University of Dayton School of Law
Academics & Programs: A small, Catholic-affiliated private school with a strong reputation in Ohio, the University of Dayton School of Law offers two J.D. options: a traditional three-year program and an accelerated two-year degree. No matter which course of study one chooses, the curriculum begins with ten core courses, followed by elective classes and upper-level seminars. When evaluating their academic experience, students dole out praises for the “incredible writing program,” often citing the writing coursework as the school’s greatest strength. They also love the fact that “classes are small,” so students feel like “more than just a number to your professors”; although, they would love to see a “wider range of courses” offered to upper-level students.
Those who choose this “serious” school should come prepared to work hard. At this fast-paced program, students insist, “We study just as hard as any first year law student possibly could—the bar is set high, and those who do not meet it after their first semester are asked not to return.” The good news is that “professors are extremely accessible” and “genuinely concerned with the success of their students,” often “more than willing to meet with students outside of office hours and [to] make previous exams available.” A 1L shares this rather reassuring advice, “If you do not study (the workload is considerable) you will fail, but if a person wants to be here, they just need to put in the work and they will be fine.”
While UDSL recruits accomplished faculty, “The professors vary as far as quality” in the classroom. The majority of students maintain that “the professors are, for the most part, wonderful. They are all very knowledgeable and are willing to provide as much outside assistance as necessary.” Many will even “incorporate trending interests such as pop, music, movies into their teaching materials.” Unfortunately, a few UDSL professors love the sound of their own voice, making it “very difficult to learn and share opinions in class.” Still, a few bad classes amount to “a small and limited experience” when measured up against the program as a whole. Students dispute the administration’s effectiveness in managing the program, though they agree that the school’s deans and officers are “quick to respond to student concerns and are very personable.” Here, “both the Dean of Students and the Dean of the law school know most of the students by name”; however, frequent administrative glitches can be highly upsetting for students. For example, “grades are routinely incorrectly recorded,” which can lead to problems when calculating a student’s class rank.
Throughout the program, there is a “strong emphasis on real world preparation and bar passage.” Traditional academics are complemented by courses in writing and research, clinical experience, and a capstone course, in which students must apply their skills to a real-world situation. Through the school’s clinical programs, students also get experience “preparing all aspects of a case, from the initial client interview to preparing for trial and possibly even participating in a trial”; plus, “every student is required to take an externship somewhere in a legal office so that we get hands-on legal training.” When it comes to hiring, students say the school has a “mostly regional appeal,” with most students seeking employment in surrounding Dayton. A big benefit in the job market is that “the alumni are very involved,” and the “school’s alumni base stretches past the Midwest,” reaching as far as western New York and other states.
Campus Life/Facilities: In contrast to the rigors of the academic program, one student asserts, “There is a pervasive, pleasant, [and] professional atmosphere at this small school, and my fellow students tend to help one another out rather than compete with each other.” Unlike some law programs, “people support one another here—those Midwestern values of honesty, decency, forthrightness, and fairness one hears about in the abstract have an actual, everyday existence here in Dayton.” Beyond academics, “students are involved in student organizations,” and “there are always school and non-school gatherings to attend” when you want to blow off steam. A 3L remembers, “Most (and I mean most) students went out numerous nights a week, partying and drinking at bars close to the law school.” Though some choose the school for its Catholic affiliation, the school’s Marianist ties are “downplayed” in most cases. For those who would like to incorporate Catholic ethics into their educational experience, “rich opportunities are present to get involved with the Catholic mission of the university.”
Throughout the law school, students love the University of Dayton’s atmosphere. “The building at UDSL is spectacular in terms of the library, classrooms, and the ease at using computers.” Around them, “the undergraduate school is expanding; new buildings are sprouting all around campus.” Sadly, “Dayton is a dying city,” which offers fewer social and recreational activities than some students would like; however, “the surrounding area, such as Kettering or Oak Wood, are very safe and classy.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.