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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just How Good Is BYU Law?

It seems to me the answer is very good, and underrated by U.S. News survey respondents.

So if you look back at the Paul Caron/MoneyLaw chart I posted last week, on which schools have the biggest differential between the Princeton Review ranking and U.S. News ranking, BYU is one of a handful that appears to be underrated by U.S. News. If you're looking for underrated and overrated lawschools, based on "value added" for students or relative educational quality, this chart is a good place to look.

A few things of note about BYU, drawn from a variety of sources:

(1) Appear to be very intentional about what they want students to learn, and that there are different pedagogical approaches on how to get there. See, e.g., the unusual and important emphasis on problem-solving. Some evidence that this translates into better outcomes. BYU is one of the schools that has used data from the Law School Survey of Student Engagement to try to improve student experience.

(2) Great emphasis on skills like interviewing and counseling. See, for example, this presentation by Larry Farmer there.

(3) Carnegie emphasizes importance of "acting as a lawyer," either through simulations or clinics. Princeton Review reports that clinical has "really blossomed" in past few years, but ABA fall 2007 data shows only 23 people participating in clinics (5.9 per 100 students), but 514 in simulations (111! per 100 students). Need more info on what exactly is going on here. BYU?

(4) Strong emphasis on and success in teaching professionalism.

(5) Sky-high ratings in Princeton Review survey on "Professors Accessible" (90) and "Professors Interesting" (96) which according to LSSSE leads to greater student engagement and self-reported gains in analytic ability. Value added.

(6) Top 25 legal writing program (#22 in US News).

One interesting thing to notice is how many religiously-affiliated law schools are in the high "value added" category in the Caron/Moneyball chart, which may have something to do with greater attention to training ethical professionals who see lawyering as a calling, not just a job.

And no, it's not for everybody, with its religious affiliation and fairly conservative faculty, administration and student body -- but I'm guessing students can figure that out for themselves. Also, it's 66% male (2007 data) -- that sounds like a lot of guys to me. But we're just supposed to help prospective students judge BYU's academic quality. Also the students there work really hard -- which can of course lead to better learning outcomes, but also can take its toll without the proper support.

Currently, BYU's rating (scale from 1-5) from law professors is 2.8, and from lawyers and judges it's 3.3. My sense at the moment is that in ranking the academic quality of BYU's program, it ought to get a "4" from law professors, and a "4" or "5" from lawyers and judges. The reason for the difference is that law professors are to take scholarship into account, and lawyers and judges are directed by U.S. News to particularly focus on preparation for practice. Would welcome thoughts, particularly from those with more first-hand knowledge.

Posted by Jason Solomon on July 23, 2008 at 11:19 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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Comments

For some reason every school seems to think that they are underrated. I have never met a single dean that will tell me that his school is overrated or rated correctly.

On the other hand some of the lower-ranked schools have deans that will admit that their students are not that bright and the ones that do well should transfer.

Posted by: Sr.cotus | Jul 23, 2008 11:32:06 AM

http://honorcode.byu.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3585&Itemid=4643

I guess there should be places for people who are really into religious homogeneity. That homogeneity, which I admit to finding a little creepy, very likely explains a lot of the satisfaction-based results reported above. I'm sure Regent Law students are also highly satisfied with their educations - it's the rest of us who are not. That said, BYU is a rigorous school that has quality students and faculty, no doubt. It just may not be a great model for anyone else.

Posted by: anon | Jul 23, 2008 11:58:50 AM

Perusing the honor code a bit more, we find, among strict dress code requirements, prohibitions on alcohol and caffeine consumption, and limitations on visitation with members of the opposite sex:
"One's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior and/or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University."

I'm not trying to derail the point of the post, but it might be that the policies of this law school and the preferences of those who choose to attend it are aberrant enough that there's not much we can learn about educating diverse student bodies at mainstream law schools.

Posted by: anon | Jul 23, 2008 12:10:09 PM

“However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity”

A lot of law firms would refuse to hire people on this basis alone, figuring that a refusal to have irresponsible flings in law school deprives someone of empathy for most clients. How could someone possibly related to someone going though a divorce if they went to a law school which says "no sex."

