UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

(Where, When and What Did You Think)
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RedGiant
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UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby RedGiant » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:41 am

Didn't see a thread for this, so I am starting one.

Overall, the day was very organized, the staff and students were friendly and the campus was very pleasing. I would also add that this was my first admitted students' day visit, so I didn't know what to expect. I felt welcomed and wanted. Dean Canada was very congratulatory, even laudatory, with respect to our admittance. Overall, it was a completely stunning, sunny SF day, and if I didn't know better (because I live nearby and know how foggy SF is typically) I would have thought that SF is the most gorgeous city in the whole world. It was, today.

Before you read on, know that I am a non-trad (a bit older) and really focused on getting into biglaw, which is not typical of all Hastings admits. As such, this review is through that lens.

Here are my impressions.

1) Facilities--much, much nicer than I'd been led to believe--I think stuff had been remodeled since a lot of the alums I know attended Hastings. I thought everything was clean, modern and functional. I even liked the Tower--it is a very-well maintained Beaux Arts building. The library was light-filled and recently-redone. The Reading Room in the 198 (Snodgrass) building was really lovely. The Tenderloin is just outside, but I see most students' point that if you don't do stupid things in a city (flashing cash, cell phones, laptops or leaving possessions in open view in cars parked on the street) it wouldn't be a big deal. I can see that your nighttime walking options would be limited unless you were pretty brave or headed away from the Tenderloin. But that's what the free nighttime dropoff shuttle is for, I suppose.

2) The curriculum--The school seemed teaching-focused. The profs on the afternoon panel seemed very dedicated to students (and very accomplished). The course catalog is extensive and the specialties are well-fleshed out. I wished they had more of a business-e-ship curriculum as a concentration, but they don't, although they offer a number of relevant classes. (Again, this is specific to me.) But I did feel that they had a very deep curriculum for nearly any "typical" law student (immigration, IP, trial advocacy/lit, intl law, etc. etc). The clinical offerings and court-focused/public interest-focused externships were extensive and very relevant. The school did a great job of highlighting them.

3) Admitted Students--I felt like it was a UC-graduate convention. I definitely felt like either they give preference to UC grads or a disproportionate number of UC grads showed up to ASD. Either way, kind of weird. I have nothing against UC grads--they're great schools...it was just statistically odd to me to see the admit pool be so UC-ugrad focused. No offense intended...just surprised!

4) Location, Location, Location--The location seems like a huge plus if you want to work in a court/courtroom somehow (public defender, ADA, law clerk, etc.) But I didn't really understand how it was that much better than any school if you didn't want to work in a courtroom setting--that seemed like a point of parity, not differentiation. The location seems like a huge plus if you want to do public interest law or work with underprivileged/indigent etc. Speaking of which, there seems to be a great emphasis on public sector work (possibly to the detriment of folks looking to work in a private capacity). Again, really fabulous if public sector work is your bag, but the whole school seems geared that way, so this was a turnoff to someone looking to work in the private sector post-grad.

5) Job placements--This was the huge elephant in the room. The Career Panel that I attended did nothing to alleviate my fear. The head of the career office, Sari Zimmerman, seemed kind, knowledgeable, patient and well-intentioned, but an "oh well, there have been a lot of structural changes in the legal field lately, so 'it's hard'" comment made her seem quite flip about the whole "our students are having a super-tough time finding jobs" thing. As if it were out of her hands. I don't think the CSO should hand out jobs on a platter, but they have a huge role to play. I expected a whole lot more _proactive_ action from a career office to be wooing potential employers like mad, but I didn't feel that. (Maybe they are doing that and still getting the results they've been getting.) She was honest about stats, and did not duck the questions, but rather made it seem like Hastings couldn't do anything, which I think is flat-dab wrong. I've gone to schools and graduated during recessions, and I can tell you that CSOs can do more than hand out a list of alumni contacts for students to contact and beg for jobs. All of her examples seemed well-intentioned but halfway effective in execution.

Instead, it came across that Hastings feels a duty, as a public law school, to focus on helping churn out public sector students or to push students to the public sector since private sector jobs are harder to come by. Her advice to "get really good grades" and "network like crazy" if I wanted to work in biglaw wasn't bad advice, but it wasn't comforting either. I talked with several 2Ls and 3Ls who had completely changed their job strategy (recently) as they weren't getting traction in the fields that they had originally envisioned. It's nearly April, and several of the 3Ls we met were not employed and didn't really have game plans. (Several others were and had great jobs, but many of those folks said they got them through "diversity programs." Again, helpful if you're "diverse," discouraging if you are not.) The unemployed 2Ls/3Ls seemed optimistic in late March that they'd find something soon, but still, very scary given sticker/possible debt load.

