University of San Diego School of Law
Academics & Programs: The University of San Diego School of Law boasts a lengthy 50-year history, an ideal location, and an alumni roster of 60 judges and two members of Congress, including the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The well-reputed national mock trial team and appellate moot court program all make for a “wonderful experience” and a “grand” academic life. At USD, “the opportunities are endless, it doesn’t matter what field you want to enter.”
The “great” faculty members here “genuinely like teaching” and “make an effort beyond the classroom to reach out to students.” There is “supportive academic advising in every aspect of learning,” and “professors are very interested in helping their students excel.” Research opportunities are also readily available. Many of the first year professors use the Socratic method, but this becomes less and less frequent as a student advances, and the legal writing course was recently changed to being graded instead of pass/fail, which means that “if you let it, it will consume much more of your time.”
Some of the more popular classes “are really hard to get into, especially if a particular professor is good.” Several professors are practitioners in the San Diego legal community, and offer “current, pertinent information necessary to ‘survive’ in the legal world today.” The Lawyering Skills Department is a standout here among students, as it “teaches us legal research and writing during our 1L year, and is a great program.” Students also appreciate the legal clinics on campus that service low-income families in a variety of legal areas. A few students do wish that there was a “bar course integrated into the education,” as the post-graduate bar prep courses can be pricey.
The administration is “flexible and willing to change with the times and adapt to unsuccessful programming, classes, or past precedent.” A staff that “knows you by name” proves to be “highly desirable as a law student,” as many here are paying a great deal of money and “don’t want to just be another number.”
The “service oriented” administration at USD may be “great,” but the office of career services is a mixed bag. Some say it is “very helpful” and “run very well,” while others wish it could do more. “I go there every few weeks but never really get much out of them,” says one student. It definitely helps that the “small market of San Diego yields constant opportunity to network and build your personal brand.” “My school is well-ranked within the city, which allowed me to work at the ACLU and the IRS. If I went to a school of a similar ranking in LA, I doubt I would have had the same opportunities. Or if I went to Iowa, neither of those organizations have offices there,” says a student.
Campus Life/Facilities: As one student puts it, “Law school is challenging enough, you do not need your school making it harder than it needs to be. USD makes the transition into law school life so smooth and effortless.” This “quaint” school truly has a “student body that is willing to help each other succeed.” It “feels small and it feels like you know everyone.” The pleasant mood of students here flows easily, since the school is located five minutes from the beach “in a beautiful setting” and is laid out “very conveniently in regards to the classrooms and research center.” “The San Diego area is wonderful, but also the campus culture is laid back and cooperative rather than combative,” says one student.
The school also has a good understanding of the need for creature comforts and stress-relieving practices: it “provides coffee and snacks during finals,” “there is candy in every office, [and] the dean’s mixers are well attended and delicious.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.