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Author Topic: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)  (Read 1579 times)

OlderandWiser

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A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« on: April 16, 2008, 09:34:32 PM »
Ooo Wisconsin, On Wisconsin dah, dah, dah, dah, daaaaaah.  So hereís my review of Madison.  Feel free to ask me questions if there is anything I left out.  I know this is pretty long so Iíve included a brief version with just likes/dislikes at the end   Without further ado...

University of Wisconsin 04/12/08 (ASW)

The Building: I have two reviews of the building.  The kind of industrial, steel and glass half that includes the library, I really liked.  Lots of natural light, which Iím a huge fan of.  Its kind of got a weird stair system, but I dug it.  I felt like I was in an MC Escher drawing, but in a good way.  I also liked the atrium area, I think because it is so open and airy.  I was not as impressed with the other parts.  The hallways that house the administration, faculty offices, clinics and some classrooms were just kind of, eh.  Nothing special.  I was also not that impressed with the courtroom I saw.  It seemed to be in a bit of disrepair.  But nothing that couldnít be fixed with some new carpet and a bit of varnish (in other words, nothing too serious).

The Classes: Sadly I didnít get to sit in on a class at Wisconsin.  But I will take this time to report on the faculty because I was just so impressed by this.  On Saturday morning we had an opportunity to hear from several people, one being a professor (I have now forgotten her name).  She spoke so passionately about the faculty and their committment to education that I was almost sold on the spot.  Wisconsin has a strong tradition of professors actually teaching courses.  Even old, and perhaps crusty, tenured types.  They all teach.  They have to.  So students get professors who are focused on their education, not just research.  This is something that is incredibly important to me, because in the end, I could give two hoots about rankings and biglaw.  I just want to be a good lawyer and to understand the law. 

The Students: Continuing the Midwest tradition, everyone was incredibly friendly and laid back.  I had a chance to speak many students and all of them seemed very happy with their choice of Wisconsin.  Everyone was happy to answer questions and I felt like people were pretty straightforward, minimal amounts of sugar-coating.  There also was an incredible amount of diversity, on a number of levels.  More than I think I have seen at any other school. 

The Administration: Mike Hall is a riot.  And he loves Wisconsin and wants you to love it too.  They did a very nice job of organizing the weekend.  I found it to be enjoyable and informative at the same time.  Mike even stayed after the day had finished to answer student questions individually.  I was pretty impressed by his commitment to students and their needs.  Prior to the weekend the administration has been pretty good about getting back to me if I have had any questions.

The Library: I liked it.  Not my favorite, Washington stills wins the overall title, but I liked it.  One student aptly referred to it as a ďsnow globeĒ in the winter.  I can see that.  The whole front is all glass so you get an incredible amount of natural light.  They have a fair amount of seating, mostly big tables with soft lighting.  They also have a reading room that is a ďlaptop free zoneĒ for those students who canít stand the constant clickety-clack of all that typing.   

The City: Madison was pretty cool for a mid-size city.  I heard someone else compare it to Ann Arbor and I think that is pretty close.  Lots of cute shops and restaurants.  A nice downtown area, but not the hassles of a huge city.  The campus is located pretty near downtown and the capitol.  The traffic and parking can get a little hectic, but there was also a fair amount of construction going on.  The campus is located right on a huge lake which offers some pretty great views.  Though I imagine the wind whipping off there in the winter is a bit nippy. 


Miscellaneous:

- Clinics: Wisconsin has some great clinical opportunities, I think this is one of their strengths. It seems like many of the students get involved in a clinic, even if they are not planning on going into public interest.  Most of the clinics are based in criminal law, but they have some civil as well.  Students also have the option of working in the clinics over the summer for credit.  It sounds like most students who want to do a clinic can do a clinic. 
- Diversity: By far the most diverse school I have visited, by race, gender, age, life experience, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, etc, etc etc.  Wisconsin is really committed to bringing in a myriad of perspectives in order to have the richest law experience possible.
- The Bar: If you take the required curriculum and graduate from Wisconsin law you are automatically admitted to the Wisconsin bar.  This is a nice perk if you want to stay in Wisco. 
 - jobs: Regional or national?  I think Wisconsin is one of those real borderline schools.  A fair amount of people stay in the Midwest, but a lot of that is by choice, though not all.  UW has a great reputation in Wisconsin so there are some good opportunities for clerkships and work in either the DAís office or the public defenderís office.  It is also a strong public interest school and many of the students are choosing that route.  There were also a fair number of students pursuing work in Chicago, a smaller number headed to the East Coast, Cali and DC. 

What I liked: The students, the clinics, diversity, Madison, Mike Hall

What I didnít like: not the strongest environmental program, no option for in-state tuition in 2nd or 3rd year, winter-brrrrrrr


Well, this is the end of the road for me and "day in the life of".  Iím glad folks have enjoyed reading these.  I figure Iím lucky enough to have the time and means to travel, I might as well share.  I know not everyone gets that opportunity.  Good luck to everyone making a decision! 
University of Washington 2011

nerfco

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 01:41:13 AM »
Nice review; good luck with your decision.

nikos13

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2008, 03:09:30 PM »
Thanks for the review, it was a helpful read ;)

El_Che

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2008, 08:17:00 PM »
Loved your review, thought I'd add mine just in case it gives people another viewpoint of the city and school!

