TheRyanocerous wrote:I went to the Admitted Students Day last Monday at USD and I had mixed reviews about the program as a whole.
As a current 2L at USD, I felt the need to respond to your comments since I actually have experience with everything you discussed. I hope some of my insight can alleviate some concerns. I'd hate to see people give up on a school due to misinformation.
I'll address your comments subject by subject.
TheRyanocerous wrote:The campus was beautiful, it was the most well maintained place I have seen, but the law facilities were less than impressive. Both the law library and the school of law were very dated and seemed right out of the 1970's. This is not of huge concern but for the price and looking at the surrounding buildings I expected more from USD.
Indeed the campus is gorgeous. The law school buildings, however, are admittedly lacking on the inside. That said, over the past two years, the school has made efforts to improve the buildings where it can. The classrooms have all received new chairs, the law school main floor has been completely redone, and the library has seen the majority of the old wooden chairs replaced with new office desk chairs. There is still improvements that can, and will, be made, but even as it stands now, it's by no means a problem. You spend limited time in class itself, and the time you spend out of class can be spent anywhere on campus or San Diego for that matter. There are numerous beautiful places right on campus you can get your work done.
TheRyanocerous wrote:The program looked strong in several areas such as tax law but the career prospects seem extremely shaky. USD does not place well outside of the San Diego area (this is according to several faculty members I spoke with) mainly due to a lack of name recognition and a sparse alumni base outside San Diego.
This is where you have to be realistic. Unless you are a top 20 school candidate, most other schools, especially in the second tier will pose this problem. I considered attending schools ranked between 45-100 all over the country. The reach for all of them was the same as San Diego -- great in the area, but the further away you get, the less job prospects that exist. I know several students at other similarly ranked schools to USD and this has been confirmed in their job searches. At least USD is the strongest school, by far, in San Diego. Therefore, in SD you're going to have great job opportunities based on that fact alone.
Additionally, USD does reach up and down California. Personally, I am going to be working in the Bay Area this summer at a great firm. I got my job through USD. Oh, and I'm not in the top 10% of the class. I have other friends working in the Bay Area this summer, some in Vegas, others in D.C., and all over Orange County and LA.
My point is, despite the lack of a national reputation, which few, if any T2 schools have, USD places relatively well outside of SD.
TheRyanocerous wrote:These same faculty members also informed me that schools like USC and UCLA receive the lions share of Big Law jobs in San Diego.
Basically everyone I know in the top 10% of the class has a Big Firm job that wanted one. Obviously USC and UCLA will get a fair number of the Big Firm jobs in SD. If you think that isn't the case in any other big city, like NYC, SF, Chicago, LA, Miami, etc, you're being unrealistic. Big Firm jobs in any city are generally taken by the top 14 school students and then the top 5-10% of the local T2 school(s)'s students.
Again, your expectations need to be realistic. If your goal is Big Law, you either need to stick to the top schools or stay in the top of your class. I don't care what T2 you attend.
San Diego seems to be a really small legal market with stiff competition and high cost of living. Hearing my fears echoed in the faculty and student body first hand has given me serious doubts about the school. I went in with it being my first choice and I left with it being out of the running, which is unfortunate because I had very high hopes.
It is a small legal market. That said, the beauty of being in SD at the best SD law school is the opportunity to meet and network with local attorneys. Many people I know have done this and landed their summer jobs from it.
In addition, we have a job board (it's all online) where jobs are posted on a regular basis. Of course, this gives us first crack at lots of jobs in SD because many of these firms are looking for someone who can do some part-time work during the semester. This has led many people to summer and full-time post grad jobs as well. I got my part-time job for the semester using this resource and it could've turned into a summer position had I not chosen to move up north. Again, just another example of what kind of job prospects are out there.
I'm sure some people at USD are struggling to find summer jobs still. And I bet such is the case at almost any school in the country. That said, I can't speak for other schools, but of all my good friends at USD - up and down the rankings - only about two are still looking for jobs. Everyone else I know has already got something lined up.
Bottom line: if you attend USD and work hard enough, take advantage of some of the opportunities the school offers (i.e. moot court, clinics, law review, alumni events, etc.), you will succeed. I promise you. And you'll do so while going to law school in an environment that makes a really stressful time in your life enjoyable.