As 2008 draws to a close, your ATL editors are looking back over some of our favorite stories of the year. On Monday, we named our law students of the year. If you already checked it out, you may want to revisit it — a third student fought his way onto the list, per popular demand.
Today, we’re looking at the pet rocks/Rubik Cubes/slap bracelets/Beanie Babies (depending on your generation) for law schools around the nation. After the jump, find out which three trends we deemed the most important in 2008. Law school deans, read on to find out what’s hot at a law school campus near you.
If you were hoping to see “boots over leggings” on this list, you shall be sorely disappointed. We’re taking more of a macro approach in naming the top three trends of 2008. In increasing order of importance:
3. Going Wireless-Less in the Classroom: The University of Chicago cut off internet access in its classrooms in March. Debate, of course, ensued. Many lamented the inability to check their Facebook pages and shop online during lecture hours. In an informal poll, we found that two-thirds of respondents favored internet access during class.
Those opposed find their classmates’ Web surfing distracting. In the words of one of our commenters:
“it’s tough to concentrate when some douchebag in front of you is browsing Perez Hilton’s bright pink site with pictures of your favorite celeb with a big hand-drawn dildo promiscuously drawn on.”
In April, the topic resurfaced with Chicago Law School Dean Saul Levmore saying that ten other law schools had contacted him about following suit in banning wireless in the classroom. We haven’t heard anything since, maybe because tipsters can’t e-mail us from class. This trend may have gone the way of the Macarena, but we’re still willing to revisit it.
2. Grade Reform: This year, a number of top law schools rocked their student bodies by reforming their grading systems. First Stanford and then Harvard converted from the traditional “A, B, C, Die” system to a Yale (and Boalt)-esque pass-fail hybrid. Then NYU and USC instituted new curves. And Columbia is wrestling with the idea of grade reform.
Reforms were instituted stat, so that current students were dragged along for the ride, and they kind of freaked out, about how honors would be given out and the loss of a traditional GPA. And we wondered how alumni at the schools where grades would be curved were feeling about having their GPAs diminished by comparison.
Stanford may have been the first school to jump on the P/F bandwagon this year, but we know Yale is the true trend driver.
1. Painful Fall Recruiting: The economic crisis hitting Biglaw trickled down to law schools earlier this fall. A number of law firms cancelled their on-campus interviews, in whole or in part, as early as August. Most often, 3Ls were the ones left out in the cold. But as the fall recruiting season progressed, the difficulties spread. By October, our reporting revealed that firms were cutting back on summer associate class sizes, with some even cancelling SA programs altogether. As one tipster put it:
“What’s different this year is that the bottom 60% at top schools and the bottom 90% of lower-ranked schools is [sic] not doing well.”
Top law schools sent out e-mails pressuring students with offers to accept them prior to the NALP deadline. Career services offices at Northwestern, NYU, Columbia, UPenn, UT, and Michigan urged students to accept offers early because of reports that firms were oversubscribed and might rescind offers.
Students at Harvard and Yale encountered special difficulties because of those schools holding their interviewing relatively late in the season — in September. Yale has since decided to move its OCIs up to August, noting that “students from law schools with August 2008 programs had, in some cases, already accepted employment offers before YLS students interviewed or conducted callbacks.”
These are tough times. We hope fall recruiting is easier in future seasons, but as we periodically remind our readers: unfortunately, law school is not a golden ticket.