The state of Minnesota is providing more evidence that law schools are completely out of whack with the current market realities. The state is doing what it can to keep undergraduate tuition low, at the expense of law students who will be drowning in so much debt they’ll need to grow gills.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the most recent tuition proposal coming out of Minnesota:
Undergraduates catch a break in the next University of Minnesota budget that would keep their tuition increases low despite a cut in state funding.
Graduate and professional students won’t have the same luck.
The students who make up about 40 percent of the student body are the hidden victims of a bad-news budget that the Board of Regents is expected to vote on Wednesday.
By “graduate and professional students” the paper really means to say law students. The proposed tuition hike is larger for future (unemployed) lawyers than other graduate students:
While in-state undergraduate students will face 3.1 percent tuition hikes, most grad students could see a 7.5 percent increase in their bills this year. First-year medical students’ in-state rate may rise 5.2 percent, to $32,328. Newbie Minnesotan law students could pay 15.3 percent more than their counterparts did last year.
Are Minnesota state officials even nominally aware of what is going on in the legal market in their own state? Could somebody point the Board of Regents to www.abovethelaw.com after the jump?
Here’s an interesting rumor we’ve heard. We’re a little short on details, and we’re trying to chase down additional confirmation. We thought we’d toss it out as a blind item and solicit the missing information from you, our readers.
This is what we’re hearing. One large law firm is so hard up for work that it is starting to give some summer associates what we’d call “fake work.”
To be sure, much of the work given to summer associates, in any economy, is make-work — e.g., write a memo to file on a legal issue that will never actually arise in the litigation. But this isn’t mere make-work; it’s fake-work. Summers are being given assignments for projects that have already been completed. For example, summers are being asked to draft research memos for briefs that have already been filed. And, interestingly enough, multiple summer associates — but located in different offices of the firm, to reduce the likelihood of their comparing notes — are being given the same fake-work assignment.
What are the advantages of this approach? After the jump.
Many summers can already see the writing on the wall. It’s going to be a no-offer party this fall. Law school career service professionals are trying to prepare their students for the inevitable.
The career services offices at Georgetown University Law Center sent around a very thoughtful letter, on Friday. Summer associates should take heed. Let’s get the obvious news out of the way first:
What are we hearing?
I have been speaking with many of our close contacts in law firms across the country to assess what firms are planning in terms of post-graduate offers to their summer associates. Most firms indicate that they are waiting until the latest possible date to finalize their strategy so as to take into account as much market information as possible, but a few themes are emerging:
1. Unlike past years, many firms will not be making offers to all or almost all their summers. I hear of offer rates that range from 80% at the high end to 50% at the low end. Note that there is significant variation from firm to firm and region to region, and all the firms I speak with are trying their best to make offers to as many of their summer associates as possible.
2. Many firms are considering making deferred offers to some or all of their current summer associates to begin work sometime in 2011, and some have already announced that they will do so. Firms are not clear as to what stipend, if any, they will pay deferred associates in the coming year, and what conditions (e.g. working in the public sector) must be met to receive a stipend.
The class of 2009 thought that they were the “lost generation.” But would they want to switch places with the class of 2010?
After the jump, more bad news from GULC career services.
We told you so — over a week ago. This past weekend, at the ACS National Convention, we received further confirmation from Yale Law School sources. So today’s announcement of Professor Robert Post as the new dean of YLS comes as no surprise.
The official announcement from Yale president Richard Levin, plus one student’s take on the Post pick, after the jump.
Last week, the Massachusetts Trial Court got approval for a unique solution to address its budget shortfall, reported Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:
The Supreme Judicial Court’s Committee on Judicial Ethics has approved a proposal by Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan that would allow deferred law-firm associates to work for the Trial Court as “volunteer interns” while on the payroll of the firms that hired them.
Great for the court — it doesn’t have to pay for clerks. Great for deferred associates — they get valuable experience during their deferral year. Great for BigLaw — their incoming associates get clerkship experience. Everyone’s happy, right?
Well, not the 24 clerks who had been slotted to get those positions whose offers have been withdrawn. And not those troubled by the ethics of corporate-sponsored clerks in the courtroom. Though approving the arrangement, the Committee on Judicial Ethics admitted that there’s something a bit troubling about it:
The CJE acknowledged that allowing law firms to pay the salaries of clerks implicates portions of the Judicial Code of Conduct that require judges to avoid impropriety and appear unbiased. It also stated that the plan raises the issue of whether the volunteer interns are a “gift” or “favor” to the judges of the Trial Court from the law firms.
