Education / Schools

Just as the Egyptians marked the passage of time by the flooding of the Nile Delta, Above the Law can mark time by the release of the annual law school rankings by U.S. News. Or, more precisely, to the deluge of “get off my lawn” complaints from crusty old deans complaining that the rankings are useless and should be entirely ignored. Unless their school made a significant leap. Culling the public statements of these “butthurt deans” is such a joyous task we’ve labeled it a parade.

They proclaim that the rankings are “not accurate” and unreliable because they constantly shift and that students can receive an excellent education regardless of a dismal ranking. Every time a law school drops, a Communications grad toiling in an administrative office gets his wings.

Some people work really hard explaining how no ranking of this kind could have any value. After all, no one gets as worked up about the rankings for undergraduate institutions. Or B-schools, or even med schools. Isn’t that proof that all these rankings are arbitrary?

Well, it turns out you really, really, should be paying attention to law school rankings, and here’s the evidence to prove it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why You Absolutely Should Care About Law School Rankings”

* Jury writes judge a note asking for a “big bottle of wine.” It’s gonna be a long night. [Southern District of Florida Blog]

* As it turns out, some Redditors are morons who don’t understand law. Glad we cleared that up. [The Concourse]

* There’s a Kickstarter for an Ally McBeal podcast. If you love talking about unisex bathrooms, here’s a golden opportunity. [Kickstarter]

* Attention law students: there’s a $500 prize in it if you can craft a winning blog post. [The Expert Institute]

* Terrible, terrible advertising. [Copyranter]

* A Simpson Thacher associate is planning to row across the Atlantic to support cancer research. [Remacae]

* These teacher tenure suits are so stupid and completely miss the real reason public schools have trouble. And the lead plaintiff inadvertently confessed just how off the mark he is. [Washington Post]

* AMC released the teaser for Better Call Saul. After the jump… [via Time Magazine]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 08.11.14″

In some parts of the world, changing water into wine would be considered a gift. Divining alchemy, they would call it. They would lift you on their shoulders and crowd-surf you back into the kitchen… where they would chain you to the sink and put you to work for the rest of the party.

But in Virginia, damn man, in Virginia changing water into wine will get your ass shot. Or it will get you arrested. Or it will get you a $212,500 settlement when the state finally figures out, “Hey, this is just water.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Virginia Apologizes To UVA Student For Confusing Her With Jesus Christ”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released the latest opinion in UT v. Fisher, the ongoing battle over the role of race-based preferences in the University of Texas at Austin’s undergraduate admissions policy. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Circuit had failed to apply the proper strict scrutiny standard to its earlier review of UT’s admissions scheme. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court “must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” He cautioned that, if a non-race-discriminatory approach could bring about UT’s stated goal of a “critical mass” of campus diversity, “then the university may not consider race.” The Court remanded the case back to the Fifth Circuit. This week, two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel concluded that the use of race was, indeed, necessary.

Judge Emilio Garza’s dissent (beginning on page 44) criticizes the majority opinion for deferring impermissibly to UT’s claims, despite the Supreme Court’s instruction. He writes, “Although the University has articulated its diversity goal as a ‘critical mass,’ surprisingly, it has failed to define this term in any objective manner.” He later writes, “The majority entirely overlooks the University’s failure to define its ‘critical mass’ objective for the purposes of assessing narrow tailoring. This is the crux of this case — absent a meaningful explanation of its desired ends, the University cannot prove narrow tailoring under its strict scrutiny burden.”

How much diversity is a critical mass of diversity? Is this a unit of measure like a team of oxen or a murder of crows? How can a court possibly determine whether a given policy is necessary to achieve critical mass if we don’t know what that is? UT isn’t exactly the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, but a little bit more precision would be helpful.

The concept of critical mass is problematic for many reasons. Its vagueness provides a poor measure for reviewing courts. It packs in several dubious assumptions about the meaning of race. Here’s one more reason why “critical mass” is such a critical mess . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Critical Mass Is A Critical Mess: The New Opinion In UT v. Fisher”

* Man claims his former employer discriminated against him because he was an atheist. Yep, this Hobby Lobby thing isn’t going to have any repercussions at all. [Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal]

* Speaking of atheists and SCOTUS, the Court may have authorized the Town of Greece to get all religiousy at town board meetings, but an atheist is stepping up to the plate to deliver an invocation. Freedom of religion does mean he gets a turn. [Rochester Homepage]

