As I was putting together last Friday’s post about the challenges faced by Duke Law School in recruiting minorities, I had this Gchat conversation with former ATL editor and Duke alum, Kashmir Hill (paraphrased and annotated in various places):
KASH: Good post. But one issue: there are actually a lot of black people living in Durham.
ELIE: Not to pull a Nifong but I don’t think I’ll get a lot of blowback by suggesting Durham isn’t a bastion of racial harmony.
KASH: Yes, there are tensions, but there are a lot of African-Americans who live in Durham.
ELIE: And it’s certainly not a ‘black city’ like Atlanta or anything.
KASH: Yes, but a lot of black people live there. I’d change it.
ELIE: You’re missing the point. The point is whether or not Durham is a welcoming place for blacks.
KASH: But you wrote that there “aren’t a lot of brothers in Durham,” and there are.
ELIE: For Christ’s sake, I’m not saying no black person has ever set foot in Durham. I’m saying that Durham isn’t a black city. Maybe it looks like a black city to white people who get freaked out when they see two brothers on a corner, but it’s not a black city.
KASH: Maybe it looks like a white city to people freaked out by cold, hard demographic statistics.
ELIE: [increasingly annoyed]: Look, NOBODY is going to give me s**t for a throwaway line that’s a segue from a Chris Rock joke to the larger point I’m trying to make. It’s one line in a 1500-word post. Come on.
KASH: [remembering/enjoying that she no longer has to work with me]: Just saying dude… lots of black people in Durham.
350-plus comments, numerous emails, and a boatload of tweets later, it appears that I was wrong. Dead wrong. Much to my surprise, people were very invested in the “but Durham has black friends” argument.
Fair enough. There are a lot of black people living in Durham, and I was wrong to suggest anything else. Next time I want to hang out with a bunch of black people, instead of going to Atlanta or Zimbabwe, I’ll go to Durham, North Carolina. Happy?
Now that I’ve accepted that Durham has a healthy population of African-Americans, can we get back to the discussion about whether or not black people actually want to live there? Because the people at Duke Law School seem to think that Durham is holding them back when it comes to minority recruitment, and I doubt that quoting demographic data is really what prospective minority law students are looking for…
Why? Well, that’s what Duke Law wants to find out. A tipster reports that Duke Law has been sending around a questionnaire to the few minority students currently at the school. It aims to figure out what recruiters should tell minority students thinking about matriculating at Duke Law.
You know what they say — there is no such thing as a stupid question…
If I reported that Duke Law School was turning to Craigslist to find its next dean, the U.S. News people would issue “revised” rankings to knock Duke out of the top tier. Heck, if I told you that Duke Law was looking for a new 1L contracts professor on Craigslist, at the very least that report would be met with widespread ridicule.
Of course, Duke would never grab a new dean off of Craigslist. Deans are in charge of making the law school money, and there’s no way Duke would rely on Craigslist, even in part, to fill that responsibility. And picking up a law professor off of Craigslist would make the school look intellectually weak, so there’s little chance of that ever happening either.
But when it comes to providing services that Duke Law students actually need — well, then Duke is just fine leaving the professional futures of its students in the hands of whomever Duke can find hanging out on the CL….
Law schools — as Elie likes to remind readers on a frequent basis — are businesses. Like any good CEO should, Duke Law School dean David Levi has written an editorial defending his product: young lawyers.
In the National Law Journal, he starts off by acknowledging that the legal market for young lawyers is in worse shape than Duke’s reputation after the lacrosse scandal, and that this is “understandable” given the laws of supply and demand. (A subtle acknowledgment of there being too many law schools?) He then writes:
What is not understandable is the surprising amount of criticism heaped upon younger lawyers, offered as if to justify placing a disproportionate share of the economic downturn on their shoulders.
The criticism comes from law firm managers, in-house counsel and former lawyers who now comment on the legal profession…
Ahem. *Uncomfortable pause.*
They most likely represent a minority view, but they are vocal. They say that clients are no longer willing to pay for the work of young associates because their work is “worthless.” We might expect clients to make any argument that could lead to a lower bill, particularly during an economic downturn. But it is wrong and surprising for experienced lawyers inside and outside of firms to acquiesce in, even reinforce, this line of argument.
