Law School Deans

If I told you that a first-term Massachusetts Congressman, Joseph P. Kennedy III, was delivering the commencement address at a law school, where would you think that would be?

Certainly not Harvard Law. Kennedys start at Harvard, but they don’t finish.

Let’s see, first-termers haven’t done much, but Kennedy does have an impressive last name. He hadn’t done much as a lawyer before being elected to Congress. My guess would have been that Kennedy would be perfect to speak at something in the Suffolk Law to Northeastern Law band (or maybe UMass Law if he was desperate for exposure).

So I was pretty surprised to find out he’d be speaking at the UVA Law commencement — but not nearly as surprised as some UVA Law alums….

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David Yassky

In fairness, the new law dean at Pace University didn’t actually drive a taxi. David Yassky was the head of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, and he’s just been named the new Pace Law dean. So there is only a small chance that Pace Law students will get cursed at when they ask Career Services to find them a job in Brooklyn.

On the other hand, one of the few things new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and his Republican opponent Joe Lhota agreed about was the need to replace Yassky when they got the job. So Pace Law is going with a dean who got pushed out of running a taxi service.

And it’s not like Pace students can call 3-1-1 if they can’t get a job…

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A few days ago, Elie Mystal wrote about recent allegations of racist student conduct at the UCLA School of Law. I invite readers unfamiliar with the background to catch up by reading Elie’s post and, if you’ve the stomach for it, some of the many comments on his post. (It’s okay. I’ll wait.)

UCLA Dean Rachel Moran called for a police investigation. She alerted the student body. She agreed to meet with student leaders. From all I can see, the law school administration has so far handled the events appropriately. The official response balances the risk of dismissing the allegations or their importance with the risk of over-reacting and potentially polarizing the campus further.

I disagree with much of Elie’s criticism of the law school as a whole, as I disagreed with him about the Team Sanders situation at UCLA last fall.

Still, I didn’t originally want to write about UCLA this week. I drafted a post on another topic, in fact. But something about the UCLA situation, Elie’s post, and, perhaps most of all, the responses from many readers gnawed away at me. It hurt my heart. And when the desiccated husk that passes for my world-weary heart hurts, there’s usually something to it . . . .

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He shares some of his thoughts about legal education and the legal profession here on Above the Law from time to time.

I was talking to a reporter the other day about changes within the legal profession. She had called me to ask what types of jobs were opening up. I disappointed her. She wanted specialties offering positions that were sexy, new, and numerous.

I explained there were indeed more jobs. But I did not know any of them that satisfied all of her criteria.

There were many possibilities for her article. None of them were everything she was looking for.

That would be true for the individuals obtaining those roles as well. I recall a former colleague who used to say in response to the extravagant expectations that young people express about their careers: “That’s why we call it ‘work.’” She meant that there isn’t any reason to believe it will be fun. It is more likely to be boring, stressful, or both boring and stressful by turns if not simultaneously.

By the journalist’s standards, unless it is sexy, new and numerous, it does not register at all. That isn’t the best understanding of the universe of possibilities. Law is not intrinsically sexy….

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It started with “Team Sander.” In November, we told you that some students at UCLA Law School started wearing T-shirts in support of UCLA law professor Richard Sander, whose scholarship is racially divisive. Some people argued that the shirts were not racially motivated, and even some of my colleagues argued that they needed to “know more” about the intentions behind the shirts before they started calling people racist.

Well… now we know more, and “racist” seems like the only appropriate way to describe at least some students at UCLA Law. Now the question becomes: does the law school administration give a crap?

Read on for the disturbing allegations….

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This seems a better way to go than a hunger strike.

