Just got back from Athens on 4th Street. I wouldn't recommend it, honestly. Now, Cafe Poca Cosa was absolutely delicious. I'd highly recommend stopping by if you're ever in Tucson. Great concept, excellent execution in the kitchen.
Anyways, on to impressions from the ASD. Most likely tl;dr
for most people, but here goes.
Overall, I got a very good impression from the school. I thought the Dean gave a pretty high energy 'pitch' for the program. I also liked his humor, but that might have been just me. I liked his honesty, especially when he conceded that law school is about fit and that UA may or may not be the right fit for you. But only you can decide whether it is right or not.
I also liked his passion for the program. It gives me confidence that the administrators put that kind of energy into the law school.
The presentation of the Writing Program also left me with a good opinion of the program. It really seems that with the decision to offer legal writing both semesters, and to have it taught in conjunction with practitioners, they are working hard to have graduates more 'practice ready'. The emphasis placed on legal writing seems to be high at UA. One of the 2Ls I talked to said that the new emphasis in the legal writing program should allow students to have better writing samples ready for prospective employers.
The Clinical Program Presentation didn't leave as good of an impression on me. I think there are a number of good clinical offering available, but the only thing I got from the presentation was that they seem to have strong clinical offerings in fields I'm not particularly interested.
The Career and Professional Development Panel came just in time, I think. It's all well and good to talk about the academics, but at the end of the day, it is a professional degree program, and we are all looking for jobs. It's probably not a representative sample of the student body, as each of the panelists seemed to have been very successful. But, I think it did drive home the point that you can still do good things with a UA law degree.
Several of the panelists mentioned that you can be geographically mobile, to a degree. One, if I remember correctly, clerked in Philadelphia at a federal appeals court, and another was working at Kirkland and Ellis in L.A. It's more of a stretch to leave Arizona, but the impression I got that it is far from impossible.
I thought the exchange about ASU vs UA was pretty funny. UA seemed pretty confident about their status vis-a-vis ASU. I think it's telling that they didn't seem to go through as much trouble to try to explain why they are better than ASU, whereas ASU seemed to go through a lot of trouble during their presentation to explain why they are better situated than UA. Put plainly, for the people at UA, it's self-evident that they are better than ASU.
How much that is true, I don't know. For my career objectives, however, proximity to Phoenix during the school years isn't important, and I can move there if needs be during the summer.
One questioner brought things back to reality near the end of the panel discussion by moving the talk towards the difficult economic climate. To their credit, the Careers Services Office was frank in their description of the current climate for students. No joke, it's bad.
It was nice to hear, though, that while the economy is difficult, some 95% or so of the current class has summer work lined up. A lot of that is unpaid, as they conceded. But, it still means that students are getting skill development during the summer. The hope, as they said, is that the market will improve by the time we graduate in 2013. I talked with a 2L for a bit, and he confirmed that hardly any students got anything through OCI. From what I can gather, to get work at this school requires a lot of work by the student. So, prepare to network and pound pavement, as firms aren't lining up.
Overall, I wish we could have heard more from the panelists. I didn't think they had enough of an opportunity to share their experiences with us, and they all seemed to have fascinating careers paths.
The Student Panel was alright. They seemed to work to have a cross-section of students with varying backgrounds. Again, it seemed like they picked the cream of the crop for our benefit. Which is what they should be doing, I suppose. That the 3L on the panel was working to start another Journal was good. I definitely think UA could benefit from one more publication.
Now that I think of it, I wish someone had asked what the 1Ls were doing this summer.
The Mock Class with Prof. Miller was cool. Pretty entertaining, and he seemed very passionate about the material and the school. If that's what law school classes are like, I think I'll love it. Part of me thinks, though, that not all are that stimulating or exciting.
Library was absolutely beautiful. Definitely the highlight of the law school. It's a very well designed space, with good use of natural lighting. Nice tables, study rooms, sofas and chairs. I can see myself practically living in there - fortunately or unfortunately.
Overall, I had a good impression of the school as well. It seems like the resources are there to help you accomplish what you want to accomplish. But, your law school experience is what you make of it. No one is going to hold your hand, or punch your ticket, as the Dean said.
Anyways, at the moment, UA is my top choice. I'm waiting on a couple WLs that are still contenders (Hastings, Wisconsin), and still waiting on one decision (Davis), but UA is high on the list. All my other options would probably cost more, so on cost alone, UA wins unless the others come through financially in a big way.