Whatever the case, this seems to indicate that BYU wishes to train a generation of lawyers that feels comfortable micromanging the sexual lives of everyone.

Oh, and BYU is sexist. See http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/42930 .

Maybe BYU is overrated.

Posted by: Sr.cotus | Jul 23, 2008 12:50:48 PM

From that article, about BYU women: "'They're intelligent, they want families and, on top of that, they cook and bake," Ord said. "They're awesome, and we don't give them enough credit.'"

What, cooking and baking skills aren't factored into the US News Rankings? Surely we can correct for that somehow.

Posted by: Katie | Jul 23, 2008 1:11:36 PM

If you're looking for underrated law schools, Loyola Los Angeles has to be at the top of your list:

-Consistently top 30 (average around 25) on SSRN total downloads
-Top 10 in Trial Advocacy (U.S. News)
-Top 15 in Tax (Top 10 Tax LL.M.) US News
-No 1. Classroom experience, top 5 professor "rock" Princeton Review
-Top 20 for producing top attorneys (LawDragon)
-5 of the top 10 California "Super Lawyers" from Loyola - Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine.
-Mandatory Pro bono requirement for all students in order to graduate
-Clinics up the wazoo
-Some really great faculty members in terms of both teaching and scholarship (at the junior and senior levels)

Posted by: Gene | Jul 23, 2008 1:27:50 PM

Jason: I am loving these posts. Great insights into the flaws of USNWR rankings and how to fix them.

I'm curious, though, why the wholesale acceptance of Princeton Review rankings? Certainly a closer look at the methodology of the PR approach might yield some of the same flaws that are well-known with the USNWR rankings. I realize they have the advantage of actually measuring students' perceptions of the schools, and that adds something USNWR is clearly missing.

But to take just one example, are we sure that the PR "Professors Rock" hierarchy is something to take seriously? There are lots of studies showing that students' rankings of profs reflect things like attractiveness and humor rather than the actual quality of instruction. In many (though certainly not all) cases, "rockin' professors" who get high rankings are those who go easy on students by spoon-feeding them information, while profs who actually force students to learn actively end up getting lower rankings even though they are more effective at actually transmitting knowledge and developing key skills.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 23, 2008 2:16:32 PM

Ah, yet another person that claims that a school that can’t obtain a good ranking deserves a better one.

A mandatory pro bono requirement doesn’t make a school good. Or even better. Law students generally don’t have the skills to manage litigation by themselves. Forcing people to do things that they should do on their own (when they are licensed) won’t make them better lawyers. In fact, it will make them just hate pro bono work, anyway. Of course, if you go to a school where few people get acceptable jobs after graduation (“contract attorney” work is a form of unemployment), then I guess working for free takes on a different meaning.

SSRN figures are subject to manipulation. Heck, I get emails asking me to participate in such manipulations. I don’t respond. If scholarship matters, what matters is citation of faculty by others. The above post neglects to mention this.

Being in the “Top Ten” in a speciality is nothing special. It doesn’t replace being in the real top ten.

“Classroom experience” just means that there are a couple of entertaining professors. Not the big names that matter. And really, by the time you get through law school, anyone can “rock.”

“-Top 20 for producing top attorneys (LawDragon)” might mean something, but it would require more specifics.

“-5 of the top 10 California "Super Lawyers" from Loyola - Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine.” Probably don’t mean much, since most of these “Superlawyers” are culled from whoever makes the news.

“-Clinics up the wazoo” Hmm. Not sure what this means? Lots of schools have lots of clinics. Are they good clinics? (We would need to compare each clinic to a similar clinic at another school. It is very important to be objective here, because there are a lot of crappy clinics.)

“-Some really great faculty members in terms of both teaching and scholarship (at the junior and senior levels)” This doesn’t mean much beyond some self-serving assertions.

What reall matters is whether you can cook and bake.