* O.J. Simpson is pursuing a hunger strike because he’s looking to die. If only he knew who the real killers were, they could help him out. [Radar Online]

* Dean I. Richard Gershon of Ole Miss Law thinks Elie is just wrong. [Law Deans on Legal Education Blog]

* In continuing Seventh Circuit benchslappiness, Judge Richard Posner got feisty with an attorney for Notre Dame who kept interrupting him. If this lawyer keeps it up, Posner’s going to treat his client like Alabama did a year ago. [Chicago Tribune]

* Comcast wants to buy Time Warner, pending DOJ approval. The DOJ wants to talk to Comcast, but they’re only available to talk between 10 and 10:15 on alternating Wednesdays. [ATL Redline]

* California and New Jersey have banned gay conversion therapy programs. Is that the best way to combat these schemes? [New York Times]

* A look at getting started as an entrepreneur. See, there’s hope after bailing on practicing law. [Big Law Rebel]

* Daria Roithmayr of USC Law thinks The Triple Package (affiliate link), the new book by Yale’s Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, doesn’t hold water. I mean, since when are we holding academics to writing “scholarship” as opposed to “controversy bait”? Professors need to eat, after all. [Slate]

* A cop who got in trouble for bashing Obama online thought he was protected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed. [IT-Lex]

As an instructor he’s a bit of a fascist, but you can’t help but feel sorry for Professor Hitler as he finds out that the law school scam is coming to an end. When a law school announced that tenured faculty were on the chopping block, some sharp minds put together a Downfall video to capture the feelings of law professors facing their fears over rejoining the private sector.

Also capturing how much they hate Paul Campos….

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Getting placed on a law school admissions wait list can be traumatizing if you overthink it. The admissions officers thought you were good, but not quite good enough. They’re waiting to see if they’re desperate enough to allow a simpleton like you to become a member of the entering class. You could be in law school limbo for weeks, or even months.

Imagine how devastating it would be to receive a rejection letter after languishing on a wait list for what seemed like eons, hoping and praying that this would be the school to accept you. Imagine how vindictive you’d be if you were under the impression your application had been guaranteed special consideration. Imagine what it would be like to exact your revenge upon another cruel admissions dean, as you’ve done so masterfully in the past.

Keep reading if you want to see how to weasel your way from a rejection to an acceptance by making veiled threats of impending litigation….

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* Morgan Stanley will settle with the Federal Housing Finance Authority for $1.25 billion to resolve a suit over the sale of craptastic mortgage-backed securities. It’ll be the third-largest settlement of its kind. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “Sometimes the voters and the legislature get it wrong. So, we have you.” With those bold words from Ted Olson, the federal judge overseeing the challenge to Virginia’s ban on gay marriage has promised a speedy ruling in the case. [Washington Post]

* DLA Piper announced changes to its leadership, naming Roger Meltzer and Nigel Knowles as Earth’s co-chairs. We look forward to news on the DLA Venus and Mars outposts. [WSJ Law Blog]

* In other DLA Piper news, it looks like the one of the world’s largest firms may be coming to the rescue of a Canadian Biglaw firm in financial trouble. Welcome aboard, Heenan Blaikie lawyers! [Globe and Mail]

* Dean Michael Fitts of Penn Law School is leaving his position after 15 years to take a position as the president of Tulane University. There’s no word yet on who’ll serve as interim dean. [Daily Pennsylvanian]

* In case you haven’t heard about it yet, a former Roger Williams Law student was involved in an all-day standoff with police after threatening school administrators. We may have more on this. [ABC 6 News]

As more and more people discover that law school is not the “get rich quick” scheme that they once thought it was, applications continue to plummet. As of late January, law school applications were down 13.7 percent from where they were in 2013. The loss of student revenue is killing the bottom line at some law schools, and members of their administrations don’t like it one bit.

These ivory tower inhabitants seem terrified and are reacting accordingly, having been forced to deal with the dearth of applicants and enrollees in all sorts of ways. Some law schools are doing the right thing and lowering tuition in the hopes of luring students to their once hallowed halls.

Others are hacking and slashing away at their faculty and staff, just like law firms. First came news of the potential purge of junior faculty at Seton Hall (which was fortunately averted). Next came the staff massacre at McGeorge. Then Thomas Jefferson started handing out pink slips, and all hell broke loose.

Which law school is the latest to announce a possible pruning of its ranks? We’ll give you a hint. This law school is located in New York, a state with 15 law schools to choose from, several of which have been sued over their allegedly deceptive employment statistics…

(Please note the multiple UPDATES added to this post.)

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