St. John’s University School of Law
Academics & Programs: St. John’s University School of Law “places an emphasis on how to actually become a lawyer, not an academic” and boasts a bar-passage rate that’s consistently higher than the Empire State’s overall percentage. St. John’s also comes equipped with an impressive array of academic bells and whistles. “There are very strong programs in bankruptcy and labor and employment law.” The host of clinics is “a big draw.” Highlights include securities arbitration, and a couple interesting programs involving immigration rights. There’s also “a wide range of courses,” “numerous journals and organizations,” and an “outstanding” speaker series.
“There are some really incredible professors and some really miserable professors” at St. John’s Law. “There’s no in-between.” Students say that most fall in the incredible category, though. They “do an outstanding job of mixing the Socratic Method while making clear the purpose of each class.” “Our professors make the law real,” declares a 1L. “They make sure we know the legal theories, but they also make sure we know why the theories matter and how we’ll use those theories in practice to advocate for our clients.” Full-time professors are “always around and accessible.” “They eat breakfast and lunch in the cafe and sit with students to chat with them.” Adjuncts are often a very different story. “Meeting with adjunct professors without an office on campus can be so difficult to arrange, it’s headache-inducing,” grumbles a 2L. Some students say that the top brass takes “an active, positive role in students’ lives.” “The dean makes an effort to know the name of every student in the school,” they say. Other students contend that bureaucracy is “nightmarish,” particularly if you’re unlucky enough to face anyone outside the law school. “I dread having to deal with the general university’s administrators,” notes a 2L.
Without question, St. John’s has a “broad” and “engaged” alumni network, which is “invaluable, especially for students looking to practice in the New York area.” “The alumni provide you with positions or connections in any way they can,” beams a 1L. “Alumni give their time to a significant number of the school’s activities, such as panels and mock interview programs.” “Career Services could be better,” though and students seeking to work in big firms face grimly stiff competition from the gaggle of big-name schools in the region. Networking with loyal alums is paramount because “few St. John’s students” land plum jobs through traditional on-campus interviews.
Campus Life/Facilities: The larger university is quiet by New York City standards. Although “the building is pretty run down,” there’s ample space and the facilities are “very modern.” “The library is fantastic.” “Classrooms are comfortable,” but occasionally crowded. Climate control can be a problem. “The environmental control system cannot regulate the temperature properly,” explains a 3L, “so you need to come dressed prepared for anything as each room has the potential to range from Arctic to Sahara.”
Most students are from New York, or at least from the Northeast, and ethnic diversity is laudable. Students at St. John’s Law describe themselves as “type-A personalities with something to prove.” They have “a sense that they will only get ahead through hard work and actually learning how to practice the law.” Nevertheless, they’re “very pleasant to be around.” “The student body is respectful of one another and welcoming to everyone,” promises a 1L. “There are only a few people in every year who are competitive,” adds a 2L, “and they are usually ridiculed.” Note, however, that the grading curve here is on the unforgiving side, “so your average grades will be lower than that at other law schools.”
The location “in the middle of nowhere Queens” hinders the social scene somewhat. The bright lights of Manhattan are a very reasonable train ride away, but “It can sometimes be inconvenient to get to the city from here.” “The Queens campus is a crappy location if you don’t have a car,” flatly advises a 1L. Socially unhappy commuters say, “Most clubs are little more than resume boosters, and few of them hold more than one or two meetings per semester.” “Sometimes the student body does not have the same sense of family that other law schools possess.” However, a large number of students live on campus or in the “affordable surrounding neighborhoods,” and they report a much higher level of “social life and school spirit.” “There are some good restaurants within walking distance,” and it’s common for students to “meet at the bars for a drink after studying.” “The school’s community is what you make of it,” reflects a 3L. “Opportunities abound, but you have to make an effort to find them.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.