Students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law characterize their experience by the school's practical approach to legal education, the close-knit community of students and teachers, and friendly, accessible professors, all against the backdrop of sunny San Diego. Students agree, "The overall academic experience is positive [and that] the atmosphere is very supportive, which includes professors and my fellow classmates." In order to train future lawyers through a series of foundation courses and experiential learning programs, the school maintains active moot court and mock trial programs, a highly competitive law review, and a number of field programs and externships in addition to traditional course work. One student explains, "Thomas Jefferson is the school you come to if you want to gain a working and less historic knowledge of the law. Although legal theory plays a large and important role in the curriculum, the faculty is more concerned with providing students with a knowledge base that more appropriately prepares us for the legal 'real world.'" Another student confidently contributes, "Overall, I believe I received a first-rate legal education, and the school's strong emphasis on developing my practical skills has certainly enhanced my resume far beyond those of my peers from other schools." While most students appreciate the applicability of their course work, some would like to see a greater emphasis on basic philosophy and theory of law. One student confides, "I feel that some of my professors teach us the skills to pass the bar, but not to really understand the law." Another complains, "There is a woeful lack of American legal history taught."Overall, students feel that "TJSL's cozy atmosphere is nurturing and allows students as well as professors to interact with each other frequently, allowing a healthy exchange of ideas to circulate throughout the campus." The teaching staff gets high marks from students, who describe the faculty as "an amazing group of well-respected powerful people, active in the community locally and nationally." Consistent with the school's educational mission, many teachers "have practiced in their respective fields, so they provide real-life insight into what they teach." TJSL students love the fact that "the school's professors are easy to approach and more than willing to spend time with you outside of class." One student shares this story: "The accessibility of the faculty is outstanding. On one occasion, I e-mailed my professor a copy of my midterm and asked for his comments. In less than an hour he had e-mailed back my midterm with elaborate explanations of how I could improve." Still, some students wish they were taught only by those professors who offer the best of both worlds. "The school could strive for experienced professors (not just experienced lawyers who have no idea how to teach first year students)," says one conscientious student.Along those lines, students worry about the school's rapid growth, watching the classrooms and parking lots burst at the seams with each year's incoming class. Students say, "Every year the average entering student GPA and LSAT scores rise," and with that, so do the class sizes. Students fret that, "the classrooms are ridiculously crowded," and that the campus is "a little on the small side and needs desperately to expand." Still, "the school is committed to constantly upgrading the technical as well as academic areas of the school," starting with fall 2004 they have reduced the size of the entering class by 100 students to eliminate overcrowding. Many feel that, with time, TJSL will catch up to itself.
- The Princeton Review