Everything is bigger in Texas — even the law student explosions. A tipster gives us the lowdown on some super-sized bitching, spearheaded by three UT Law students:
It seems that three 1Ls took it upon themselves to lambaste our curriculum, our professors, the “Institution” of law school, etc. due to what they perceive as a lack of practical education. That would be pretty un-newsworthy had they not published their cavalcade in The Daily Texan.
I love it when law school communities air their dirty laundry in the press. There’s something so, je ne sais quoi, mais je sais que c’est merde, about it. Here’s the lede for the item from The Daily Texan:
The University of Texas School of Law was recently embarrassed in legal-industry news by a story claiming a law professor delayed releasing his class’s grades by two months — so long that employers had to tell a student they had filled all of their summer internship vacancies while he was waiting for this grade.
The incident is a symptom of a deeper problem at UT Law that has drawn criticism from all corners of the legal industry: Lax institutional standards have marginalized the law school’s role in society of preparing its students to be competent, ethical lawyers.
It looks like the UT 1Ls noticed our little story on grade delays last month.
But that’s just the teaser. Hey, UT – Law students, tell us what you really think …
It’s rare that law students publicly warn prospective employers that their school should be avoided like a plague (of armadillos?), but I suppose the 1Ls are just sharing their honest opinion:
Last semester, a well-known lawyer wrote to law school Dean Lawrence Sager, charging that UT graduates are incompetent legal writers and that he would never hire a UT Law graduate again.
These criticisms are well-founded. In a survey of accredited law schools, Texas was the only school without a mandatory brief-writing course. In fact, only about half of first-year students surveyed reported being able to get into a brief-writing course. As a result, they will not be trained how to present arguments to a court — one of the most basic legal skills.
What is this “court” you speak of? Sounds exciting, maybe Biglaw firms can bring in one of these “courts” as lunchtime entertainment for the doc review teams?
Aside from not getting the skills they believe law school should be teaching them, the UT students are also annoyed at grade inflation:
Instead of rectifying the problem by meeting national practical skills standards, UT Law instead chooses to steer law students away from taking practical courses by offering grossly grade-inflated first-year electives on such totally impractical topics as Race and Gender in the Constitution.
The first-year curve in all courses is set at 3.3; the average in these “electives” is a 3.8.
A student in one of these classes commented, “The class is a complete joke and a waste of time, but the professor gives almost everyone A’s.” Since law students’ employment is determined by their first-year GPA, creating such an exception to the curve is unfair to other students and misleading to employers relying on the veracity of student transcripts.
Any employer that had a UT – Law transcript sitting on his or her desk right now just glanced at the trash bin. We know what you’re thinking. Resist the urge! I’m sure the UT 1Ls will give you a good reason to hold onto that résumé in just a moment:
[A] number of UT Law professors interviewed for this editorial expressed concern that the law school should do more to meet the public’s need for competent lawyers and have many specific ideas about how this may be achieved.
Law students should be trained to identify legal problems, write effective briefs and litigate cases. But other professors indicate that an institutional pressure to produce scholarship has stifled interest in pursuing a valid educational model.
Yeah, that sound you just heard was the soft hum of UT careers being fed into the office shredder. Please recycle.
Just in case the message wasn’t totally clear, the 1Ls end their missive with a very telling line (emphasis added):
UT Law graduates should be competent, responsible and ethical attorneys from their first day of practice. Texas deserves nothing less from its flagship law school.
Gosh, not only are UT graduates incompetent and irresponsible, now they’re unethical too? Next thing you know these 1Ls will be filing malpractice claims against firms that hire their fellow students.
Look, the article was written by 1Ls, and 1Ls have to be taken with a grain of salt (lime and Patrón optional). But, as an employer with more applications than you know what to do with, how can you ignore an article like this? Kids who are on the ground at the institution are essentially saying “our school stinks” and “don’t hire us.” Aren’t you almost forced to take that into account when looking at a kid with UT – Law on their transcript?
If you are a UT law student or graduate who likes the school and/or doesn’t want to be unemployed for the rest of your life, now might be an appropriate time to speak up. Some of your own just said your degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Meanwhile, something tells me that every SMU law student will be appending the Daily Texan article to their résumé.
Law students need a practical education [Daily Texan]
Earlier: Hey, Teacher … Give Those Kids Their Grades! Grades delayed at W&M, UT – Austin… anywhere else?