Nearly three-fourths of students at BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School rated their entire educational experience as "excellent" versus one-third of law students nationally, and 95 percent of BYU's law students would make the same choice if starting law school over, compared to 78 percent nationally.
Those are just two of the findings of the most recent Law School Student Engagement Survey, which law schools use to assess the extent to which their students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. The study received responses from more than 21,000 law students at 53 schools, including Harvard and Georgetown. It is co-sponsored by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
When asked if they perceived an institutional emphasis on an institutional commitment to encouraging the ethical practice of law, 93 percent of BYU students agreed, compared to 70 percent nationally.
"We are especially pleased that our students recognize our efforts to promote 'the ethical practice of law,'" said Dean Kevin J Worthen, "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.'"
Other areas where the BYU law school was rated higher than the national norms:
-- Students report better quality of relationships with fellow students, with faculty members, and with administrative staff
-- Students spend more time studying, more time caring for dependents and more time participating in community organizations
-- More students frequent discussed readings and assignments with faculty outside of class
These results are evident in the anonymous comments solicited by the survey. One first-year student wrote, "Prior to choosing BYU law school I had seriously considered accepting another offer to an Ivy League law school. I am very happy with my choice to attend BYU. The faculty is accomplished and willing to assist. The other students are friendly and collegial. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience thus far at BYU."
The law school appears to be providing the highly rated education without burdening its students financially to the same degree as many other schools. Ten percent of BYU law students anticipate $60,000 or more in law-school related debt compared to 62 percent nationally.
"Campus units like the law school can take advantage of assessment tools like this study to help set expectations at student orientations and to continue to inform students through the advisement process," said Danny Olsen, BYU director of institutional assessment and analysis, who administered BYU's participation in the LSSE and analyzed the results for the BYU law school. "For faculty, objective results like these present a jumping off point for discussion of exemplary educational aspects as well as potential areas of improvement."