I visited Alabama today and LOVED it!!! I'm definitely going there. I was early for the lunch/tour, so I chatted with Claude Reeves (Dean of Admissions) for about 45 minutes before my student tour guide showed up. I had all sorts of questions, some concerning salary (Alabama's average starting salary is deflated because of the number of students taking clerkships, plus the low cost of living in Alabama where most of them take jobs, plus the low amount of debt that most of them have upon graduation), some concerning football. Then I went to lunch with a couple of 3L's (paid for the law school of course) and got some more of my questions answered, went on a tour of the law school, sat in on a class (really interesting... I couldn't tell if the students just weren't into it or if they were just waiting for the professor to call on them, which he did pretty often.) Then I chatted with another dean for half an hour. All in all, I had a really good time, found out a lot about the law school and made my decision about during the middle of lunch.
The law building, I guess leaves something to be desired, but it was up to par and was at least comparable to all the other ones I've seen. There's a new add-on being built with some new courtrooms as well; it's adequate for a building that was built in 1978. Parking is not a problem since the law school is adjacent to the basketball and baseball stadiums; the law school shares the parking lot with them. I guess that could be a problem on nights when there's a basketball game, but since those don't normally start until around 7 PM I doubt that would ever be a huge problem.
The university as a whole was much better than I expected, and Tuscaloosa is easy to fall in love with. It's a classic Southern college town, with the university's main campus situated next to a pretty cool shopping area (the Strip) with restaurants, etc. for students. Oh yeah, and there's that really big football stadium that's home to what's usually a pretty darn good football team.
The students I met were all cheerful and seemed happy to be there. That was different from Vanderbilt, where I caught a certain inferiority complex from many of the students (who immediately asked where else I had been accepted, as though they just knew that Michigan was better than Vanderbilt.) Essentially, it seemed like Alabama was the first choice for many of its students, and they wouldn't want to be anywhere else; the Vanderbilt students seemed like they wanted to go t14 and couldn't get in, and Vanderbilt was no better than their third choice. Maybe it was just the weather; it was 65 degrees and sunny in mid-March. The admissions staff was also very upbeat, and they made the experience even more enjoyable.
While it's possible that I was just getting "star treatment" from everywhere around the school (after all, according to my numbers Alabama ought to be a safety for me) overall I had a great time there, and I'll definitely be going there in the fall. All I wanna know is... who's coming with me? (So far I'm the only person on LSN who's attending Alabama.)