A small walkway is all that separates BYU law students from BYU undergraduate students, but it is still enough to create two very different academic experiences.
Students and law school officials agree that the main differences between the two schools include academic rigor, classroom structure and the size of classes. Assistant dean of student and internal relations Wendy Archibald said she observes many differences.
“The expectations are higher and the demands more rigorous,” Archibald said. “It is all at once fun, rigorous, challenging and satisfying. Despite the proximity to main campus, BYU Law is a very different experience from BYU undergrad.”
Victoria Chen, a first-year law student, said her classes are much smaller and require students to think through information differently.
“It’s an incredibly rigorous school, and it’s hard to change thinking and the way you form arguments, but the value of who you can become after law school is totally worth the time, the tuition and the rigor involved with law school,” Chen said. “Ultimately, it’s not about the information inside your head; it’s about the transforming experience you’ll have here.”
Chen explained a situation she had a few weeks ago that demonstrated the difference between undergraduate and law school life. She and some friends visited The Wall between classes, where they observed a few undergraduate students having a great time together.
“They seemed so happy and carefree, but we couldn’t stop thinking about what homework we still had to do,” she said.
But others, like second-year student Jace Clawson, say the transition wasn’t as drastic.
“For me, it was a relatively easy transition,” Clawson said. “Coming from the other side of campus, I knew the law school building pretty well already. I do spend more time at school, but that’s to be expected. Things are a little more serious over here because law school is a higher level.”
Both Clawson and Chen agreed that BYU is one of the best options for BYU students considering law school due to the low cost, the outstanding faculty, the mentorship programs and the location. Assistant dean of admissions at the law school, Michelle Mumford, agreed.
“We offer a quality education combined with the ability to choose your direction after school — a student doesn’t have to work for 10 years to pay a huge debt only to then feel free to follow his or her dream,” Mumford said.
BYU’s law school is rated first in the nation for the best value for private law schools, fifth in the nation for the best internship program, and 13th for Supreme Court clerkship placement, Mumford said.
“Law school is a grueling, intensive experience,” Mumford said. “The opportunity students have to gain a legal education in an environment that allows for the light of the gospel is an experience found nowhere else.”