Sunday, May 1, 2011

University of Washington School of Law

Note: click on any picture to enlarge.
Location: Seattle, WA
U.S. News and World Report Rank: 30
What they like to talk about: not really sure actually–PNW excellence?
Pros: one of the most renowned universities in the world (not up to Cal standards, but still impressive), my home state, in the market where I want to work, significantly cheaper, Seattle easygoingness, local lay prestige 
Cons:  lowest ranked law school still alive in my decision making, largely limited to region, low national prestige, non-T10 syndrome (though they are a little insulated from this by being the best in the Pacific Northwest)

The first words in my notes: What a law building! It's like the pleasant antithesis to Michigan's architecture–modern, airy, light, it seems like most of the common area is glass or vibrant white. Are they trying to channel light into dark and rainy Seattle?

Indeed they are and they succeeded marvelously. Even so, the classrooms are surprisingly dark considering how brilliant the common areas are. And similar to Minnesota, UW employs concentric squares of tables in their classrooms–though they execute it much better than Minnesota.
Classroom (though not the one I went to class in)

The class I visited was quite a delight (I was even called on–though it was only because I know who Ted Olson is and nobody else in the class seemed to). There was a good vibe (lots of jovial conversations) before class and the teacher knew almost everyone by their first names (despite it being only the third week of class). The teacher also made sure the class gave a resounding "good morning," which I thought was a good indication of the friendly and laid-back atmosphere.

The law school as a whole feels (not surprisingly) very "Seattle." It's pretty urban hip, but has a little of Michigan's "undergrad" feel, tempered by some commuter vibe. It's the city after all and Seattle is one of the hippest cities in America.

The non-T10 syndrome was alive and well and I want to add another symptom to the list: being indecorously ostentatious with their verbiage. They use big words when they don't need to. Words like "formalist" and "textualist" abounded during class and while it was clear what they were saying, they could have used simpler language. I once read that when a lawyer starts using big words, you know he doesn't know what he's talking about. This holds true for people in general.

Seattle architecture is an interesting beast. They're really concerned with delivering light to every part of the building despite the fact that the clouds are trying to do the opposite. The UW law building does some amazing things with the little light that spills through the clouds and the law library feels delightfully airy. I could think well there.

 For a variety of reasons UW was, by far, the most difficult school to withdraw from. Both practically and emotionally it was a great choice.

But, I withdrew yesterday.

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