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Author Topic: What life is like at BYU Law  (Read 33608 times)

oscarsonthepond

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What life is like at BYU Law
« on: September 17, 2006, 01:35:17 PM »
Before I came to BYU Law I had a hard time finding out what life was like here...so I figured I'd do my best to give an objective view (I am a Mormon, but I joined the Church as an adult during  my undergrad years...so I know what it's like from both perspectives).  I originally wrote this after a month here, and have now modified it a bit having finished a full semester.  Since it's been linked on wikipedia it's gotten a lot of views...please note that I don't speak for the University and I make no promises except that this is a good faith effort by an individual who loves going to school here to make a candid assessment of what it's like.  Suggestions/Questions are greatly appreciated.



Student Body - The class size is always ~150 (~450 total at the school) and I would guess in each class there are around 10 or so non-Mormons.  I can think of at least 7 in my class, and I certainly don't know everybody.  It is definitely not a situation where there are only one or two non-Mormons at the school, but if you've done the math you can tell that for sure the majority are LDS.  However, it is not at all segregated between members and non-members.  It's not a topic that comes up regularly (or much at all really), and I'd say most people have no idea who is and who isn't (and probably haven't given it much thought to begin with).  In looking at the student directory, it seems our class is about 35% female and 65% male.  Many students are married - I'd say around half.  Also, my guess would be that a majority of the guys are married, and a majority of the girls are single.  Of the married students, probably half have kids.  I'd say at least a third of the class went somewhere other than BYU for undergrad...perhaps closer to a half.  As to the question of whether they favor LDS applicants or not...I really couldn't tell you.  In general I get the sense that the non-members in our class are on par intellectually/academically with the members.  My guess is that if there were two completely equal candidates they would choose the one who was a member of the church that owns the school, but in most cases they would just choose the better candidate...that is a total guess though, and I didn't go to BYU for undergrad so I really have no idea if that's true or not.

Social Life - Seeing as most law schools are very VERY big on drinking, the social life here is very different.  I'd say if you're not a big drinker then you'll like it more because people have to be a lot more creative in how they go about having fun.  They have a "Law Partners" group for the spouses of the students, which in turn has a playgroup for kids.  They have singles activities (BBQs, etc.), and it seems like people enjoy those a lot.  The student center has a large bowling alley and arcade.  Basically the Provo/Orem area has two rather large schools (BYU and UVSC) along with some smaller ones, so it's pretty much just a bunch of college kids looking to have fun in ways that don't include sex/drugs/alcohol/etc.  It is undoubtedly a very friendly environment.  Whether it is fun & enjoyable depends on your definitions of those words.  Certainly everyone that I've met thus far really enjoys it (LDS or not).

Competition - It is definitely a competitive place, but in a different way than other schools are.  It's competitive in that most people here are pretty smart and pretty hard working.  The GPA/LSAT scores are pretty high, even higher than many schools ranked above it by U.S.News.  My guess is that this is because 1) Many Latter-day Saints go here even if they get into schools ranked considerably higher, and 2) Some students who get into higher ranked schools go here for financial reasons.  Anyways, this translates to pretty hard working individuals and fairly stiff competition.  Having said that, it is different from other schools in that it's really not cut-throat.  People are always willing to share notes/outlines/etc.  Like I said, it is a very very friendly environment...everybody pretty much likes everybody.  No one is going to attempt to sabotage you or anything like that.  People will, however, attempt to work harder than you.

Honor Code - A major difference between BYU and other law schools is the honor code.  I know that some people would never come here because of this alone.  However, I have friends at school who aren't LDS and came here just because they wanted an environment where people had values like their own.  The honor code requires, among other things, that you agree to:
  • Follow certain dress/grooming standards (i.e. No revealing or sleeveless clothes, etc.)
  • Abstain from alcohol, drugs, tobacco, coffee, and tea
  • Abstain from sex outside of marriage
  • Attend religious services (any faith, not just LDS)
Note: Grad students don't have to live in BYU Housing

Religion - Religion does enter the classroom on occasion, but in general I'd say it's in a way that very few people would be offended by.  Morning classes might have an opening prayer depending on the professor.  Some professors will bring up a scripture once in awhile at the end of class (both the Bible and other LDS Scriptures)...but it's never in a preachy manner or trying to convince anyone to believe anything...in fact I'd say most all of the religious references are based around morals and values.  There is a definite sense at the law school that they are trying to produce a group of lawyers that are firmly committed to ethics.

