I visited Santa Clara recently. Here is my intial review. I posted a few pictures on my blog at http://aspiringlawyer.blogspot.com/
Santa Clara University has an amazing campus. The School of Law benefits from being in the center of the beautiful and historic university.
The School of Law occupies three buildings on the main campus, in addition to several small buildings in the surrounding area. The classrooms and small law student lounge occupy the entire first floor of one building. There are a couple large lecture rooms that are at the ends of a single long hallway in the building. Along the hallway are several smaller seminar rooms. All of the rooms had power available at every seat. The big classrooms had a separate outlet for each seat and the seminar rooms had multi-plug power strips on each table. It seemed like everyone was using a notebook computer when I peeked in the different classrooms. Wireless Internet is available throughout the classrooms and law library.
The library seems a bit small, although it does occupy two floors of its own building that is attached to the admin and faculty office building. There was no grand reading room that I could locate, which was a bit disappointing. But there were big windows on one side of the library and it seemed like there were many open seats and corrals. Hopefully it is like that often.
Every faculty door was cracked open or all the way open when I walked through their wing. A good sign for sure. Students and faculty both seemed friendly with each other. Students wore primarily jeans with nice shoes/sneakers/boots and jackets or sweatshirts. Not too fancy or preppy, but not sloppy either.
The student bar association has an office in the basement of the three story student union building. While the student union was mostly filled with undergraduates, it was nice to see some interaction between the two (even if it is simply walking past each other). The student union building has a late night hang out place that serves Heineken, Guiness and some domestic bottled beer along with pizza. During the day there is a separate food court area in the building. Espresso and coffee are available.
The gym seems large enough, with an outdoor pool, basketball courts, Precor machines and lots of weights. It is a 3 minute walk from the law school classrooms.
The different law review journals have their own buildings that look like converted houses. They are located about 5 minutes from the law school classrooms about a block from the main campus. Career services for the law school is located about two blocks from the main campus. The innocence project, high tech law center, and a few other minor programs also have their own near-campus buildings and houses.
The campus is in the middle of a residential area with mostly single family dwellings. There were some apartment buildings right around the campus and more nearby. Within a block or two there is a Safeway and several small mom and pop restaurants. There is also a Quiznos, Togos, Jack in the Box and a few other bigger name food places within short walking distance of the campus.
San Jose was 5 minutes away on surface streets. A giant two story mall with just about every major store was two off ramps south on the 880, about 10 minutes away.
I enjoyed the campus. I liked the area. I was worried that it would be too small at first, but it is so close to all of the big city of San Jose and the big stores 10 minutes away that actually the campus ended up feeling like a nice island of grass and palm trees away from the rush of all of that. I feel like it will be hard to decide against Santa Clara Ė it would be a great place to spend three years. Considering that itís the only place Iíve been accepted at so far, I can say with certainty that at this exact moment it is my top choice.