Law School Deans

I recently participated in an excellent symposium about the future of legal education that was sponsored by the Seton Hall Law Review. Congratulations to the law review editors on putting on a great event, and thanks to them for inviting me to be a part of it.

Most of the presentations took the form of detailed papers that will be published in the law school’s symposium issue. But there were a few moments of levity, represented by the following seven notable quotations (comments that I found either amusing or interesting):

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Yet another law dean blows the whistle.

Whenever a law dean goes out in a blaze of glory, it’s news. And by “blaze of glory,” I mean “resigns with a hyper-critical message to the larger university.” Law deans might be insensitive to the cost concerns of their students, but university presidents are generally clueless. A university president looking at a law school entering class is like Cypher looking at the Matrix. They don’t even see the code anymore, they just see “dollar sign, federally guaranteed loan, potential future donor.”

Obviously, law deans usually only resign in a huff when they’re not getting enough money from the university, and “we need more money” isn’t necessarily helpful to students since often the solution is to “jack up tuition.” But in today’s story, we have a dean who might have resigned for reasons beyond more than money.

It’s possible that this dean wanted to run a law school, while the university wanted to run a Tea Party training ground…

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Did you say threesome, Dean?

* The Magic Circle isn’t very magical across the pond in New York City. Four out of five firms from the U.K. — Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Linklaters — have yet to pull rabbits out of their hats in the Big Apple. [Am Law Daily]

* Dewey know how much this failed firm’s old domain name sold for at auction? At the conclusion of the sale, it ended up going for $210,689, which was just a shade over the initial asking price of $200,000. Someone just got ripped off. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* The judge on this case against Skadden Arps isn’t sure that document review should count as anything other than practicing law, “even if it’s not the most glamorous.” Ahh, the luxurious life of a contract attorney. [Am Law Daily]

* Professor Raymond Ku has filed an amended complaint against Case Western Law Dean Larry Mitchell, and now the allegations are even juicier, including a possible ménage à trois. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

* The number of people who took the LSAT in October has dropped for the fourth year in a row, this time by 11 percent. “This is a big deal” for law professors interested in keeping their jobs. [National Law Journal]

It’s Halloween tonight, don’t forget to wear a condom.

I know, that advice comes too late for most people. Most people had their Halloween parties over the weekend, tonight is for the kids. And it’s Christmas Day for dentists.

In fact, we’ve received reports that one Midwestern law school had quite a smashing little Halloween shindig. According to a tipster: “The front entrance to the law school was a minefield of vomit puddles.”

A spooky minefield of vomit and puddles?

In response, the law school is now banning alcohol. Which wouldn’t sound so ridiculous if it didn’t expose the intense hypocrisy of the “business” of legal education…

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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’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

People ask me all the time, “Isn’t it all a cycle?” They want to know if the legal marketplace will come back, with legal education then following.

My answer is, “No.”

A better answer, like most law professor’s answers to simple questions, would be, “It depends on what you mean.”

Yes, law as a business will rebound. It has already done so by some measures. However, it won’t come back in the same form. Nothing ever does.

We all are the products of our backgrounds. For me, that means Detroit.

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* Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in being one of the only justices to perform a same-sex marriage. No divas here: the wedding ceremony was held at the high court because “[t]hat’s where she was.” [BuzzFeed]

* “Proceed with caution.” David Kappos, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, isn’t too keen on the latest patent reform bill that’s currently before the House Judiciary Committee. If only the man still had a say. [National Law Journal]

* Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have released a joint statement to ensure the public that the proposed merger is still on. Good news, everyone! The firm won’t be named McDentons. [Am Law Daily]

* Ralph Lerner, formerly of Sidley Austin, has been slapped on the wrist suspended from practice in New York for one year’s time after improperly billing car service to clients to the tune of $50,000. [Am Law Daily]

* It’s been a year since Superstorm Sandy, and lawyers are still counseling their clients on how to muddle through the mess. Volunteer some pro bono hours and help out those in need. [New York Law Journal]

* After threatening to cut faculty positions, New England Law Dean John O’Brien is taking a 25 percent pay cut. He’ll only earn $650,000. Wow. I think we’re supposed to be impressed. [Boston Business Journal]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: rescuer of nerd relics. Head to this Brooklyn book store (of course it’s in Brooklyn) if you’re desperately seeking long lost science fiction tales. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* We bet that folks in Australia would like to tell the the High Court to bugger off after overturning this ruling. Sexual injuries that occur during work-related trips don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. [Bloomberg]

Are you kidding me with this Halloween stuff? I can’t wait till this stupid “holiday” season is over. No, I’m not changing my Twitter name to “Evil MYSTal” for a week. Stop dressing up like a slut. Stop putting costumes on your dogs. GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!

Wait… I’m being told that this isn’t a Halloween joke, this is a real complaint. Law professors are actually accusing their school of giving them a raise designed to associate them with the Antichrist. Okay, well this is funny again…

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I’d say that New England Law School Dean John F. O’Brien “should be ashamed of himself,” but really, the man has already proven that he is not capable of experiencing the human emotion of “shame.” This is a guy who would probably ask the Ghost of Christmas Future how much he gets paid for a good haunting.

O’Brien is well known around these parts for making $867,000 a year to run an unranked law school. No, that’s not a typo, and yes, I’ve sat in a diner with a New England law student and said, “If you give that nimrod $40,904 I’m gonna shoot him on general principles.”

Now, O’Brien is asking the other faculty at New England to take a buyout or work like employees at Initech…

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When you think about it, Snoop has a lot in common with Biglaw partners: no matter what they’re doing, they have their mind on their money and their money on their mind. Or maybe that’s what Snoop has in common with law school deans. In any event, what legal writing is sorely lacking is Snoop’s unique vernacular.

So when we discovered Gizoogle.net — a website that converts web pages into Snoop-speak — we couldn’t help but spend some time converting law school and law firm bios, SCOTUS decisions, and even one of Elie’s ATL articles.

I mean, any site that translates a Supreme Court decision to include, “It aint nuthin but tha nick nack patty wack, I still gots tha bigger sack,” is worth spending a few hours playing around with.

Fo shizzle…

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I don’t think we’ll be seeing Case Western Reserve School of Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell writing a New York Times op-ed about the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him. So I think the email he just sent to Case Western Law students will have to suffice as his official response — at least until he can figure out how to wrap “defending the dean from faculty allegations” into Case Western’s revamped curriculum.

I’m not surprised he said something about it. One thing that we’ve clearly seen from Mitchell’s time at Case Western is that he’s a media hound, so long as he doesn’t actually have to answer any questions from the media. He seems to be far more concerned with how he (and the school) is perceived than anything else. Oh, he was going to say something.

But since he can’t really talk about the case against him directly, his email was just reduced to (you guessed it) telling students how lucky they were to be going to Case Western! Of course they are, don’t you wish you could be going to a school where your dean is slowly becoming a national punchline?

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