Hi everyone - here's a little write-up of my "visit" to Lewis & Clark. I put the word visit in quotes, because it wasn't a typical law school visitor session.
I've been living in Portland - for 5 years now, and I've wanted to go to Lewis and Clark for a while. I'm at the beginning of the law school application process (just took the June LSAT), and so I haven't actually scheduled a formal visit to the school. So you'll see that I can only report on a few aspects of the environment from an outsider's perspective. But I have
been to the law school three times, which I'll get to.
To help put my comments in perspective, here are some other schools I've visited, attended, or worked at: Purdue U, U of Cincinnati, and Columbia. Of these three, Columbia's buildings and furnishings was by far the nicest.
I ended up spending time at L&C Law because I used to date a girl who was at another local college to become a chiropractor. She would drive the 15 minutes from her house in SouthEast Portland to the L&C campus just to study in their law library. I went with her twice, and so I've actually spent several hours there. The facility is drop-dead gorgeous and well designed. You feel like you're in a very nice place. The atmosphere is ultra-quiet and studious. There's a photo of it on the L&C website ... you can see all those desk lamps lined up in a long row. Nice furniture, plenty of electrical outlets to plug a laptop into. When you're in the buildings, you can tell a talented architect was at work; very high ceilings, lots of feeling of space, and excellent use of the surrounding environment.
If you've seen any of their materials, you'll know that L&C is basically in the middle of an old-growth forest. The buildings were completely designed to maximize this; for example, the law library's wall facing the forest is basically one entire, huge, windowed wall. Maybe 20 or 30 feet high. You feel like you are
in the forest. And, something I noticed was that when outside the buildings, the effect of the walls of semi-tinted windows causes the forest to be reflected in them - the buildings fit well into the natural environment.
Lewis and Clark's facility has the same level of care and attention paid to them as at Columbia. Personally, I find this important. When I went to Univ of Cincinnati (studying Computer Science), the facilities were fairly standard state-school / high school ugly. Designed with their ability to be easily cleaned in mind.
I prefer to be in an environment that feels adult
The third time I went to the law school campus was 3 weeks ago. I took my Black Lab, and we walked around the area. The law school has its own mini-campus seperated from the rest of L&C. It's about a 5 minute walk to the main campus, which is big - has the feeling of a large private school.
Some students were hanging around. A few were playing softball in between a couple of buildings. Others were sort of lounging around or walking somewhere. Everyone seemed pretty friendly - if I'd wanted to ask a question, I felt like they easily would have taken the time to help. I saw one girl walk into a building along with her German Sheppard. The students also seemed to not be too homogenous. I saw a couple of freaky (in a good way) looking characters, a few conservative ones... an ok mix.
Walking around with my dog, I got more of a feel for the place. Lots of nice paths with dense foliage along the way. Very SW Portland ... more on that later. Lots of designed-in benches and congregating areas. No one freaked out because I had a dog with me. I also parked in a restricted parking space for the 20 minutes or so. And my car wasn't ticketed or towed! (This ain't NYC...)On the downside...
First, I have to explain a little about Portland. Portland's a very dense, easy to navigate city. "Everything is 10 minutes away from everything else." That's pretty much true. There are four sections of the city, each with their own feel and subculture: SE, NE, NW and SW.
NE, SE and NW all have one thing in common; they're very neuveau-urban: Huge bicycle culture, bike lanes everywhere, everything laid out on a nice grid, etc. Things are close together and livable - every neighborhood has a grocery store, hardware store you can walk to, etc. And these are also the neighborhoods that I've personally lived in - SE and NE. Now, there's a big divide between the East and the West side, but that's not too important right now.
And what about SW Portland? Well, that's where L&C is. It's also a beautiful part of town, but it's very hilly, and much more car-based part of town. More inhabited by families than singles and fun neighborhoods with bars. This is all very relative, of course - it's 8 minutes from L&C to downtown, which is a piece of cake compared to most cities. It's far from being isolated. And I have yet to hang out with L&C students to see what they do - do they hang out around the school? There's not really much to walk to. It's not like Columbia, U.C. or Purdue in that respect. As far as I can tell, you can't just all agree to meet up across the street for a beer. (Without getting in a car.)
You can see that I'm fairly anti-automobile. With a car, this is all no big deal. There MAY BE good bike routes to the school from downtown - I haven't looked into it yet. And, Portland is huge
for having many many local nice bars and cafes - people here are very into going out for happy hour, hearing live music, etc. So it's likely that L&C students might meet up at other places... Just not near the school. To see what I mean about the local housing, look at the places for rent on this page from L&C: http://www.lclark.edu/dept/facility/lawhousing.html
These pictures give you a very good feel for the neighborhood that L&C is in. But if you're willing to live 10 minutes away by car, then way cooler
neighborhoods are everywhere, like this one: (my neighborhood) http://www.portlandneighborhood.com/alberta-street.html
So - I hope that helps. If anyone has any questions about Portland, I'm happy to answer them. One last thing I can tell you about L&C is that, from talking to people over my time here, L&C Law is the first choice for everyone. Definitely, in the state of Oregon, L&C has an awesome reputation.
Also, if there's a lot of interest, I could swing by and take some pictures. I want to try biking it some time soon...