SUNY Buffalo Law School
John Lord O’Brian Hall
University at Buffalo, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260
TippingTheScales (2013): NR
U.S. News (2013): 86
AboveTheLaw (2013): NR
BUFFALO LAW STUDENTS SAY…
Academics & Programs: University at Buffalo’s School of Law is a practical and affordable option for future New York State lawyers. The school’s three-year J.D. begins with a series of required classes in contracts, torts, and other basic areas. In the next two years, law students have the “ability to create a unique curriculum” through a “nice array of courses,” including “timely classes that are relevant to the world and cover cutting edge legal issues (examples: class on international piracy, class on counterterrorism law, etc.).” The school offers curricular concentrations in several fields, including civil litigation and intellectual property, and students note the array of “great human rights and international law classes.” While they like the course diversity, many Buffalo students feel the school could dig even deeper into specialty topics and “incorporate more courses which teach practical lawyering skills in specific areas of the law.” Fortunately, curricular improvements are being implemented with attention and efficiency. “The current administration is making a concerted effort to improve the look of the school and the opportunities available to students.” In addition, many students praise the schools’ supervisors and staff and attest, “School administrators seem to genuinely care about you from the moment you step in the door all the way up to graduation and beyond.”
Buffalo offers “plenty of opportunity to get hands-on experience in legal jobs during law school.” Traditional academics are augmented by “diverse opportunities for experiential learning,” including “non-traditional course offerings like clinics and externships.” Within the law school, “There are countless opportunities for moot court, trial team, and journal work,” and “The law school’s clinic program is excellent.” Of particular note, “The school goes out of its way to help those interested in Public Interest work,” with numerous clinics devoted to affordable housing, community economic advocacy, and social justice. Even so, some would also like to see the school build a “stronger presence in the greater Buffalo community,” and point out the campus’s isolated location in a northern suburb of the city.
When it comes to the teaching staff, students praise Buffalo’s “terrific adjunct professors,” saying they love being taught by “faculty members who are still trying cases, rather than those who have been out of court for years.” The school attracts a number of accomplished attorneys, and “some of the faculty [are] at the very pinnacle of their fields, with reputations that span the country.” A current student enthuses, “On multiple occasions, my professors have actually worked on the cases we cover in class.” Despite their many accolades, “faculty is hit or miss” in the classroom. Because SUNY is a “great research institution,” it tends to attract “professors that are experts in their field with a significant amount of publishing in their background, but have no teaching skills and no ability to relate to the students.” Outside of the classroom, teachers are diverse in the same manner. Some professors are friendly and student-oriented, while others “are not always accessible because they are busy.”
Buffalo is a great choice for local lawyers, and the school maintains a great “reputation in New York, particularly in western New York.” For many local students, cost was also a major factor in their decision to attend SUNY Buffalo. While “tuition increases and the new re-payment plans for government loans” have tempered the school’s overall value, it still offers an “amazing education for the price.” However, the value tuition is principally open to New York state residents, who, not surprisingly, comprise more than 90 percent of the school’s population.
Campus Life/Facilities: Students seeking a “serious, but not overly competitive environment” will find a good match at SUNY Buffalo, where academic rigors are balanced by a “strong sense of community and camaraderie among the students.” Most students are serious about their education, and “come ready to work every day.” However, that sense of purpose never overrides the generally low-key and friendly atmosphere within the law school. A current student elaborates, “While we are all competitive, there is a “no 1L left behind,” feeling to all of the classes. If you are having trouble with the material there are always countless students willing to sit down and thoroughly discuss the material until you grasp it.” Both socially and professionally, the collegial atmosphere pays off. Here, “Networking is easy at UB because everyone is already your friend.”
Within the law school, there are “myriad, valuable student organizations,” and socially, one student proclaims, “There are always SO many events going on, it is literally impossible to keep up.” In contrast, there isn’t much happening in the surrounding area. The School of Law’s campus is located in “suburban hell,” north of Buffalo proper, and there is “nothing in walking distance. You have to drive everywhere to get or do anything.” Not only is “there is no ‘college town’ feel,” students remind us that, “The heart of Buffalo’s legal community, including the state and federal courthouses and the major law firms, remains in downtown Buffalo.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.