Although the United States is incredibly diverse, Utah stands out as a peculiar state. The cultural center of the Mormon faith, Utah's stunning natural beauty and unique cultural environment make it a unique place to pursue a legal education. The state's two American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools are highly ranked and produce alums who hold prominent positions in law, business, and politics.
The following article provides a brief overview of Utah's law schools and highlights some points that can help you determine which one is right for you.
Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
Located in Provo, Brigham Young University (BYU) and its law school are sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). While many schools offer discounts for in-state students, BYU Law is perhaps the only law school that offers reduced tuition for members of a particular religious faith. LDS church members pay about half the tuition charged to applicants from outside the faith. However, even the full-price tuition is low for a highly-ranked private law school, about $30,000 a year.
The school is ostensibly open to all students, regardless of their faith, race, or other factors. However, students are also subject to the school's Honor Code, which precludes admission or retention of students that are former LDS Church members or who engage in "same-sex romantic behavior."
For many years, compliance with the Honor Code included the need to obtain and maintain an ecclesiastical endorsement from a religious leader. In 2016, the ABA reviewed the school's admission and retention policy to ensure that it complied with the organization's nondiscrimination policy. Minor changes to the school's Honor Code policy that permitted exceptions to ecclesiastical endorsement resulted in the ABA dropping its review. However, some potential students may still find BYU's commitment to religious faith and hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community unwelcoming.
BYU Law is understandably proud of its many clerkship placements, including Supreme Court clerkships. More than a dozen former students held this prestigious position, and the school has also produced an impressive number of judges, U.S. Attorneys, Senators, and members of Congress.
This same prestige carries over to BYU Law's faculty, which includes many former Supreme Court clerks, the former Undersecretary of the Interior, and many well-known legal scholars.
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
Located in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law (Utah Law) is slightly lower-ranked than BYU, though both schools are highly regarded. Tuition for non-LDS Utah residents is comparable to BYU, though out-of-state tuition is higher than BYU's tuition for non-LDS applicants, about $44,000 a year.
Although Quinney does not share a relationship with the LDS Church, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society is closely associated with the Mormon faith. The society does not require church membership in order to qualify to join and claims many influential lawyers and politicians in its ranks.
Those interested in natural resources, climate policy, and conservation will find special opportunities with Quinney's nationally recognized environmental law program. Students can also participate in the Environmental Dispute Resolution program and Law & Policy program to expand their experience in issues relating to environmental law.
Planning for Law School and Beyond
Once you decide which law school is the right one for you, you'll need to prepare for other aspects of your future as an attorney. You'll need to take the LSAT, apply for law school, learn how to study for exams, participate in extracurricular activities, find an internship, and more. Along the way, you'll find articles and links to helpful materials throughout FindLaw for Law Students that can help you make the informed decisions that will lead to a successful legal career.