February 11, 2003

Two Student Articles on UNM School of Law Open House

An introduction to the articles by Ellen Grigsby

UNM School of Law is nationally recognized for its programs, its faculty, and its diverse student body. UNM's Clinical Law Program and American Indian Law Center are among the most respected programs in the country. Jim Ellis, Paul Nathanson, and Denise Fort are three of the many distinguished faculty members to have received national honors in recent months. In addition, the American Bar Association recently granted the law school a national award for its commitment to diversity.

Below you will find articles by pre-law students Matt Ray and Brian Eagan sharing the insights they gained from attending recent UNM School of Law Open House events. Their articles can update you on what law school at UNM looks like from a student perspective.

Why Attend An Open House at UNM School of Law


Matt Ray

Want to get the best legal education for the least amount of money? Then the University of New Mexico School of Law may be the place you. With a student faculty ratio of 10:1 and one of the top clinical programs in the nation, you are sure to receive an interactive, educational experience. Want to learn more about UNM’s School of Law? Then you should attend one of their open houses.

Besides the free cookies and juice, there are many incentives to attending one of these open houses. It is the best way to become familiar with the law school. Not only will you get to meet the law school admissions representatives, you’ll have an opportunity to interact with a some of the school's finest students as well learn more about financing your legal education.

Worried about financial aide? Wondering how you’re going to pay for law school? Tuition at the University of New Mexico School of Law is just over $6,000 per semester. This is a small price to pay to be in class with outstanding faculty such as former United States Attorney Norman C. Bay and the Unabomber’s co-defense counsel, Barbara Bergman.

The school’s student support center provides opportunities for athletics, childcare facilities, free lockers and mailboxes, and career services.

I suggest you drop by the school and have a look for yourself. UNM is a wonderful place, but you would not necessarily know that, unless you have taken the opportunity to visit.

Notes From UNM School of Law Open House, February 6, 2003


Brian Eagan

The evening featured speakers from UNM School of Law Admissions Office, UNM School of Law Career Services Office, and a panel of 1st and 2nd year UNM law students. About 60 perspective students were in attendance. The meeting was held in a large classroom at the law school (Bratton Hall Bldg. – 1117 Stanford Dr NE).

Career Services

The evening opened with a warm greeting from UNM School of Law Career Services Director, John T. Feldman. He gave a brief presentation on how and where UNM School of Law graduates were working. For example, in the class of 2001 (100 people), 50 were in private practice, and 50 were in other roles. For the 50 in private practice, 25 were in small firms or solo practitioners, and 25 went to bigger firms.

For the 50 in other roles, 40 were in government jobs (prosecute, defend, in-house counsel, etc.) and 10 were law clerks.

He indicated that most UNM School of Law graduates end up working in New Mexico, while the next highest concentrations are in California and the District of Columbia. John also indicated that UNM law school graduates have used their legal education in many exciting ways. Graduates include: the Chief Judge of Metro Court, members of the New Mexico Supreme Court, real estate agents, private attorneys, government attorneys, and U.S. Congressional policy aides.


Susan Mitchell, UNM School of Law Director of Admissions, gave an extended presentation of basic information on the admissions process at UNM. The major key points to keep in mind are that the law school receives about 850 applications each year for about 100 openings. UNM admits about 2.5 people per space, based on the idea that not everyone admitted will attend UNM. A decided preference for admission is given to New Mexico residents.

The personal statement is very important. UNM wants to know: who you are, what you have done, why you want to go to law school in general, and why do you want to study in New Mexico in particular.

Financial Aid

Additionally, applicants should not wait to file the FAFSA.The FAFSA should be filed before you are admitted, with directions that the Financial Aid eligibility report is to be sent to up to four separate perspective law schools (UNM being one of them). The FAFSA should be filed between January 1 and March 1, each year, for priority consideration at UNM. All law students are by legal definition, declared to be independent for financial aid purposes. However, to qualify for some additional special UNM institutional grant aid, students and parents (if the kids are still under 40) must declare the parents’ income and assets, when they fill out the Access Group’s Need Access Application (at www.accessgroup.org).

UNM School of Law has its own personal UNM Financial Aid officer on site at Bratton Hall (rather than Main Campus) for all UNM law and medical students.

Law Student Life Panel – a Question and Answer Session

The student life panel featured four UNM law students, including two 1st year students, and two 2nd year students. Revelations include:

Housing: No law students live on campus currently; they all live off-campus, mostly in private rental homes and apartments across from the School of Law on North Campus. A few commute in from homes outside Albuquerque (Santa Fe, Los Lunas), or live with their parents in Albuquerque.

Tutor System: each 1L class is assigned a tutor, who attends all classes with the 1Ls, send out notes via email, and has office hours to offer assistance. They are NOT teaching assistants however. Tutors are assigned to courses, not faculty. Additionally, faculty members teach all of the courses at the School of Law. And the faculty are willing to help students individually as well, to make sure everyone is successful in their studies.

Atmosphere is cooperative, not cutthroat competitive. Everyone supports each other.

Family Life: A 2L student related a story of how one UNM law student gave birth to a child during her first week at law school (talk about a tough first day), and how all of her classmates made sure she got the help she needed to catch up in her classes. The newly expanded facilities of the UNM Child Care Center are located on the North Campus, not to far from the law school. Some law school students will even share babysitting duties, or just take their child to class. The annual Halloween Carnival for children at the law school is now a major event. Additionally, 58% percent of the class of 2003 is female.

Study Groups. These are useful for reviewing the entire contents of the course, just before the final exam. However, if the group went beyond 2 or 3 people, it got slowed down.

Class size: Your smallest law class will be Legal Writing Seminar. Normally it is 10 to 12 people, maximum. Thus, it becomes like your homeroom. You get to know these people very well. After a while, however, you will meet you everyone in the entire law school, since there are just over 300 students.

Study Patterns: most people study about 6 hours a day. Some treat it like a job, in by 8 am at the law library, study between classes, go home at 6 pm, spend an hour with family, and then study a little more that evening. For others, the pattern varies daily.

Working and going to school: 1st semester of first year – it is not allowed at all. 2nd semester of first year, a limited amount is allowed, but not recommended. Summer offers lots of options: work in town for local firm or agency, or go away to work for the summer. UNM SOL also sponsors a summer law institute in Mexico.