Law Professors

In a way, I think the schools ranked just below the top schools have felt the decline in law school applications the most. Schools ranked in the top 50, but not the top 15, foolishly charge comparable rates to the very best institutions, but they can’t provide the same kind of employment outcome success as the very top schools. Students either go to the top schools that maybe they couldn’t have gotten into in a more competitive pool of applicants, or they go to get significant cost savings (and maybe a full scholarship) at less prestigious, local schools.

You’d think that the very bottom schools would be hurt the most by the decline in applications, but the Cooley model shows us that the people who don’t do well on tests but are desperate to go to law school are still applying, while there appears to be a brain drain in terms of the most qualified applicants.

The choice for law deans just outside the top tier seems to be to cut class size or massively lower admissions standards. I’d argue that there’s a third option: deans could actually compete on price and start charging a reasonable tuition for legal education. But that option might actually start to solve the problem, and right now deans think that prospective law students not acting like idiots is a temporary condition that they just have to ride out.

Earlier this month, we talked about George Washington’s decision to lower admission standards in order to keep class size high. Today we’ve got a similarly ranked school that has evidently decided to go in the opposite direction — in a big way….

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My professor is rich. I’m not.

– a response submitted after Professor Lisa Mazzie of Marquette Law tasked her students with coming up with a six-word story to describe law school.

(Readers, are you up to the challenge? Give us your own six-word stories about law school in the comments.)

This grading system is a total train wreck.

If law students want one thing in their grading system, it’s clarity. This is especially true for first-year law students; 1L grades are too important for future job prospects to have a confusing and muddled set of rules.

Well, maybe not Yale law students. Famously, Yale doesn’t have traditional letter grading. A few top schools have followed Yale’s lead in recent years, but Yale is the OG of meaningless grading systems. (Berkeley students to start bitching in 3, 2, 1….) The meaningless of Yale’s Honors/Pass grading system doesn’t matter because all Yale students get jobs. No grades + Good jobs = “I don’t understand why humans cry.”

Yale students have such good job prospects that they can get jobs as law professors at other Ivy League law schools right after they graduate from Yale. But bringing happy-clappy Yale concepts of grading to “normal” law schools is not without its problems….

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Not pictured, the rest of the echo chamber.

Back up the van, folks. There’s nothing more to see here. Somebody wrote an entire book entitled “What the Best Law Teachers Do,” and two Cooley Law professors made the list of 26 profiles. Two. Cooley was the only school to have two professors on this list, a fact that the school is crowing about online like they’re promoing a James Spader drama.

I can take cheap shots at the list, like “I guess the best law teachers do NOT help people get jobs.” Or I can launch substantive complaints, like pointing out that professors had to be nominated and then jump through a lot of hoops to be included, almost like a glorified Super Lawyers process.

But really, I’m just sitting here watching legal academics circle-jerk other academics with no regard for cost or jobs, and I’m just thinking “screw you guys, I’m going home”…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Academics Rate Two Cooley Professors Among Best in the Business: Strike The Set, I Think We’re Done Here”

Howdy, Aggie Law!

* As previously discussed, Morgan Lewis partner Leslie Caldwell hopes to take over where Lanny Breuer left off at the DOJ Criminal Division. Her nomination was formally announced this afternoon. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Judge Scheindlin doesn’t want to end stop-and-frisk in New York City, she wants to end racial profiling, so you can’t have a stay pending your appeal to the Second Circuit, Mayor Bloomberg. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Dewey know which companies were the latest to be sued by the failed firm’s liquidation trustee to recover funds paid out in the days before it went under? Yes, and Dial Car is really pissed off. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Let’s face the facts: no one’s goal as an attorney in Biglaw is to make it drizzle. Because “law firms don’t know when to fold when trying to hire lateral partners,” they sometimes wind up with the opposite of what they want amid their ranks. [The Lawyer]

* Texas Wesleyan Law has been Texas A&M Law for only a few weeks, but new traditions are already being made for Aggie lawyers. Now when students enter a classroom, the professors say “howdy.” [KBTX]

Some law professors are cool, some are complete weirdos, and some do creepy things like this:

Paging Dr. Law to the dean’s office…

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* Congrats to @FenwickWest on landing the big Twitter IPO! #yaylegalfees [American Lawyer]

