This is not a typical lede for a post on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Ashby Jones writes:
Cornell is the Lady Gaga of the law-school world. Both are white hot, but the explanations behind each’s popularity don’t fully add up.
Dem’s fighting words, Ashby. You’re not a bad guy, but Lady Gaga has more fabulosity in a single fake eyelash than you will ever possess. Her popularity is entirely explicable — due to her delightfully danceable music, and her genius as a performer — and richly deserved.
(Just watch the video for Poker Face. Res ipsa loquitur.)
Now, what about Cornell Law School? And other leading law schools — which celebrities do they most closely resemble?
Let’s back up a bit. What prompted Ashby Jones to compare Cornell Law to Lady Gaga?
Like the shape-shifting, fashion-forward pop diva, Cornell is wildly popular right now. From the WSJ Law Blog:
[A]pplications to Cornell Law School are up more than 50 percent from this year to last. In last week’s post, we quoted a dean at the law school, Richard Geiger, claiming he, along with others at Cornell, were scratching their heads over the rise. He could explain a 20 percent rise, perhaps, but not a 50 percent hike.
When interviewed by the WSJ, Cornell Law Dean Stewart Schwab tossed out a few possible explanations for the rise in applications to Cornell, including the school’s strong track record in job placement, its small classes, and the affordability of Ithaca. He did not discuss similarities between Cornell and Lady Gaga.
We reached out to Dean Schwab yesterday to see if he might be willing to reflect on why Cornell is the Lady Gaga of law schools. Alas, we never heard back from him. But we did hear from a Cornell Law School student, who offered this comparison of Lady Gaga and CLS:
Cornell is like Lady Gaga in the sense that, once you remove all the makeup, you realize she’s not very pretty and sort of cock-eyed? Or is it that the craziness of both is attributable to high cocaine usage?
Ithaca may be gorges, but there’s not much to do up there. If folks want to have fun with white powder — and we’re not talking skiing — who are we to judge?
Our Cornell correspondent also had more serious reflections on the school’s popularity:
It is true that the class size is small and thus you know your professors, blah blah. But, it’s not any cheaper than the other schools, and the cost of living in Ithaca is absurd for a city this size. Rents range from $750-$2,000 a month, mainly for s**t holes in a town with an actual population of about 50,000.
I would say that I find a large amount of my classmates did not get into any other T-14 schools. And those of us who did came here either because we got more scholarship money than we did from other higher ranked schools or we legitimately just wanted to study law in a small town. So, the theory that students from the high end and low end are channeling applications here makes the most sense to me. After all, Cornell is still Ivy League and many people think that will at least get you somewhere.
That thinking might not be wrong. The Ivy League is a crappy athletic conference, but having an Ivy on the résumé never hurt anyone in the legal job market. Biglaw and the Ivies: Caught in a bad romance?
What about other top law schools? Take Harvard Law School. If Cornell is Lady Gaga, maybe Harvard is Madonna — older, wealthier, and who Cornell aspires to be.
(Elie suggests a different celebrity doppelgänger for HLS: “MC Hammer — rich, but lost a lot of money.” )
In consultation with Elie and Kash, we came up with these law school/celebrity comparisons (shared in a spirit of good-natured Friday fun; please don’t take offense):
Yale = Bjork. Weird, socially awkward, cerebral.
NYU = J-Lo. Popular, urban (“from the block”), questionable talent.
Columbia = Rihanna. Talented; sometimes gets beat up.
UVA = Miley Cyrus. Southern; attractive / clean-cut on the surface, kinky behind closed doors; potentially passé.
Georgetown Law = Paris Hilton. Ubiquitous; just kind of there, not sure what it’s good for.
Ed. note: We dissent from the NYU and Georgetown comparisons. We have the highest respect for these fine educational institutions — and we adore Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton.
Feel free to continue this game of comparing law schools to celebrities and pop culture icons, in the comments.
P.S. Check out the Bad Romance video, which has racked up an astounding 105,000,000 views. In this video, Lady Gaga looks like a senior associate we used to work with.
The Cornell Law Mystery Continues (Or, Why CLS is Like Lady Gaga) [WSJ Law Blog]
The Dream of Every Recent College Grad: To Go to Cornell Law [WSJ Law Blog]