I found Hastings ' "Lawyers for America" program altruistic, but misguided. If the market is not valuing the degrees bestowed on your grads such that they're not hiring them, creating a few special programs where the school pays potential employers (in the public sector) to take on their grads is really not addressing the crux of the issue. It's a workaround. Make your degree marketable/valuable and the rest will take care of itself.

Also, Hastings kept pointing to the fact that percentage stats were not apples-to-apples to other schools, as Hastings has a larger class size than several "peer" Bay Area law schools. However, I still felt like that was not addressing the question--it really doesn't matter whether you class size is larger if only 26% of your 2012 grads have jobs at graduation (<--fake example, I don't know what the number was....but point stands). The percentage may reflect less people (due to a higher denominator than other schools in the area with smaller class sizes), but it still means that a lot of folks are not where they want to be, percentages aside.

6) Community--Hastings felt friendly and the students looked relatively happy (I mean, the ones we saw in the library were studying on a gorgeous sunny, spring SF day, so they didn't look thrilled, but....) I did feel the friendly vibe (many of our tour guides ran into folks along the tours and said "hello by name" to their classmates and it seemed as though folks were glad to be there. I also felt that if you didn't want to be part of the community, that happened too...there were a number of SF natives (who had non-law-school friends) or folks who admitted that they treated law school as more of a commuter school thing, and that worked for them, so...The students who assisted at ASD were bright, outgoing, and really pro-Hastings (unsurprisingly)!

7) International Opps--Great study abroad programs, great curriculum for this sort of thing, appears as though they have students who have done some interesting things and that if you networked, you could too.

8) Merit Aid--I didn't attend the Financial Aid Panel (we had to choose between 2 of 3 of Student Life, Career Goals and FinAid), but I heard through other Admits who did that Hastings has reevaluated its merit aid formula to factor in, let's just call it, socioeconomic factors as well as raw GPA/LSAT. (This was confirmed later when I chatted with an Asst Dean of Admissions.) That news would have been heartening to me if I had any "socioeconomic factors" to my credit. It was clear that Hastings has a goal of training certain students who might not have become attorneys due to their life circumstances. I applaud this goal, absolutely. It's noble, benefits society, yadda yadda. Unfortunately, it's not going to help my application cycle. I also felt like this goal has the unintended consequence to push Hastings down further in the rankings in years to come, if they are relaxing Admissions criteria to increase socioeconomic diversity or "life factors."

Interestingly, an Assistant Dean of Admissions also tried to tell me that Hastings gives a lot of aid to 2nd and 3rd year students, particularly those focused on public service. And she touted their LRAP program. Again, great, but not helpful to me. I also thought the "come here, and even if we don't give you $$ now, you may get $$ later" to be a bit disingenuous...if this is really the case, Hastings should publicize it more. Otherwise, they're dangling a false carrot which may or may not be true (how would applicants or current students ever know)?

Overall, I left with a very positive impression of the school, but don't think it's the most private-sector focused school. Hastings made me feel like a smarmy money-hungry Gordon Gekko for wanting to work in the private sector. I just didn't need that vibe. If they threw a bunch of money at me, I'd feel differently, but...I don't think they will, so...Hastings has fallen a bit on my list of possible schools.

I do think that attending Hastings would be great from a lifestyle and ease standpoint. I'd love to live in SF, have a swank view from my Tower room and go to school with a bunch of really passionate profs in a few pretty buildings. If I find out more about $$$ soon, we'll see where Hastings falls out.

I hope this review is helpful to those out-of-staters who were unable to join us today.

hiima3L
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby hiima3L » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:44 am

Don't go to Hastings.

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helterskelter
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby helterskelter » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:56 am

As I thought about the event last night, I realized all my takeaways are sarcastic/pessimistic. A professor told me not to go to Hastings, so that was great. Not exactly the validation I was seeking for considering Hastings.

onionskin
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby onionskin » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:56 am

Thank you for that it was really insightful. I really want to go down the public/ADA path so it was more or less an affirmation of UCH being a good choice for me.

I just have to ask, what's the parking situation like for commuter students? How far is it to Civic Center Bart?

apollo2015
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby apollo2015 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:42 pm

onionskin wrote:Thank you for that it was really insightful. I really want to go down the public/ADA path so it was more or less an affirmation of UCH being a good choice for me.

I just have to ask, what's the parking situation like for commuter students? How far is it to Civic Center Bart?


Civic Center Bart is a block away from the main campus. (Half a block away from the Tower.)

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RedGiant
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby RedGiant » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:10 pm

onionskin wrote:Thank you for that it was really insightful. I really want to go down the public/ADA path so it was more or less an affirmation of UCH being a good choice for me.

I just have to ask, what's the parking situation like for commuter students? How far is it to Civic Center Bart?


The school has a garage a block or so away that's ~$200/month or $8 or $9 a day (people couldn't remember). The Civic Center garage (which is not Hastings-specific) also takes Hastings students at a discounted rate of $9/day. So I think there'd be a lot of parking available, even if the Hastings garage is full.