Posted by: Sr.cotus | Jul 23, 2008 2:19:23 PM

Doesn't BU rank high on PR's "professors rock"? If so, I can assure you it isn't because it's got a host of professors that look like George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, if that's what Dave means by "attractive." Nobody cracking jokes like Chris Rock, either, so far as I can remember. (No offense to the perfectly decent-looking and averagely humorous BU faculty intended).

But if "attractive" means something else -- like appealing, whatever that might mean -- and if funny means something else -- like witty or clever -- then it should be obvious that attractive and funny professors "rock" because they provide a better legal education that "ugly," dull professors. An "attractive" and "funny" professor provides students with an education that, since time immemorial, they appreciate. That's just as it should be.

Posted by: anon | Jul 23, 2008 2:57:02 PM

To respond to anon and to make my earlier post a bit more clear, the concern is that when students rank professors, those rankings may reflect extraneous things like humor and physical attractiveness rather than the quality of the actual education delivered. My basis for saying this is admittedly second-hand. When we were revamping our student surveys (the ones distributed at the end of the semester for internal evaluation of professor performance), the colleague in charge of this reported on a study she'd read that found student satisfaction with professors correlated most closely with two things: whether a professor tended to smile a lot, and whether a professor made students laugh. The quality and rigor of the presentation had virtually no correlation with student's rankings of profs. I've also seen this in particular cases. Professors who insist that students arrive prepared and engage actively in the learning process will always find enough dissenters that their rankings may not be that hight. By contrast, classes like "Law and Movies" that require little of students often get perfect marks becuase they are so enjoyable--even if they teach nothing. In light of this, I'm skeptical that student's rankings should be weighed highly, at least without carefully considering how those rankings are created.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 23, 2008 3:35:51 PM

Here are my criteria.

1. Number of former SCOTUS clerks on faculty
2. Number of students per year that clerk on SCOTUS, CTA, DCT, and state courts (weighted according to prestige.) So, for example, on SCOTUS clerk equal 25,000 state court clerks.
3. Average salary three years after graduation as reported by major accounting firm.
4. Citations per year of student-written law reviews in non-related journals.
5. Citations per year of professor-written law reviews.
6. Number of Phd/JDs on faculty.
7. Reduction for number of alums not practicing after five years or acting as “contract attorneys.” (E.g. seven contract attorney cancels out one SCOTUS clerk in #2.)
8. Number of *equity* partners at large firms as a percentage of class of 1995.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 23, 2008 3:48:05 PM

As as 2L who was considering BYU Law (Mormon married dude, so honor code wasn't a problem), I was incredibly turned off by a number of things, but mostly the homogeneity in the student body and faculty (mostly white Republican males), the intense competitiveness, and the lack of clinical experience. A BYU law student who took me on a tour of the school said that clinics were practically "non-existent." That was about 2 years ago, so things might have changed since then.

I'm sure BYU provides its students with a fine education, but there's one reason, and one reason only why BYU attracts high-caliber students and places them in good jobs: Mormon-to-Mormon association and loyalty. Mormon students from the East are eager to come to Provo Utah to be surrounded by lots of other Mormons. I personally know a girl who passed up Harvard Law for BYU Law so she could be in Provo. This is not uncommon. The same practice holds true for BYU Law professors. And a Mormon partner who's reviewing resumes and sees a BYU student is more than eager to help the kid out. It's as simple as that.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 23, 2008 3:54:51 PM

While remaining agnostic on the larger point about BYU, I agree with Dave that it is difficult to know what to do with teaching evaluations. I have a lot of questions about teaching evaluations at the links below (can't get html markup to work for some reason); the comments to the posts, many of which provide suggestions for reading in this area, are perhaps more useful than the original posts. (See especially Eric Goldman's comment to the first post, in which he lists a number of links to posts he has done on the subject.)

http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2008/07/teaching_evalua.html

http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2008/07/the_hippo_and_t.html

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Jul 23, 2008 3:56:53 PM

Gene, definitely agree on Loyola-LA being underrated -- see its presence high up on the Caron/Moneyball chart.

