I really like the programming at Southwestern University Law School. The faculty seem very respectable as well; a select few have extraordinary real-world experience, which is far more attractive to me than pure academics. The school has good numbers for graduate hires, too. According to Martindale-Hubbard, quite a few Southwestern grads have landed jobs at some heavy firms (6-figures to start).
A lot of people in various pre-law forums and message boards, however, seem to knock the school for some reason...
No one seems to be concentrating on the school's passage rate for 1st-time bar exam test takers, which is the only visible item I see that they could pick on. Personally, my view of the bar exam is that my school is not supposed to hold my hand or otherwise be held responsible for my personal committment to prepare for this test. It's no secret what subjects may be presented on the bar exam. I say give me access to the reading materials and the professors for three years, top it off with Bar-Bri, and I'll take care of the rest myself...
I can't find any publicized scandals about Southwestern that would support the general apathy I've witnessed regarding this school. I find it interesting that they are a non-profit organization. Do they give all their money to the American Nazi Party, and I'm the last one to know about it? What? I want to stay here in LA for school, but I didn't even apply to Loyola because:
1. I'd prefer to attend a school that is not affiliated with a religious organization;
2. Southwestern's hiring numbers are better;
3. to be perfectly honest, Southwestern's class offering was more interesting to me than any other school in LA. There, I said it.
I have several family members who graduated from the law schools at UCLA and USC within the last 10 years; they are all presently employed at major firms or corporations in Los Angeles making big bucks, and they've assured me that Southwestern is a good school. They were honest in telling me that some firms obviously cater to certain 1st tier institutions. For example, Firm "A" might examine the top 25% at UCLA, but they'll only consider the top 5% at Southwestern. But this scenario doesn't really bother me, because I am extremely passionate about my study goals for law school; I really want to LEARN this stuff for the purpose of achieving very specific career goals, and I believe my grades will reflect this no matter where I go.
I don't want to further query my family resources in the LA law scene regarding the negative chat I've observed regarding Southwestern, because these people are legal professionals working at top-paying LA gigs; further query would insinuate that I doubt that they know what they're talking about, which would be insulting on my part.
I would very much appreciate any insight from enrolled Southwestern students or grads regarding this issue and their personal experiences. If there are any pre-enrolled applicants who can offer substantive commentary, I would be interested in hearing from you as well.
Best wishes and good luck to you all!