Southern University Law Center
Academics & Programs: With roughly 600 full-time and part-time students, Southern University Law Center is “small and personable.” “I don’t feel like just another number at my school,” says a 1L. “You feel that the people around you want you to be successful.” SULC is also “ridiculously affordable.” “While others will be coming out of law school hundred of thousands of dollars in debt, Southern grads will have debt that is approximately one fifth of the cost.” Additional perks here include a decently broad selection of courses and six clinics that provide hands-on experience with the realities of practicing law for a very good percentage of students. If you want to pursue both a JD and MPA, the school offers a joint-degree program in cooperation with Southern’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. There’s also a study abroad program in London, in which students take courses in international law.
Louisiana is a civil law jurisdiction (in the tradition of France and Continental Europe), while law in every other state is based on the common law tradition (of England). While SULC students learn both, the required curriculum focuses on civil law both substantively and procedurally. If you plan to practice in the Pelican State, Southern is a great choice. The “wealth of alums” doesn’t hurt when it comes to finding a job, either. However, if you want to practice in another state, learning Louisiana’s unique system of law and trying to apply it to another state’s bar exam won’t be the easiest thing in the world.
“Some profs can be very intimidating,” but the full-time faculty is full of “sincere, challenging, intelligent people” who are “downright awesome.” The faculty is notoriously approachable as well. Most professors are “always willing to help.” “I have a great amount of respect for ninety percent of my professors,” explains a 2L. “I feel that all of them have been knowledgeable in the subject matter.” The “generally excellent” part-time program tends to have more adjunct professors. They’re more of a mixed bag. “Some of the evening professors are practicing attorneys during the day and are not as accessible or as devoted as the full-time day professors.”
Students offer considerable praise for the “very professional” administration. Deans are “approachable and available,” and they “work diligently in their efforts to help the students succeed” and to “know who their students are.” Some students tell us that the financial aid process can be a “nightmare,” though. The legal writing program is another complaint. Students say that it “could use a lot of improvement.” SULC’s “somewhat new facilities” are “very poorly maintained.” Otherwise, they are “really good” and “very hospitable.” Classrooms have wireless Internet and plenty of electrical outlets. The library is “stocked with great resource materials.”
Campus Life/Facilities: “This school is probably the most diverse school in the country in terms of the student body,” gushes a 2L. SULC is a historically black institution, and some sixty percent of the students are African American. Students come here “from all over the country,” and they “have very interesting backgrounds.” The range of ages is vast as well.
“Southern charm is alive and well at SULC.” A “kind and friendly” “family atmosphere” reigns supreme, and “a strong sense of camaraderie and support is evident in every aspect.” “Some people are competitive,” says a 1L, “but I don’t get that extremely competitive vibe from Southern.” “It’s a smaller law school,” explains a 2L, “which allows students to work more cooperatively, instead of against each other as at most law schools.” Most everyone “goes out of their way to help.” The biggest social divide is probably between the day program, which is generally composed of younger students, and the evening program, which is “mostly older professionals.”
During the school day, “the school regularly has speakers and attorneys come in during the noon hour to give practical advice on the practice of law.” Students are split when it comes to life beyond the confines of campus. Some tell us that Baton Rouge—the state capital and the second largest city in Louisiana—is a student’s Shangri-la, especially if you like music and food. Baton Rouge is home to unique art and culture, tons of festivals, and mouthwatering cuisine of every kind. When students take a break from hitting the books, a good number of bars and clubs and a raging live music scene keep life interesting. Other students aren’t feeling the cultural love, though. “The main chances for socialization seem to be at a bar or a church,” suggests a 2L. “What if you don’t drink or believe?”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.