Thanks for the comments, Dave, Sarah and others. I certainly think we shouldn't put too much stock in individual teaching evals and am aware of the attractiveness/humor studies, but we can distinguish between evaluations of individual professors, and the overall assessment of how interesting and accessible the faculty is as a whole, which is what PR asks about in its survey. The latter seems likely to be pretty reliable.

I think the best existing data is the LSSSE data, which looks at "student engagement," but we don't have access to it.

The "Professsors Rock" thing is a made-up name for a category by PR for marketing purposes (they're hipper than Kaplan!); it's just a combo of the two ratings I've been referencing: Profs Accessible and Interesting, both totally reasonable Qs.

I agree, though, that it would be good to know a bit more about response rates, etc. in PR, and will try to find out eventually.

It's worth mentioning that we don't hesitate so much in looking at student satisfaction in lots of education contexts, including colleges/universities and business-schools (see Nancy Rapoport's Moneylaw post on B-Week rankings, which count student satisfation for 45% of overall rank, http://money-law.blogspot.com/2006/10/aha-it-is-possible-to-have.html) Of course, we care about consumer satisfaction and think it says something about quality in lots of contexts.

Support public or private school choice at all? That's all predicated on parents voting with feet as signal of quality, bad schools closing, etc. I think we're right to be cautious about relying too heavily and reflexively on PR data, but I also think we should be careful about ignoring a great (maybe the best) source for the quality of law schools. They've talked to 18,000 law students at 170 law schools. Generally, I think students have a pretty good idea of what's what.

Posted by: Jason Solomon | Jul 23, 2008 5:00:37 PM

In response to Dave (and Sarah): I agree that the kinds of things you describe (smiling a lot, making jokes) are sometimes just a veneer to get students to like the professor and mark him up, but that underneath the veneer there is nothing of substance. But more often, I'm willing to bet, smiling, witticisms, and so on are simply part of a professor's teaching style, and go hand in hand with -- in fact, are constitutive of -- precisely "the quality and rigor of the presentation." (Easy grading may be another matter.)

In some ways, I think my own views about teaching quality mirror some of the resistance that Professor Solomon has encountered in his "educational quality" enterprise. It's exceedingly difficult (I think impossible) to disaggregate those elements that make for high "teaching quality" from those other elements of style and manner that make teaching effective, enjoyable, memorable, admirable, etc. That's because learning is a fusion of, so to speak, the substantive and the procedural. The intellectal rigor of a presentation alone is important to be sure, but by itself it isn't "good teaching." It needs a style and manner of transmission that will make it effective. In fact, it's by learning the habits of mind of a good teacher -- which includes the seemingly superficial stuff -- that one learns well, not by absorbing the substance of what she's got to communicate. Too much tinkering to discover the pure elements of teaching or learning is futile, and likely to miss where the real action is in both activities.

Posted by: anon | Jul 23, 2008 6:19:55 PM

Let me make something perfectly clear. BYU Law is TOUGH. And anyone considering attending the Law School should think it over. I know. I'm going into my 3rd year at BYU Law. I've obtained a FANTASTIC education there. My classmates are bright, my professors brilliant. HOWEVER, I am also one of less than ten non-mormons in the entire law school which has about 400 students I believe (and the answer to your question is no, "ten" is not a typo). It has not been easy. In fact, it's been one of the more difficult experiences of my life. For the most part, that isn't because of my classmates. The vast majority of them are enlightened, open minded, and kind. Discourse among students is free, open, lively, and very frequent. In fact, most of my classmates abhor the school's problems just as much as I do. And I count many of my classmates among the greatest friends I've had the pleasure to make in my life.

Nonetheless, the administration, many of the Professors, a few of the students, and nearly ALL of the recruiters, will treat you differently. It is subtle (usually), but it is there. I often think many of them do it subconsciously, but it has a significant impact just the same. Make no mistake, if you are not Mormon, you are an anomaly in that institution. I should also mention that, to my knowledge, only two or three of the full-time Professors are not Mormon. The culture is all-pervasive.

