When deciding which law school to attend, what is important to you? Statistics may help you narrow down your options but when it comes to choosing a school for your professional education you often want to look beyond the numbers and learn what makes people choose a school and why they stay there. Whether you are considering where to go to law school or have decided on Willamette, it can be helpful to learn some of the top things students love about Willamette.
Location, location, location!
Willamette is located in the heart of Salem, the capital for the State of Oregon. The university is located right across the street from the Oregon State Capitol, which offers a unique learning environment for students. Many students are offered the opportunity to work at the Capitol either through a Clinical Law Program, an externship or a clerkship. The Courthouse, Oregon Department of Justice, County District Attorney’s Office, and the County Office of the Public Defenders are also located a couple blocks away meaning students can sit in court and watch trials during a break in their day, can go have coffee with a Prosecutor and learn about their work, or work part-time during the school year. Willamette’s location also offers the opportunity to retreat from the distractions of a large city to focus on your studies while being close enough to Portland and Eugene if you miss the bustle of a large city or close to countless hiking trails either of which allows for a well-deserved distraction once in awhile.
Small school, close relations
It is often possible to go through years at a school without any of your professors knowing your name. At Willamette, the professors and the staff work to learn every student’s name and to be there to help with anything they might need. The incoming class is on average about 100 students and most first-year courses have between 30 and 50 students. Upper-division courses normally allow for class sizes of about 16 students to one professor. Professors strongly encourage students to attend their office hours and are genuinely interested in helping you understand the material. By the end of your time at Willamette, you will notice that you know just about everyone in your graduating class and that many professors and staff know who you are.
Every Wednesday, the amazing staff of the Placement Office provide some treat for students and faculty. The office informs students of the delicious treats by posting on the Willamette Law Career Advisor Facebook group. It is always a welcomed sight to see the students congregate in the office for their Treat Wednesday snacks and it provides a great change for them to talk to the staff about career opportunities and upcoming networking events.
The Clinical Law Program
If you would like to get practical experience while getting credit hours towards your degree, Willamette offers numerous clinics for students to conduct legal work under the close supervision of an attorney. From family law to human rights to legislative, the clinical programs provide students with a safe environment to learn necessary aspects of the legal profession and to practice their skills early on.
Networking Until it is Second Nature
Willamette makes networking a priority of the law school experience, providing countless opportunities throughout the semester for you to hone your abilities and build professional relationships with members of the Oregon legal community. If you choose to take advantage of the opportunities provided to you, you will be able to leave Willamette with a solid professional network to follow you throughout your career. Additionally,
Many people leave their law school with memories of their hard work and a J.D. but Willamette alumni come back time and time again to help current law students. There are many events at Willamette attended by alumni and many of them are very active at the school through networking events, as guest speakers for student organizations, or as attorney-mentors. You will often see at Willamette an alumni walking through the halls with Dean Bridgeman or guiding their family through their personal tour of their alma mater. It is a good sign for students and the administration to know that alumni remember their time at Willamette fondly and seek to help out current students.
24/7 Library Access
It may not make sense to you why having 24 hour access to the law library is desirable but when you have to read an average of 300 pages per week or have to do research for your job as a law clerk, being able to sit at your carrel until you can no longer stay awake is a real blessing in disguise. Children, pets, or simply the chores of everyday life can often turn into distractions and result in you being unprepared for class. Additionally, it is often helpful to be able to give your loved ones some time away from the caffeine infused nervous wreck all students become around finals time.
Willamette offers multiple mentoring programs for students. The attorney-mentor program is a voluntary service put together by the Placement Office. Attorneys from the community volunteer to mentor first-year students. Often, this mentorship relationship continuous through the rest of a student’s time in law school and beyond. The Placement office works arduously to provide the best matches between every student and attorneys based on biographical and professional information provided. In the past few years, the majority of students have signed up for the attorney-mentor program. Additionally, MLSA (Multi-Cultural Law Students Association) has a student mentorship program that pairs first-year students with upperclassmen. The first year student is connected with upperclassmen to contact with any questions or concerns, to ask about how to navigate law school, to offer guidance through the difficulty of the first year.
The main thing students and alumni will credit with getting them through law school is not a magic study book or their personal determination but rather the community they had during law school. While you will learn about the horrors of the curve and you are in competition with your fellow classmates, you will come to realize that no one understands what you are going through as well your fellow law students. You may have heard horror stories of stolen outlines and ripped pages at other schools, but Willamette has a reputation for being a friendly school. It may be difficult to believe but there is an atmosphere of cooperation and camaraderie by Willamette students which makes the process of getting through law school not only something to bear but rather something that can be enjoyed. It is a community based on all-nighters, high stress, uncertainty, and cooperation which results in lifelong professional and personal relationships.
The adventures of the Placement Office mascot “Grumpy Cat” (not the official Grumpy Cat but rather a stuffed animal version) have become a regular source of entertainment for all that follow Willamette Law Career Advisor Facebook group. Grumpy Cat often echoes law students’ sentiments about the week ahead while offering much-needed encouragement through the difficulties of her life. It is light-hearted and reassuring to be able to go into the Placement Office and know that Grumpy Cat is suffering right alongside you.
Remember you are not only choosing a school to go on your diploma but also your environment for the next few years and your colleagues and friends for the rest of your life. Learn what is important to you and feel free to let us know your favorite thing about Willamette by emailing us at email@example.com
By rising 3L, Gaby.