Binghamton University — best known as the alma mater of the great Tony Kornheiser — is looking for a new president. They are in the process of interviewing a number of candidates, and one of those candidates is a lawyer. Jonathan Alger is the senior vice president and general counsel at Rutgers, and he’s on Binghamton’s shortlist.
Just as importantly, Alger sits on the American Bar Association Accreditation Committee. Naturally the people at Binghamton asked him if he would start a new law school if he took over Binghamton.
Since the man’s on the Accreditation Committee, I’m sure conflicts check flags are going up all over the place. But Alger’s answer may surprise you…
Bowing to pressure from arguably every unemployed or underemployed American-trained attorney, the American Bar Association has delayed its controversial decision about whether or not to start accrediting foreign law schools. Back in August, we told you that the ABA was thinking about unleashing foreign-educated attorneys upon bar examinations across the country. And apparently on this one rare occasion the ABA chose against flooding the market with even more attorneys when there are not enough jobs to go around.
Should attorneys be openly happy about this blatant protectionism? I don’t know — have you tried to get a job in this market?
The only thing global competition is going to do is push down legal salaries, while having zero effect on the cost of legal education….
Welcome to the second installment of Under the Shingle, an occasional round-up of news and musings from the world of small firms and solo practitioners. In other words, you get a break from me — mostly.
I’ve added a bit of play-by-play to explain and connect these links, which cover such topics as the intersection of solo firms and SCOTUS, solos going big, and the big bad ABA trying to put their laws on your solo body.
Solo to SCOTUS:
A 33-year-old solo on why he left his Biglaw office in favor of working out of a spare bedroom and having his mother as his paralegal: “I wanted to create my own reality.” Well, now his reality includes SCOTUS experience after being granted cert at the last second. Before any of you aspiring solos out there get too excited, know this: his reality also includes borrowing cash from his little brother and eating a lot of PB&Js.
If you’ve been following along with the trend towards outsourcing over the past few years, you know what American lawyers are up against. Indian lawyers can do American legal work… while American attorneys are shut out of India’s (large and growing) legal market.
As many of you know, President Obama recently fledtraveled to India, and ABA president Stephen N. Zack is begging Obama to use his international goodwill to convince India to stop acting like dicks in an exclusionary fashion with respect to American lawyers and law firms.
Zack’s arguments are simple ones, based on sound business practices, free trade, and fundamental fairness. Yet these arguments haven’t worked on Indian legal authorities, and apparently Obama isn’t any more receptive…
For the second time in a month, the people at the American Bar Association are making noises about taking their role in regulating law schools more seriously. Earlier this month, the ABA’s “recession czar,” Allan Tanenbaum, criticized the new law school opening at Belmont.
Today the National Law Journal reports that new ABA President Steve Zach is telling law school deans he is considering requiring law school to disclose employment and cost statistics to admitted students.
A victory for law school transparency? Let’s not start sucking each other popsicles just yet. But it does look like the ABA is at least considering doing something to stop the blatant professional misrepresentation being engaged in by some of America’s law schools…
A year ago (almost to the day), we learned that Belmont University in Nashville was planning to start a new law school. At the time, I asked: “[H]ow colossally dumb are the people who sign up for a Belmont law degree next year?”
Well, there’s an article in the Tennessean today suggesting that the new dean of Belmont College of Law, Jeff Kinsler, is hoping his new students are so incapable of doing basic research than they’ll be easily distracted by anything that even smells of “math” or “statistics.”
And apparently his faith has been rewarded. With 1,200 inquiries from prospective students, it seems that Belmont is well on its way to handing out potentially useless degrees.
But what’s going on at Belmont is so ridiculous that it has even attracted the attention of the American Bar Association. You read that right. Even the ABA is saying “wait a minute” to students eager to sign up for whatever Belmont is offering….
In July, we profiled the efforts of a group of Vanderbilt law students who are trying to bring more accuracy and transparency to the employment statistics provided by law schools. Their group, Law School Transparency, has requested all ABA-accredited schools to provide useful information to prospective law students — information that neither the ABA nor U.S. News currently collects.
Without the regulatory hammer of ABA (which the organization inexplicably refuses to wield), or the public shaming of U.S News (a for-profit magazine, not an industry watchdog), LST is up against some long odds. They’re trying their best, but their interim report indicates that thus far, 188 law schools have completely ignored their efforts to report simple facts on the employment prospects of law school graduates.
In fact, to this point no school (not even Vanderbilt Law) has agreed to provide the information LST is requesting. Poor Zenovia Evans would have starved to death by now.
But 11 schools did find the time to send out a courtesy letter citing the reasons these schools cooked up to justify keeping people in the dark about employment prospects for law school graduates…
In August, 2008 the ABA issued a landmark ethics opinion allowing the outsourcing of U.S. legal work.
This August, the ABA is pondering whether to accredit offshore law schools that follow the U.S. system. Because apparently 200 accredited U.S. law schools just isn’t enough. The National Law Journal reports:
The American Bar Association is already tasked by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit U.S. law schools. Now an ABA committee has recommended that it should seriously consider expanding that power to overseas law schools that follow the U.S. model.
In June, the ABA’s Council of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar appointed the committee of law professors, attorneys, judges and law deans to examine whether foreign law schools should be allowed to seek ABA accreditation. The council is scheduled to consider the committee’s recommendations in December.
Is the American Bar Association going to deal with the unmitigated proliferation of law schools? No. Will the ABA deal with overflow of lawyers entering the profession at a time when few well-paying legal jobs seem to be available? No. Will the organization seriously address the rising cost of legal education? Not really.
Instead, the ABA committee on law school accreditation wants to take a look at tenure. The National Law Journal reports:
Should the American Bar Association require law schools to maintain a tenure system?
The committee reviewing the ABA’s accreditation standards doesn’t think so. It has floated a proposal that would eliminate the term “tenure” from the ABA standards covering job security and academic freedom. The committee also wants to kill a requirement that law schools provide clinical faculty members with job protections similar to those enjoyed by full-time professors.
Excuse me, I’m gonna need to throw my coffee cup at something…
Back in April, we reported on an admirable organization called Law School Transparency. The goal of LST: “encouraging and facilitating the transparent flow of law school employment information.”
Given what’s typically at stake — three years of your life, and six figures of cash (or student loans) — the decision to attend law school is an important one. There’s a case to be made in favor of law school, and there’s a case to be made against it. (For the case against, see pretty much any post about law school by my colleague, Elie Mystal, or any of the bloggers on this blogroll.)
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the decision should be made based on accurate and complete information. And that information should include data about employment outcomes for graduates of a given law school. If I get a J.D. from law school X, what kind of job can I expect to obtain?
This is where Law School Transparency (LST) comes in. What is LST doing to advance the ball in reporting employment data from law schools?
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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