It is true that Mormons as a whole do not all have the same approaches and beliefs. Their opinions on public policy and legal issues are as diverse as any other prominent faith. However, that diversity is somewhat muted when it comes to who the Mormon Church hires to work at THEIR University. Nevertheless, with a few exceptions (and those students/faculty @ BYU Law know EXACTLY who I'm talking about) discourse with Professors is fairly free. They are all accessible, even for me. But access and assistance are not the same thing.

I have seen first hand that if the opportunity for a Professor to recommend someone or aide them in their career arises, and the Professor has to chose between the Mormon and the Non-Mormon candidate (all things being equal between them), the real help goes to the Mormon student. No. Questions. Asked. As harsh as it may sound, one of the first and hardest things I had to learn at BYU Law was that the "elite" Mormons (the ones at BYU) look out for their own, and only their own. This extends to on campus interviewing as well. Every job offer I received through OCIs was with a firm where the person who interviewed me was NOT Mormon. And trust me, those are rare. I received no offers from Mormon interviewers.

In short, if you are not Mormon, prepare to have an uphill battle most of the time. Your tuition is nearly double what Mormon students pay (and the level of aide the school will loan you is not adjusted accordingly). You are identified as being non-Mormon very early in your time at the law school (whether you choose to do it yourself or not, it will happen). However, if you are willing to put up with all of that, then the education you receive and the people you meet will be worth all the trouble. The problem is that the same can be said of other institutions, where the atmosphere is not so poisonous for those in the minority.

-BYU 3L

Posted by: BYU 3L | Jul 24, 2008 4:49:17 AM

Wow! @ the above post (4:49). Less than 10? Seriously? That's insane. Do they even attempt to convince people of other faiths to attend?

Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2008 5:02:22 AM

For what it's worth as well there are serious, long-standing problems with academic freedom at BYU (as in, there isn't any, really- professors can, have, and will be fired for going against church teachings. The same applies to students.) Most religiously affiliated schools with have some academic freedom issues though this varies greatly from school to school. (My impression is that at most Catholic schools this is at most a fairly small problem but that at BYU it's a serious problem if you do not fully want to follow the lead of church leaders.) I'm not deeply opposed to this situation- I think that diversity between types of institutions (as compared to diversity within them) is also very important. But I think it's also impossible to have a truly great university or law school without significantly more academic freedom than one will find at BYU. (The rather serious lack of personal freedom there, too, is also a serious problem to my mind but in a more indirect way than the academic freedom issues. People I know who have gone there as undergraduates, however, might well disagree on the order of importance.)

Posted by: Matt | Jul 24, 2008 7:31:27 AM

Matt makes a very good point. And he is correct. I chose not to mention the academic freedom issues in my original post because I am not a professor. Thus, I don't have any first hand experience with the administration stifling the publication or discussion of scholarship that conflicts with BYU Law's views.

However, I have seen it occur, and heard it spoken of on several occasions by those who encounter it on a regular basis.

And I also believe Matt is correct when he says an institution cannot be truly great when it has the low level of academic freedom that BYU Law does. Diversity of scholarship is nearly as important as diversity of students and faculty. And BYU Law has some work to do in both departments.

Posted by: BYU 3L | Jul 24, 2008 11:51:03 AM

I too was a non-LDS student at BYU Law. I was "outted" as a non-mormon during the first hour of orientation. All of the male students were asking each other where they were missionaries.

During recruiting, it is easy to identify the non-mormons. All (almost all) mormon men put their missionary experience on their resume. BYU 3L is right that you get a different response if they know that you aren't mormon. I was lining up a clerkship with a judge and he e-mailed me (before he knew that I wasn't LDS) that he flags all BYU resumes and works with another mormon judge to get them clerkships. In his words, "I prefer the mormon work ethic." I showed the e-mail to BYU Career Services and the look that I got was that I was being a jerk for showing it to them; eventhough, they would send out e-mails asking students to let them know if they were being discriminated for being LDS. Being a non-mormon student at BYU is a double whammy in that recruiters outside of Utah sometimes give you a black mark when they assume that you are a mormon. The most blatant example happened when I interviewed at Davis Wright Tremaine and to top it off the attorney was a black female. You would think that a black female would be so close to discrimination that they themselves wouldn't practice it in a professional environment.

