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Large Law Schools Versus Small Law Schools

Podcast Highlight:

This week’s podcast discusses the differences between law schools with a large student bodies and smaller student communities. Our guests on the program are Melissa Fruscione, Director of Admissions the University of Notre Dame Law School; Mark West, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan Law School; and Ian Graham, attorney and author of Unbillable Hours. Our experts today discuss the factors students should consider when deciding on a law school based on school size and student population numbers.

Our first guest, Melissa Fruscione, Director of Admissions at the University of Notre Dame Law School (a smaller program with less than 600 full-time students), talks about the benefits and disadvantages of both smaller and larger programs, and talks about how student life can change depending on the size of the school you attend. At a smaller school like Notre Dame Law, she says, the size of the student body allows student organizations to be very focused, and makes leadership roles within those organizations more available to a greater percentage of students. Director Fruscione advises students who are looking at law school of vastly different sizes to sit in on a class and observe the student-teacher interaction at each school to really get a feel for the school environment. She suggests that, after each visit, students seriously consider whether they would be comfortable in the environment they observed.

Mark West, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan Law School (a larger program with over 1,000 full-time students), suggests that the quality of the school is an important factor, regardless of the size of the program. Although Michigan is a larger school, he explains, they divide up their students to make the sections within each class have a smaller feel. His final piece of advice for students is similar to that offered by Notre Dame’s Dean Fruscione: Get a feel for the schools you’re interested in beyond what they look like on paper. To achieve that, he suggests talking with students and alumni of each school.

Our final guest, Ian Graham, attorney and author of Unbillable Hours, says that students should take the numbers of students in a law school program with a grain of salt. He suggests that even though a school is large, it doesn’t mean that classrooms will be abnormally large-in many cases, much like Michigan’s Dean West points out, the size of the sections can make a school seem smaller than it is. Graham also suggests that a law school education has much more to do with the effort students put into it, and less to do with the size of the school.

Guests:

Mark West – Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan Law School
Melissa Fruscione – Director of Admissions at the University of Notre Dame Law School
Ian Graham – Attorney and author of Unbillable Hours

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