Although the United States is incredibly diverse, Utah stands out as a peculiar state. The birthplace 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 both highly ranked and produce alumnus that 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 and its law school are sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), commonly referred to as the Mormon Church. While many schools offer discounts for in-state students, JRCLS is perhaps the only law school that offers a reduced tuition for those who are members of a particular religious faith. LDS church members pay significantly less than non-LDS applicants.
The school is ostensibly open to all faiths and sexual orientations, though 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 "homosexual behavior." Compliance with the Honor Code includes the need to obtain and maintain an ecclesiastical endorsement from a religious leader. In 2016, the ABA conducted a review of 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, but some potential students may still find JRCLS's commitment to religious faith and hostility toward homosexuality unwelcoming.
JRCLS is understandably proud of its large number of 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 JRCLS's faculty, which includes many former Supreme Court clerks, the former Undersecretary of the Interior, and many well-known legal scholars.
Located in Salt Lake City, Quinney College is slightly higher-ranked than JRCLS, though both schools are well-regarded. Residents will pay a lower tuition than is available (even for LDS members) at JRCLS, though out-of-state tuition is higher than the JRCLS tuition for non-LDS applicants.
Although Quinney does not share a relationship with the LDS Church, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society is closely associated with the Mormons. 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 environmental law will find special opportunities at Quinney. The school's program is nationally recognized and students can also participate in the National Resources Law Forum and the Utah Environmental Law Review to expand their experience in issues relating to environmental law.
Learn More About Planning for Law School and Beyond
Once you decide which law school is the right one for you you'll need to begin preparation 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 career in the law.