University of Wisconsin Law School
Academics & Programs: University of Wisconsin Law School is considered to be “the flagship law school in the state [of Wisconsin],” offering “a great legal education” and hosting some of “the best and brightest legal minds” on its illustrious faculty. Though students admit that professors can “vary in teaching styles” and “in their teaching abilities,” nearly all agree that “it’s clear that our professors are respected in Wisconsin and the nation.” “It’s exciting taking criminal law courses with professors who wrote the criminal code in Wisconsin and have an ongoing impact on criminal law in the state,” says a 2L. “There are professors that are former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices, former ‘big law’ partners, current appointees on national and international committees, and other well-respected scholars in their field.” Professors teach “subjects that they enjoy and can shed real-life experience on, which really helps you to imagine using that law in practice.” At the same time, “Many of the professors are old,” and, as they retire, students would like the school to “bring in younger, top-notch professors.” Along those lines, UW recently hired new faculty in tax, constitutional law, civil procedure, and other key areas. The administration can be “very accessible and accommodating of students,” though some feel that it is “too disconnected” and a “little slow in getting out the class schedules.”
Classes become “relatively small” after 1L (where “eighty [students in class] is the norm”), giving “everyone [the] opportunity to speak and learn in a smaller setting.” But that’s not to say there aren’t small classes for 1Ls. “Keeping the 1L legal writing courses at only twelve students always increases interaction between each student and professor,” says a 1L. Despite its intimacy, some students felt the “the legal writing program could be improved [as the school] does not put enough emphasis on writing or provide courses that teach students how to write the documents they are most likely to write as lawyers.” In response, the UW hired a new Legal Writing Director, who is redesigning the program. On the upside, there are “significant opportunities” for “practical experience” through legal clinics and electives, but taking part in these relies on students being motivated to seek them out. “[UW Law] doesn’t work to make sure that students are getting the practical ‘Law in Action’ experience they need in the classroom,” says a 2L. “It’s left to the students to get involved in a clinical. Yet, due to the realities of law school and the economy, this is not always a feasible option.”
On the job front, the common consensus among students is that “Career Services needs to be revamped.” “[It] does not actively create jobs but rather puts on workshops about how we should make sure that we repay our debt after graduation,” says a 3L. A 2L adds, “I think that Career Services could be a little more creative, knowledgeable, and proactive.” Luckily, the school’s “proximity” to Chicago means that students have a large job market nearby in which they can “visit law firms” and “interview for jobs.”
Campus Life/Facilities: The law building is “located on Bascom Hill,” considered to be “the focal point of the campus,” however students aren’t positive it deserves such a prominent view. “The older parts of the building are beyond outdated,” says a 1L. A 2L concurs: “Although the building is in good condition and well-maintained, the furniture in the classrooms and library could be nicer.” Classrooms have “wireless Internet, electric outlets, and projection screens,” and while the building itself doesn’t have the “elegant wood floors and paneling of some places,” it’s “more modern and functional than [other schools].” “Some of the technology in the classrooms is not as ‘spiffy’ as private schools, but the wonderful professors and overall supportive academic environment more than make up for these shortcomings,” says a 1L.
Students at UW Law note the “strong sense of community” and “cooperation” that “permeates the student body” and allows them “to work at a higher level than if there was a more cutthroat environment.” Though it can get “competitive during finals and tryouts for prestigious organizations,” students “all help each other” and “no one is ripping pages out of books in the library.” Diversity is “promoted heavily” and students “interact [both] within and outside of their ethnic/sexual orientation/political groups.” “The school is accessible for all kinds of students [whether they’re] right out of college or in their thirties married with kids,” says a 1L. “Every group of students has their own active organization, putting [on] events and volunteering. Everyone can find someone to get along with here.”
When students need a break from their studies, “Madison’s nightlife being geared toward undergrads,” students here “make do with what they have.” Madison is a “great college town” and an “amazing place to go to law school.” It “has all the resources of a city but feels like a town.” With the law school “situated right on the Hill in the heart of campus” students are “close to everything,” such as “restaurants, bars, and [other] things to do.” And what might those other things be? According to these “word hard, play hard” types, “It’s not uncommon to study until 9 P.M. and then go out to the bars.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.