UCLA School of Law

by John A. Byrne on

UCLA Law School

UCLA Law School

UCLA School of Law

71 Dodd Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

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TipppingTheScales (2013): 21
U.S. News (2013): 17
AboveTheLaw (2013): 17


Academics & Programs: “If you are looking for professors who encourage you, want you to do well, and want to interact with you outside of school, UCLA School of Law is ideal,” proclaims a satisfied 1L. Though in the past students have noted that class sizes “are probably larger than they are at most schools,” the first-year curriculum has been changed. Students have three small sections of forty students or less. “UCLA has a very positive academic atmosphere.” “The resources are boundless,” and students brag that they are receiving “a world-class legal education in a beautiful city.” “Superstar professors” regularly teach 1L courses and the faculty as a whole is full of “amazing and dedicated teachers” who are “quite witty and entertaining.” They “will cold-call students, but if you’re not able to answer the question, saying ‘I don’t know’ is fine, and they’ll leave you alone.”

The administration is hit-or-miss. Some administrators are “amazingly accessible.” “One particular time I went in to get an extension on an independent study paper and wound up playing Barrel of Monkeys for twenty minutes with the Dean of Students,” relates a 3L. “I won and she wants a rematch.” Students admit that the school’s bureaucracy can often be “horribly inefficient and a pain to wade through,” though the law school recently hired a new Director of Financial Aid to help streamline financial processes and paperwork. “I don’t know how much of that is the law school’s fault as opposed to the UC system’s,” offers a 1L.

“The grading curve is not particularly brutal.” “About sixty percent get B’s,” estimates one student. The curriculum stresses theory as well as practical skills (though one student calls the legal writing curriculum “completely impractical”). The “incredibly valuable” clinical program “is truly the institution’s crown jewel.” “Trial advocacy is the best class that I have taken at any level,” attests a 3L, and the “incredible” public interest program “can turn out lawyers who want to make the world better.” Still, many wish that there was less focus placed upon gearing students toward corporate law.

Graduates don’t have much of a problem finding jobs. “It is completely standard to leave here and earn $130,000” in your first year as an attorney. UCLA has an “excellent reputation among the big firms in Los Angeles” and is “highly regarded nationally.” “Many students also go to work in New York and Washington, D.C.” “Those who, for some absurd reason, want to leave behind the fantastically high quality of life offered here and instead earn the same money but for more hours in Manhattan seem to have no problem doing so,” notes a 1L.

The UCLA campus as a whole is “stunning.” “The school is located on the most beautiful part of the generally gorgeous UCLA campus, in one of the most upscale parts of Los Angeles.” “The law school building looks great on the outside, but is outdated on the inside.” The “cramped” classrooms “are equipped for laptops,” but “need some aesthetic upgrading.” On the upside, the “luxurious and modern law library” has “big windows,” making it “a pleasing place to study.”

Campus Life/Facilities: Students describe themselves as “very smart.” A lot of students complain about the lack of ethnic diversity on campus; “It bears no resemblance to the demographics of the population of the United States, much less that of California.” Whatever the case, students “interact well with each other.” “Different backgrounds and opinions are not merely tolerated, they are encouraged and respected.” “UCLA has a large and active LGBT community, with a think tank and an academic journal both housed at the law school dedicated to sexual orientation law and policy.” Politically, “students seem predominantly liberal but there are definitely conservatives too.”

“People get quite stressed and preoccupied with grades and jobs,” and “There is a serious spirit of competition” at UCLA. It’s “not personal,” though. “Students generally root for each other, rooting for themselves just a bit more.” Also, you can easily “find your own space away from the gunners.” At the end of the day, it’s hard to be stressed out “when you study so close to the beach” (in “shorts and flip-flops”), and “It’s eighty degrees in January.” “The sunny weather compromises students’ ability to stay indoors and study,” admits a 1L.

“Lunch in the courtyard is probably the best part of being at UCLA.” “People are always outside, reading or eating lunch, with the sun beaming down and the giant redwoods providing shade.” “People study hard” but social activities are very prevalent (particularly early in each semester). There is “no shortage of people going out on a random Thursday night.” “Rent is fairly expensive” in the surrounding area, but “UCLA offers pretty good, convenient housing to many law students.” “If you can deal with a commute, there are many cheaper areas to live that are not too far” as well. Overall, UCLA students are among the more satisfied groups of law students in the country. “After my brother asked me how law school was going, he listened patiently to my answer and then told me that it sounded like Club Med with some required reading,” says a 3L. “I couldn’t be happier with my experience.”

* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.

  • Michael Zaman

    Fairly accurate description from my experience. I personally thought that the 1L professors were superb. I’m not sure if other sections had awesome professors too but I had like 3 or 4 who were nationally top notch in their fields and were also great teachers. In my 2L and 3L I had great professors but they weren’t like the 1Ls.

    Last thing, about the grading system it seems like UCLA Law has a weird curve where it’s more analogous to playoff standings. That’s because grades are distributed based on where you slot in the class. A traditional curve factors a mean and standard deviation to determine grades. So this means that if the highest score and lowest score in the class are relatively close under a normal curve the top student and low student would receive similar grades (ex B+ and B). The UCLA curve though would give the top student an A and low student a B- (C+ in 1L).

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