University of Houston Law Center
Academics & Programs: As large and lively as the state of Texas, the University of Houston Law Center enrolls fewer than 900 students in its diverse and challenging JD, LLM, and joint-degree programs. Drawing top names from the Houston legal community, professors are “either extremely accomplished attorneys or nationally renowned experts in a particular field of law.” Though they represent the top of their field, “There are no ‘bigger than Texas’ egos with any of the faculty.” In fact, “The entire faculty is very accessible and willing to help students learn in any way they can.” Students agree that their professors are “not only available during office hours, many professors host lunches or parties in their homes to learn more about their students.”
In the classroom, the professors are “very much focused on teaching us to think creatively” and throughout the JD program the “Practical aspects of lawyering are stressed.” Things here begin with a bang as “All first-year students are required to take part in a moot court competition, and it’s a great experience for everyone.” In addition, “There are six different law journals in which a student may participate, including the Houston Law Review, which consistently ranks in the top fifty of all Law Reviews in the country.” What’s more, the school operates a number of clinics and research institutes that augment classroom experiences with hands-on experience. “I have spent three semesters working at the Immigration and Civil Clinic and will always remember this time as the most exciting and rewarding aspect of my law school experience,” explains one clinic participant. “We are given enormous responsibility for our clients and the experience has given me an invaluable opportunity to learn actual lawyering skills.”
Those looking for great value relative to cost in their education will be extremely satisfied with U of H. Students love that they get a “high-value education for a low cost in a great legal market.” If you can manage a “scholarship” or are “a Texas resident” it only sweetens the proverbial deal. Even so, students admit there are some sacrifices associated with a U of H education, particularly with regard to the school’s facilities which most agree “need improvement.” There are no ivy-lined walls at U of H; instead, think “East German bunker school of architecture.” However, most students take the environs in stride. “Students who enter with high expectations of facilities will be disappointed,” says one student. “But you learn at this school in an environment conducive to learning.” On that note, U of H “fosters a community and not a rivalry among students. Fellow students are always willing to answer a question, share notes, and form study groups.”
Outside the classroom, “There are lots of opportunities to work with major law firms and other community organizations during the summer and during the school year,” and the “Office of Career Services is particularly helpful for summer job opportunities.” After graduation, Houston is a well-suited environment for future attorneys, boasting its reputation as one of the “largest legal markets in the country.” A current student insists, “If you want to succeed, you can, and you can get a great job when you graduate too— with all the top firms in Texas including all the elite New York satellite offices Students say the school is a great place to work on your powers of persuasion as there’s lots of debate on the U of H campus. A student explains, “Because the student body is fairly conservative, but, at the same time, lawyers generally exhibit liberal thinking (at least in the social realm), you get a nice balance of liberal and conservative, often leading to lively debate absent from more liberal institutions.” Even so, don’t expect any cutthroat type of competitive environment” here since students agree that “even if they have polar opposite views in the classroom, afterwards they hang out.”
Campus Life/Facilities: On campus, the prevailing atmosphere is “friendly” with “an awesome SBA that is very active in helping make UHLC a better place.” Students tend to form strong friendships in their first-year sections, and when the weekend arrives “Plenty of people…go out on a regular basis.” Night students are generally less involved in the campus community, admitting that there is something of a “social divide between part-time and full-time students”; many complain that events and activities take place during the day (while they are working) and that “most of the social events are geared toward single people or those without children.”
Unfortunately, the campus isn’t much of a social hub because “It is in a part of Houston that nobody really cares to live in, so most people come in for class and then head home.” However, the cosmopolitan city of Houston is a great place to live, offering “a standing symphony, opera, and ballet, NFL, NBA, MLB, and MLS sports teams (and minor league ice hockey) a great zoo and museums, and a multitude of golfing opportunities.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.