Baylor University School of Law
1114 S University Parks Dr.
Waco, TX 76706
Academics & Programs: Baylor University’s Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center’s reputation for being a “tough school” is complemented by its stature as an “excellent school” with “one of the most rigorous [law] courses in the state.” Students report that Baylor Law does a good job of preparing them “for the real world by teaching the law, practical lawyering skills, and professionalism.” “We learn how to write well, how to research efficiently and effectively, and we most definitely learn how to advocate,” says a 1L. “It’s the greatest school for future trial lawyers.” The “phenomenal” faculty has “a genuine interest in ensuring students know and understand the material,” but they “can be tough” and “expect students to be well-prepared for every class.”
With a reputation as “the Marine Corps of law schools,” Baylor students take comfort in the fact that with great effort comes great reward. “Throughout lectures, the professors strike the perfect balance of teaching legal theory and practice,” says a 2L. “And this balance must be working as Baylor Law consistently has the highest bar passage rate in the state of Texas and our graduates are ready to practice law the day they graduate.”
While Baylor’s faculty is lauded for its commitment to students, the same can’t be said of its administration. Descriptions of the administration range from “disconnected” to “out of touch,” with many students reporting that “decisions seem to be made without student input or the students’ needs in mind.”
Baylor Law places an emphasis on “legal theory and practice” through its “rigorous” Practice Court Program, a course that many feel leaves them “ready to practice law the day they graduate.” That said, those uninterested in becoming trial lawyers wouldn’t mind seeing it be done away with. “[The school] could end the Practice Court Program as a mandatory requirement and make it optional for only those students who wish to become litigators,” says a 2L. A 3L further explains, “You really get a true practical experience from Day One, but it’s not for everyone. Practice Court is brutal—eighteen hours a day of studying and class, plus you get humiliated and booted out of class if you are called up and can’t recall a holding from one of the fifteen to twenty-five cases you were assigned the night before. The weak of heart need not apply.”
Students agree that Baylor Law prepares them “to be lawyers better than almost any school in the country,” but they find that “it is very difficult to find jobs.” Though the career services office “has improved recently,” students want to see the school “reestablish its reputation in Texas as a great law school and try to reach a broader market.” “No one outside of Texas has heard of us, and no one respects the hard work we do culminating in the third-year Practice Court unless they’ve already hired a Baylor grad,” says a 2L. Luckily, Baylor’s “devoted alumni” can go a long way in helping you secure employment after graduation, provided that “you want to live in Texas.”
Campus Life/Facilities: If there’s one word that’s used to describe Baylor’s campus, it’s “beautiful.” “[We have] the best building of any law school in Texas (and I would venture to say in the country),” says a 2L. “Students can enjoy looking over the water from the library, student lounge, and the back porch off the student lounge,” says a 1L. “Additionally, students enjoy close parking in front of the building.” The “state-of-the-art” classrooms and facilities are “stellar,” “spacious,” and “comfortable.”
With “approximately 420 students,” the study body at Baylor Law is “small” and “intelligent.” This lends a “close-knit” air to the school, though opinion is divided between the environment being “friendly” and “caring,” or “cutthroat.” “From Day One, the professors and administration told us that we were all in competition with one another due to the bell curve grading,” says a 2L. “It was heavily emphasized, day after day. The competition became extremely cutthroat.”
Many here find that this pressure “divides” students, with some being “friendly with each other until the first set of grades are released,” and others remaining “extremely cooperative” and “down-to-earth.” Despite the academic competition, students find “community through suffering.” “We all go through the same pain and as a result our bonds with each other are very strong,” says a 2L. One point that all students agree on is that “the law school could stand to improve the diversity of its student body and its faculty members.”
Perhaps the kindest thing students say about Baylor’s location in Waco, Texas, is that the town offers “the perfect place to be engaged in the rigors of law school” (i.e., very few distractions). Students readily admit that despite some “decent bars and things to do” there’s “not much going on” in Waco. However, with Dallas and Austin “an hour and a half away,” it’s “not uncommon for people to quickly flee Waco as soon as a break rolls around.”
For those who choose to stay on campus, the Student Bar Association “hosts many social and community service opportunities throughout the year, including four intramural sports, Law Prom, four Immunity Days (where students pay money to a designated charity and in return don’t get called on in class the next day), an annual blood drive in memory of two alumni, and more.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.