Everything just clicked perfectly with me at ASD. UCLA has been my top choice for a while (just EDed to an ivy at insistence of parents even though I had originally wanted to ED here). I really wanted UCLA for its available clinics and programs/specializations - public interest and critical race studies. The faculty research was right on par with what I wanted to learn about, too ... I really loved college at a UC, and how faculty incorporated so much of their own cutting-edge research into their lectures there. UCs are known for being research institutions, so a desire to learn about professors' research in the classrooms tends to draw a lot of students to UC. I know employment figures are most important for many people in choosing a law school, but for me, the day-to-day experience I would have is incredibly important too. I'm paying for my education, not just investing for a higher-paying job. So I wanted professors who would lecture about things I actually really wanted to learn more about - and based on professors' publications, UCLA offers exactly that. Some of my other options had professors who, say, studied race and the law, but it would be about ... for example ... discrepancies in the values of bodies in organ harvesting, or achievement in education ... instead of race and the law specifically in terms of incarceration and immigration (what I'm interested in). The former is really fascinating and all, but not really in the area I want to build my career towards ... I wanted more of a focus on criminal law than a creative intersection of race and health law or education ... for example. Or publications by faculty just wouldn't excite me as much at other schools. Or there wouldn't be a single faculty member I may potentially want to be a research assistant for. At UCLA, it's hard to choose! Faculty is really important for me. In undergrad, I was really careful to only take professors who assigned readings that I intrinsically wanted to read and had publications that I really wanted to pick their brains about.
When I got to ASD, I was very lucky. The very first law student who approached me to talk shared almost the exact same interests and career aspirations as me. She was amazing, loved talking to her, will definitely be seeking her out as a mentor next year. We talked about the two programs and she gave me anecdotes about her experiences, even advice in terms of getting into clinics I wanted, and just really got me even more excited about the school (didn't think it was possible). I didn't know that UCLA doesn't rank its students! What a huge perk. She said I was a perfect fit for the school and the programs, and I was told the same thing by various directors and professors as I made the table rounds. I felt right at home. It feels like my niche. I had a great time talking to everyone - sometimes about law school/careers, other times about basically anything. There were a lot of laughs and I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. All the students, professors, and admin staff were kind, friendly, and approachable. The only weird awkward people were some of the prospective students ... ones who didn't really seem sure about UCLA anyway. I really loved how laid-back everything felt. There also seemed to be a confidence among faculty and students that the school's reputation spoke for itself that there wasn't quite as much of a need to overbearingly persuade me to come that others seemed to do ... some other schools' faculty and students seemed pretty self-conscious. Some faculty members even seemed to suggest not to come to their schools, because being from California, I'd be miserable there - even despite the school itself. I didn't get that from UCLA. UCLA law students also displayed a level of poise that far exceeded the other schools' law students ... it's hard to describe ... but there is a certain 'it' factor ... I want to be like them. I had met a few UCLA alum attorneys elsewhere and thought, "my people." Same thoughts again while visiting the school.
The campus is BEAUTIFUL. The pictures online really don't do it justice. I took a few photos, but I found that the school is definitely not nearly as photogenic as it really is. I was taken off-guard. The weather is perfect too ... now I'm from San Francisco and it doesn't get too cold there either ... but I much prefer LA's weather over SF's. No complaints about having perfect warm spring-mild summer weather year-round. The area around the school is really amazing too. I actually never visited UCLA until this trip ... went to LA plenty of times and hated it because I'd be stuck in traffic or just in less-aesthetically-pleasing areas ... but wow, Westwood is gorgeous, and UCLA's right on the edge of Bel Air. People in LA tend to be beautiful, too. Eye candy everywhere. California, sure, but especially LA, has a strong culture of healthy eating and fitness ... so you see tons of people in their nice workout clothes jogging around campus, heading to yoga, etc. People dress more colorfully than I've seen at other admitted students receptions and just from visiting schools ... it's not the boring ol white or blue dress shirts and black or khaki slacks ... lots of bright colors - yellows, oranges thrown into the mix, fewer blazers and suits/ties. With perfect weather, you can wear whatever you like (and show off your arms and legs after all the hard work at the gym instead of having to pile on tons of layers and a parka).
I also LOVE that there are TONS of things to do in LA, and a huge variety of restaurants and cuisines too. When I visited UC Irvine and got the general feeling that the main thing to do around there was Dave and Busters, I realized, wow ... I would probably kill myself. I also didn't particularly enjoy the food near campus ... I found it bland or kinda like from a mall food court. I really need a lot of different places to go clubbing to blow off steam, a lot of music venues for concerts, fashion shows, art galleries, hip, classy wine bars, and admittedly bougey 'artisan' places to eat ... I realized what an urban douchebag I am and how I really want those kinds of options around to feel happy. I really can't have a standard mall with a Forever 21 and Gap be the area's main attraction without feeling miserable. I thought it would be okay since I should be studying all the time in law school anyway ........ but no. Weekends, I need options like what's available in LA to de-stress. Also, in terms of the food, any random hole-in-the-wall has been impressive compared to the options even in SF. Because there's so much competition in LA, the quality seems to be better on average, while prices are below average (compared to SF). I had the cheapest sushi ever at some random place that was closest to walking distance and it was the best I've had in years. As you walk around campus, you see flyers for all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, there are tons of Mediterranean food options around campus, and I'm so happy I don't have to say goodbye to California burritos for the next three years. I love all the variety UCLA's location offers. I need a dynamic location like this.
That's pretty much what comes to mind off the top of my head. Thanks to others for posting about it first ... yeah, I really loved that there were about 20 round tables set up with each table having a certain theme ... like #16 was critical race studies, so CRS professors and students would sit there, and anybody interested in talking about CRS over lunch would sit there, and maybe then hop over to another table where people from another area of interest were sitting. There were others, like for business law, health law, financial aid, clinics & externships, etc. What a good idea. The student orgs had tables set up inside the law building, too. I attended one mock class that was fun ... lol the professor's last name was GOODMAN. If you're another fellow Breaking Bad fan, you probably got a grin out of that too. He was very friendly, funny, unintimidating. Made the class very palatable to 0Ls. Didn't have any gunners sitting in. Yay. Also, looking around the classroom, I was pleased to see that it had the biggest racial (and maybe economic class) diversity out of the other schools I'd seen.
I just had a fantastic experience and it all just affirmed my intuition that this would be the perfect fit for me. Finally, I've found a law school that I am certain I will feel right at home at. I have a very strong feeling that I will be very happy here over the next three years.
Happy to answer any further questions