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RedGiant
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby RedGiant » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:12 pm

onionskin wrote:Thank you for that it was really insightful. I really want to go down the public/ADA path so it was more or less an affirmation of UCH being a good choice for me.

I just have to ask, what's the parking situation like for commuter students? How far is it to Civic Center Bart?


I just want to emphasize--you'd be well prepared for such a career, based on the sell job we got. Whether you would be able to get _hired_ for such a job is an entirely different question, and one you'd be best served investigating with Hastings students on the Hastings thread. Hiring has been very, very hard, even in areas that have typically been strengths for Hastings. So I would do my homework around that.

onionskin
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby onionskin » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:42 am

Thanks for the heads up. The Third Tier Reality piece on Hastings was a bit of an eye opener.

well.let's.see
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby well.let's.see » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:52 pm

hiima3L wrote:Don't go to Hastings.


Why?

Details would be nice...

Nari Rina
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby Nari Rina » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:06 pm

well.let's.see wrote:
hiima3L wrote:Don't go to Hastings.


Why?

Details would be nice...

hiima3L
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby hiima3L » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:03 pm

well.let's.see wrote:
hiima3L wrote:Don't go to Hastings.


Why?

Details would be nice...


Employment prospects and debt.

eturnal
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby eturnal » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:29 pm

OP: BigLaw is a very realistic option for those in the top 10-15%, regardless of the diversity candidates. If you are outside the top 15% (but in the top 20%), then having work experience relevant to BigLaw (ex. work w/ start-ups, or companies that are clients of big law firms etc) along with journal membership (think HLJ or HCLQ-- the two more competitive journals on campus) would make you competitive, but if you're outside the top 20% I think you'd get some initial screening interviews but probably not very many call backs at BigLaw (medium sized law is more realistic...). BigLaw jobs are available-- it really depends on class rank to get past that first screening interview. In any case, it seems like most big law offers are extended to those in or very near the top 10% and if you're outside of that, you might not get much traction through OCI.

As for only meeting people who got BigLaw jobs through diversity programs, I think that has more to do with the fact that non-diverse students at Hastings with BigLaw jobs just aren't the type that would volunteer for admitted student days. I guess you could infer what you'd like from that...

For those in the top 15-20% who aren't interested in BigLaw, I know a number of people who got positions through Government Honors Programs (i.e. AG Honors Program at USDOJ, US Dept of Labor, US Treasury) etc, and are competitive with many top14 law schools. Of course, if you've got a chance at going to a top14 law school-- i'm not going to sit here and say come to Hastings...

As a 3L who has a job, I've had a great experience at Hastings and would recommend it (especially for those interested in BigLaw). I'd say the major caveat is your 1L grades really will be the determining factor of what job opportunities are available (i.e. you can land by just going through OCI / online job posts). Of course if you can get into Stanford, I'm pretty sure you should go there instead...

here's the info for parking... http://www.uchastings.edu/about/admin-o ... /index.php

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RedGiant
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby RedGiant » Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:48 am

Thanks for the addl color. Appreciate it.

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Rahviveh
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby Rahviveh » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:49 pm

eturnal wrote:As a 3L who has a job, I've had a great experience at Hastings and would recommend it (especially for those interested in BigLaw). I'd say the major caveat is your 1L grades really will be the determining factor of what job opportunities are available (i.e. you can land by just going through OCI / online job posts). Of course if you can get into Stanford, I'm pretty sure you should go there instead...

here's the info for parking... http://www.uchastings.edu/about/admin-o ... /index.php


NO. You just said that its "realistic" for the top 10-15%. And you would still recommend it to people? Just no.

hiima3L
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby hiima3L » Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:20 pm

ChampagnePapi wrote:
eturnal wrote:As a 3L who has a job, I've had a great experience at Hastings and would recommend it (especially for those interested in BigLaw). I'd say the major caveat is your 1L grades really will be the determining factor of what job opportunities are available (i.e. you can land by just going through OCI / online job posts). Of course if you can get into Stanford, I'm pretty sure you should go there instead...

here's the info for parking... http://www.uchastings.edu/about/admin-o ... /index.php


NO. You just said that its "realistic" for the top 10-15%. And you would still recommend it to people? Just no.


This.

Gambling $150-180k on a 10% shot at big law is a horrible decision.

dsamuels
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby dsamuels » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:23 pm

I agree with hiima3L. I would recommend not going to Hastings. Especially after the comment made by helterskelter and the fact that a Professor told him specifically not to go there. You have other choices? I have visited the school myself, and I was not impressed.

Moonlight
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Re: UC Hastings ASD (3/23/13)

Postby Moonlight » Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:56 pm

+1. Getting in on the conversation. :)




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