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….
* With a government shutdown looming, the Supreme Court will likely go about business as usual. In fact, Justice Alito is rolling his eyes at the mere concept of closing the Court’s doors as we speak. [SCOTUSblog]
* But in the meantime, both the Department of Justice and the federal judiciary are hunkering down and waiting for the collapse of law and order thanks to all of our petulant politicians in Washington, D.C. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Justice Scalia thinks the NSA’s surveillance programs may come before SCOTUS for an examination of a “right of privacy that comes from penumbras and emanations, blah blah blah, garbage.” [Associated Press]
* Perhaps it’s due to the “hangover from the collapse of the markets in 2008,” but white-collar defense practices are on the rise in Biglaw, and the firms’ leaders could not be happier. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
* Another law school ranking just means there’s another way for Yale to whoop Harvard’s ass. Now we know that Lat’s alma mater is slightly better at producing law deans than Elie’s. [National Law Journal]
* A motion to dismiss has been filed, and now Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite who assisted in bringing about the end of General David Petraeus’s career in the CIA, is watching her legal case unravel. [CNN]
Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.
In the modern economy, we are trying to achieve with people what we have done with machines. We want individual workers to be “plug and play.” The term refers to computer equipment that can function immediately, without the need for elaborate set-up; you merely plug it into a power supply and it starts to play what it’s supposed to.
I have thought about, and startups are implementing, the delivery of legal services equivalent to ride-sharing services. Imagine a database that offered a list of lawyers whom you could meet in your area (if you even wanted to see them face to face), during a specific time period, with searchable specializations. If they were pre-cleared for conflicts and had set prices for particular tasks, the user would click to reserve an appointment and be all set.
Call it “Ziplawyer.” Apologies to Zipcar.
Maybe combine it with a ratings service. Behold: a new structure for the profession.
The model is great for consumers. It gives them information and options. The access to the marketplace fosters competition.
But the model also is advantageous for members of the bar. It allows solo practitioners who are tech-savvy to punch above their weight, as the saying goes. They can reach many more people than they could by traditional means, who need exactly what they have to offer.
Yet I am enthusiastic about these possibilities only to a point. I am reminded of Robocop 2….
* If you care about the business end of the law, you’ll want to see which firms are representing Corporate America. This is a list that matters. We’ll have more on this later today. [Corporate Counsel]
* Biglaw firms in Chicago are shrinking, with headcount at the 25 largest firms dropping by 15 percent since 2008. Don’t worry, this is the “new normal,” everything’s fine. [Crain's Chicago Business]
* Show me your poker face: UNLV Law’s dean wants to raise the school’s profile in the eyes of new students by bulking up its gaming law program and letting the chips fall where they may. [Las Vegas Sun]
* It looks like the wage and hour ruling against Rick’s Cabaret has started an avalanche of lawsuits filed by angry, underpaid strippers. Now, they want $10 million inserted into their g-strings. [New York Daily News]
Indiana Tech, a new law school in Indiana, had its opening ceremonies the other day. Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit was there. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was there. And of course new law dean Peter Alexander was there.
And boy did Alexander get feisty. Indiana Lawyer says that Alexander got “emotional” when welcoming his new students and defending the existence of this new law school. He called his law faculty “courageous,” and told the students “you don’t know how good you are or how great you’re going to be.”
Then he took aim at the “media” that has been questioning why the hell Indiana needs another law school. Alexander’s passionate and literary defense neglected to mention the fact that Indy Tech expects people to pay $48,160 per year to live and study in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nor did he mention any plan to help these soon-to-be-great kids get jobs at the end of the school’s courageous course offerings.
But apparently, people at Indy Tech Law are “trying their best,” so asking students to engage in some critical thinking is just mean…
Some of the programs against which we compete are very old and rich programs. We do have some scholarships and financial aid, but not a lot … Schools that are very rich are able to fill their classes with the very best kids, and price is no object for them.
There’s a lot less to go around once you descend from the ethereal heights to the altitudes that most of the law school industry subsists at — where we subsist and a great majority of our competitors subsist. Things are tougher for us. There’s a pain cascade that can be discerned where I live, that my rich competitors only have to read about.
* You skip over the footnotes when you’re reading for class, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t think you should. She’s a proponent of the most important footnote in all of constitutional law. [New Yorker]
* New York will modify its pro bono requirement for LL.M. students to allow public service completed outside the country. Well, so much for closing the state’s justice gap. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the government-initiated trademark infringement actions over “Don’t Mess With Texas.” Like “I <3 NY," the Lone Star State's slogans are off limits. [New York Times]
* You can sue Lady Gaga for overtime pay all you want, but you do not want to face her wrath. The pop star is due in court in early November where she’ll tell a judge “exactly what f**king happened.” [Daily Mail]
“You are not just individuals. You are the Michigan Law School Class of 2016, and you will always be a member of that class. And it’s not just a class: It’s an idea, a tradition, a tie to something greater than you.”
– Mark West, the new dean of the University of Michigan Law School
You can learn a lot about a law school by how they greet their incoming students. The famous Paper Chase quote — “Look to your left, look to your right, because one of you won’t be here by the end of the year” — pretty much tells you all you need to know about Harvard Law School, or at least how it would like to see itself. If Dean West’s prodigious statements appeal to you, Michigan Law might be more your cup of tea. West continued: “You are not here to get your degree, and not simply to learn to ‘think like a lawyer’ or even merely to learn how to be a lawyer. You are here — at Michigan — to develop a lifelong association with all that is here. There will never be another time like this for you.”
Conquering heroes all, no doubt. Champions of the West.
Other law schools don’t take themselves nearly so seriously, but they all think their entering class of 2016 is pretty special. And they are. These are the kids who decided to go to law school when, historically speaking, everybody told them it was a bad idea. The class of 2016 is either the most motivated in history or the people most resistant to information and statistics in a generation.
Let’s look at how their own law schools describe them….
Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’ll be sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.
For a long time, I was young. Now, however, I am old enough to have contempt for the young. It turns out I am not alone. Anyone approximately my age laughs when I inform them I have reached this milestone.
Despite their desire that we all lighten up and their conviction we are peers, youth today — like youth of any era — take umbrage at this remark. What can I say. They have no sense of humor.
When I participate in the blogosphere, I wonder if the world is about to end. The lament about internet discourse has become cliched. It is angry, communicating hardly anything more than grunting. Even those who wish to be meaningfully provocative cannot compete.
Yet maturity is all about realizing one is wrong. I take it all back. I realize I am not understanding the norms…
* 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.)]
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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