University of Washington School of Law
William H. Gates Hall, Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98195-3020
Academics & Programs: The University of Washington School of Law, one of three law schools in the country on the quarter system, offers great opportunities to control your own legal education and lots of opportunities for learning and experience outside class. The school is well known for its numerous student organizations, many of which have a big public interest/community volunteering aspect; there’s also a public service requirement that has “spawned many interesting externship and clinic opportunities for students.” Still, students say that despite the touting of public service law, most of the events and funding are driven almost solely by these groups, and the school “doesn’t offer much formal curriculum in that area.” The Contorts program here is especially “spectacular,” as it “allows students to look at a legal problem from a variety of perspectives which you don’t get by looking at torts and contracts individually.” Small section sizes help make UW seem cozier, and while the forced curve and the newly introduced class rankings system does mean that it can be a competitive place, this competition is “mostly because people want to do well, not because they want others not to do well.”<p>The collaborative atmosphere between the students and faculty is a great boon to the school and makes for a great working environment and a very collegiate atmosphere, so “gunners and ultra-competitive attitudes are frowned on here.” Many of the professors are brilliant in their field, and they “bring their own expertise and practical real world experience in the field in ways that really animate and extend the subject matter.” Their willingness to discuss almost anything outside of class is deeply appreciated by students, even if there are “a few professors that should never be allowed anywhere near 1Ls.” The law building is new and built with a grant from Bill Gates, so classrooms and study areas are “clean and up-to-date,” and the building itself is “light and spacious” and has incredible views out over the sound and downtown Seattle. Classes are recorded and podcast for those with parental responsibilities (an accommodation “especially invaluable to studentparents“) and the law library is amazing and gorgeous, with librarians that “are among the best anywhere.”<p>The administration is genuine in their care for students, and one of the deans even hired an on-call psychologist for students to use for free in the interest of helping them to maintain their mental health, but the two hands-down weakest areas are found in Financial Aid and Career Services. The single administrator who runs all of the Financial Aid accounts for the law school is “unable to answer routine questions” and “can tell you the ins and outs of computer solitaire, but wouldn’t know where to find a grant or extra loan if it bit him on the butt,” and the Career Services office is “great if you want to work in a private law firm” or stay in Washington to practice, but “if you want to work in international human rights/ humanitarian law or domestic nonprofit law” the institutional resources aren’t really there, and “job postings themselves are mostly centered in the Pacific Northwest.” “They are more talk than action and somewhat out of touch with what employers are really looking for,” says a student.