----------------------

Alright, now that I finally have some time, I thought I should post about my weekend in Madison while it's still (somewhat) fresh in my mind. So, where to start. First off, the city itself. To me, the city has 2 distinct feels, depending on where you are. There is the Campus/Downtown feel, and then everywhere else. My hotel was out on the East side of town, about 5 miles from the campus. This is a part of Madison that I imagine I would try to avoid if I lived there. It's full of strip malls and box stores galore. From my hotel window I could see a Best Buy, Red Robin, TGIFridays (or Chilis, I can't really remember, but they are interchangeable anyways), Chipotle, Old Navy, ..well, you get the picture. Suffice it to say, it's nothing special out there.

The Campus/Downtown area, however, is significantly better. Imagine all types of independent coffeeshops and restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores, pubs, etc. They're all there, and within walking distance. The area around the Capitol is really beautiful (especially when I was there during the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning).

The Campus itself is a huge, sprawling beast. Thank god all the law classes would be in one building; I feel sorry for the undergrads who have to traverse across campus for different classes. The law building was in a good location; close to the Union, the lake, State Street, the Capitol, etc. However, the housing situation could be a problem, most noticeably in the winter. There didn't appear to be a lot of apartments that weren't swarming with undergrads. I've heard that law students tend to live a bit further away, but I can't imagine walking more than a mile during the dead of winter.

The law building is somewhat of a maze. It's almost like you're on the set of Being John Malkovich, with half floors here and hidden stairwells there. I took a tour with a student and if you asked me to lead you on that same tour, I'd be lost within a minute. I'm sure students get used to it quickly (or just show up late for class for the first week or two). The classrooms were nothing to write home about. Most looked pretty old, with chipped tables and utilitarian furnishings. It didn't seem exactly brimming with technological advances or anything either, although maybe that's somewhat of a minor point when learning the law. Overall, it seems as though some cans of paint and a few new chairs and tables would go a LONG way towards sprucing up the classrooms.

The library was pretty nice; seemed large enough and with a great view of Bascom Mall (which my guide told me was a blessing and a curse, depending on the weather. You either wanted to be out there enjoying it with everyone or laughing at the poor students stuck walking around out in the snow.)

Overall, I liked the city of Madison well enough (or at least the Campus/Downtown area). The people seemed friendly. There are a lot of cool, independent businesses around campus. There was a (relatively) good amount of diversity, although it's still Wisconsin, so if you leave the Campus area, that will become more clear. I went to an Indian student association event at a nice theatre downtown, had some good Thai food the next day, and went to a hip-hop show that night, so it's not as though there's NO culture going on; you just have to know where to look (or so I was told).

My main concern with the prospect of attending UW would be the portability of a UW degree. From talking to students, it seems as though its a fairly regional school (which we should already know). Top 5% or better have a chance of going to D.C. or NYC, but beyond that, it's a fairly long shot. Some students said that UW places well throughout the Midwest, be it Chicago or Minneapolis or Indianapolis, etc, however, they also said that these usually require a top 25% or so finish.

Personally, I'm 99% sure that I wouldn't want to live in Wisconsin after law school. I could maybe, maybe see myself in Madison for a few years after graduating, but I'm a big city kid and I'm not sure how long I would like it there. I also know that I don't want to live in Milwaukee, which is the other big city that UW places very well in. So I'm at the stage now where I'm wondering if it makes sense to attend UW on the 10-20% chance that I could finish well enough to work in Chicago or Minneapolis, or should I go somewhere that I know I want to live, regardless of my class standing. I certainly don't want to lose the UW gamble and be stuck doing personal injury law in Kenosha or somewhere (no offense to anyone from Kenosha!)


P.S. I forgot to mention that Madison has an excellent selection of locally-brewed beer. If you're ever in the Upper-Midwest, give Spotted Cow a try!




http://0lmusings.blogspot.com/2008/04/weekend-in-madison-review.html

du-can

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 12:18:35 AM »

P.S. I forgot to mention that Madison has an excellent selection of locally-brewed beer. If you're ever in the Upper-Midwest, give Spotted Cow a try!




Upper-Midwest is a bit broad.  They don't sell it outside of Wisconsin.  I'll have to bring some with me when I leave.

El_Che

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 01:02:25 AM »

P.S. I forgot to mention that Madison has an excellent selection of locally-brewed beer. If you're ever in the Upper-Midwest, give Spotted Cow a try!




Upper-Midwest is a bit broad.  They don't sell it outside of Wisconsin.  I'll have to bring some with me when I leave.

Sad! I had heard that they sell it in No. IL and possibly Eastern MN too, but if it's only in WI, that's a few more bonus points for attending UW then!

du-can

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 11:35:41 AM »
By the way, I think you have the right impression of Madison.  It's a fantastic college town and a great place to raise a family, but for a big-city feel you should look elsewhere.

HippieLawChick

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Re: A day in the life of...University of Wisconsin (last one)
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2008, 12:26:18 AM »
Funny, people keep describing Wisconsin as regional, but most of the people I know there are summering in Chicago and New York.  Hmmm...either I only know top students, or that degree is more portable than you might think.