The Truth about Western State University College of Law
I'm writing this article to neutralize the perception of Western State University College of Law. I'm also partially writing this as a response to the defamatory article posted on this website regarding the school. I should probably gain some credibility by assuring readers that I take a completely neutral and unbiased stance on the school. I was once a student at Western State University College of Law, but after my first year, I decided to continue my education at another ABA law school which I felt to be a better fit for me. Therefore, I have severed my ties with Western State, and its reputation no longer affects me in any way, shape, or form.
I'm not sure what has motivated me to write an article in Western State's defense, but I feel completely biased articles, such as the ones written by "UberHubber23" lack credibility, mostly because of the one sided perception. I believe incoming 1Ls deserve a fair opinion on what Western State University College of Law will offer them, and should not be dissuaded by an angry writer who ineloquently and inaccurately berates the institution.
Much to UberHubber23's chagrin, Western State University College of Law has achieved full ABA accreditation as of August 2009. They obtained accreditation because they have made the requisite changes to improve their curriculum. In all fairness, the education you will receive at Western State University is solid and thorough. If you apply yourself you will be adequately prepared to tackle the bar exam, and will have a good chance of passing your first time. Another great thing about the university is that professors avail themselves to students and are quite generous with feedback and help.
While it may have taken WSU many years to gain full ABA accreditation, that does not mean that they have been seeking accreditation since the day they were founded. Many law schools like to reap the benefits of the CBE market. There are many students who prefer attending non-ABA accredited schools due to the affordable tuition and more flexible schedules. Also, CBE law schools have to abide by less stringent requirements, and therefore incur less maintenance costs. This often times makes better financial sense for a for-profit institution such as Western State. Just because Western State made the decision to obtain ABA accreditation a few years ago does not mean it had been seeking it since they were founded in the 60s.
However, Western State University College of Law obviously has its disadvantages. Some of the professors are absolutely brilliant, while others teach at Western State University College of Law because it is likely that no other ABA law school would hire them, or give them an interview. Also, there are some professors who are brilliant, but don't know how to teach. One professor at Western State once asked his class why they had done so poorly on their midterm exam and asked for feedback on what he could do differently. When students took this words to heart, he proceeded to get extremely defensive and belittled his students when they gave him genuine feedback on how they could improve. Such professors diminish the quality of education students receive from the institution.
Also, Western State is lacking in resources. They do not provide their students with ample opportunities for internships and externships. They have weak alumni connections in Orange County unless you're interested in entering the criminal law public sector. This puts all the students who hope to work in private practice at a disadvantage.
The number 1 thing you will hear students complain about at Western State is that they feel it is impossible to hold onto the extremely generous scholarship they were offered their first year. Many students turn down more prestigious schools to attend Western State in hopes of getting a free or very cheap legal education. Students must be weary of making their decision based on the scholarship alone. MOST students will lost their scholarship after their first year. Western State requires that students obtain a 2.8 GPA to keep their scholarship. At western state, a 2.8 GPA is very difficult to achieve. This requires you to be in the top 20% of your class to keep your scholarship. This causes students a lot of stress and disappointment. If you are considering this school solely because of the scholarship you received, please take out loans and go elsewhere. It will be worth it.
However if you DO decide to go to Western State, succeeding as an attorney isn't impossible. Western State has its fair share of SuperLawyers in the Southern California area (superlawyers.com). Also, some private law firms hire Western State grads to keep costs low at their law firms. For example, hiring an associate who is a Western State grad is much cheaper than hiring a UCLA grad. In this tough economy, WSU grads may be at an advantage in some situations. Also, for students who are looking to transfer, Western State may serve as an excellent stepping stone to a better university. Transferring law schools is a great back door method. However, WSU does make it tough to transfer because they keep student's GPA's very low. Only the top 10% of students exceed a GPA of over a 3.0. Low GPA's translate badly on resume's and transfer applications. Luckily, WSU provides a class rank to combat this problem.
If you're determined to be a lawyer, but got a really low LSAT score, Western State University College of Law CAN help you if you're ready to work very hard. If you're not sure whether or not you want to go to law school-- Western State is NOT the place for you. They have a high attrition rate and do not let you use the school as a place to "find yourself." Beware: This is not College 2.0-- and Western State's attrition rate is not kind of those who aren't completely dedicated to their profession.
In essence, like most schools, Western State has its pros and cons. Each student must evaluate their circumstances and look closely at what Western State can offer them. This isn't the school for everybody, each student must be serious about law school, ready to work hard, and have a clear understanding of what Western State can offer them. They must also assess whether Western State has the ability to cater to their career interests. If you do chose Western State as your legal institution, just be aware that the journey ahead is tough but not impossible. If you stay determined you can succeed in the legal profession, and all hope is not lost (as other articles may suggest).
Best of luck.
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