Law Schools

We’re in that soft part of the second semester where things are generally calm on the law school front. Most 1Ls have figured out that they don’t need to be really paying attention yet, and the ones who haven’t are quietly plugging away in the library, oblivious to the outside world. The 2Ls are making plans for the summer (whether at a firm or visiting mom). And 3Ls without jobs are in the quiet, catatonic state where they haven’t fully processed what’s about to happen to them and they’re kind of wafting through campus waiting for somebody to wake them up and tell them it was all a dream.

Usually, the law student freak-out machine doesn’t get cranking again until April, which is why today’s campus “controversy” feels a bit like a tempest in a teapot. Essentially, a group of law students are accusing their student government of misusing their budget. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, but this time there’s a twist.

Yes, I’m shocked, SHOCKED that the people who run for law school student government did something to try to make themselves look more important than everybody else….

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A couple weeks ago, we shared with you some of our survey data, which showed that, generally speaking, law students’ experiences with their schools degrade over time. The ATL Insider Survey asks law students and alumni to rate their schools in the areas of academic instruction, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life. When the ratings by first-year students are compared with those of third-years, the 3L scores are lower across the board, in all categories. In other words, the longer students are exposed to their schools, the lower their regard for the institution becomes. More equals worse.

We wondered whether or how this downward trajectory manifests itself after the students become alumni. After the jump, we compare the perceptions of students to those of graduates. The answer may surprise you, but probably not. Also, we identify the law schools where there is the greatest contrast between the views of current students and alumni — both negatively and positively….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Schools May Appear Worse in the Rearview Mirror”

* Ben Weiss suggests that the third year of law school be replaced by special certifications in practice areas. He calls these “O’Wendells.” I like the idea, but the name sounds dirty. If he really wants to keep with the SCOTUS theme, he could just call it a “Bushrod.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* A guide to the legal landscape surrounding high-frequency trading (the new fad of super-fast, computer-driven trading algorithms swapping stocks in split-seconds). Good, because I like my trading like I like my women: capable of collapsing economic markets at any given notice. [New York Law Journal]

* In fairness to this judge accused of “inappropriate conduct” with an inmate, the Miami Correctional Facility is considered the most romantic correctional facility in America. [RTV6 ABC]

* Calvin and Hobbes impart an important lesson in International Law. [Invisible College Blog]

* Professor Howard Wasserman examines the economics of the infield-fly rule. There’s not even a jokey blurb here; this is intriguing. [Sports Law Blog]

* Man suing a church and some of its staff after being invited to a service and then allegedly being accused of demonic possession and beaten. In fairness to the church, if the man was really the devil, filing a lawsuit is the most logical means of revenge he could employ. [Legal Juice]

Law school deans seem incredibly powerful. They seem like they have the power to reshape their law schools in their own ways. They seem like they’re in charge.

In reality, law deans spend much more time begging than ordering. They’re asking their university presidents to keep more of the revenue their schools generate. They’re trying to cajole tenured faculty who can’t be fired. They’re sniveling on bended knee to rich and powerful alumni. And if their law school drops in the U.S. News law school rankings, they’re likely to be discarded and replaced by somebody with a “new vision” for the law school.

I’m not crying for law school deans. They make an obscene amount of money, yet they’re not directly accountable to the students who fund their salary.

But they have a tough job. And when they don’t have the support of the faculty, they can wake up to find a big knife sticking in their back — a knife labeled “faculty lounge.”

This one law dean found that out the hard way, though he continues to deny that his law faculty essentially led a successful coup d’état….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How To Oust The Dean Of Your Law School”

“It comes down to this,” said Hayley Schafer, 30. “Is there anything else I’d be happy doing? No. Is there any way around paying off the loans? No. So, what the heck? A lot of it is just trying to put it out of your mind and maybe it’ll disappear.”

Schafer has more than $312,000 in educational debt and earns just $60,000. She must be a lawyer, right?

