Bad Ideas

Some people — such as the many anti-law-school bloggers, or my colleague here at Above the Law, Elie Mystal — think there are too many law schools. I’m not as much of a pessimist; I take a more measured view. Although I share the concern that perhaps too many schools are cranking out too many debt-saddled graduates, releasing them into an already saturated legal job market, I think there are some perfectly good reasons to go to law school.

Should I be even more optimistic? Is it possible that we need more law schools? Maybe law degrees are like clean water or good health care: everybody needs them, so we have to make sure that every part of the country has a source.

If that’s the thinking, then this week brings some good news: a law school is coming to Shreveport. With a population of 200,145, this bustling metropolis is the third-largest city in Louisiana.

Let’s learn more about the fabulous Louisiana College School of Law….

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As of this writing, Ethan Haines, writer of the UnemployedJD blog, has gone 32 hours without food. I think the kid might be joking, but Haines said he is going on a hunger strike — to convince law schools to be more transparent about the employment options of graduates, before the schools rope them into three years and six figures of debt.

He’s even served official notice of his hunger strike on five law schools, and he’ll put five more on notice today. From his self-styled media advisory:

On August 5, 2010, Ethan Haines, self-designated J.D. Class Representative, emailed an Official Notice of Hunger Strike to administrators of ten randomly selected law schools ranked in the Top 100 of the 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. These schools were selected because they stand to gain the most from keeping the current rankings structure in place.

Ethan intends to bring awareness to the concerns of law students and recent law graduates by having them addressed by law school administrators. Their primary concerns are inaccurate employment statistics, ineffective career counseling, and rising tuition costs. The strike was motivated by a recent American Bar Association (ABA) investigate Report, which concluded that educational leaders are unable to timely combat the adverse affects of U.S. News’ rankings on legal education.

It’s a worthy cause, even if Haines’s methods seem a little tongue-in-cheek. At the very least, unemployed law graduates with mountains of debt don’t have a lot of spare money lying around for food. Might as well put all those hunger pains to good use.

And maybe he’s not joking? Like all legitimate hunger strikers, Haines has a list of demands…

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Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice
And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
And in the master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast

For many takers of the bar exam, the ordeal is over. Yay! Congratulations. It’s time to get your dragon drink on.

But before you put this experience behind you, we wanted to give you one last picture of bar exam trauma. A tipster reports:

I’m taking the CA bar exam at the Ontario location and staying at the adjacent Airport Marriott. I found the following on my pillow last night.

Yeah, the Marriott’s heart was in the right place, but they really need to think more critically about what kind of gifts they leave on the pillows of people taking the bar…

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A group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of the United States” has compiled and published a list of 1,300 allegedly illegal immigrants living in Utah. In addition to names and addresses, the list goes into shocking personal detail about the people the Concerned Citizens group is concerned about, The New York Times reports:

Each page of the list is headed with the words “Illegal Immigrants” and each entry contains details about the individuals listed — from their address and telephone number to their date of birth and, in the case of pregnant women, their due dates. The letter was received by law enforcement and media outlets on Monday and Tuesday.

Hey, nothing says “America” quite like menacing pregnant women, right?

But the medical data released by this organization could make somebody liable for a felony….

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There are a lot of angry job hunters in the legal marketplace right now, thanks to lots of debt and little in the way of prospects. They’re desperate, frustrated, and may be dangerous. The Great Recession has turned some of these poor legal puppies into Cujos.

In May, we wrote about a heated exchange between a Massachusetts law student and a potential lawyerly employer. The lawyer, Rose Clayton, had hesitations about hiring the law student as a paralegal and offered to hire him on a trial basis. When he objected, demanding a full-time offer instead, she laid out exactly what he had done wrong. That set him off and the conversation deteriorated into an exchange of unconstructive criticism. The law student, Jesse Clark, ended with this:

It’s amazing that the Ma Bar lets women practice law. Shouldn’t you be home cleaning and raising children? As for your practice, its just Bankruptcy. It’s not difficult, and many Petitioners file pro bono and get discharges.

