By Constance Yonashiro
Students at the J. Reuben Clark Law School enjoy their overall educational experience more than the national average according to a recent study done by the Law School Student Engagement survey.
The study received responses from over 21,000 law students from 53 schools, including Ivy League schools such as Harvard. The study found nearly three-fourths of students at BYU”s law school rated their overall experience as “excellent” compared to the national average of one-third.
Scott Potter, a second year law student from Gilbert, Ariz., said he would agree with the results of the survey and said most students would say their overall experience at the BYU law school has been an exceptional one.
“Law school is a lot tougher than [being an] undergrad almost to the point of killing me with all the work,” Potter said. “But even though it was hard, I liked it here so much that I really was excited about being back in school and learning more.”
The survey also found that 95 percent of BYU”s law students would make the same choice if they had to choose which law school to attend compared to 78 percent nationally.
“There are better law schools out there,” Potter said. “However, all the students and the professors here are amazing, and really, it”s who you have to hang out with while at school that really determines how happy you are in the long run.”
Another area in which BYU”s law school rated higher than the national average was in the quality of relationships between students and professors.
“All professors are great,” Potter said. “There are some professors” teaching styles I don”t exactly like, but the professors themselves are all wonderful people once you get to know them.”
Marguerite Arleen Driessen, associate professor of law at BYU”s J. Reuben Clark Law School said she also believes most professors have greater responsibility to the students than just teaching them inside of classrooms.
“I have certainly developed very close bonds of friendship and very close personal and professional ties with a number of students over the years,” Driessen said. “There are many people with whom I am still in contact years after they graduated.”
However, she said she still found the results of the survey to be unexpected.
“I am surprised the numbers were so high,” Driessen said. “But I am sure that is based on my unique position here, having had personal experience over the years with students” trials, troubles and heartbreaks of the personal as well as academic varieties. They come to talk to me when everything is normal and fine but even more so when they have problems.”
BYU”s law school also exceeded the national average in the area of students feeling comfortable enough with the faculty to discuss assignments outside of class. Driessen said she spends a great deal of time talking casually with students outside the classroom about law subjects discussed in lectures.
The study also revealed 93 percent of BYU law students would agree with the statement that their institution emphasizes an ethical practice of law compared to 70 percent nationally.
“We are especially pleased that our students recognize our efforts to promote ”the ethical practice of law,”” said Kevin J. Worthen, law school dean, in a news release. “Particularly because then BYU President Dallin H. Oaks charged the law school at its founding to find ”opportunities for leadership in teaching ethics, morality and professional responsibility.””
The study also showed BYU law students also spend more time studying, more time caring for dependents and more time participating in community organizations.