University of Idaho College of Law
Academics & Programs: A “great value” for local lawyers, University of Idaho College of Law is a small yet affordable place to get a J.D. Citing the school’s strong regional ties and low in-state tuition, students declare, “If one wants to practice law in Idaho especially, going to UofI makes sense from an educational and financial standpoint.” With a total enrollment of about 350, students benefit from a surprisingly small and intimate campus environment. A 2L explains, “Even though this is a public institution, I feel like I get as much attention as if I paid more and went to a private law school. My professors’ doors are always open.” A first-year student adds, “All five of my professors knew my name by the end of my first week. Most of them sincerely care about our success and are happy to answer questions about life after law school.”
When it comes to their pedagogical skills, “There are some very good professors and some very poor professors” at UI. However, faculty members are generally accomplished in their fields and “bring a lot of experience” to the classroom. In fact, “For being in a relatively small town, we have faculty from very diverse backgrounds who could definitely teach at more prestigious universities.” In that regard, the University of Idaho experience is deeply influenced by its location in the small town of Moscow. Far from the capital in Boise, “The campus and community are very isolated,” and some students feel that “the school could improve in diversity and the welcoming of diverse people and diverse viewpoints,” both within the student body and within the faculty. It is important to note that qualified students may take classes at the satellite campus in Boise in their third year if they so choose. Fortunately, with the concerted effort of the administration, “There are still some very good speakers and events that come through here.”
Academically, the school specializes in environmental law and Native American law, though students would like, “a few more labor law courses and more specialized business law courses.” Students would also like to see a greater emphasis on real-world skills, complaining that a number of professors “work too much with theory and not enough with practical application” in the classroom. Fortunately, the school offers “a plethora of opportunities to gain practical legal skills” through clinics, and “the administration also does an excellent job in getting internship opportunities for the students.”
When it comes to the job hunt, “career services is understaffed” and the largest in-state job market in Boise is far away, but, despite these obstacles, graduates have a lot going for them. A boon to anyone hoping to practice in the region, UI is “the only law school in the state (accredited). That means all the law firms and courts are packed with our graduates and they protect the opportunities for our students.” For those who’d like to practice further afield, “the administration is good at recognizing that there are a lot of students that want to practice out of state, so they cater to that diversity in instruction and events we host.”
Campus Life/Facilities: Students differ personally, professionally, and philosophically at UI. There is a “substantial Mormon population” within the law school, which tends to be more politically and socially conservative, offset by a “sizable body of politically moderate students.” Clashing political views is a source of tension on campus. According to some students, “If you consider yourself conservative or libertarian in any fashion, you will quickly find yourself outnumbered, politically isolated, and regarded as offensive and problematic to the staff and faculty.” Others claim, “There’s a large and outspoken religious majority at the school that tends to jump at any comment they feel is disparaging while loudly asserting their own freedom of speech.” Idaho residents make up about 60 percent of the student body, with the remaining 40 percent hailing from across the country. Though most students are just a few years out of college, University of Idaho is “accessible to nontraditional students.”
There are around 11,700 undergraduates and 1,700 graduate students on the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, lending a fun, vibrant, student-friendly backdrop to the law school environment. Within the law school itself, “everything is in one building. It gives the students and the faculty easy access to each other.” “About half of the students socialize on a regular basis,” and there are a range of student groups and recreational activities hosted on the larger campus, as well as through the law school. Home to about 24,000 residents, “Moscow is truly a charming college town that provides decent access to a range of outdoor pursuits.” In complement to the school’s low tuition, “the cost of living is affordable” in Moscow, and students enjoy the “large food co-op,” “impressive farmer’s market,” and many “great parks” in town. It is “easy to walk anywhere.” Students can also cross the state line into Pullman, Washington, another college town that is home to Washington State University, only eight miles away.
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.