sherah- can you elaborate on a few of the things that they sold you on? Still considering Hastings a little so I'd like to hear some of the positives that you saw. Thanks.
I should probably start by saying that I don't have much to compare it to. I actually was reluctant to attend and almost didnt' go, because I was sure I wasn't going to go to Hastings. ---And surprise!-- I came out with a totally different view. Overall got a really good impression of the school, and having the interaction with the alumni was really great.
Well, on one hand I'm sure they're *supposed* to talk up their school, but it was nice to see support and enthusiasm from the alumni. They had a decent range of recent to not-so-recent graduates show up. While some were down in LA for the meeting, but based in SF, there were also a lot of graduates who now work in LA, mostly in Big Law. Since I'm looking to eventually come back to SoCal, it helped to quell my worries about the difficulty of getting a job back down in law at a large firm. Granted, you'll probably have more troubles if you're not above the median as far as class rankings, but beyond that, it seemed many ended up in the same firms working alongside graduates from UCLA and the likes (and in some cases even Harvard and NYU grads who decided to practice out West), starting with six figure salaries. One of the lawyers I work for in Irvine also told me a lot of their graduates recieve job offers down in SoCal. Apparently Hastings has been doing a pretty good job of getting their alumni to be active. On top of that, they have a large class (I think about 400), which means more people to hook up with (as compared to say the small class size of Davis). I talked to quite a few different graduates, in a few diverse areas of practice (two IP lawyers- one more contracts and IT, another that travels frequently and does more entertainment oriented work, immigration lawyers at a large firm, an entertainment and talent attorney, an immigration judge, a construction defects attorney with her own mid-sized firm, etc. etc.).
As far as experience in school, what I heard was that professors were approachable, available, and enthusiastic. Living in the dorms for the first year (Tower) is actually quite affordable and they have lots of studios, and though the school is in a bad neighborhood, SF in itself is a pretty great and fun location. (I've been there numerous times so I guess I already have a feel for it.) Oh I also heard rumor that they might change the grading system within the next two years (though I doubt that should be taken into consideration for next year). When I asked around about negatives, I pretty much got only that it was in a bad neighborhood, but obviously many don't chose to live there, especially considering how great public transportation is in SF). Since I tend to be more social, I also asked a lot about student life, etc., the gym, intramural sports (apparently basketball can get competative), events (heard some about "beachside" beer day of some sort). I got a really cool vibe from some of the younger alumni there, who seemed really outgoing and socially adept (because of course they are more easy to relate to on a non-professional level).
Oh, and the dean is fairly new, and gave the impression of being very energetic, friendly, and enthusiastic.
Anyways, that was sort of rambling, so I hope it helped.