After visiting CUA on Friday and Saturday I figured I'd come on the board and see what others had to say about the school. I was surprised by what seems to be a lack of commenting in the forums on TLS, but maybe that is a good thing considering some of the comments about other schools I've seen on here.
On Friday I sat in on a first year class (Property) and was given a tour of the facilities. A disclaimer before I start getting into things: I live in the DC area and have only been able to visit GTown, GWU and American (I also went to undergrad at American), so those are my only other schools with which to compare Catholic.
The class was very interesting, especially considering it is near the end of the semester, so the students had a previous basis for everything they were learning, as opposed to me just sitting in on one class with no previous knowledge of the subject matter. The professor was actually a visiting professor for the semester, but he was very knowledgeable and kept the class engaged in the discussion. He did not use the Socratic method that so many other professors use, which made the class seem a bit more relaxed. After the class, our group was able to speak to a couple of students who indicated that as far as the Socratic method goes, only about half of the professors they had used it at CUA- one professor even gave them a schedule ahead of time telling them which day they would be called on, which I thought was helpful.
The facilites are nice as well. The building that the law school is in is fairly new, so all of the classrooms and offices are modern and not outdated. The law library was very nice and seemed to have an abundance of resources and helpful staffers available. The building was very quiet, which I chalked up to it being a lazy Friday, and is located across a quad area from the undergraduate student union, which has a Starbucks in it (very helpful). I was also able to meet one-on-one with a professor on Friday afternoon, which was a great experience. He gave me a lot of good insight and answered my questions directly and honestly. All in all a solid first impression.
Saturday was a standard ASD- breakfast, welcome from the Dean, mock class (property again), another presentation, a q&a with four recent alums, a financial aid presentation and lunch with some current students. Digesting everyting down into a few key points, this is what I learned about CUA:
1) Most of all, the students and the professor talked about the sense on community at the school. They all made the point about how while CUA is competitive, it's not the cutthroat type of competitiveness you hear about at other schools. Everyone wants to succeed, but they want their classmates to succeed as well- no stories about people ripping pages out of books in the library so that others can't get them. This was a huge selling point for me, as I really got a sense that everyone genuinely enjoyed being there.
2) If you are interesed in the DC area, and in Communications, Securities or Public Policy Law, CUA has specific institutes that you can apply to dedicated to these areas, which are very well received in the DC area. As someone who is looking to speciailize in Communications law, this was another plus. One of the alums on the panel was a graduate of the Communications Institute and was able to secure 3 or 4 externships while in school due to his participation in the Institute.
3) The alumni network is vast and helpful, as is the career services department. The recent alums were all able to land their positions, and externships they had while in school, based on networking with alumni and the hard work of career services. All the alumni want to see other CUA law students succeed, so they have an interest in helping students or graduates find and secure positions in their specific fields.
4) CUA has courses that 1L's take that are dedicated to legal writing. One of the alums mentioned that when he was applying for his clerkship for an Appeals court judge, the judge ended up choosing him because of CUA's reputation for having students that know how to write. The strong legal writing program is something that sets the school apart from a lot of other schools.
5) CUA has a law review and three other law journals (one was a communications journal, I forget what the other two were). This gives people who aren't selected for the main law review a chance to still write for one of the other journals, which naturally looks good on the resume later. They also have a strong, nationally recognized and award winning moot court program, which again is something that would look good on any resume should it be something you are interested in.
You can probably tell that my experience at CUA was a positive one. I was WL at AU and breifly thought about sending in a LOCI, but after visiting CUA, weighing the financial options (I received a scholarship from CUA, most likely would not from AU), and the opportunites to succeed and build a strong resume for my post-grad work, I've decided to submit a seat deposit to CUA and in all likelihood will be attending in the Fall. I've had many people tell me that while going to a highly ranked school may be somewhat important, it's more about what you do while you're at school that makes the difference post-graduation. I feel that at a school like CUA, I have a better chance of being able to participate in activities that interest me- moot court, law journal, externships, etc.- than if I went to a higher ranked, more competitive school. My one gripe thus far in the inter-department communication at the school. I applied for the Communications Institute along with my regular application, and that Institute application was misplaced, so I had to resubmit it; I've sent a few emails to certain departments at the school and received a slow response, or no response at all. Overall, though, I didn't think that these minor issues outweighed the positives that CUA had.
I hope that the above post was help to some who are considering CUA, and if you have any additional questions about the campus, the tour, etc., I'd be more than happy to answer them as best I can. Good luck to everyone!