Clayton posted the exchange online, redacting the student’s name, and Massachusetts Law Weekly picked up on it. And then we picked up on it. Jesse Clark responded on his blog and thus shed the cloak of anonymity.

Noah Schaffer at the Massachusetts Law Weekly’s Docket identified Clark in a second story, which led Clark to create a nude modeling profile for Schaffer.

After corresponding with Clark, my photo and phone number found their way into a Craigslist casual encounters ad. I deflated quite a few, um, hearts when I let the many callers know that it was a prank.

Then all was quiet on the digital terrorism front for over a month. Until this week. Rose Clayton became the victim of a nasty new prank…

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Erin Elmore, The Apprentice

Erin Elmore, ex-reality TV star.

In our last few reality TV stories, we have highlighted the perils of putting your life on camera — publicly flunking out of law school, having the world know you’ve failed the bar exam twice, and exposing an ego surgically enhanced to the size of Texas.

One former reality TV star emailed us to protest. Erin Elmore wrote:

I also was on a realty show….. Apprentice 3 with Donald Trump. It actually opened career doors and I never regretted doing the show!!!

Elmore was on the 2005 Magna vs. Net Worth edition of the show, pitting those with book smarts against those with street smarts. Since she has a law degree from Villanova, she was obviously teamed up with the book smarties.

She sent along a series of YouTube clips with the email, showcasing all the TV gigs she’s gotten since doing The Apprentice. Here’s a montage. The girl knows how to work a Philadelphia red carpet.

Elmore worked for Marshall Dennehey and then JP Morgan Chase before going on The Apprentice. Trump fired her, and she returned to the world of law. To what great heights has reality television propelled her?

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In Morning Docket we mentioned that the new public law school at UMass is off to a flying start. Let’s check back in with those students in three years when they are in massive debt and have no job prospects.

We’ve slammed UMass Law quite a bit. But there are other university systems that are looking to fleece those interested in a legal education. Last year, we reported that the University of North Texas was going forward with its plans to start a public law school.

Over the weekend, a tipster sent us the pitch North Texas is using on Texans who don’t know any better. Here’s the school’s headline:

Opening a public law school at the right time in the right place

You have got to be freaking kidding me…

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Ann Althouse was a law student once. (Photo by Richard Lawrence Cohen.)

We spend a lot of time telling prospective law students to carefully consider the decision to go to law school. And still they come. We tell prospective law students that law school is expensive and the job market is weak. But still they come, in record numbers.

What makes them come? NPR did a story on the difficult job market for recent college graduates. The article tells us about Hawaii college graduate Ryan Kam’s considered rationale for going to law school.

It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright pathetic…

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From the files of “things that will never freaking happen,” the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is telling law schools to discontinue divulging LSAT scores to U.S. News for the publication’s annual rankings. SALT should duck before that flying pig smacks it upside its head. The National Law Journal reports:

[SALT] has urged law schools to stop providing U.S. News with their incoming students’ LSAT scores on the theory that the immense pressure to snag incoming students with high scores is making it harder to admit diverse classes. The median LSAT scores of the entering class accounts for 12.5% of each law school’s U.S. News score — a greater weight than the magazine gives to average grade point average or acceptance rate.

Not only is this something that will never happen, it’s also an idea that is beyond dumb. Quite an exacta there from the law teachers…

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An attorney representing a man in a Virginia Circuit Court came up with a creative defense strategy for one of his clients. Attorney George Freeman was representing a man who had pleaded guilty to fraud. Due to nine prior convictions, Rodney Newsome was facing serious jail time.

But Freeman got him off with no sentence at all: By telling the judge that Newsome was dead. From the Washington Post:

Rodway told Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine that in 2008 and 2009, Newsome’s attorney at the time, George Freeman, had filed doctor’s notes, and then a report from the Maryland health department, that “indicated Mr. Newsome had gone to the big courthouse in the sky.”

Newsome claims not to have been aware of the fact that his attorney was filing forged doctor’s notes and death reports. He just thought he had a good attorney?

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