University of Oregon School of Law
Located in the college town of Eugene, the University Of Oregon School Of Law is one of the most respected institutions in the Northwestern United States. A hotbed for environmental activism, U of O is especially equipped to combine practical experience with sound teaching to prepare students for a career in public-interest law, among other fields. Students should be sure they want to stay in the region, however, as Oregon is not a school of national prestige, and jobs will be hard to find as one looks further east.
Admissions & tuition
As may be expected from the school's ranking (77th, according to USNews), Oregon cannot maintain too high a standard for admission. Regardless, the admissions office at Oregon still keeps the process relatively competitive. Roughly 39% (~825 out of 2,093) of applicants were granted admission last year. For matriculating students, the 25th to 75th percentile GPA range was 3.12-3.56 and the range for the LSAT was 157-161-with medians hovering around 3.34 and 159, respectively.
Tuition at Oregon is cheap, even for a state school. Oregon residents pay $22,328 per year, while out-of-staters pay $27,818-this is certainly a plus, considering that many state schools have a much larger gap between resident and non-resident rates. Room & board in the Eugene area is also pleasantly low: the school's website reports that the average student spends only about $8,000 per year in this category. Perhaps the low tuition and cheap housing help explain the school's relatively stingy financial aid packages. According to USNews, the 75th percentile grant at Oregon is $7,000. Nevertheless, it can hardly be said that Oregon students overspend.
Employment prospects & bar passage
Unsurprisingly, most Oregon grads take the bar in Oregon. USNews reports that 74.6% of Oregon students pass the Bar the on their first try, while-the state's overall pass rate is around 81.1%. While the bar passage rate is weak, career prospects do not look quite good either. Less than 60% of Oregon Law graduates are known to have employment secured at graduation (this is a low rate), and 9% are still unemployed nine months after they graduate.
For those who do find work, most-over 50% to be specific-stay in Oregon. And those who do leave the state do not go very far: more than 80% of Oregon grads stay in the Pacific Northwest. Needless to say, Oregon is a regional school.
What kind of jobs do Oregon grads get? As is almost always the case, the majority of students end up in the private sector. At Oregon, the official percentage is around 57%. The other 43% of students were almost equally divided between clerkships, government, and business. Also notable is Oregon's 6% of graduates who work in public interest. Relatively speaking, this is a higher number. For those who found private sector work, the average starting salary was $68,000. For public service, the number drops to $46,244.
Oregon makes an appearance in the top 10 of three of the USNews specialty rankings lists. Few schools can make such a claim, and it is a testament to the school's well-roundedness. According to the rankings, Oregon ranks 10th in Legal Writing, 7th in Dispute Resolution, and 9th in Environmental Law. It is the school's program in the last category, Environmental Law, for which it gains the most attention.
In combination with the school's strong clinical program, Oregon's program in Environmental Law positions students to be among the best in the region-and this is no modest feat considering that the nation's top-ranked school in the field, Lewis & Clark, is just a drive away in Portland. Undoubtedly, Oregon's strength in Environmental Law has something to do with its healthy public-interest contingent, mentioned above.
Regarding the faculty, students generally seem to be more than satisfied. Students interviewed by the Princeton Review noted that the school's faculty is "intelligent", "approachable", and demonstrates "a genuine interest in the students." Some do complain, though, that the focus on public-interest law manifests as a liberal bias among professors. Students do have opportunities to focus on tracks unrelated to public-interest law, however; and the school even offers joint-degree programs for students who wish to go the extra mile with such a focus. Students can choose to combine their JD with an MA in International Relations, or prepare themselves for a career in Business Law and beyond with a JD/MBA.
Quality of life
The University of Oregon ranks 8th on the Princeton Review's list of schools with the best quality of life. And for good reason: the student body is small, encouraging cooperation over competition, and the Eugene area offers students a plethora of get-out-and-enjoy-life activities. Famously known as a popular site for distance running and biking, Eugene offers beautiful trails and enticing weather (as long as you don't mind getting wet from time to time).
Like its neighbor-school in Portland, Oregon is known for its liberal student-body. Certainly, this will affect the quality of life. The Princeton Review ranked the school as 8th in the nation on a list of schools that are "Candidates for the Center for American Progress Fellowships" (the list might as well be called 'Most Liberal Schools'). Obviously, in what way this will affect the quality of life at Oregon will depend on one's own ideologies. Experiencing Oregon's liberal bend as a conservative would be quite different than experiencing it as a liberal. Still, there is much to be said for exposure to various perspectives, and liberals and conservatives alike should keep this in mind.
If you are interested in Environmental Law, or know that Oregon is where you want to build your career, then the University of Oregon should be at the top of your list. Furthermore, the school's high quality of life should be enough to earn a close look from anyone who is looking to enjoy their law school experience. Prospective students should be aware however, that some students struggle to find work with an Oregon Law degree, and there is healthy competition from Lewis and Clark (especially in the Portland area).
University Of Oregon School Of Law. Retrieved April 19, 2016
U.S. News Ranking: 77
LSAT Range: 157-161
GPA Range: 3.12-3.56
Multiple LSAT scores: Higher score accepted (with explanation)
Application Deadlines: 03/01
Application fee: $50
Entering class size: 182
Yearly Tuition: $22,328 (In-state 2009) $27,818 (Out-of-State 2009)
Bar passage rate in Oregon: 74.6%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 91%
Median private sector starting salary: $68,000 (Class of 2007, 85% reporting)