Politics - The law school is certainly more conservative than most, but definitely not in an exclusive way.  Ideas from all perspectives are certainly free to flow, and having gone to a UC myself for undergrad, I felt that that experience was farther out to the left than my experience here has been to the right thus far.

Library/Technology - The library is really nice....they remodeled it about 10 years ago, and besides Stanford it is the highest ranked law library west of the Mississippi (even higher ranked than Harvard!).  One very nice thing about the school is that everybody gets their own carrel (desk), that includes wired internet, many power outlets, a light, two large cabinets, two drawers, and a file cabinet (all of which have locks on them).  They are very convenient for studying, but they also breed competition cause you're right next to all your classmates and you see right away who is hard-working and who isn't.  There's wireless internet throughout the school, and I've never had any problem at all connecting anywhere (they'll have like 8 access points in one classroom).  Everyone is required to have a laptop (you take all your tests on them), and they'll give you an extra loan for it if you need it.

Cost/Financial Aid - As you probably know, the law school is DIRT CHEAP!  For a private religious university law school experience you'll generally be paying in the $35k/year range.  For BYU it's currently $8200/year for Latter-day Saints and $16,400 otherwise.  I've heard of people complaining about the higher price for non-members.  My guess as to the reason for this difference is that the tuition is highly subsidized by the tithing that members of the Church pay.  Even if you aren't a member, half of your education is being paid for by members of the Church.  This being the case, to me it only makes sense that tuition would be less for members, and to have tithing subsidize half of the tuition for non-members is in my opinion very generous.  On top of that, I think over half of students receive some type of grant or scholarship...even with the tuition being so low.  Also, they have a special law student loan so that if you need money beyond your Stafford loans, they'll give you an extra $9k/year so that you don't have to start turning to higher rate loans.

Socratic Method - Professors generally use the socratic method, but they're usually not real harsh or anything (i.e. if you don't know the answer they won't keep dwelling on you, and a lot of professors will go down the row when calling on people rather than picking at random). 

That's about all I can think of...hopefully that gives you a better impression of what it's really like.  Everybody I've talked to so far (male/female, Mormon/non, etc.) truly loves the law school.  They have a three day orientation before classes begin that is a lot of fun and extremely helpful in getting you adjusted.  It has been an incredible experience so far and I can truly say that I'd rather be here than at any other law school in the country.  If you have any questions at all or suggestions for updates, PM me and I'll respond as soon as I can.  Thanks for reading :D

earthlaw

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Re: What life is like at BYU Law
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2006, 12:10:16 AM »
Thanks alot OnthePond, this is the best information I have receieved on the the net yet. I have come to the LS discussion board before, but never got much info on BYU. I live on the East Coast in a city with over 1 mil people, so this would be a drastic change. I also am a Non-LDS however BYU is a great school and the atmosphere does fit with well with my values therfore the code is not an issue for me whatsover. It was good to get a response from your perspective because you said you became an LDS just a few years ago. You pretty much answerd all of the questions that I had. I just took the LSAT on September 30th 2006. I will pray about this then apply and if this is where God intends for me to be then I will be there in the Fall of 2007.

Thanks Much

Bree

galex

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Re: What life is like at BYU Law
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2006, 08:09:25 AM »
Do you have to be Christian?  You say that you have to attend services "at any church."  I won't be offended either way, just curious.

oscarsonthepond

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Re: What life is like at BYU Law
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2006, 02:25:14 PM »
Thanks alot OnthePond

No problem...great to hear that it has helped somebody...let me know if you come up w/ any other questions



Do you have to be Christian?

No...in fact I think it is not uncommon for Muslims to go to BYU because the honor code tends to match up w/ a lot of their practices...I know there's a Muslim Student Association, and my guess would be that there's something similar for other religions as well.  I suppose you could even be atheist or agnostic as long as you were willing to attend religious services.  Like I said I didn't attend as an undergrad so I'm not totally familiar with all the specifics (i.e. what if your religion doesn't have regular services).  If you have any questions you can contact the Honor Code Office at (801) 422-2847.  But in response to your question - no, you are definitely not required to be Christian.