Law Schools

If you take the blue pill, you wake up in law school and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you keep reading Above the Law, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Apparently no one can be told what law school is. You have to make the mistake yourself.

The ability to learn from other people’s mistakes is a mark of intelligence, but it’s not a skill shared by your average prospective law student. Despite an internet full of information, they continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to choosing a law school.

The fact that prospective law students quickly learn the error of their ways when they become actual law students only seems to emphasize their failure. By January, I’ll start getting the first emails from 1Ls saying, “I wish I had read you before I decided to go to law school.” By springtime, people who shouldn’t have started in the first place will be asking me whether they should drop out. By the time people graduate, they’ll be experts on all the things they should’ve thought about before matriculating to law school.

Kaplan actually has a new study out that confirms this obvious reality….

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Excited about fashion law?

* Good news, everyone! According to Citi’s Managing Partner Confidence Index survey, firm leaders are feeling pessimistic about their business due to an overall lack of confidence in the economy. [Am Law Daily]

* Per the Ninth Circuit, an Idaho statute that essentially criminalizes medication-induced abortions imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. Really? You don’t say. [Bloomberg]

* Kiwi Camara’s circuitous route to SCOTUS: thanks to the Eighth Circuit, Jammie Thomas-Rasset started and ended her journey with $222K damages for copyright infringement. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Was Barack Obama ever offered a tenured position on the faculty at University of Chicago Law School? Absolutely not, says longtime law professor Richard Epstein — and he was never a “constitutional law professor” either. [Daily Caller]

* “Fashion law is a real career choice,” says Gibson Dunn partner Lois Herzeca. This niche practice area is one of the hottest new trends in the fashion world, and it’s not likely to go out of style any time soon. [Reuters]

* Your clawback suit is a wonderland? John Mayer was named as a defendant in a suit filed by trustees seeking to recover money paid out by Ponzi schemer Darren Berg. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]

* J. Christopher Stevens, UC Hastings Law grad and U.S. Ambassador to Libya, RIP. [CNN]

Sometimes bad things happen on campus and the administration tries to cover it up and pretend like everything is swell and ugliness does not exist.

This is not one of those times.

At the University of Florida Levin College of Law, a law professor appears to have been the victim of a hate crime. Upon learning of the issue, the dean of the law school condemned the action in the strongest language possible and asked any student with knowledge of the events to come forward and inform the authorities.

It’s really the only appropriate response for a school to have in a situation like this…

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I’m getting used to the idea that people think it’s appropriate to try to get law students to babysit their children. At the very least, I’ve gotten used to the fact that law schools don’t find it insulting at all to offer students babysitting gigs as a way to supplement their income.

I suppose if you are a law professor, you are somewhat used to having students take care of your expenses as they desperately try to jump start their careers. Still, it’s a little bit surprising to see a babysitting job coming out of Columbia Law School.

But the pay is right. And heck, these are Columbia students — they should be able to multitask babysitting, studying for torts, and fending off criminals in Morningside Heights all at the same time….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Day, Another T-14 Adventure in Babysitting”

* Politicians are barred from speaking at this year’s memorial ceremony at Ground Zero, but will this ever be a day without politics? That still remains to be seen, but it will always be a day of remembrance. Never forget. [ABC News]

* What could possibly be more important than a resolution in the South Carolina voter ID case? Prejudice by font size. The Department of Justice is arguing over the alleged 12-point font size used by the state in a brief. Yes, seriously. [National Law Journal]

* Stephanie Rose was confirmed by the Senate as the first female federal judge in Iowa’s Southern District by a margin of 89-1. Damn, the one guy who voted against her better have a good reason. [Des Moines Register]

* “[He's] still trying to exculpate himself from one of the biggest blunders in the history of jurisprudence.” O.J.’s Dream Team denied allegations that Johnnie Cochran tampered with the bloody glove. [Los Angeles Times]

* Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the Obama “Hope” poster — you know, the one that Paul Ryan says is fading on your wall — has been sentenced to two years’ probation for tampering with evidence. [CNN]

* What are some of the advantages of applying to law school on an early decision basis? If anything at all, you’ll find out earlier that you won’t be getting any scholarship money. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

To all of our law student readers who are in the middle of hunting for federal judicial clerkships, good luck. Right now we are at the height of clerkship application season, at least for those judges who follow the official (but non-mandatory) law clerk hiring plan. For those judges who follow the Plan to the letter, this past Friday at noon was the first date and time when judges could contact third-year applicants to schedule interviews, and this coming Thursday at 10 a.m. is the first day and time when judges can interview and make offers to 3Ls.

