Reflections After Three Semesters

It’s official! I am in my second semester of my 2L year now, which means I am “over the hill.” Maybe it’s the spirit of the new year, or maybe it’s simply a natural occurrence for someone who is halfway done with a difficult task, but I’m feeling nostalgic. As I ponder on the things people told me about law school two years ago, I am struck by how inaccurate some of it was. Here are a few samples:

1. “All your tests will be essay.” FALSE. I have had more multiple choice questions in my first three semesters of law school than I did in my last two years of undergrad. A few of my finals have even been purely multiple choice, and some have been a combination of multiple choice and short answer.
2. “All your classes will be taught with the Socratic Method.” FALSE. This was true for the first few weeks of my 1L year, but the professors backed off of it as time went on. It’s almost non-existent now in my second year.
3. “On the first day, take a look at the person on your left and the person on your right. One of you won’t be there on graduation day.” FALSE. Although this may have been true in past years, I just don’t see it happening. While I know of a couple people that have dropped out, it is nowhere near 33% of people that were at orientation.
4. “Volunteer somewhere during your 1L summer. 1Ls can’t get paid jobs.” Somewhat false. It certainly is more difficult for 1Ls to get a paid summer job than it is for 2Ls, but it is not impossible. If I can find a paid summer job after my first year, so can you.
5. “Law school is exciting and fun!” OK, I never actually heard anyone say that, but that seems to be the idea that Hollywood perpetuates about law school. Have you ever noticed that the law students in the movies and on TV never spend much time studying? I’ve often wondered what kind of grades they get. Sometimes classes and readings can be interesting and possibly even dramatic. Your first time in a courtroom during a hearing or trial is pretty fun, too. It’s nothing like Hollywood, though; it’s a lot of quiet nights reading cases and composing outlines.

I’m sure there are other myths about law school out there that can be put to rest, but these are the main ones I’ve noticed. Feel free to comment on your own experiences.

Speaking Up

Before I started law school I was told that the discussions in law classes often challenged your beliefs. I knew that those kinds of situations were inevitable, especially considering I was leaving BYU to study at Arizona State. But for whatever reason, belief-challenging discussions didn’t seem to present themselves until this semester.


In addition to the Con Law class I am taking this semester I am also taking a seminar on free speech. Over the course of yesterday’s class the discussion turned to de-regulating the availability of pornography and allowing more swear words in TV broadcasts. Everyone in the room that contributed to the discussion appeared to be in support of both ideas, at least to a certain extent. I chose to stay quiet on those topics, although I later regretted my silence. Toward the end of class our professor quoted a story about John Stuart Mill and how Mill believed religious questions were irrelevant to his parliamentary duties, after which he said, “I wish the Republicans would take this suggestion to heart, given the recent comments about Mormonism being a cult. But that’s unlikely to happen.” Considering the amount of thought I have given to this subject as of late, I spoke up. I mentioned that several of the candidates in the debate on Tuesday night said things similar to Mill, although not all of them. As it turned out, no one else in the room had seen the debate, but everyone expressed surprise at the idea that a Republican would support an idea they agreed with. At that point, the girl next to me said, “let me guess, was it the Mormons?” After I said yes, she responded with, “it figures” (I wasn’t sure how to take that, and I still don’t).


I’m not saying that I’m opposed to people challenging my political ideologies, or that Mormonism is connected to the Republican Party. However, it’s interesting to learn how to contribute to religious/moral/political discussions when I feel so outnumbered, even at the #1 most “Mormon-friendly law school” of 2010. It causes me to wonder if I will continue to feel like a minority after I graduate. Either way, I’m definitely not at BYU anymore.

Optimism at the Start of Classes

Anticipation, angst, hope, and heat exhaustion: this rare mixture of emotion reigned as I stepped into ASU Law School for the first time a year ago this week. The bus stop was farther from the school than I anticipated, and the air conditioning was a welcome relief from the summer sizzle. The first of three days of orientation was starting, but not one familiar face was found. “It’s hot out there, isn’t it?” said the girl who walked in with me as we took our seats in the lecture hall. Confidence soon replaced nerves and my long-awaited journey was set to begin.

One year after the beginning of my 1L year I am much more comfortable walking into the law school. The heat is still just as oppressive as ever, but the pressure in the classrooms is much more manageable. The first day of classes your 2L year is drastically different than the first day of classes your 1L year. The students no longer have a “deer in the headlights” look, and the professors don’t open the class by picking on one student and bombarding him or her with the Socratic Method for an hour. I’m sure my 2L year will be no easy ride, but it certainly looks to be more enjoyable than my first year.

Commentary: An Oversupply of Lawyers…?

Here’s a blog post from someone who’s rather blunt on the subject (courtesy “Above The Law”):

The Oversupply of Lawyers in America « Above the Law: A Legal Tabloid – News and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession:

Response from this attorney: I have no quarrel with the idea that prospective law students need to have realistic expectations about their career once they pass the bar. However, Elie Mystal’s piece appears to advocate an overcorrection, one that may ultimately be detrimental to the administration of justice. As it is, I question whether indigent defendants always have access to adequate representation, even now. I submit such needs will always exist, even if they are not glamorous or high-paying.

As with anything, there needs to be a balanced approach. The crucial questions to be asked of any prospective student are: 1) What are your talents, and 2) What are your motivations to practice law in the first place? At one extreme, if the sole motive is money and prestige and the person doesn’t have a natural talent or inclination for law, the person is a poor match, and such a person, if (s)he passes the bar, may become part of an unhappy and miserable lot. At the other extreme, if the person writes naturally like Scalia, thinks through complex fact patterns like a hot knife through butter, and has a passion for the law that is deeply ingrained…we should not deter that person. In fact, frankly, we need all of them we can get.

