Law School Deans

It reads like a true, Jerry Maguire-style “mission statement.”

Emory Law Professor Howard Abrams submitted an application to become the next Dean of Emory Law School, and boy did he call out the school and legal academia for the whole backwards process of choosing deans and running law schools. Emory Law has had a rocky relationship with its students over the past few years, and Professor Abrams wants it to stop. He wants Emory to get better. He wants law schools to get back to providing value to the students instead of just taking their money.

And, as a result, he probably has no chance of actually getting the deanship…

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* A tentative deal to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits has been reached. Is anyone else having a serious case of déjà vu right now? Didn’t we do this already? [Washington Post]

* Investigators in Whitney Houston’s drug probe want her prescription records. We should take Tony Bennett’s advice: if all drugs were legal, we wouldn’t worry about stars ODing on pills. [New York Daily News]

* Paul Ceglia didn’t want to pay Facebook’s Biglaw bill for 177 hours of legal work, so the judge slashed the price to $75,776. At just $428 an hour, how will these lawyers feed their families? [Los Angeles Times]

* More and more law school deans and law professors keep jumping ship to run colleges and universities. Hey, it’s easier to milk the campus cash cow when you’re in charge. [National Law Journal]

* Chris Christie took a break from complaining about New Jersey’s gay marriage bill to complain about how his nominees for the state Supreme Court haven’t been confirmed in record time. [Star-Ledger]

* Jeremy Lin fever has reached the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as people try to file applications for the mark “Linsanity.” Weird, doesn’t Lindsay Lohan already have dibs on that? [Businessweek]

Is it right for a law school to send its students to tolerance camp? Mandatory tolerance camp? Mandatory tolerance camp, where unexcused absences will result in an intolerant notation placed in students’ permanent records?

When I came across the story of a state law school holding a “mandatory” diversity seminar that students were required to attend, my first instinct was to side with the students who objected to the required nature of the program. Generally, I’m not a fan of forcing people to be nice to each other, and you can’t force a man to change what’s in his heart. If students want to be racist or prejudiced to others in their community, that’s something that may demand an institutional response. But if some kids don’t think they’ll benefit much from “diversity training,” whatever that means, so be it.

But when the ABA’s committee on accreditation is telling law school administrators that the student body needs to work on its racial sensitivity, well, you can see how the law school is in a bit of a bind…

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The power to thwart God's will is at your local drugstore.

Who’d have thunk it? These days, contraception is a hot-button issue. On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Rick Santorum thinks that Griswold was wrongly decided. Inside academia, students are challenging the refusal of one Catholic university (including its law school) to let its health centers prescribe birth control.

Getting upset over inadequate access to contraception is one thing. What about getting upset — at a Catholic law school, mind you — over a discussion of birth control? Can you imagine what kind of comments about contraception could cause a law school community to get all riled up?

Let’s look at — and argue about — the email that caused students at one top-ranked Catholic law school to get their diaphragms all scrunched up proverbial panties in a wad. Even the dean had to get involved….

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Kyle McEntee (left) and Patrick Lynch (right), co-founders of Law School Transparency (LST).

Late last year, plaintiffs’ lawyer David Anziska pledged to make 2012 “the year of law school litigation.” Anziska, who’s currently spearheading efforts to sue law schools over allegedly misleading employment statistics, told my colleague Staci Zaretsky that he and his team members “want to sue as many law schools as we can to bring them into the fray.”

That’s all well and good — for plaintiffs’ lawyers, and for news outlets like ours seeking juicy stories to cover. But there are other ways to achieve reform. So here’s another thought: Could 2012 instead be the year of law school transparency? Transparency achieved voluntarily, by law schools coming forward on their own to share comprehensive data about how their graduates are faring in the job market?

In the weeks since we wrote about the University of Chicago Law School providing very detailed employment data about its recent graduating classes, based on our interview with Dean Michael Schill, we’ve heard from deans, professors, alumni and students of other law schools, all with similar messages. They believe that their schools, like Chicago, are also transparent about graduate employment outcomes — and they want to be recognized for it.

This chorus of “me too!” messages raises a promising possibility: Is law school transparency becoming, for lack of a better word, “cool”? Will honesty about employment data become the hot new trend for U.S. legal education?

Perhaps. But there’s still a long way to go, as shown by a report issued this week by Law School Transparency….

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Being a student at Penn State has to be about as close as you can come to being in a World War I foxhole. Their reputation is just getting bombed from all sides. Right now, kids should just be trying to keep their heads down and ride this out.

But in the PSU Law foxhole, somebody just laid an egg.

Apparently students at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law have already been banned from a few area hotels for drunken and inappropriate behavior this fall. And now a student is throwing around a slur on the school list-serv.

It’s not happy times in Happy Valley…

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Outgoing NYLS Dean Rick Matasar

Even at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the criticism of the legal education business just flowed. Everybody, it seems, has an opinion on what is wrong with law schools these days.

While many of the law school deans and other administrators at the conference acknowledged problems with the system, most of the actual critiquing came from people with no power to change it. Media members (ahem) criticized law schools, judges criticized law schools, outgoing deans of law schools that shamelessly profiteered off of unwitting law students criticized — and the people who could actually change their systems dutifully listened.

But despite all of the critiques, there weren’t a lot of schools that seemed ready to institute sweeping change to the business of educating lawyers. And why should they? Change won’t come from above, and right now prospective law students are not demanding change from below…

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Jeremy Paul

For Yale, it’s very economically feasible because almost nobody would do it.

Jeremy Paul, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, commenting on the likelihood (or lack thereof) of law schools adopting the unconventional tuition reimbursement policy proposed by Yale Law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres in their thought-provoking essay, Paying Students to Quit Law School

I know why the caged bird tweets.

* Here’s a nice round-up of some of the most controversial laws that will be enacted in 2012. Looks like California is going to have some fabulously multicultural litigation. [Associated Press]

* What do you get when you cross an artist with a penchant for Rastafarians with the son of a Boies Schiller name partner? The biggest copyright fair use appeal ever. [New York Times]

* A Massachusetts town paid Phoebe Prince’s family only $225K to settle. With lawyer’s fees, it’s almost not even worth suing if your kid gets bullied to death. [ABC News]

* Everyone is going cuckoo over Iowa’s conservatives, even the Eighth Circuit. Iowa Law’s former dean is facing a political discrimination suit. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Apparently, this PhoneDog Twitter account case is a pretty big deal in the world of social media law. I’ll turn discussion of this issue over to our social media expert, Brian Tannebaum. [CNN]

* An employee at a presumably small law firm in New York had her jaw shattered while a thief ransacked the office. Give this woman a bonus. Hell, give her a raise, too. [New York Post]

* Merry Christmas! House Republicans will get one less lump of coal in their stockings this year after accepting a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts. [New York Times]

* Another birther lawsuit has been thrown out, but Orly Taitz won’t be stopped. She’s like the Energizer Bunny of questionable litigation. She’ll keep appealing, and appealing, and appealing… [Los Angeles Times]

* John Edwards is trying to delay his criminal trial, claiming to have a mystery medical diagnosis. What kind of disease does karma hand you for cheating on your sick wife? [New York Daily News]

* Nora Demleitner will be will be stepping in as the new dean of Washington and Lee University School of Law. Hofstra Law, you M.A.D.? [National Law Journal]

* Is the American Bar Association really driving up the cost of law school tuition, or is it the law schools themselves? Here are some graphs that might surprise you. [Am Law Daily]

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