DEFINITELY GO TO HOWARD.
HU is a little more expensive than the average state school, but it is still about $10K or more cheaper than most private law schools.
UDC gets absolutely no respect, and its bar passage rate is awful. Usually the differences between tier 3 / tier 4 schools are very minor, but here we're talking about a pretty big difference.
True, some admissions offices are rude, but don't let that be a factor in your decision. After one year of law school, I can tell you that you will never hear from the admissions staff again once you start attending classes.
As for study abroad, another non-factor because most schools will let you participate in other law schools' study abroad programs. I'd be shocked if HU didn't allow this.
What it gets down to is job opportunities and respect. HU is not a top school by any measure and never will be, but it is respected. Talk to any practicing attorney and you'll see what I mean.
UDC would only be appropriate if you know for certain that you want to start your own solo practice after school or have a job lined up before law school through big time connections. In those cases, school rep doesn't matter.
Offer of admission from Howard today. I have until 5pm EST Wednesday to make a decision.
I can cancel the promissory note and sign a new one for Howard (according to the people at Access Group), so I'm back to pros and cons for UDC and Howard. Here they are (pros bolded):
Cheap tuition and scholarship opportunities for 2nd and 3rd year
Faculty - Some have done exactly what I hope to do post-grad
Attentive and friendly staff and faculty throughout the whole process
Not-well known and questionable reputation (according to past posts on LSN/LSD)
No OCI for students (though clinics and community service helps with that)
Handwritten exams all 3 years (minor concern, but still)
3rd Tier but nationally recognized
Study Abroad opportunity (South Africa)
OCI for 1Ls and upperclassmen
Faculty - Also very accomplished in areas I'd like to go into
Facilities: Slightly more room than UDC, recent library upgrade
Places well in competitions against other law schools
Tuition roughly 20K/year (UDC 7K/ 2-3 year)
Not as many clinics as UDC (possibly lacking the community service/experience element that made UDC attractive)
Some RUDE staff during admissions process
I know conventional wisdom is "go to the best school," but I honestly need help deciding. Any advice out there?