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Golden Gate Law School
Article and photographs by Stephanie Saenz, Stanford University
Tucked away in the hustle and bustle of the financial district of San Francisco, Golden Gate University Law School is a great option for applicants looking for a small school in a big city. Golden Gate Law is not only surrounded by the working world of one of the biggest metropolises in the nation, but it also sits amongst some of the world's largest law firms while being in a city that plays host to almost all levels of state and federal government. Located in such a deeply layered financial and legal atmosphere, Golden Gate Law has many attributes that applicants find appealing.
Admissions and Tuition
Ranked among the top 117 law schools in the nation by the Princeton Review, and falling just short of the top 100, Golden Gate Law has less rigorous admissions standards than top-tiered law schools. Receiving approximately 2,000 applications for the entering class of 2004, Golden Gate accepted roughly 1,100 applicants, an admissions rate of around 55% of applicants. A popular law school, apparent by the number of applications for admission, it is nevertheless less competitive and selective than most other law schools.
Admitted students of Golden Gate Law School generally have LSAT scores ranging from a 148 for students at the 25th percentile to a 154 for students at the 75th percentile. Undergraduate GPAs of admitted students range between a 2.8 for students at the 25th percentile and a 3.4 for students at the 75th percentile. An LSAT score of 151 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.1 are the average numbers for admitted students.
One advantage for students at Golden Gate Law is the school's flexibility: it offers a wide range of programs for applicants, including a part-time evening program. On another note, the school admits students that are right out of college as well as those who have advanced degrees and years of experience in the work force -- all in all, factors that have led to a well-rounded student population.
As Golden Gate is a private institution, tuition can get quite pricey. The annual tuition averages over $27,000 with books and supplies for the year adding on another $900. In addition, because San Francisco is one of the most luxurious places to live in the United States, housing can be extremely expensive as well. Off-campus room and board can cost students up to $15,000 per year, putting expenses for its law students at right around $43,000 annually.
Being that tuition and living expenses are so costly at Golden Gate Law, many of its students receive aid of some sort, usually around 80% of its students. Most students receive merit-based aid while others also receive scholarships. The average total aid package, which varies from student to student, is approximately $38,000.
Curriculum and Academics
Much of the curriculum of Golden Gate Law is structured on applying legal theories to the practical skills necessary to become a great lawyer. While professors do concentrate on teaching students the necessary legal theories to give them a great legal education, they accentuate the learning so as to incorporate these skills.
The professors of Golden Gate Law are by far its greatest strength. Their experience, wisdom and various views and perspectives lend to great classroom experiences for students. The professors, many of whom are practicing lawyers, are extremely well-informed and conversant and their concrete experience as lawyers makes them exceptional, most students believe. The fact that professors all have different opinions makes students feel as though their own various opinions are accepted in a classroom atmosphere, an attribute of the law school that leads to a great support network between students and professors.
In addition, many of the professors are wholeheartedly devoted to their positions as well as the education of their students. They put in not only their time and effort but take extra measures to communicate to students in and outside of the classroom. The fact that the law school is very small, with only 800 students in the law school, makes approaching professors a relatively easier task for students at Golden Gate Law. Golden Gate Law also offers internships and externships to students, much of which are located in the surrounding financial district and the local legal system. In addition, it offers a few joint degree programs, those being a JD/MBA as well as a JD/ Ph.D.
The clinical programs offered at Golden Gate Law are some of the most far-reaching in the country and provide great experience to students in a very practical manner. These clinics include the innocence project, the women's employment rights clinic and the environmental law and justice clinic.
Golden Gate Law, while offering many academic specialties, is strongly committed to public interest law, although there is no requirement imposed on students to focus solely on this area. Other notable concentrations include property law, criminal law, labor law, litigation, environmental law, international law, business law and intellectual property law.
Quality of Life
Golden Gate Law prides itself on the fact that the school is very diverse: politically, ethnically, in student population and in the faculty. There are few mainstream people at Golden Gate Law. For the most part, students find the quality of life to be great, mainly due to classmates as well as professors and the administration. In fact, there are over 20 student organizations that meet the interests of all the different types of students in the law school.
Most students enjoy working and socializing with their classmates and find a support network with the students at Golden Gate Law. This creates a less competitive and more helpful atmosphere. Support between students stems from daily interactions and the extreme willingness to work and study with one another. In addition, even though the school may be diverse, students do find that there are many other students in the school who are like-minded with them. Working and socializing with other students, however, is up to the individual and students range in the amount they participate is Golden Gate Law's relaxed environment.
Because the school is so small, composed of just two buildings, on-campus housing is not provided. In addition, because San Francisco can be so costly, many students find themselves commuting from all over the Bay Area to school. While the commute is not bad and the school is easily reached by all forms of public transportation, this can also squelch the ability of students to work and study together, as distance can get in the way.
The school provides outlets for laptops at each chair and internet connections in lecture halls, making Golden Gate Law facilities adequate. Recently renovated and expanded, the law library features a spacious reading room, numerous private study areas, and wifi.
Furthermore, San Francisco offers the most in regards to quality of life for GGU Law students as it provides them with constant access to restaurants, shopping, bars, clubs, and tons of outdoor activities.
The employment prospects for students of Golden Gate Law are adequate. With a job placement rate of 67% and an average starting salary of roughly $60,000, most students encounter difficulty in getting placed outside of the Bay Area. Most graduates of Golden Gate Law are hired by Bay Area firms and public interest organizations, as public interest law is one of the school's specialties. The first-timers California bar passage rate in 2012 was 70%. The career services department does provide first-year students with several resources, including workshops on resumes and cover letters, an online job search guide and an orientation session.
Golden Gate University School of Law
Application Deadline for Fall Full-Time Day Program: April 15
Application Deadline for Fall Part-Time Evening Program: June 2
Application Fee: $60
Financial Aid Application Deadline: April 15
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