Boston College (R) - I didn't really know much about it, but for awhile there I was interested in the Boston area as a possibility. Their office was fairly easy to deal with, moderately friendly. I get the sense that they desperately want to move up in the rankings, and the way they do that is with LSATs. Not a reason not to apply, I suppose, except I think monkeying with your scores without changing the real quality of the school is disingenuous (and indicative of how deeply misleading the rankings are, sans the reputation numbers).
Case Western (A)- Extremely nice staff, I met them at a Law School Forum here in Big D. I liked their programs, but unfortunately they were in Cleveland. As a graduate of Oberlin, I've had enough of Northeast Ohio to last me a lifetime. I thought there was a chance that might change if I got into this low-first-tier school, but it didn't, even with the money. Don't let that take away from it, though. It's a great school. Their admissions process is very slow, however, so be prepared to wait, even if you are a strong applicant.
Chicago-Kent (A)- Kent is a truly fantastic school, one that I think is completely underrated in the rankings. I had the chance to visit it earlier this year after being admitted. The IP program is one of the best, their Legal Writing is similarly regarded. The building is phenomenal, easy to get around, the professors are great (their ASW has SEVERAL mock classes) and are rightly regarded as such. Plus, Chicago is becoming America's coolest, most artistic, most bohemian and most exciting city in a big hurry. Watch out NYC. I plan to use my Wisconsin JD to hopefully get to the Windy City myself, and Kent gives you about a thousand feet in the door to Chicago. I think it is a first-tier school in waiting. Check it out even if you're a way better applicant than me, because they'll probably give you a ton of $$.
DePaul (A)- Before I took my 2nd LSAT, I was very interested in DePaul. I must say though that I now have rather mixed feelings about it. When I visited, the people were great, but the facilities are rather average despite the school's being in the Loop, which I love. Plus, the library is small and unwieldy, and the acoustics are not so good. However, DePaul has the most alums in Chicago of any school and therefore connections out the wazoo. They also had a number of journals and clinics I was interested in (and they backed up a dumptruck full of cash) but it has a long way left to go.
GWU (R)- This one hurt a little. When I still thought I would become a professional political operative, I went to a summer program at GW, and I did love DC. DC frustrates me for many reasons, but I was still extremely interested in GW's program and its connections. Didn't work out though. People are nice on the phone and in person, but the school (and university) are a monster and often challenging bureaucracy.
Lewis and Clark (A)- I don't really know what to say about this school. It looked good on paper, especially since I'm interested in environmental law. I never visited, and I dashed off the app on a lark, and when I got in, I didn't care and withdrew. Does certainly look aesthetically beautiful and appealing though. I would check it out if I lived in the NW. Never talked to a human being there.
Loyola-Chicago (W)- This was the most confusing school for me. To this day (and I know this sounds pompous, yet) I have not a clue why they waitlisted me. I poured a lot into their supplemental essay, but I didn't really mention "why LUC", but then again, they didn't ask. Who knows? The people were knowledgable and serviceable. In the end I didn't care that I didn't get in because I had already gotten into Kent. Nice facilities. They, like BC, also seem very status-oriented. Good luck, because they won't outclass Kent anytime soon.
Northeastern (A)- I liked it a whole lot. The Co-op system sounded cool, but possibly to the expense of its reputation and academic rigor. I am a big lefty, but to be honest, I'm not sure I can wholeheartedly commit to doing public interest work this early in the process. I love Boston, though, so this school made it into the last 3 along with Wisconsin and Colorado. Plus they gave me mad money, so I gave it some strong thought for that too. Really nice people. Definitely worth a thought for progressives everywhere applying to law school.
Santa Clara (A)- Another school like DePaul that I applied to based on my old LSAT. I don't know a heck of a lot about it, but I needed another safety, so I applied. I guess the idea of living in the Bay area got to me when I realized how much traffic they have there, and I hate nothing more in this world than multi-hour traffic jams. This is what doomed Hastings when they waitlisted me too. People are pleasant. The main receptionist sounded like the girl in 'Octopussy'. Very funny, but don't laugh.
SMU (Def)- SMU and Dallas come with a lot of baggage for me, but since it's well regarded and a lot of my coworkers pressured me to apply there (since they're grads), I did, but I didn't try for much of a good impression, which probably helped them to defer me. If you like Dallas, TX, which I consider stultifyingly boring, conservative and uptight, go for it. But shit, there are a lot of hot girls. Mad superficial girls, but hot for sure. People in the office are fake Texas nice to the nines. I withdrew after deferral since I didn't care anyway.
Cal-Hastings (W)- My advice? Be tolerant with the admissions office, or else you might tear out your hair. They require practically everything in writing, the Admissions assistant is a bit of a pompous ass who takes minimum 2 DAYS to get back with you regarding astonishingly simple questions, and otherwise are none too helpful. Perhaps if I had the $ to visit there it would have seemed different, but I didn't so its impression was less than stellar. I still liked the school, though, and I love SF. However, the traffic kills me, and it is so goddamn expensive. Too bad, because it's like heaven on earth. The law school, though, is in the hell district of heaven, called the Tenderloin, but if you've looked into the school much, you know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, it's a very dangerous area of the city right near many government buildings. If you're a woman, I hear that it can be particularly unsafe. That's no good.
Chicago (R)- Sigh, if only I had a 175. What an amazing school. It's ugly as sin to look at, but I would crap a coconut to go there. Simply put, it would be the best intellectual/legal experience possible, producing renaissance lawyers. I would be there in a heartbeat, even though I would be $200K in debt. Amazing. But of course...yeah. I actually had a life in college and a little after, so NO.
Colorado (A)- Ah, Colorado. How hard it was to turn it down. Colorado has been my second home (not literally) for quite some time, and that, my friends, is a hell of a law school. New building, great people, and in an area that will become the next great American metropolis. In years to come I suspect it will be rather dominant in its area, and possibly national. But ultimately, I just couldn't pick it. I'll go more into why when I describe why I picked Wisconsin.
University of Denver (A)- Basically a safety in Colorado if I didn't get into CU. Good school though, very solicitous, upwardly mobile admissions office and student body. However, I was a tad disturbed that they saw law school more as a glorified trade school and less as an intellectual experience, as they focused a lot on employability, employability, employability. Plus they had a distinct inferiority complex regarding CU. Take it for what you will, and I still liked it even so.
University of Michigan (R)- Another crazy, reach-for-the-stars pick. I loved the thought, but I got a real short letter in return for my application, unsurprisingly.
UMN (Def)- Minnesota looked a lot better on paper to me. It would probably have bowled me over more, but I just don't think I could tolerate cold while being in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities are pretty badass, but I had no verve for the school after I got deferred. I was very impressed, though. The people were very tuned when I visited, and I loved their clinical programs. Good school, if you like the Twin Cities.
University of Texas (Def, R)- This one was sad, since that's where my g/f is gonna go for another grad program, without me. I won't comment further, since I'm gonna try to transfer.
WashU (Def)- Last but not least. I liked this school a lot, but again, it suffers from Boston College syndrome: upward LSAT mobility. Their program is solid, but I believe overstated. WashU also seems to spend unlimited funds on promoting itself, which they expect will push the problems of St. Louis out of the way. I was born there, so I love it, but not for life.Withdrew after deferral.
That's all I've got for now. I need to think about what to say about Wisconsin exactly and my final choice. However, I will now add some bits and pieces of my resume and background to give more info.