« on: March 05, 2006, 09:33:31 AM »
Since housing is so individual, its hard to say what would be right for you. There are some really nice areas (Alamo Heights, Castle Hills, etc.) but they get pricey. When we were looking for a house, the cheapest we found in AH was ~$250K, if I remember correctly. I also have two school age children, so that knocked out alot of houses (bad schools in the area), but we found plenty under $150K that were nice 3-4 bedroom homes. If you are OK with new construction, there are a ton of suburb-subdivisions going up on the west side of town (right around 1604, near seaworld). There are also smaller, older homes in town that some students get into. I've even seen a few downtown lofts near the riverwalk, but don't know the prices. The best plan is to come to town, visit the school, and talk to some of the people hanging out on the patio.
As for the school itself. If this were a sports team I'd say the past couple seasons were "rebuilding years"... The school has struggled a bit over the past few years, but a new dean seems to have things on the right track. St. Mary's has a couple things going for it that might not seem obvious.
1) It is a small school and, as such, has a very personal feel. I know all of my professors very well and all of them have an open door policy. I've gone to ask my Torts prof. a quick question only to have him sit with me and discuss family, life, learning, etc. It wasn't an "ask you damn question and leave me alone" response, just the opposite. I felt like he really wanted to know how "I" was doing, how I was adjusting to school, etc. I can't speak to other schools, but I feel like I get more personal attention at St. Mary's.
2) There is only one law school in San Antonio and both Federal and State courts. The main offices of the "Texas Western District" of the Fifth Circuit is in San Antonio as is the State's Fourth Court of Appeals. St. Mary's has a number of judges currently presiding in San Antonio. It looks very likely I'll be working in the Fourth CoA this summer (as a 1L -> 2L).
3) The current dean and faculty have recognized the issues over the past couple years (poor bar passages rates being the primary) and have taken steps to address them. I don't know how much of the plan is public, so I don't want to post a lot here, but I'm sure the head of recruiting would be willing to answer your questions.
The professors are just like other schools, I'm sure. We have multiple current or retired judges as professors, just like most schools. We have some professors that are great teachers (Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, etc.), some that are really smart but can't convey their knowledge well. 90% of law school is self taught anyway...
Again, I would encourage you to visit every campus. Your going to be living there for three years, make sure you like the atmosphere on campus. Don't just do the official visit either. The recruiting people will give you the nickel tour of campus, but don't stop there. Grab a seat on the patio and talk to a couple people. The students are very friendly and open. Most will love to tell you thier "war stories"...