1. Describe the Oakland neighborhood surrounding the school. What do 1BRs tend to go for in this area?
The area surrounding the school is pretty urban. Basically, it's right on a major street (Forbes Ave.), so there's plenty of "stuff" in the immediate area. Walk around on Google Maps a bit, I did that before I came and it gives a pretty accurate feel for the area. I think a 1B in Oakland goes anywhere in the $450-750 range. The apartments immediately in Oakland and South Oakland are probably 90% undergrad students, though, leading right into...
1a. Which areas do most law students tend to live?
Almost all my friends live in Shadyside, North Oakland, or Squirrel Hill, with Shadyside probably being the most popular for grad students. Apartments in those areas can range from a low end of $550ish for a studio to $1000ish for a nice 1BR. However, most 1BR are in the $700-800 range. I'm paying $850/month with utilities (minus electricity) included for my apartment. Shadyside is an awesome place to live with lots of young professionals and young families, lots of popular restaurants and bars, four grocery stores in a 2-mile radius (two Giant Eagle's, a Trader Joe's, and a Whole Foods, two Starbucks', Panera, Border's, basically anything you need, and it's all very close and walkable. Squirrel Hill is equally nice with lots to do.
2. How's the parking situation on campus? Are permit sales restricted by class (priority for 2Ls and 3Ls, as in some schools), or are they generally available for anyone who wants to purchase one?
There's no law parking lot or anything, just street parking around the school. I'm pretty sure you get a parking pass through the main university and they're kind of pricey, though not limited by class (you would need to check on this, I don't drive to school). There's also a parking garage next door to the school which is like $15 a day or something and a $4 parking lot a 5-minute walk away. However, you get free public transportation with your Pitt ID, so just about everybody takes the bus. It's a huuuge perk, since you never have to worry about getting around the city on any form of public transportation. My bus ride from Shadyside is 10-20 minutes depending on the traffic (40ish minute walk). Squirrel Hill is about the same. North Oakland probably 5-10 minutes, also walkable.
3. Is there a coffee shop/cafe in the law school building? Closest Starbucks?
There's a Panera next door, a Starbucks the next block, Bruegger's the next block, 7/11 down the street, another Starbucks, a couple local coffee shops... we law students drink a lot of coffee, I've gotten to know these places well.
4. Favorite 1L professor and class?
Tough one. If you get Frolik for Torts he'll scare the crap out of you the first few weeks with his super Socratic Method and scary demeanor, but you'll loosen up (especially after you get called on) and come to absolutely love the guy, like we all did. He's absolutely brilliant and you will learn a ton. He's also freakin' hilarious. I'm pretty sure he intentionally freaks out new 1L's to get them to pay attention to the cases and listen in class. He's a softy at heart. Other than him, McCarthy is a blast to have Crim with. You can relax in his class and he's also quite hilarious. I will warn you that most of the classes are pretty boring and there isn't much a professor can do about it.
5. What do you like about Pitt? What do you wish were different about it?
Sounds corny, but I really do like the people here. You'll quickly become friends with your class (kind of inevitable when you're stuck with them all day, all week), and if they're anything like my section, they're pretty cool/interesting people. I've fallen in love with the city. Even though I'm from a different state and have only lived here half a year, I would gladly spend the rest of my life in Pittsburgh (seriously). It somehow both feels like a big city and doesn't at the same time. As for what I would change... it'd be nice if the law school building had a few more windows. The building in general is plenty nice enough, just not much to write home about. However, that really doesn't matter much.