There are almost no problems with other students (there were only 3 non-lds in my class), although occasionally I would get told that I was talking the spot of a righteous LDS student (to mormons we are all gentiles). When I was there, BYU increased the tuition for non-LDS students by 25%. When I asked out loud if any other religious universities charged based on religion and that it didn't seem very christian since we are all god's children. The reply from an adjunct professor (who naturally was LDS) was that it was their constitutional right (true), but one thing that is constantly brought up amongst mormons is a persecution complex that everyone is against mormons. Seems hypocritical to me.

Overall, I had a fair experience. The professors were average IMO (I went to a top 20 undergrad). The administration and the city of Provo sucked. I was accepted into higher ranking law schools and chose BYU based on cost. I wish that I wouldn't have let cost alone decide on my school. BYU is tough. The students are uber-competitive. I saw numerous instances of students cheating and in unethical ways take advantage of other students. I will never recommend BYU to a non-LDS student. There are numerous reasons behind this (discrimination, honor code, stifling environment, average academic experience, lack of diversity, etc...), but I could never in good faith tell a non-LDS student that it is a good place if you aren't mormon.

Posted by: mittoroni | Jul 24, 2008 7:24:29 PM

I know I'm getting into this discussion rather late, but I had to respond to Sr. cotus who seems to think BYU grads won't be able to handle divorces as well as people who have pre-marital sex. First, your reasoning is flawed. In order for one to have empathy for another, you don't have to experience everything that the other person has experienced. If that were true, one would have to share religion, gender, socioeconomic class and familial status with each of her clients in order to be a competent advocate. Additionally, as a child of divorced parents and a friend of divorced individuals, I can tell you that I have plenty of empathy for people going through divorce.

Posted by: BYU female | Jul 28, 2008 9:46:29 PM

I think other rankings demonstrate how seriously USNWR underrates BYU Law School:

# 1 – Most Competitive Students (Princeton Review)
# 2 – Cost-Benefit (ILRG)
# 7 – 75th Percentile GPA 2007 (ILRG)
# 8 – Top 50 Law Schools 2008 (Princeton Review)
# 8 – Average GPA (ILRG)
# 11 – Library (National Jurist)
# 13 – United States Supreme Court Clerk Placement (Leiter, 2000-2007)
# 22 - Legal Writing Program (USNWR)
# 23 – Employment Rate 2007 (ILRG) (18 of the top 25 Vault firms interview with and hire BYU students)
# 25 – Overall LSAT Scores (Lieter, 2008)

and ... # 46 – National Law School Rankings (USNWR)

Posted by: L. Davalos | Jul 30, 2008 2:44:18 PM

I think the comments that presume that LDS attorneys automatically favor LDS law students are unfair - I don't think that's the case at all. I am LDS and a third year law student at Indiana University-Bloomington and while I try to network with other LDS law students and attorneys, I don't expect and haven't received any preferential treatment simply because of a shared religious belief.

Posted by: IU3L | Jul 30, 2008 7:19:53 PM

I'd like to know how anyone has any clue how the recruiters treat Mormons differently than Non-Mormons. Did you get emails indicating that you would not be getting a scholarship because you aren't a member? Or was it just a "subtle" note saying, "Hmmm, not a member, huh? Well, THAT won't affect your acceptance at all..." Or was it again just some kind of "smell test"?

Seriously, it seems like anyone who has a bad experience anywhere these days seeks out some kind of external excuse. Producers don't want my script--they must be elitist. I can't get a scholarship--must be reverse-racism. My BYU Law experience sucks--must be all the Mormons out to get me.

I will be the first to admit that BYU Law is DEFINITELY not for everyone. It is probably only for a small class of potential law students, and it definitely has a narrow viewpoint on moral/religious issues. But students clearly know that going into it. To think otherwise is naive.

