Jesuit-affiliated University of San Francisco School of Law puts a “sincere focus on public interest work” proclaims a 2L. USF’s Public Interest Law Foundation demonstrates its support by “offering grants to students working in the public interest over the summer, and there is a loan forgiveness program for graduates pursuing public interest careers.”
USF also works towards goals of producing graduates who are ready to practice and make an impact on the legal community. “USF is very good at developing lawyers who can actually practice when they graduate,” says a 3L. There are eight clinical programs offered, which cover a plethora of legal areas of interest. “I worked in the predatory lending clinic, which was life-changing for me,” reflects a 3L. “It helped me get perspective on the practice of law and what it means to work with low-income clients.”
Students are encouraged to explore international law through summer externships across the globe that apply the skills they learn in law school. USF law students work at law firms, NGOs, government agencies in countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, and China.
Though academic complaints are limited, many students note “the class selection is interesting, but not very broad.” “They want to teach you as much as you are willing to learn,” said a part-time student. The legal research and writing program garners mixed reviews. Some students say it is “not up to par at all” while others maintain that it is “extremely thorough and practical.” The high cost of tuition is also somewhat of an issue.
The school’s Bay Area campus helps “USF attract and retain many truly excellent professors,” and most students indicate that “professors for the most part really want to be there and are incredibly supportive and smart.” They are known to “make ample time to meet with students” and “take a personal stake” in their students’ success.
The administration is equally well liked, with a reputation of being “transparent” and “approachable.” One student mentions a memorable moment he experienced. “Dean Brand passed by as I was working in the hall and asked me what I was doing. When he learned what I was taking on, he gave me a few words of encouragement. Even the most socratic, toughest professors have been supportive and available—they want everyone to succeed.” The alumni network is strong at USF. “Alumni of the school are loyal to helping current students and are prevalent in the Bay area.” A particular emphasis is placed on “alumni connections at public-interest law firms, governmental agencies, and nonprofits” where USF students are “very well-positioned to get summer jobs with the district attorney, public defender, or other criminal law employers” following their first year.
Despite these resources, the legal market that surrounds USF is extremely competitive. This, coupled with the opinion among students that the Office of Career Planning “is not very aggressive about actual job placement,” can make things difficult after graduation if one does not plan properly. Students say they combat this by finding support in each other. “[There is a] spirit of community among my fellow classmates. There is never any doubt we are all in competition with each other but it never FEELS that way,” says a 1L. USF made major changes to the Office of Career Planning in the summer of 2012, bringing in a new leader who has focused on aggressively expanding career opportunities for USF students and preparing students to take an entrepreneurial approach to their job searches.
The campus of the University of San Francisco receives high marks among studentswho say the law school facilities are “wonderful, clean, and modern.” “The rooms are allup-to-date with the highest tech equipment.” “The library is awesome and the librariansare amazingly helpful and useful.” “The law school is beautiful and small enough thatyou get an individualized experience.”
When students decide to take a break from the books they are met with many options.The school provides programs including “many reputable speakers,” and “there are lotsof free lunches and events that make school less stressful.” “Weekly Thursday night barnights” are also well attended.
The City of San Francisco is beautiful, affording students endless opportunities forwork and play. “You’ve got everything that San Francisco and the Bay Area have tooffer” to help you relax. “Public transportation is really accessible,” and the culture,restaurants, and nightlife are plenty. For the student on a budget, though, the “cost ofliving in San Francisco can be pretty steep.”