It’s become clear that many college graduates make their decision to go to law school based on apathy, a critical misunderstanding of the legal market, and shocking hubris. As we’ve said many times, the decision to go to law school has become disassociated from the expected value of going to law school.
Prospective law students are flocking to law schools in droves. What’s going on at Duke Law School right now is just the latest evidence. Here’s part of a letter Duke Law sent out to people on its waitlist:
Since our tuition deposit deadline at the end of April, the class has been completely full. Although a few people have requested deferrals or otherwise changed their plans for the fall, we have not yet been able to make any additional offers of admission.
When the reigning champion of our douchiest law school competition is getting inundated with applications, you can see why law schools are quite comfortable charging more and more tuition…
Elie wondered how that was possible given the economic climate in 2008. Though the climate in 2009 was even worse, Duke maintained its perfect score. However, we’re told that Duke will likely not have a 100% in this box for its class of 2010.
As Duke Law News reported, Duke worked hard to ensure its graduates had jobs. While it didn’t go the SMU route of paying employers to “test drive” its graduates, it does now provide stipends to some of its unemployed graduates to allow them to work for a couple months at no cost to employers. Using SMU’s car metaphor, the law school pays for the gas while Dukies and prospective employers take a little spin. Duke calls it “The Bridge to Practice” program.
It started in 2008 — employing the nine graduates who would have otherwise ruined that nice round 100%. The numbers of participants have increased since then, as the economy has worsened.
We interviewed a couple of them about the experience. The escalating numbers and Bridgers’ stories, including how much Duke pays, after the jump.
There’s a crisis at Duke Law School. No, it’s not that the school fell out of the Top Ten in the U.S. News rankings. It’s that the law library is being invaded by filthy little pests: Duke undergrads.
Duke law students don’t appear to think highly of their young classmates. They seem to blame the undergrads for their supposedly undeserved douchiest law school victory.
The icky BA/BS infestation was a problem last semester as well, leading one Blue Devil to leave a sloppy handwritten sign near the printers: “Print double-sided, a**hole. Also, please use your own library.” Much to law students’ frustration, the policy at the university is that all students are granted access to all libraries.
This semester, the war on trespassing undergrads is better organized. Each morning, Duke J.D. wannabes flyer the library with the sign at right (unredacted version after the jump), and one infuriated 2L created a Facebook protest group — It’s still the LAW library (even during finals). The Duke Law School administration has taken note of the problem, and responded — appropriately, via posting to the wall of the Facebook group.
But the war does not look good for Duke Law School. The troops are in retreat, and they appear to be fleeing to the Duke business school library…
Let’s continue our march through the U.S. News law school rankings. Today we finish up the traditional top-14 — and we’ll throw in the schools tied for 15th, because we’re pretty sick of hearing UT and UCLA students whine. To refresh your memory, here’s the next group of schools:
All joking aside, dropping to #6 is really not that big of a deal. NYU Law students will be fine — check out how the kicked it on the basketball court just after the rankings came out…
Supreme Court clerk hiring is once again in the news. This subject, usually of interest just to hard-core legal nerds, migrated over to the mainstream media in Jeffrey Toobin’s recent New Yorker profile of Justice John Paul Stevens. Toobin cleverly used the topic of clerk hiring as a backdoor way of getting at JPS’s retirement plans:
With the election of Barack Obama, the question of Stevens’s retirement has become more pressing. Even though Stevens was appointed by a Republican President, many assume that he would never willingly have turned his seat over to George W. Bush. I asked Stevens about his plans.
“Well, I still have my options open,” he said. “When I decided to just hire one clerk, three of my four clerks last year said they’d work for me next year if I wanted them to. So I have my options still. And then I’ll have to decide soon.” On March 8th, he told me that he would make up his mind in about a month.
April 8 is just around the corner. If you hear of Justice Stevens re-hiring his former clerks (or hiring new clerks) for October 2010, please let us know.
In an interesting online chat with Toobin about his JPS profile, the subject of clerk hiring came up again….
Duke is having a good month. The Blue Devils are heading to the NCAA Final Four this weekend. (Sorry, haters.) And one of the school’s law students, 3L Stephen Rawson, argued before the Fourth Circuit last week.
Like Duke in its Elite Eight game against Baylor, Rawson struggled early on. A few minutes into oral argument, he fainted.
He may have lost consciousness, but he didn’t lose his cool…
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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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