Law School Deans

In your dreams, Dean Morrison.

I still have many friends at Columbia, and it was great to see them. I was on the faculty appointments committee that helped hire some of them, and I now regret that we placed such emphasis on their basketball abilities in the hiring process.

– Dean Trevor Morrison of NYU Law, talking about his former colleagues after playing in the faculty portion of the 14th annual Deans’ Cup basketball game between NYU and Columbia. The NYU Law faculty lost, but Morrison says he “look[s] forward to being a liability on [the] faculty team again next year.”

Law deans from schools that did poorly in the U.S. News law school rankings can’t stop making excuses for their schools.

Most of the excuses are comical, but none of them bother me quite like the “diversity argument.” The diversity argument claims that a school’s low ranking is somehow because of the school’s commitment to diversity.

If it were a good argument, it would be an offensive one to make. People who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do shouldn’t go around begging for thanks and praise for doing the right thing. But suggesting that diversity is somehow antithetical to a strong U.S. News ranking isn’t even a good argument to begin with…

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I recently had dinner with the dean of a law school. To give you a sense of this person’s perspective, I’ll say that he (or she, but I’ll use the masculine) is responsible for a law school that U.S. News ranks somewhere between 50 and 100. His school has thus been hammered by the Great Recession and the decrease in applications to law school, but the school is not (yet) thinking of turning out the lights.

I didn’t actually pry into what was happening at his school. He simply volunteered that his life was far different now than it had been a very few years ago. I guess that’s no surprise, given the tumult of the times.

Anyway, what are law school deans doing these days?

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket, one New York law school just decided to cut its yearly tuition by a whole lot — 15 percent, actually. That’s right: a top 100 law school is reducing its tuition, across the board, in a move that will take it from being the second-most expensive private law school in New York City to being the cheapest of its kind.

Of course, by “cheapest,” what we really mean is “still prohibitively expensive,” but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Perhaps this is a trend in the making for the rest of New York City’s law schools.

So, which law school is helping its students take on a little less debt?

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Zac Efron

* Dentons still has the urge to merge with a U.S. firm, and now it’s trying to tempt Patton Boggs away from Squire Sanders with a “serious overture.” Bow chika bow wow. [The Lawyer]

* Despite all the outrage over Albany Law’s faculty buyouts, some have already accepted the package offered. Looks like anything’s possible for the right price. [Albany Business Review]

* Guess which law school is cutting tuition by a whole lot? Some hints: it’s in New York and it’s been selling off real estate. We’ll have more on this later. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Perhaps this could be considered a gift of provisional accreditation: Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Attorney General in President George W. Bush’s administration, is now dean at Belmont Law. [The Tennessean]

* Take a look at this new paper by Professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld on race and culture in law school admissions. Actually, it’s fake, but it’s sad that it could, in theory, be very real. [Washington Post]

* Zac Efron is going to star as a Yale Law grad forced by criminals to work in the world’s largest Biglaw firm in a film adaptation of John Grisham’s book, The Associate. OMG, he’s so cute. [Hollywood Reporter]

* Our thoughts go out to the families of those wounded and killed during the Fort Hood shooting. [AP]

Jordan Graham and Cody Johnson

* Scared of an audit, were we? With the unsealing of the case against Dewey’s former finance director comes greater insight into what was really going on behind the scenes at the failed firm. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The American Bar Association is willing pay up to $15,000 to organizations that match unemployed law grads with jobs to serve the legal needs of the poor. So, how much do the poor law grads get paid? [National Law Journal]

* Tenure may be “under fire,” but law professors are fighting back — and hard — because law school deans seem unwilling to speak up on their behalf. Let’s face facts though, tenure isn’t going anywhere. [Forbes]

* It figures one of the faces of America’s $1 trillion of outstanding student loan debt is a lawyer. Hey, heavily indebted lawyers make great headlines and even better first paragraphs. [Big Story / Associated Press]

* Jordan Graham, the newlywed who pushed her husband of eight days off a cliff, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison. Protip: an annulment would’ve been a better option than second-degree murder. [CNN]

As law school class sizes continue to shrink, whether due to students’ lack of interest in acquiring six figures of debt or law schools “right-sizing” to maintain student quality, something has got to give so there’s enough money to keep the lights on.

But layoffs are harsh, so clearly the next best thing is to politely ask faculty members to purge their presence from the wonderful world of gainful employment in the ivory tower — with some additional monetary incentive to sweeten the pot.

Which law school is asking its tenure-track faculty members to quit for the greater good?

UPDATE (3/26/2014, 9:30 a.m.): Please note the UPDATE added below.

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* Demand is down, but fees are up. The good news is that Am Law Second Hundred firms saw gains in billable hours purchased by corporate clients — and that’s about it for the good news. [Am Law Daily]

* OMG, Dewey want to see the unsealed case records against D&L’s ex-leaders. DA Cy Vance wants our prying eyes to see all but one document. Secret seven identities… incoming! [Bloomberg]

* It looks like that time Sheryl Sandberg refused to lean in is really paying off in court. Facebook is a witness, not a defendant, in an antitrust case about non-poaching agreements between tech giants. [Reuters]

* Gaming the rankings for dummies? Law school deans are now pushing the ABA to require that law schools post their transfer students’ LSAT and GPA credentials. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* The easy way to decide whether you should be working in law school is to determine what you like more: money or grades. One will help you get the other later in life. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

‘We’re not Case Western Law.’

* Justice Antonin Scalia isn’t quite ready to publicly weigh in on whether computer data is considered a protected “effect” under the Fourth Amendment. “[T]hat may well come up [before the Supreme Court],” he says. Thanks NSA. [Business Insider]

* “[I]t doesn’t take many bad apples in a barrel to cause a stink.” No matter how hard Biglaw firms try to keep their confidential information locked down, someone’s going trade on it. It looks like STB is learning that the hard way. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The day after Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by Judge Bernard Friedman, couples who rushed to marry were met with some serious Sixth Circuit sadness. Way to stay and spoil all of the celebrations, judges. [New York Times]

* “We’re not the Cleveland Browns,” says one of Case Western Law’s interim co-deans. With that kind of a glowing endorsement, we don’t see how this law school could possibly fail. [Crain's Cleveland Business]

* Rutgers Law-Newark has a new low-bono fellowship program “believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.” Some other law schools might have a bone to pick about that statement. [New Jersey Star-Ledger]

Tenured or not, members of the ivory tower used to feel like they had reached a point in their legal careers where they had a good amount of job security. That was before the recession. Now, it seems they’re ready to poop their pedagogical pantaloons at a moment’s notice for fear of layoffs.

Well, we hope the professors at the law school we’re about to tell you about have a change of pants, because the dean thinks it’s time to flush out some faculty members. There aren’t any buyouts to be had — we’re talking straight-up law prof layoffs.

Which school is decimating its law professor headcount this time?

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