Finding a decent legal job is hard enough as it is. Having a career services office that’s in complete disarray doesn’t help. From a tipster:
Emory Law’s Career Services Office has imploded. The latest departure was the Dean of Career Services, Dean Laurie Hartman, last month. She left under mysterious circumstances….
Students are asking lots of questions. They organized a facebook group, asking for an explanation, or an explanation for “if you can’t tell us what is going on, can you tell us why you can’t tell us what is going on?” Many law students went to their university paper, the Emory Wheel.
More after the jump.
The Emory Wheel did end up doing a story:
Last week, the law school community was informed that the former dean of career services would be leaving, effective immediately. The news came several weeks after an announcement that she would be taking an extended leave of absence.
Michael Phillips — a colleague of mine, and an active, respected member of the law school — thought that the student body deserved some additional information behind her departure. His was a simple request: Please tell us what happened, or please tell us why you can’t….
There is another element to this story that is also troubling. Sometime last Wednesday, Katherine Brokaw, the law school dean of student affairs, asked Phillips to come to her office and remove his cell phone from his pocket, supposedly because he might use it to record the conversation. He was then asked to take down a Facebook page he had started in support of his cause to find out more information about the dean’s departure. More alarmingly, he was told he could be sued by the former dean if he failed to do so.
I’ve spoken to Dean Brokaw about the incident. She maintains that her concerns about Phillips’ cell phone and the legality of the site were legitimate and in good faith.
But the episode reeks of a hostility and a level of suspicion that have no place in an academic institution of any caliber, let alone in a law school that, in its own Professional Conduct Code, strongly emphasizes the values of civility and a shared sense of community.
Another Emory source outlined the questions raised in the Facebook group:
1 Who initiated Dean Hartman’s leave of absence? Why?
2 Who initiated Dean Hartman’s permanent departure? Why?
3 What changed between September 27, 2007 (when Dean Hartman’s leave of absence began) and October 23, 2007 (when Dean Hartman’s departure was announced) that led to Dean Hartman’s leave of absence becoming a permanent departure?
4 Did Dean Hartman commit any wrongdoing?
5 Have any students lost career opportunities, been disadvantaged, or suffered harm of any kind because of Dean Hartman’s behavior?
6 If the reasons for Dean Hartman’s departure must remain secret, why must they remain secret?
7 If you cannot answer any of these questions, why?
So what’s the latest state of play? This is what we’re hearing:
Mikey Phillips is headed for a showdown with Emory SBA on Friday. There the SBA will vote on the Bill asking/demanding Emory Law to release as much information as possible the release/firing/forced resignation of the Dean of Career services.
That’s only first part of the story, SBA has been conducting an e-mail debate about the bill. Mikey contests that under the SBA Charter, SBA is required to make all debates are public. Most but not all SBA members have not been forth coming with their disclosures. Mike maintains that the e-mails are public and has appeal to Emory Law’s conduct court for a ruling on the e-mails, where he expects to lose. So the plan is to appeal to the university wide conduct court, but the wrinkle there is the “justice” from the law school who sits on that court is a apart of the secret SBA debate….
[B]efore the dean left, two other members of career services has left. One to pursue a music career, and one to head of recruiting for Paul Hastings Atlanta. Immediately after the Dean left, the person who left for Paul Hastings, just this past summer, returned to her old position at Emory.
Those are the facts. The rumor is that Career services revolted and went to the dean and turned in an ultimatum stating that the rest of the office was going to quit, if administration did not remove the dean.
My opinion: [I think] the former dean was the most competent person in the office. The decision, however, was to keep a marginally competent staff over one competent person. While this understandable, the large portion of the current 3L population that doesn’t have a job is concerned with her dismissal.
By the way, this isn’t the only weird thing happening at Emory law this year. From near the start of the semester:
Dean Partlett, the dean of Emory law, held the traditional welcome to Emory party at the law school. The dean gave his speech but it went a bit beyond the norm.
First he welcomed us on behalf of himself and his wife, then he talked about his dog (an English setter, named Griffey). Dean Partlett when in to a several minute description about how Griffey really wanted to go to Atlanta but was scared because of the whole Michael Vick situation…. Now, this would have been funny, had it not be delivered in a very serious tone, and at such great length.
The speech then went into the truly bizarre. He began to talk about the entering class of 2010. He said that there were originally 500 students that fell to 252. He said that the dean of students and admissions used a process that was similar to the Bataan death march to reduce the class size. He talked for about several minutes about this Bataan death march reduction. Dean Partlett actually invoked the Bataan death march.
This speech has been the talk of the school. No one knows what it was he was talking about…. It was just bizarre.
(We contacted the dean for comment — about the weird welcome speech, not about the career services implosion — but never heard back from him.)
Update: From an Emory alum:
[F]rankly, the story you just posted comes as no surprise whatsoever. For a moderately ranked school, affiliated with a fairly prestigious undergraduate institution, the Emory Law School administration was (and apparently continues to be) a joke.
When I went there (I graduated in 2001), the school decided to redecorate the inside of the law school with the paintings of a local homeless man that resembled the drawings of elementary school kids. I think his drawings may have been celebrated by the art community, but they certainly were not law school appropriate. Then they added to the ambiance by procuring wooden patio furniture in the main common area. It was not a big deal, but the apparent lack of judgment did not inspire confidence.
Close-Mouthed Deans Dissuade Open Inquiry [Emory Wheel]
Officials Appointed to Fill Key Career Services Roles [Emory Wheel]