Much credit has been given to the American Bar Association of late for its efforts to rein in law schools and their wily ways as far as employment statistics are concerned. Once upon a time, it was just fine for law schools to publish completely nonsensical data and herald it to the world as if it were true. Prospective (and extremely gullible) applicants were made to believe that it was possible for 98 percent of a class to be employed nine months after graduation during the height of the recession, and they applied in droves.
These days, now that word has gotten out that employment in the entry-level legal sector has run dry, law school applications are on pace to hit a 30-year low. You’d think that given the gravity of the situation — not to mention the ebb and flow of class action lawsuits having to do with job statistics — law schools do their best to comply with the ABA’s standards, but apparently even that’s too hard to do.
Perhaps the ABA’s reporting requirements are too tough in that they require not one, but Dear Lord, two charts to be published, along with consumer information that’s “complete, accurate, and not misleading.” That’s a pretty high bar to reach, amirite? Considering the state of the job market, providing accurate employment information about law schools must be really embarrassing rough for administrators to have to endure.
In fact, some law schools in the T14 can’t even bring themselves to adhere to these stringent requirements….
For the past few years, the National Law Journal has been publishing a list of the best law schools to go to if you want to work in Biglaw after graduation. But through the lens of this annual report, we can see some of the changes that have happened in a profession that’s been in transition ever since the Great Recession. From layoffs to law firm collapses, Biglaw has faced many difficulties, and these challenges have been passed on to would-be associates when it comes to hiring.
Take, for example, the hiring scene in 2008, when the law school that earned the highest honors on the NLJ’s report could brag about sending 70.5 percent of its graduates to top law firms. Although we’ve started paving the road to recovery after several sluggish years, the employment picture for law students hasn’t rebounded to those levels.
Slowly but surely, it’s been getting better. In fact, this year, the future for law students seeking Biglaw jobs looks “marginally brighter.” But how much better? Let’s find out….
Are there no volunteers on the Columbia Law faculty?
Yesterday, we told you about a sticky situation at Columbia Law School. Professor Christina Duffy Ponsa, a constitutional law scholar, is going through divorce proceedings that have caused her to miss a number of classes. The school responded by dumping all of Professor Ponsa’s students into Professor Trevor Morrison’s Con Law class, creating a huge 200-person Con Law experience that bothered many students.
The Columbia Student Senate formally requested that Columbia replace Ponsa with another qualified professor instead of merging sections.
It seems that no Columbia Law professor was willing to step up and alleviate the overcrowded situation, but after our story went up, the administration did make some concessions to student concerns. And while it seems to me that the administration is fumbling the ball here by not finding one faculty member (or Justice Ginsburg) willing to step in and help out a colleague with some personal issues, students and tipsters have heaped a whole lot of blame on Professor Ponsa’s allegedly wild personal life for putting herself (and her students) in this situation in the first place….
This is what a Con Law class at Columbia Law looks like.
In our Above the Law Career Center, Columbia Law School boasts a 9.2:1 student faculty ratio. That’s a bit high, but fairly average, but there’s no denying that Columbia is a big school in a big city. It still manages to sport a 94 percent employment rate, according to Law School Transparency. In general, the school does well by its students.
But the administration is not doing a great job right now. One of the school’s Constitutional Law professors cannot perform her duties three weeks into the semester. The school’s solution has been to create one behemoth Con Law class that seems to help no one.
It’s kind of amazing that a school that is widely thought to be one of the top five law schools in the nation doesn’t have one spare Constitutional Law professor on hand who can step up in a pinch….
Mary Jo White? More like Mary Jo Green. President Obama’s pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission is deliciously rich, as revealed in her financial disclosures.
Although she’s barely five feet tall, making her a little litigatrix, Mary Jo White wears big shoes. In the words of my colleague Elie Mystal, a former Debevoise & Plimpton associate, she’s “one of those alpha dog partners…. the kind of partner that makes other partners stammer, shuffle papers, and try to look really busy and intelligent when she’s in the room.”
The sizable net worth of Mary Jo White shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not only is she a longtime Debevoise partner, but her husband, John W. White, has been a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore for more than 25 years (interrupted from 2006 through 2008 by a stint at the SEC, actually, where he served as Director of the Division of Corporation Finance).
I didn’t have “teaching assistants” when I was in law school, nor did I have “homework” in the grade-school sense of the term. In law school, we were treated, more or less, like adults. You show up to class, get yelled at by people who are smarter than you, have a ton of work to do when you get home, and a couple of times a year everything comes down to one arbitrary exam or contest.
But some law schools try to maintain the child-like comfort of TAs and response papers and multiple-choice exams. Now, TAs are generally useless everywhere, but most of them know that. They’re fine as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Here’s a little fact that’ll make some of our readers feel old: Facebook, the world’s largest social media conglomerate, celebrated its ninth birthday yesterday. Being that it’s almost been around for a decade, the site’s been there with some of our younger readers throughout college, law school, bar exam hell, law jobs (or the lack thereof), engagements, weddings, babies, and more.
In celebration of Facebook’s birthday, the good people over at BuzzFeed did some stalking research on the site’s very first users, all 25 of them. As it turns out, some of them went on to become lawyers. But where did they go to law school, and which firms are they at today?
Let’s do something Facebook would never do — invade their privacy — and find out….
It’s hard out here for a big-busted woman. Although being a well-endowed woman has its advantages, it can present problems as well. For example, if you are a large-breasted but not plus-size woman, finding an appropriately sized bra isn’t easy (or so I’m told).
That brings us to the latest profile subject in Bloomberg Law’s excellent series on “stealth lawyers” — attorneys who have left the law to pursue other passions. Today’s stealth lawyer is a big-busted woman who encountered difficulty in locating lingerie for herself.
So she launched her own business to cater to this market, trading Biglaw for big breasts. Let’s meet her….
* When it comes to medical marijuana prosecutions, the government is supposed to have “bigger fish to fry,” but it looks like even the Department of Justice couldn’t resist reeling in one last big catch. [New York Times]
* According to the results of this study, if you want to do well in law school, you should probably stop being so damn awkward, scale back your antisocial habits, and consider joining a study group. [National Law Journal]
* “[U]nder American law, anyone interesting is a felon.” This Columbia Law professor argues that the legal system failed Aaron Swartz because he was treated like a criminal instead of a deviant genius. [New Yorker]
* Porn stars in Los Angeles are challenging the constitutionality of being forced to wear condoms during filming — because the transfer of STDs is “constitutionally protected expression.” [Courthouse News Service]
* So, it looks like Lindsay Lohan fired her best gal pal in the world: her lawyer. But sometimes you have to fire people when you allegedly owe them oodles of money to the tune of $300K and you don’t have any. [Daily Mail]
Beneath the skin of many a suit-sporting lawyer beats the heart of a writer. Law offices across the land are stocked with aspiring novelists, poets, journalists, and others who long to write things other than credit agreements or motions to dismiss.
Perhaps you’re a literary type who went to law school on a lark but long to return to the world of arts and letters. If so, keep reading to learn about how to make that dream a reality….
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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: email@example.com.
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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