* There’s an icky sexual harassment story coming out of an elite L.A. school. And they’ve hired an elite law firm to investigate. [Gawker]

* Cops do hear some pretty funny stories when they pull people over. [Legal Juice]

* If you’re out of work, here’s an idea: this solicitor-to-be posted a selfie with a pigeon on Facebook and got an offer — along with a lot of publicity. [Legal Cheek]

* Is the future of legal education online? Perhaps the better question is, “How will law schools overcharge when they no longer have brick-and-mortar facilities?” [Tipping the Scales]

* A judge explains that incest and pedophilia aren’t such big deals anymore because gay people are accepted. Wow. [Jezebel]

* Are you keeping up with Kirby v. Marvel? Because Jack Kirby’s estate is making a run at the Supreme Court in a case that affects billions. Embed below… [Bloomberg]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 07.14.14″

The week of the Fourth of July is a lonely one for Americans here in London. The Brits just don’t appreciate the Revolutionary War the way we do. And you see other occasional signs of hostility, too. When I arrived in London nearly two years ago and wrote a column about my initial reactions, a British legal website promptly linked to my work and illustrated the piece with a picture of Old Glory in flames.

I’m back for more, to celebrate the Fourth in style.

When asked, how do I describe my current living arrangements?

“I have an apartment in Chicago and a flat in London.”

Isn’t that odd? I automatically translate from American English — “apartment” — to British English — “flat” — as my brain imagines the transatlantic journey.

I also now naturally think in Celsius — 0 is freezing; 20 is room temperature; 35 is miserably hot — without doing a mental detour through Fahrenheit. But I still think in dollars. When I see that a half dozen eggs cost two pounds, I’m outraged that I’m being charged nearly three fifty for the item in my shopping cart. I don’t (yet) naturally think in sterling.

So I’ve generally adjusted to my new life, but things can still occasionally get spooky . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “London, After Two Years”

The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Columbia Questions Back Injury Because Student Still Got Good Grades”

Are you tired of getting the same questions over and over again from prospective or existing clients?  Should I choose an LLC or incorporation?  Will I lose my house in bankruptcy?  What is a power of attorney?  How long will my divorce take?  Rather than respond to these same questions over and over, why not school your clients instead?

These days, schooling clients is easy. With the rise of online training and college courses, a broader segment of the population is now familiar with online education. Plus, there are a variety of powerful free tools to create online educational programs to educate clients so that they’ll have a grasp of the basics.

Here’s my experience with some of those tools….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Call It Schooling Clients”

This week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court found that five of California’s laws governing teacher retention violated the rights of schoolchildren under the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. Judge Rolf Treu issued a tentative decision in Vergara v. California, agreeing with plaintiffs that the provisions on firing public-school educators resulted “in grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment, and that these teachers are disproportionately situated in schools serving predominantly low-income and minority students.”

 

The United States Constitution, of course, provides no fundamental right to education. (Franklin Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights” doesn’t count.) For example, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to apply strict scrutiny to a claim that the Texas funding scheme for public schools violated the equal protection rights of poor and minority students. The Court did so in part because it found no federal fundamental right to education.

 

The California Constitution, though, does provide for a fundamental right to education in its Article 9, Sections 1 and 5. In light of that, Judge Treu applied a strict scrutiny standard to the laws in Vergara. He concluded that the laws caused a violation of California children’s right to equality of education…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tenure Itch: What’s Bad (And What Isn’t) About The Case Striking Down California Teacher Retention Laws”

Puff, puff, pass those voter initiatives.

* This failed firm’s drama is the Biglaw gift that keeps on giving: Dewey & LeBoeuf’s bankruptcy trustee filed an amended complaint against Steve DiCarmine and Joel Sanders seeking the return of more than $21.8 million. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Norton Rose Fulbright elected someone who “love, love, love[s] the law firm” as U.S. managing partner, and she’s the first woman to ever serve as U.S. chair of its management committee. We love, love, love this news! [National Law Journal]

* According to a California judge, tenure laws are unconstitutional and are depriving students of the high quality of education they deserve. The end is nigh, law professors. Enjoy it while it lasts. [New York Times]

* Not all states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, but it’d be a lot cooler if they did. The tide is turning across the United States, and we’ll soon see which states’ drug laws go up in smoke. [Slate]

* “Document review attorneys are in demand now but the demand will gradually decrease.” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the one job you were able to get soon won’t need or want you. [InsideCounsel]

Page 1 of 3412345...34