The University of Texas School of Law
727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, Texas, 78705
TippingTheScales (2013): 17
U.S. News (2013): 15
AboveTheLaw (2013): 14
TEXAS LAW STUDENTS SAY…
Academics & Programs: At the University of Texas, bigger is better. “The large size of the school provides opportunities to specialize in or explore almost any area of law” through diverse coursework, clinics, student organizations, journals, and other top-notch programs for future lawyers. The three-year J.D. program kicks off with a series of core courses in civil procedure, property, and other fundamental areas.
These courses are often “fantastic,” as “the school is very good about getting its top faculty members to teach 1L classes, exposing us to the best professors early rather than making us wait three years,” says one student. Another student comments on the strength of the J.D. and states, “The legal writing program has recently been overhauled and is now a huge point of emphasis for first year students— which is a big strength, I think, given that every practicing attorney I’ve ever talked to has stressed the importance of effective legal writing.” A team of attorneys with “stellar credentials,”…“the faculty at Texas has the right balance of prestige and accessibility.” As at most schools, “Some are better teachers than others,” and not all of them are focused on students. “Some professors go out of there way to keep up with student progress,” while others prefer to concentrate on their own careers or research. Fortunately, “Most legitimately care about educating and some will go out of their way to make students understand and feel capable.” In fact, “several professors even throw parties for students, raffle off brunch to the class and offer a variety of other ways to get to know them better in a far less formal setting.”
UT’s size does come with some downfalls. Specifically, students battle with the reams of red tape typical to large public institutions. “Since the law school is only one small part of the huge bureaucratic entity that is the University of Texas, things can sometimes get confusing—paying tuition, for instance, is done through one entity (not the law school), obtaining a student ID is done through another, financial aid through another, residency through another, etc.” Students also note that there have been recent upheavals in the administration, and “a lot of faculty drama that happens behind the scenes.” At the same time, the school works to mitigate the class size by dividing students into smaller study groups through a program known as the society system, to good effect: “The society system, which makes the large class size manageable and gives each student a smaller social group to interact with on a regular basis, helps greatly in personalizing the school and allaying feelings of being overwhelmed and alone in the school environment.”
Overall, students at UT Austin agree that, “the experience is comparable to an elite private school,” but without the hefty price tag. With its low in-state tuition costs, “UT is probably the best value law school in the country for in-state students,” while qualified “out-of-staters can either acquire residency (and get in state tuition) after a year at UT, or else can negotiate an in-state rate as a kind of scholarship offer.”
Real-world preparation is taken seriously at UT Law. In addition to substantive courses in the curriculum, “students can and should participate in novice mock trial and moot court if they want more “hands on” courtroom experience, even as 1Ls.” “Being located in the state capital provides many government-related opportunities not available elsewhere,” and the school offers “a lot of clinics and internship programs that allow students to get tons of real-world practice in law.” Widely considered the “best in Texas,” UT’s “greatest strength is its regional ties. It is well-placed among two very large legal markets (Dallas and University of Houston), which boast salaries on par with New York, DC, and LA along with a much lower cost of living.” For better or for worse, one would be hard pressed to find a particular angle in recruiting either. “The school seems to place well enough in firms, nonprofits, and government, but does not excel in any one of those.”
Campus Life/Facilities: The law school campus at UT may not win awards for beauty, but it is not a bad place to spend three years. Within the law school, “most of the classrooms don’t have windows, which can get very depressing at times,” and “the facilities are mediocre” at best. While not entirely ideal, students reason that “this is to be expected with the insanely low cost of attendance.” On the upside, “the library is huge, and there is not the problem of undergrad kids trying to use our facilities like at other law schools.”
On the whole, the law school maintains a very “laid-back environment,” populated by students who are “accomplished, mature, and professional.” When it comes to making friends and networking, UT’s size is again a benefit. “The school is big enough that you can find any crowd you want to hang out with, and study anything you want with an expert in the field.” Competitiveness is generally kept under wraps, and most people “seem to have a good sense of humor about our experience which does wonders for our morale.” Off campus, opportunities for nightlife and recreation abound. A nationally famous, fun, and funky metropolis, “Austin is a terrific city and everyone wants to stay once they come to school here.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.