Drake University Law School
Academics & Programs: Students at Drake University Law School are the first to admit that attending “has been the most difficult thing [they’ve] ever done,” but that’s not to say the experience has been anything but “positive.” As a 2L explains, “My overall experience at Drake far exceeded any of my expectations. The attention to detail the professors provide the students with is unparalleled.” The academics place a “premium” on “practical training,” which many here feel leaves them “well-equipped to handle the workload of clerking.” The “incredible” professors, in particular, are singled out for praise. “If the best professors are the most knowledgeable, and if the only source of knowledge is experience, then Drake Law professors are the best professors,” explains a 2L. “Most, if not all, of the professors have practiced law before becoming teachers, and it shows in the classroom.” Students also appreciate how “approachable” the faculty is. “You are able to stop and talk to them anytime,” says a 1L. Opinions on the administration are a little more hit-or-miss. Depending on who you ask, the administration is “committed to scholarship, committed to the profession, and committed to its students,” or “with exception to our new dean, a little out of touch.” Ultimately, as a 2L says, the treatment you get is dependent on the treatment you give: “The administration is not rigid if you ask nicely—treat them like humans and they’ll work their tail[s] off for you!”
Academically speaking, the “greatest strengths” of Drake Law are “the opportunities for practical experience” (practicum classes, clinics, clerkships, externships, internships, research assistant positions, teaching assistant positions), and “the accessibility of the faculty.” The “top-notch” experiential learning opportunities are bolstered by Drake being “located in the state capital,” which gives students “the opportunity to clerk at the Iowa Judicial Building, intern in the Iowa House of Representatives or Senate, or work with state lobby groups and other legislative agencies.” “By the time I finished my 1L year, I had argued an appellate case in front of the Iowa Court of Appeals, eaten breakfast with the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, witnessed a criminal trial from jury selection to final verdict in the law school’s legal clinic, and landed a summer clerkship with one of the largest firms in the state,” says a 3L. Some would like to see “more diversity in the available classes” and others, while praising the amount of “academic scholarships” offered to “firstyear students,” warn that only those “in the top thirty-three percent” of the first-year class will hold on to the scholarships in question. “If you perform poorly on the first year exams…you will likely lose your scholarship and have a hard time getting it back,” says a 3L.
Thanks to Drake Law’s emphasis on using a “hands-on approach” to teach “legal theory,” many students feel that they have “an edge on the competition in the legal job market” since they’re prepared not just for the “legal analysis required to be an attorney,” but also for “the ethical, technical, and [skills-based] parts of the job.” According to students, “almost half” of their peers use the Legal Clinic when angling for jobs since it offers “access to the Iowa Legislature through internships,” as well as contact with “former [Drake Law] students [who work] in many different capacities there.”
Campus Life/Facilities: Nearly all students agree that from an “aesthetic” point-of-view, Drake Law’s facilities could use some “updating,” “especially the classrooms” which are “rather plain and sparse.” Luckily, renovation is “being presently considered by the administration.” On the other hand, the school’s “research facilities and resources are outstanding.” The library is “beautiful and well-stocked.” “If you need something and they don’t have it, they will find it.” Despite “a great mix of traditional students and nontraditional students,” everyone “seems to get along great” at Drake Law. “The vast majority of our student body is incredibly helpful and willing to offer advice, time, and resources to younger students,” says a 1L. “People want to get good grades here and study extremely hard for peak performance on the exam, but there isn’t an atmosphere of ‘beating’ people out of a score.” Drake has “a fairly diverse student population, especially with regard to nontraditional students,” as many “balance law school with a family.” “I’m one of many married students, and there are several students in my section who have children,” says a 1L. “The age and experience differences among the students make social interactions more enjoyable for everyone.”
When it comes to social life at Drake Law, there is a “large amount of student activities and a majority of the student body [is] involved in at least one student organization.” “There are many opportunities for a social life, and the Delts, the law fraternity, make sure that everyone gets away from the books for at least a little bit of socialization,” says a 2L. And if you “like alcohol or like hanging out with people consuming alcohol,” all while discussing law, look no further than the “weekly” Bar Review “held at different bars in the area.” The “great city” of Des Moines has plenty to offer, too. “It’s almost like a big-small town in that you have the social life, art, and entertainment of a big city, but with the feeling of living in a small town, which can’t be beat,” says a 1L. Finally, a word of caution regarding “the Iowa winters.” “If prospective students don’t like lots of snow, extreme cold, and lack of sun, then this is not the place for you,” says a 3L. “But if the prospective student enjoys winter then Drake’s facilities, faculty, and location in the capital city are ideal!”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.