That’s for judges who follow the Plan with maximum strictness. But how many judges actually do that?

Let’s discuss how the clerkship process is unfolding this year — and hear from those of you who are going through it….

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* There are only 56 days until Election 2012. Does anyone actually think that’s enough time to resolve all of the state election law battles? Even if it is, we could still be looking at a “potential disaster” in terms of post-election litigation. [New York Times]

* “It’s a horrible feeling when you keep waiting for the phone to ring and slowly realize that it isn’t…” Second-year law students are learning that waiting to see if you’re getting a summer associate position is a lot like dating — but worse. [Wall Street Journal]

* Meanwhile, law school graduates are trying to figure out what to do because the call never came. Per the BLS, the legal sector lost 1,400 jobs in August. Must be encouraging if you’re looking for a job. [Am Law Daily]

* Seventeen years after the conclusion of O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, the lead prosecutor on the case accused the late Johnnie Cochran of tampering with the infamous glove. Um, better late than never? [Reuters]

* “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.” Because being groped by a cop wasn’t traumatic enough, this judge wants you to know that it was all your fault. [New York Daily News]

* If you allegedly tell a judge’s clerk that his boss should “get the f**k off all [your] cases,” and then follow up by allegedly telling the judge to “straighten the f**k up,” then your next stop is probably jail. [National Law Journal]

* Fashion law goes to Fashion Week and makes it work: Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute celebrated its clinics with a presentation at Lincoln Center. Papa Gunn would be so proud. [Crain's New York Business]

After going through this week’s entries for Comment of the Week, it seems that many of our commenters really want an Above the Law T-shirt. There was some stiff competition (what up, Richard Brosner?), but in the end, we decided to address a topic that’s germane to anyone who has taken out a loan to attend law school.

Over Labor Day weekend, the New York Times had an interesting article about the apparent “ease” with which one can get student loan debt discharged through bankruptcy. And by “ease,” we mean that there’s a whopping 39% chance that you’ll receive a full or partial discharge, but only if you can show that you’re a lost cause to society without any semblance of dignity or hope for the future. Easy, right?

Well, actually, yeah. Because when you’ve got six figures of law school loan debt hanging over your head for a degree that you thought was going to be marketable and you’ve resigned yourself to a job as a sandwich artist at Subway just to make a buck, you’re going to lose hope pretty quickly.

And that’s exactly why our Comment of the Week was just so damn appropriate….

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I’m telling you folks, the message is starting to filter through about law schools. The education costs so much and the job prospects are so uncertain for new lawyers that people are finally starting to understand that getting a J.D. is not the kind of bankable asset that it used to be.

It’s filtering through to students. But most importantly, it’s starting to filter through to parents. Raise your hand if you are in law school now because Mommy or Daddy thought it would be “good for you” to “get serious” about something. (Wait, don’t literally raise your hand, you might get called on… oh, sorry. Just say something about how the case holding “seems to contradict, at least in part” the holding from the last case you read. That’s always the right answer.)

As I was saying, it’s parents who think that law is the kind of professional enterprise that will guarantee their children good, stable incomes. Armed with this (incorrect) information, they often push their children into legal careers that their kids never wanted.

But that’s all starting to change, and today’s example of that change is Theresa Brenner. She’s decided to “postpone” making a decision about going to law school. Instead, she’s going to drive the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. And her parents are supporting her decision.

She’s having second thoughts, but I think we can all clearly see that driving around in a car shaped like a hot dog is a FAR SUPERIOR career choice than going to law school in this market at these prices….

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Now that classes are back in session, I really hope some professor at Cardozo Law School pulls Benula Bensam aside and tells her that her keeping the story about her passing notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) alive is probably not helping her chances of securing a legal job.

You’ll remember Bensam as the student who got reprimanded for passing notes to Judge Rakoff during the Rajat Gupta trial. She went on to sue federal prosecutors and marshals for a number of claims arising out of largely standard courthouse security protocols. As we’ve previously discussed, upon leaving the courthouse Bensam wanted her cell phone back and had problems getting it.

Judge Andrew L. Carter (S.D.N.Y.) kicked most of Bensam’s case today, but he did give her leave to file an amended complaint on one issue.

For her sake, I hope she doesn’t take it…

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