag about there, but this cafeteria will never be used by our class because of the new building.  I'm sure it will be much improved next year.  Plus, there are a number of food options in walking distance (Wendy's, Mcdonald's, Noodles, Piza Hut, etc.).  I didn't opt for a tour, since I won't be spending a minute in Fleming any way.  The new building is come along nicely.  I couldn't go inside, but they are finishing up the outside.  It is Huge!   Looks like at least 4X the size of the old building.  It is going to be super nice.

After speaking with my guide and a bunch of students (granted, they were all his friends, so it is a bit narrow of a perspective), here is how I summarize their opinion of CU: They love the school, love Boulder, love the students, love the environment, love the faculty and staff, hate law school (in general).  Whether or not hating law school is something caused by CU or something about law school in general is debatable (I tend to think it is the latter, as there seems to be a universal hatred of law school itself).   The things they hate about law school are the tough exams, seemingly random grading and non-straightforward approach to teaching the material (i.e. lots of questioning to get to the point, never a direct answer).  These are certainly characteristics of all law schools.  They were also all 1L's, so they were a bit jaded on the experience having just gone through 1st semester hell.   I asked a handful of students what the "worst thing was about going to CU", and they all had trouble with an answer.  After some though, the few responses I got were "the cost" (which is very reasonable compared to others, especially once you get in-state status), "Being around undergrads" and "limited job opportunities in the area" (although feelings on this were mixed).   

Overall, the feeling I got of the student body was "very laid back."   There is a strict B curve, so people seem to be pretty relaxed since there is C’s and A’s are very rare  (almost everyone will fall into the curve).  Definitely seemed "anti-gunner," as the IMs were exchanging like rapid fire when the one gunner at the school was about to speak.    My student guide said there are definitely people who are really into law school and discuss the material after class and study all night, and people are cool with that, and there are definitely others who spend very little time studying and more time having fun, and there is a place at CU for people like that too.  The reading load is supposedly pretty light (appx 15 pgs per class/per night) because there is an emphasis on thinking hard about a few important cases then boggling you down with a heavy load with lots of minor cases.   One unique thing about the academics at CU is that Civ procedure and Property are year long classes.

Now for the best part, when I get to talk about how BEAUTIFUL everything is there....The mountains, the whole campus, the town, the new law building (will be), the girls!  nothing disappointed me in Boulder.  The scenery is great.  Big mountains in the near distant view and the flatiron mountains right there in Boulder.  I took a hike (I am the furthest thing from an outdoorsy person, I played guitar most of my life) and thought it was beautiful.  Everyone had dogs (very dog friendly town, can take them all over and seems like everyone has one).  Later I walked around the undergraduate campus.  Even though all the law students I spoke with said they avoid the undergrads and their campus at all costs (don't even really attend CU sporting events, but they will go to some pro stuff in Denver), I thought it was great and would probably spend time there if I went to CU.   The law school is right on the edge of the UG campus, and is about a 5-15 minute walk to the center of the UG campus.  The UG campus is very big, but close together.  The whole campus is essentially its own little mini-town....there are no real streets (just little ones to get to parking lots), no stores or restaurants in the campus and everything is done in the same style building.  It is great walking around.   There are just students everywhere, hanging out.  There are lots of big green fields, ponds (with geese!...although the poop everywhere was a little disturbing) and the buildings (in their red, brick style) was just amazing.  It didn't hurt that the weather was perfect (70 degrees in early March) is supposed to be really great weather there year round (at least much better than madison).  While walking around the campus, it didn’t take long for me to notice the abundance of attractive females on campus.   Madison certainly has its fair share, and I wasn't sure if CU could beat it, but Wow!  The whole feel of the student body wasn't as "hippie" as the stereotype sometimes is.   Students looked like they could be in any midwest city, and I actually saw a decent amount of pierced women....not obsessively pierced punks or biker chics or anything, but a lip ring here, eyebrow ring there, etc.       

The downtown area is awesome.  There is a smaller area right by the campus where lots of undergrads live, called "the hill."  There are a couple of blocks of stores/restaurants there, and it is pretty cool area.  But the best part is the Pearl Street mall.  It is completely closed off to cars (unlike Madison's state street which lets buses, taxis, etc in).  It is extremely clean and nice.  It has a "resorty" feel to it, which I am sure is no accident as there are a lot of wealthy people in Boulder.  There are some very nice looking restaurants and shops (some look very trendy and straight out of a big city), as well as more collegial type places.  There are no real chain places in this area, but all those places (target, chilis, Ihop, etc) are just a 5 minute drive away.   Boulder has everything within a small radius.     

So in conclusion, Boulder is a great place; I really enjoyed my visit!   The school is relaxed, the profs seem nice/intelligent, the staff is friendly, the new building will rock, Boulder is a beautiful place with tons to do and tuition is cheap (once you get in-state).  Saying all that, I'm not positive that the "mountain-west" is the right place for me, as there is certainly a different feel living in that area.  I have moved from the East to the midwest before though, so who knows.   IU-Bloomington and CU are two amazing places, and I don't envy myself for having to make a decision.  It's on to BC next week, and I don't think it'll make things any easier for me.  Let me know if you have any specific questions or want me to discuss anything further, I'd be happy to do it.   
On a side note, a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place called Fatty Js has some of the best pizza I've ever had (and that's saying a lot), and they had a very hot delivery girl too  ;) (although, it is not like there is a lack of good looking women in that city)

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