« on: April 02, 2008, 12:52:26 AM »
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Do you want to practice in California or in Washington. It's pretty simple, really.
Which class did you observe? It appears that your observation is not representative of the school as a whole and I would caution other students to visit and judge for themselves because in my experience the students are far from "gloomy." If the class was large I bet it was a first year class, which means the section has about 80 students, not 100; 2L and 3L classes are much smaller. As for the Socratic Method, it can be intimidating, but it serves a purpose which may seem "unnecessary" or "extreme" when observed by a 0L.
Speaking of classes: Hastings' size is a benefit because you have more classes from which to choose. Our size is a benefit because it assists in developing a variety of strong on campus groups rather than just a handful. Additionally, along with the smaller student body you have fewer class options, fewer professors, and a limited alumni network. Is Davis located next to any Federal courts?
Hastings is in a big city and that comes with a big city lifestyle. yes there are drug dealers and the homeless, but a polite "no thanks" usually does the trick to let them know you are not interested. Access to every court in the nation except for the US Supreme and all the legal opportunities in the Bay Area is a huge trade off for having to say "no thanks" once in a while.
Davis might be "definitely the better option" if you are concerted with driving your car to the library rather than walking, but other than that I'm not so sure the the "definitely better" conclusion is warranted. Many students that want access to a car and live in the residence tower (The Tower) which lets them pay well under market rates for SF housing, and then sign up for a service like ZipCar so they can access a car for super cheap.
Students should really investigate the school for themselves and think about the options available to them both before and after graduation. If you know you want to work in Sacramento, go to Davis without a doubt. If you know you want to work in SF, go to Hastings without a doubt. If you are on the fence, look at the school that has more options in your field. Don't have a field? then go with the "better" school in how you weigh your school preferences. Don't like a big city then go to Davis. Think you might want to extern in a Federal Court then go to Hastings... want to avoid cutthroat, gloomy students then you are fine at either school.
Yes, I visited a 1L class. As for the Socratic Method, you’re right…it can seem intimidating for people not familiar with it, and it serves a purpose. Almost all law schools use it. The difference is that it is applied in different ways at different schools. This is why it is important to visit schools to pick up on this.
As for Hastings’ proximity to federal courts, this may be advantageous, but I think it is overemphasized. Exactly how much can one accomplish by working during the already busy academic year? And how exactly does Hastings have “access to every court in the nation except for the US Supreme Court?” Summer jobs in the Bay Area, the jobs which most determine career prospects, are equally fair game for students from either school.
It is good that Hastings offers student housing, which is priced well under SF market rates. But most Hastings students do not live in The Tower. Many commute from other parts of the Bay Area. Don’t count on ZipCar for “super cheap” driving either, I already use it and the rates exceed $10/hour.
As far as jobs in San Francisco, including those during the summer and following graduation, the assertion that Hastings unquestionably beats Davis is just not true. The decision that admitted students face is between a large school with certain advantages (more course offerings, not having to get another apartment for summer jobs in SF), and a smaller school with others (more collegial, better quality of life). The schools are very similarly ranked and carry the same prestige. Visit them to determine their differences. Which one is better suited to help you succeed?
After touring these schools this month, I realized that Davis was definitely the better option. At first, I applied to both thinking Hastings would be best because of its access to SF jobs and location in a great city, but what I found was quite different. SF is certainly beautiful, but Hastings is in one of its worst neighborhoods. I knew this before I visited, but what I found in The Tenderloin was even worse than I expected. Walking there from my hotel near Powell Street BART via Market Street, I was approached by a drug dealer, a couple times by beggars, and harassed by someone else. This is not the sort of neighborhood where I would enjoy spending three years of my life...
The Hastings buildings were nice and newly renovated, but students seemed downright gloomy. Socratic Method in the class I visited was the most extreme and unnecessary that I have seen in the five schools where I have attended classes. The Hastings class also had over 100 students and a seating chart that almost rivaled the height of the professor.
Moreover, the cost of living in San Francisco is just too high for law students. Let's face it, you will not perform at optimal levels if you're living in a cheap apartment in a sketchy part of the city or commuting from another part of the Bay Area. Paying perhaps $10k more per year for housing in San Francisco for a school equally prestigious as Davis just does not make sense. Why not just wait until after graduation and job offers to live in San Francisco, when you can actually enjoy it!
In contrast, I was very impressed by Davis. Before visiting, I was somewhat weary of the surroundings, since I live in a major city and enjoy it. But this was not an issue! Davis is an attractive and very leafy place with a defined downtown. People were friendly and laid back, and there were ample recreational activities. If you have a car, you can easily use it in Davis with a short commute. If you don't have one, you can easily get just about anywhere using a bicycle. The cost of living is much lower than San Francisco, which is still only an hour-long Amtrak ride away.
As for Davis Law itself, I found that the "open door" policy among the professors is true. Office doors were indeed open, and the professors were very approachable! Staff were responsive and really do seem to care about the students. I was also blown away by how much students trust each other with personal belongings. Generally, I noticed that Davis has the same high level of intellectual stimulation and career prospects as Hastings, but the quality of life at Davis, which is crucial for one's own success, is much higher than what one can expect at Hastings. Davis also beat Hastings in the most recent CA bar passage rates, and job prospects/average salaries in the public and private sectors are pretty much equal.
Regarding reputation, I spoke with a number of Bay Area attorneys who went to neither school (to avoid bias), and one school does not, by any means, beat the other. They are both fine schools, but one seems to have a better quality of life and smaller student body than the other.
Thanks for the replies. HastingsOneL - do you live in the tower? If so, how's that scene? Where do people usually go out and have fun when not studying?
You think it'd be an easy decision to make between the 2 school environments but -- I love the city of SF and I loved the Davis campus (and I also enjoy having a car). Also, if you're not from the area, is it easy to meet other non-Hastings people around SF? Thanks.
If I get into Davis I'll probably still go to Hastings, where I've already been admitted. Over the course of the last few days I've gone from terrified that Hastings is hyper competitive to realizing that all schools are competitive to an extent and there are bigger considerations to worry aout. Plus HastingsOneL was so adamant about the school being fun.