I am surprised that someone would spend 3 years of law school at a place where the persecution was so intolerable. If you don't like it, transfer to someplace that you would like. If you can't transfer because your grades are bad, count yourself as lucky you got into BYU.

Posted by: BYU 2L | Jul 30, 2008 8:05:16 PM

I don't know that BYU is underrated, but frankly, I don't care. As a Mormon, it would be hard to pass up such low tuition and a proven track record of hooking graduates up with good employment. I agree one hundred percent that it's not a good place for people who aren't LDS, unless you're all about assimilating with the culture. I can empathize with non-LDS students at BYU. Where I live and where I went to school for my undergrad, I am a minority. My world view as a Mormon is vastly different from those around me, and I've learned to keep my mouth shut and go with the flow. Because I am Mormon, I get funny looks when I don't want to drink or work on Sundays because it's against my religion. At best, I'm a novelty and people like to ask me questions and treat me nice in the same way they would a circus freak. I feel out of place a lot. I've been in interviews where the employer has asked me how I learned Spanish. I tell them it was on my LDS mission. An awkward pause follows and then a "we'll let you know." I've sat in classes where my religion and fellow mormons have been picked apart, ridiculed, laughed at, scorned, and so forth, So, the thought of going to a law school where everyone else is like me is actually very attractive at this point. I've experienced diversity plenty, and I'm ready for a setting where I don't have to defend every little thing that comes to my mind. And if that makes for a lousy legal education in somebody's opinion, then so be it. I'll take my chances and work for a Mormon dominated firm when I get out. That being said, there are plenty of Mormons who would feel uncomfortable at BYU because of the Provo culture, which isn't necessarily the same as Mormon culture elswhere. I personally am willing to stomach it because of the financial benefits and in order to take a break from playing the Mormon in exile.

Posted by: Art | Aug 5, 2008 8:28:04 PM

So, here I am posting so late in a conversation that I doubt anyone will read it. I only have 2 quick thoughts.

1.) "I don't have any first hand experience with the administration stifling the publication or discussion of scholarship that conflicts with BYU Law's views.

However, I have seen it occur, and heard it spoken of on several occasions by those who encounter it on a regular basis."

3L: I think you are stretching it a bit, aren't you? Seriously. Ease up on the puffery.

2.) As many have already said here and on other blogs, "slights" and reasonably perceived (though unintended) "slights" can be expected anytime one is in a minority - though I join other comments on other blogs that have expressed a wish that such weren't true, and I also join other comments in saying that it is not nearly as pervasive as 3L's posts suggests - But I would add this to the mix: sometimes a person invites disparate treatment based, not on differing religious affiliation, but based on personality and attitude. Perhaps a person who knows 3L better than I do might say that 3L the person (not 3L the "non-mormon") hasn't engendered the most positive responses from the faculty at BYU. Then again, perhaps not.

Posted by: Cliff | Aug 6, 2008 1:45:22 AM

mittoroni - I can sympathize with you, but its not like you didn't know it was a church affiliated school going in.

Also as to the tuition cost, it isn't a Christian thing, or reflective of religious beliefs. It is a cost thing. A member of the LDS church is expected to tithe, or generously donate to the church. Thus over time, the LDS student will pay the funds back. No different than a State school. You go to State U as a resident, you pay $5k, out of state you pay $20k or $25k.

Posted by: ola Senor | Aug 28, 2008 12:29:58 AM

Just to clarify the "clinical" participation statistics, BYU offers an "externship" program that allows students (mostly 1L's) to obtain credit for internship work performed under direct supervision of an attorney with some academic reporting and requirements. The students can earn 1 credit for every 50 hours of work. Some students will split their summer between two different firms/experiences (i.e. work for a judge, public service, international experiences, etc.). I don't know for sure, but this may be the way that the statistics for clinical participation could have been skewed.

There are a few other traditional clinical classes, but they are very limited. (I can think of two.)

Posted by: BYU law student | Aug 29, 2008 12:43:52 PM

I am planning on visiting the law school soon. Any advise on what I should look at, questions I should ask...?

Posted by: prospective student | Nov 3, 2008 6:29:48 PM

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