Florida International University College of Law
Academics & Programs: Florida International University College of Law is a relatively new school. It received its full accreditation from the ABA in 2006. It was created to provide opportunities for underrepresented groups and to serve the immediate community. Students come from all over the globe, and most agree it’s a great educational experience for the cost—truly “an affordable gem.” One student says, “The school has surpassed all of my expectations.” The school offers eight clinical programs, giving students the chance to gain experience in the courtroom by representing real cases. In the human rights and immigration clinic, they represent clients in political asylum, as well as other immigration cases. This real-world experience is “something employers are always looking for” and is a part of the “hands-on” experience many students refer to.
At FIU, education is practical. Community service is required, as well as a three-semester legal writing program. Professors spend time teaching how to write memos, petitions, appeals, and oral arguments. Students are prepared for the tangible world of legal practice and claim they measure up well against those of other more established institutions, performing highly in both national and international moot courtroom competitions. “FIU compares to the top law schools of the country,” one student boasts. Students attribute this to the faculty, who are some of the “most qualified and brilliant professors in the field.” “They care about our success.” Another thing that sets this program apart from others is the school’s “focus on international education.” There’s an international law requirement in both the first and last year. Most classes devote some time to global issues, respecting “current legal trends and the importance of globalization.” “The curriculum is challenging but fair and offers a good variety of electives in the second and third years.” However, some students would prefer a chance to specialize in areas such as tax, business, or criminal law. They hope FIU will confer the LLM degree in the future, as well.
Students love the “familial atmosphere” of FIU, claiming “the deans and administrators know most students by name.” The class sizes are small, and students say professors honestly appear happy when they drop by their offices. The professors “provide real world insight,” and even the administrative body is “committed” to its students. The career development office assists students with writing resumes and cover letters, as well as prepping them for mock interviews. “The administration does not just ‘operate’ the school, but understands itself to be partners of the students in their journey through law school.”
There are many opportunities for internships within Miami. Another perk is the school’s proximity to both state and federal courts. In addition to the many Miami firms, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals is situated right behind the campus. Furthermore, “The dean and the professors do everything that they can to bring the legal world to us.” The school hosts visiting lecturers from across the country.
Some students argue the school’s newness might hamper their vocational opportunities beyond state lines, citing its lack of recognition outside of Florida. “Not many employers conduct on-campus interviews here,” but “The administration is working hard at facilitating networking and externship and internship opportunities that could lead to jobs down the road.” Most students feel confident that FIU’s reputation as a law school will grow, claiming, “It has already made excellent progress in its short history.”
Campus Life/Facilities: Students at FIU are “very down-to-earth, easily approachable, and thoroughly diverse.” They challenge each other in a way better characterized as “Olympic spirit” rather than “academic Darwinism.” The student body is comprised of people from more than twenty-seven countries, and “There are student organizations for just about every interest you can imagine.”
FIU students enjoy a “beautiful” library, “state-of-the-art facilities,” and “courtyards decorated with professional and student art.” Students say going to law school in a city is fun for the downtimes when you’re not studying. Miami, although admittedly difficult for some transplants, is a true multicultural hub with a population of more than two million people. Students also have access to the Everglades National Park, as well as miles of Florida’s beaches.
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