* The Deal Professor, Steven Davidoff, surveys the legal landscape around the Twitter filing, focusing on the #JOBSAct. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Jamie McCourt, a former family law attorney, strikes out in trying to set aside her divorce settlement with Frank McCourt, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. She’s stuck with $131 million and several luxury homes. #richpeopleproblems [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* An inquest reveals that a Hogan Lovells partner who took his own life had warned a colleague that he was going to kill himself the day before his death. [Daily Mail via ABA Journal]

* Good news for the news business: the Senate Judiciary Committee approves a federal media-shield bill. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* Nathan Myhrvold, the CEO of a patent holding company, warns that anti-patent-troll sentiment could have unforeseen consequences. [Corporate Counsel]

* Praise in the WSJ for Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (affiliate link), the new book by Professor Josh Blackman (who recently wrote a guest post for us on Supreme Court beauty contests). [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congrats to George Mason Law on its two high-profile hires: D.C. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg and Covington antitrust partner Damien Geradin. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* If you’re in New York this weekend, go see Arguendo. Or buy tickets for the 7 p.m. performance on September 22, when I’ll be doing a talkback with artistic director John Collins after the show. Enter the discount code “ABOVE” for $35 tickets (a special rate for ATL readers). [Public Theater]

High atop the ‘Ivory Tower’ of the Yale Law School, a legal academic defends never changing anything ever.

If I were going to write an Onion-style parody of a Yale law professor defending the third year of law school in an op-ed, I wouldn’t come up with what Yale professor Bruce Ackerman just dropped on the Washington Post. It’s too on-the-nose to be funny as fiction. It’s too “exactly what I thought he would say” to qualify as parody. For the love of God, the man starts his defense of the third year of law school by quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes. He doesn’t start with employment statistics or any analysis of economic value or even a new study about the value of higher education generally. He’s a professor at the Yale Law School, so of course we’re starting with Holmes.

Since I’m not making it up, since a Yale Law School professor actually did write an op-ed about the current state of legal education in which his first reference is to a man who died in 1935, it’s freaking hilarious. I mean, thank God we have Yale law professors to reanimate Holmes so he can weigh in on our modern debate. When I asked old Ollie what he thought about the value of a law degree during a time of stagnant legal employment and skyrocketing tuition, he just told me, “My, you speak so well for a Negro. Since I’m sure society has evolved much since my death, I’m probably not the right guy to ask.”

But let’s see what Professor Ackerman has to say…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Yale Professor Offers A Most Yale-Like Response To The ‘Length of Law School’ Debate”

* Once again, Justice Ginsburg offers us some perspective on behind the scenes action at the Supreme Court. We bet you didn’t know that “Get over it” is one of Justice Scalia’s favorite expressions. [Politico]

* The chief justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court turned in his resignation papers on Friday, and rumor has it that the legendary Leo Strine will try to replace him. Best of luck, Chancellor! [Reuters]

* “I wasn’t looking for a job.” Paul Aguggia, the chairman of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, will step down to cash in as the CEO of a New Jersey bank where he served as outside counsel. [American Banker]

* This is what it’s like when bankruptcies collide: AMR Corp. is now disputing Dewey’s billables, including 1,646 hours of contractually prohibited work completed by first-year associates. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Bank of America is bleeding money in settlement payments. A $39 million payout in a Merrill Lynch gender bias case brings the total to about $200 million in under two weeks. [DealBook / New York Times]

* GW Law starts its dean search next month, and whoever takes the position needs to be good at raising funds, because the school has struggled in that department ever since Dean Berman left. [GW Hatchet]

* An Ivy League law professor tells us the third year of law school is a “crucial resource” to ensure lawyers are well-trained, so classes like “Understanding Obama” must be social imperatives. [Washington Post]

* It seems to me that the only jurors who might be influenced by the depiction of the legal system on Law & Order are the ones who were too dim to figure out how to get out of jury duty. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

Though it is not flattering to law students to compare them with preschoolers, I thought that we could use the same basic idea of watching when law students tuned out to make law teaching more effective.

Jeff Sovern, a law professor at St. John’s School of Law, explaining how he employed a method used by the producers of Sesame Street to study law students’ laptop use during class.

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