Education / Schools

Don’t be misled by the photo — this isn’t another post about Snooki. It’s about Constance McMillen (pictured), a lesbian high schooler who wanted to bring her girlfriend to the high school prom.

(Query from Elie: Is “lesbian high schooler” the politically correct way to say “girls’ hockey team”?)

The Clarion-Ledger reports:

Both sides are claiming victory from a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday on a Mississippi school board’s decision to cancel the prom rather than allow a lesbian student to attend with her girlfriend.

U.S. District Court Judge Glen Davidson denied 18-year-old senior Constance McMillen’s request to reinstate the prom, noting “the court cannot go into the business of planning and overseeing a prom.”

To paraphrase Justice Blackmun: From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of teenage sex.

So if Judge Davidson declined to “so order” a high school prom, how can McMillen claim victory?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “You Can Dance If You Want To (Unless You’re a Lesbian)
Judge declines to order school to hold prom.

Kenneth Starr Kenneth W Starr Ken Starr Ken W Starr Ken Star Whitewater Monica Lewinsky Pepperdine Law School.jpgWe heart Kenneth Starr. Aside from his platinum-plated résumé — Supreme Court clerkship, D.C. Circuit judgeship, service as Solicitor General — Starr brought us the most entertaining political scandal ever: the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Don’t you long for a return to the pre-9/11, pre-Iraq / Afghanistan War, pre-Great Recession days, when our nation’s greatest worry was whether a White House intern was s’ing some d in the Oval Office? Sigh….
Sorry, we got lost in nostalgia for a moment. Back to the present. Today brings big news about our beloved Ken Starr. He’s leaving Pepperdine University School of Law, where he has served as dean since 2004, for a new and even more distinguished post.
So, where’s he going?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Ken Starr Stepping Down as Pepperdine Law Dean”

Diversity.jpgThe ABA is out with a new report that suggests the recession has negatively impacted diversity in the legal profession. The report also confirms reports we’ve heard about layoffs disproportionately affecting minority attorneys: The ABA Journal summarizes the findings:

“While law firms have increasingly come to recognize that diverse corporate clients and international markets often require lawyer diversity, the recession is drying up monies for diversity initiatives and creating downsizing and cutbacks that may disproportionately and negatively affect lawyer diversity–thereby undoing the gains of past decades,” states the report produced for the ABA Presidential Initiative Commission on Diversity.
The report, titled Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Next Steps (PDF), also urges law schools to take financial considerations into account in seeking greater diversity in admissions since diverse populations often are most affected by rising tuition costs and heavy debt loads.

That’s right, the ABA has some suggested solutions to this problem and — quite rightly — it starts with law schools.
Details from the report after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Recession’s Impact on Diversity Initiatives”

northwestern law school.gifEarlier this week, at the PLI Law Firm Leadership and Management Institute — which was excellent, by the way (and not just because we presented there) — Dean David Van Zandt, of Northwestern University School of Law, offered some reflections on the future of legal education. (We used one of his comments as a recent quote of the day.)

Dean Van Zandt’s presentation was thoughtful and thought-provoking. He analyzed a number of recent reforms made by leading law schools. He also explained the changes that Northwestern Law School has made to its academic program.

One of his most interesting tidbits was the starting salary that would constitute a “break-even point” for going to law school. In other words, what salary would you have to earn upon graduation in order to make going to law school an economically rational decision?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Changes in Legal Education: Some Thoughts from Dean David Van Zandt”

Southern New England School of Law logo.jpgEd. Note: We apologize for our technical difficulties. The commenting function should now be working again.
It’s official. Southern New England School of Law will be converted into the first Massachusetts public law school by the University of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports:

The Board of Higher Education today approved the creation of Massachusetts’ first public law school, a historic vote that opens the doors for the initial class of students to enroll in the fall. Under the controversial plan, vehemently opposed by three private law schools, UMass-Dartmouth will acquire the private Southern New England School of Law, which is donating its campus and assets to the state.