The CJE had a solution for that. Keep it all secret!
“Structuring the program in such a way that the law firms’ involvement is unknown not only to the public but also to the judges who will be ‘employing’ the volunteer interns will negate any impression that those law firms are in a special position to influence the judge,” the CJE panel wrote.
Members of the public might not be aware of the connection when they have a case before the court, but the general news-consuming public of Massachusetts knows about the plan now. It’s in the Boston Globe and is currently the newspaper’s number four most e-mailed story.
What do you think about the ethical hullabaloo? Vote in our poll, after the jump.
[Ed. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks. Law Shucks has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.]
Let’s all move to Nebraska! In a week in which unemployment was up in 48 out of 50 states (plus DC), Nebraska’s unemployment dropped by 0.1%, keeping it tied with North Dakota for the lowest in the nation at 4.4% (tie goes to the state with the Championship Subdivision (formerly D-I) football program).
At the other end of the spectrum, the state with the finest football program in the nation has the highest unemployment rate: Michigan at 14.1% (Go Blue!).
* One bra size does not fit all. There are so many different reasons why one might get a severe rash from a Victoria’s Secret bra that the 17 suits filed in various states cannot be consolidated into one. [On Point News]
* More on Law Student of the Day: Leo Wolpert. The UVA Law card shark is spending his summer writing memos for the ACLU. Money quote from the article: “With the economy as it is, it’s definitely nice to have poker to fall back on.” [Washington Post]
* A North Carolina company had a big day in court last week. On Thursday, MIG Inc. filed for bankruptcy and filed a big lawsuit against Paul Weiss. MIG alleges that stock offering documents drafted by the firm were unprofessional and filled with errors that cost it $140 million when it merged with another company in 2007. [American Lawyer]
* Rihanna may sing from the witness stand today in Chris Brown’s assault trial. [CNN]
* Federal Judge Denny Chin of the Southern District of New York has a flair for the dramatic. [Studio 360]
We know how much everybody loves rankings. By now, everybody has had time to digest the new law school pecking order — even George Washington Law School students.
But true prestige whoring begins much earlier than law school. U.S. News has just released (hat tip: Tax Prof Blog) a list of the top 400 colleges and universities in the world.
I’m not sure how useful these rankings are, to anybody, anywhere, ever. But I’m sure they will make some people feel good about themselves — and other people mercilessly attack the schools that are more highly ranked than their alma maters.
Of course, U.S. News just did this eight months ago. We posted about it and everything. How many different ways can this magazine come up with to slobber all over Harvard and Yale?
In any event, this time U.S. News is ranking the top 400 universities, instead of the top 200.
After the jump, take a look at the top 10.
Our Lawyer of the Day is appropriately named. From the sound of this story, this Indiana lawyer could probably hold down the name Larry Wildest.
The photo to the right is not a stock photo. That’s Wilder on Wednesday morning after a raucous night on the town. From the Courier-Journal:
Conrad Embry, 80, the neighbor who called police, saw his garbage can on its side and someone lying in it when he took is dog out for a walk about 7 a.m.
“If I’d known it was Larry Wilder, I wouldn’t have called the police,” Embry said. He said Wilder “has been a wonderful neighbor.”
In an interview Thursday, Wilder acknowledged he went out Tuesday night with a group of friends to celebrate after one of them passed a real-estate licensing exam, and that he had been drinking.
Passing a test is good, but going into real estate these days is a bit challenging. No wonder they got smashed. So how did Wilder get home and end up in the trash can?
* Tyra Banks’s stalker is going to have to take an “anti-stalking” course. I didn’t know they had to teach masturbation nowadays. [Popsquire]
* Going from Biglaw to small law can be tough, especially when you don’t actually know how to do anything. [Litination]
* Could somebody who works at a law firm please flip out over an email greeting like this? It’d be great if it was a managing partner, but I’d settle for a secretary who doesn’t like nicknames to this level. [Politico]
* I’ve never heard of a better way of expressing just how much “one trillion” really is. The economy is so, totally, screwed. [NPR]
* An early Blawg Review to celebrate Father’s Day. [Securing Innovation via Blawg Review]
* Don’t forget, Monday June 29th Lat will be moderating a panel discussion about surviving today’s market. Free Drinks + David Lat = Money. [Above the Law]
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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