University of California Davis School of Law
Academics & Programs: The “cozy” University of California—Davis, School of Law is “one of the smallest law schools in California.” The “dynamic” professors here “know what they’re talking about” and are “passionate about teaching.” Sure, some teachers are less student-oriented but overall, “The faculty is the best part of King Hall.” “Most use some form or other of the Socratic Method.” “My professors have at least added humor to my life, ranging from role play (like arresting people in class) and poking fun at our being stumped over relatively simple questions just because it’s sometimes terrifying to be called on,” relates a 2L. These “incredibly approachable” professors are also “willing to help in anyway they can to enhance your education or career goals.” Tutors in the highly praised teaching assistant program “hold office hours and review sessions to solidify big-picture concepts” for 1Ls. The UCD administration is good at “seeking student involvement in decision-making.”
The whopping twelve clinics at UCD “are a great way to really understand how to practice law.” The prison law clinic in particular “has enjoyed a great deal of success and acclaim.” There are certificate programs in public service law and environmental law, and students say they are “truly are committed to public interest work.” “We take the fact that we are named after Martin Luther King Jr. very seriously,” asserts a 2L. “It’s great to be in an environment where people truly care about cause lawyering.” However, many students pine for more of a course selection. “About one-fourth of a class has the opportunity to take Pre-Trial Skills, but there are so many classes like Latinos and the Law and Disability Rights with classrooms that sit half empty.”
As for employment, alumni are “supportive,” and with San Francisco and Sacramento nearby, “Davis is conveniently connected to two powerful cities that are full of federal, state, and local agencies as well as important judicial offices.” The school has responded to students’ complaints that Career Services “needs to get its act together” by hiring new staff, including a new Assistant Dean. “‘Big-law’ possibilities are fairly good,” and “approximately twenty-five percent of the student body will work in a large law firm after graduation.” There is “an awesome loan forgiveness program” for graduates who pursue public interest careers.
Campus Life/Facilities: The King Law building recently underwent a massive expansion and renovation, which included the construction of new classrooms and offices, as well as a new appellate courtroom. The library is an “exceptional” research facility, but it’s “grungy,” “with a little bit of a 1960s industrial feel.” “Fortunately the school is about to undergo a dramatic facelift.” “Future classes should have newer and more spacious facilities.” The library renovations are scheduled for completion at the end of 2012.
Student diversity is comparatively strong on campus, with a visible “Asian and Pacific Islander” presence and a “decent” Hispanic student population. “There are active Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic student groups in the law school, as well as a feminist forum, a pro-choice group, a GLBT group, and a Federalist society.” Politically, “Students are often very liberal or very conservative,” and “Moderates aren’t very vocal.” “There is certainly competition” among students, but “the King Hall Spirit” “keeps it from getting dirty or uncomfortable.” “A laid-back atmosphere” permeates. “People loan notes and books without a qualm.” “Not that we all hold hands in the hallway and sing Kumbaya,” elaborates a 3L, “but everybody is very respectful and has a good time together.”
Socially, “Most people find a niche,” and events and parties occur “pretty much every weekend.” “There are a large number of traditions at King Hall that students really get into” as well, including “softball and bowling leagues, the law school talent show, and a law school prom.” “While these may seem lame and tacky, they are actually really fun, and the large majority of students get involved,” explains a 3L. There’s also “a co-op nursery, so students with children can drop their kids off while in class.”
“The city of Davis is a delightful college town.” “You don’t have to fight traffic, and people are just downright friendly.” “Armies of students ride bicycles to classes, and the fun downtown area is a short walk from campus.” There is a “dearth of interesting restaurants,” but “The weather is nice.” “You can focus,” notes a 3L, because “It’s quiet.” “Davis is a fantastic place to spend three years of graduate school,” adds another 3L. “Sacramento is fifteen minutes away and the Bay Area is only an hour [away].” “Great skiing” and “wine country” are not far. Davis is also “a town where hippies settle down after… making high salaries.” As a result, apartments aren’t cheap. “The housing crunch cannot be overstated enough,” warns a 2L. “Students considering Davis should immediately check Craigslist and do everything in their power to get housing secured as soon as they accept.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.