Of course the plan wasn’t just opposed by private law schools. It was also opposed by a number of people who actually care about whether or not graduates from UMass Legal will be able to spin off their legal education into an actual practice.
But, it sounds better to say that only “private” interests were arrayed in an anti-competitive attempt to block the new school. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.
More spin after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “UMass Law School: All Systems Go.”

In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.


Barack Obama

frat parties old school class action lawsuit.jpgA neighborhood association in Berkeley has filed a class action suit against the University of California – Berkeley’s many fraternities, accusing them of being, well, total frat boys. This lawsuit got wasted in the Californian press last week, but we’re funneling it for the first time today thanks to Courthouse News Service.
As one would expect, the complaint alleges that the frat studs are guilty of public and private nuisances. As one might not expect, the legal theory in the suit “has its roots in cities’ injunctions against criminal street gangs,” per The Recorder.
Phi Beta Kappa appears to be the only Greek society left off of the defendants’ list in the complaint [PDF]. The “South of Campus Neighborhood Association” and Paul Ghysels accuse them of public drunkenness, facilitation and encouragement of underage drinking, harassment of passers-by, “excessive noise, particularly between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am,” noxious smells and fumes, public urination, “hosting large social gatherings,” and “shooting projectiles, which have hit neighbors,” among other awesome offenses.
Oh, college.
So who do California college fraternity members call when they need help to protect their hard-partying ways? A lawyer in Texas, of course.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day Last Week: Neighborhood Sues Frat Boys for Being Frat Boys”

terracotta warrior terra cotta army.jpgHow do you say schadenfreude in Mandarin? Babel Fish won’t tell me. In fact, Babel Fish doesn’t even have an option to translate German into Mandarin or Cantonese. (I think that’s BS — I’m sure you can get a good schnitzel in Beijing — but that’s beside the point.)
Anyway, back to China. The ABA Journal reports:

A new study supports the tales of woe told by recent law graduates in China.

It is more difficult to find a job in law than any other profession studied, the China Daily reports. The story cites a June 2009 study by China’s Academy of Social Science and the Mycos Institute, a consulting company.

Mmm … terracotta law students.
I wonder how much (if any) private debt Chinese law schools saddle their students with?
Additional details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “At Least You Didn’t Go to Law School in China”

broken ankle softball suit.JPGThis story actually broke last week, but I wanted to make sure you guys saw it. The Daily News reports:

A Queens softball player is suing the city, claiming she busted her ankle because her high school coach never taught her how to slide.
Alina Cerda, 15, says she’s been sidelined for seven months and wants the city Education Department and Francis Lewis High School coach Bryan Brown to pay.

Cerda busted her leg during — wait for it — a sliding drill.
I feel bad about making fun of a fifteen-year-old girl. Don’t worry, I am going to make fun of her — I just want you guys to know I feel bad about what’s about to happen.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day a Couple of Days Ago: Softballer Can’t Slide, Wants Money”

justice oconnor.jpgRetired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is not really retired yet. “I am more busy in retirement than before,” she told Above the Law in a recent interview. One of her myriad projects is Our Courts, a non-profit organization that develops Web-based games to teach seventh- and eighth-graders about government. We spoke with Justice O’Connor recently for our piece for the Washington Post reviewing the games.
We had hoped to actually play the games with her, but it turns out she’s not much of a gamer. Not being the computer type, she hasn’t actually played the Web-based games herself. “I watched young people play it. They have a lot of fun. They’re actively engaged. I think it’s very exciting,” she told us.
Justice O’Connor has been touring the country to promote the games. She even stopped in to chat with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. We got to catch up with her via conference call last month. We rung her up at One First Street — like some retired Biglaw partners, retired SCOTUS justices get to keep an office. After her secretary connected us, Justice O’Connor answered the phone: “Sandra Day O’Connor.”
We discovered that O’Connor is adamant about bringing an end to the election of judges in America. Read more from our interview, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Should Judicial Elections Be Abolished?
(Or: ATL chats with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.)”

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