Finally, from a Mormon perspective, one additional dimension is needful, and it is prayer and personal revelation. Were it not for these things, I would not have taken the first step towards law school in the first place. –SJR

Pictures of ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Below are some pictures I took of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Later I’ll post the pictures I took of ASU’s Ross-Blakley Law Library. The law school and library aren’t connected but are separated by 10 feet of cement, see picture below (the law library is on the left hand side of the picture and the law school is on the right). On a side note I hate it when law schools and the law libraries aren’t connected. 

Below is a picture of the law school’s Great Hall.

JRCLS Externship Program in Provo, Utah

The J. Reuben Clark Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies is seeking law students with demonstrated academic excellence to participate in its 2010 Summer Externship Program. Selected student scholars will spend 6-8 weeks in Provo, Utah working on a range of projects related to the mission of the Center which is “to help secure the blessing of freedom of religion and belief for all people”. More information about the mission and activities of the Center is available at www.iclrs.org. 

Projects will include content contributions to the Center’s websites (www.iclrs.org, www.strasbourgconsortium.org and www.religlaw.org) and research for the cutting edge publications such as the newly published casebook, Law and Religion: National, International and Comparative Perspectives; the annual update to the treatise Religious Organization and the Law; and various papers to be shared at conferences including ones in Hungary, the United Kingdom and Peru.

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to Deborah Wright, Administrative Assistant for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU at wrightde@lawgate.byu.edu by 12 p.m. MST on Friday, April 16, 2010. 


Note: The Center will work with your school to explore whether credits for the externship can be arranged, but cannot guarantee the outcome of those efforts.

2010 Top Ten Most Mormon Friendly Law Schools

1.      1. Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 65
Cost of Living: $12,952
Cost of Tuition: $28,858
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 10 Miles
US News Ranking: 55

2. (Tie) University of Minnesota School of Law

Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 26
Cost of Living: $13,392
Cost of Tuition: $35,089
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 18 Miles
US News Ranking: 20

2University of Nevada, Las Vegas – William S. Boyd School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 26
Cost of Living: $14,260
Cost of Tuition: $21,332
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 13 Miles
US News Ranking: 75

3. George Washington School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 67
Cost of Living: $20,500
Cost of Tuition: $40,100
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 10 Miles
US News Ranking: 28

4. George Mason University School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 28
Cost of Living: $21,134

Cost of Tuition: $31948
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 21 Miles
US News Ranking: 41

5.      5. Texas Tech University School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 11
Cost of Living: $12,990
Cost of Tuition: $20,701
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 7 Miles
US News Ranking: 0

6.      6. University of Houston Law Center
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 16
Cost of Living: $15,536
Cost of Tuition: $25,977
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 29 Miles
US News Ranking: 59

7. Gonzaga University School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 33
Cost of Living: $14,375
Cost of Tuition: $30,263
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 12 Miles
US News Ranking: 100

8.      8. University of Idaho School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 45
Cost of Living: $15,270
Cost of Tuition: $20,962
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 83 Miles
US News Ranking: 0

9. Oklahoma City University School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 35
Cost of Living: $16,660
Cost of Tuition: $30,970
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 15 Miles
US News Ranking: 0

10. Lewis & Clark Law School
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 6
Cost of Living: $16,345
Cost of Tuition: $30,461
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 5 Miles
US News Ranking: 61

Honorable Mentions: (3 Way Tie)

Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 9
Cost of Living: $17,870
Cost of Tuition: $35,869
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 9 Miles
US News Ranking: 35

University of Nebraska School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 11
Cost of Living: $11,476
Cost of Tuition: $25,101
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 58 Miles
US News Ranking: 0

University of Virginia School of Law
Number of registered J. Reuben Clark Law Society Members: 47
Cost of Living: $15,700
Cost of Tuition: $41,800
Distance to Nearest LDS Temple: 119 Miles
US News Ranking: 10

Harvard Law School to Present Elder Dallin H. Oaks

The Mormonism 101 Series Presents Elder Dallin Oaks — Feb 26 at 5:00 pm


The Harvard Law School Latter-day Saint Students Organization is pleased to announce this year’s edition of the annual Mormonism 101 Series. Each year, the Mormonism 101 Series brings a prominent Latter-day Saint member of the legal or academic community to discuss the basic tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and answer any questions that students or others have about the church. This year Harvard is especially proud to present Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the LDS Church’s highest governing body!

Apart from his prominent position in the church, Dallin Oaks has had a remarkably distinguished legal career, beginning at the University of Chicago Law School, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Law Review.  After law school, he served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court and then worked as an attorney for Kirkland & Ellis.  He then went on to teach at Chicago Law School for over a decade, serving for a time as interim dean. His tenure at the University of Chicago Law School ended when he was made president of Brigham Young University, where he also served for a decade.  This position, in turn, gave way to an appointment to the Utah Supreme Court, where he served as a justice throughout the early 1980s.  During this time, he was also chairman of the board of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).  He resigned from the Utah Supreme Court when he was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a position he still holds.

The value of this opportunity to hear Elder Oaks speak, and to ask questions about the Mormon faith from one who can speak on behalf of the Church (and not just as a member of the faith) cannot be overstated.  Moreover, Elder Oaks’s legal accomplishments are virtually unparalleled.  In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court called his scholarly work “the most comprehensive study on the exclusionary rule” and in both 1976 and 1981, he was on the short list of potential nominees to the United States Supreme Court.

Hopefully someone who attends this event can share with us what they learn.