But Schafer’s not a lawyer or law school graduate. What does she do? The answer might surprise you….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of Law School: It’s Not the Only Alleged Culprit in Higher Education”

Jump for joy if you landed a Biglaw job!

For the past few years, the National Law Journal has been publishing a list of the best law schools to go to if you want to work in Biglaw after graduation. But through the lens of this annual report, we can see some of the changes that have happened in a profession that’s been in transition ever since the Great Recession. From layoffs to law firm collapses, Biglaw has faced many difficulties, and these challenges have been passed on to would-be associates when it comes to hiring.

Take, for example, the hiring scene in 2008, when the law school that earned the highest honors on the NLJ’s report could brag about sending 70.5 percent of its graduates to top law firms. Although we’ve started paving the road to recovery after several sluggish years, the employment picture for law students hasn’t rebounded to those levels.

Slowly but surely, it’s been getting better. In fact, this year, the future for law students seeking Biglaw jobs looks “marginally brighter.” But how much better? Let’s find out….

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* The horror! The horror! Sacrilege! Constitutional law nerds nationwide will weep at the very thought of someone suggesting that our country’s governing document be amended to abolish life tenure for Supreme Court justices. [Los Angeles Times]

* Quite frankly, it’s pretty amazing how quickly the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act went from being seen by states as something that wasn’t “onerous” to being “arbitrary and burdensome.” That’s politics for you. [It's All Politics / NPR]

* Jim Woolery, an M&A superstar formerly of J.P. Morgan, has made the jump to Cadwalader after only two years at the bank. Upgrade or downgrade from his Cravath partnership? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Some law professors stop teaching classes to tend to their divorce proceedings, but other law professors teach classes from their hospital beds so their students aren’t thrown to the wolves. [Tex Parte / Texas Lawyer]

* It you want to be employed, make damn sure you nail your interview because “[t]he stakes are higher than ever” — fewer than 13 percent of permanent law jobs were obtained from OCI in 2011. [National Law Journal]

* Greenlight Capital’s case against Apple might have been perceived as a “silly sideshow” by some, but it looks like Judge Richard Sullivan of the S.D.N.Y. purchased front row tickets. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Speaking of silly sideshows, the DOJ recently joined the fray with Floyd Landis and his False Claims Act suit against Lance Armstrong. Perhaps it’s time for the disgraced biker to take his ball and go home. [Bloomberg]

* Alan Westin, privacy law scholar and professor emeritus of public law at Columbia, RIP. [New York Times]

Lawstudentcoach.com works one-on-one with students to produce an individualized game plan for exam taking — individualized to the student and to the professor. This article will discuss some of the things that a student entering the exam with a game plan will do.

Your exam prep has been completed. The day of the exam has arrived. Here’s how using a game plan will ensure success.

First, the game plan should be based on use of this professor’s prior exams and by examination of what skills this professor models in class. Based on that, the student should enter the exam with a list of issues and concepts that are most likely to be on the exam. Write that list before reading the exam, and keep it in mind as you read. This will help with issue spotting in two ways: (1) it will be easier to spot the key issues if you have them in mind as you read; and (2) if your first read of the exam question does not appear to raise some key issue or group of issues, you want to review the question. Remember, the exam is not just about answering the question. It is about answering the question in a manner that earns the most points.

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Voted ‘Mr. Congeniality’ by a panel of Biglaw partners.

The best competitions reward the winner with something related to their skill. If you win American Idol, you get a recording contract. On Project Runway, you get a clothing line. In the Hunger Games, you get to be alive.

Tying the tested skills to the ultimate reward is a concept so strikingly obvious that even we at Above the Law grasped the concept. In 2008, we held a competition among writers, which we called ATL Idol, and we hired the guy who won.

At Case Western Reserve University School of Law, the Career Development Office has announced a “Job Idol” competition, to determine which lucky Case Western Spartan has the chops to earn a law firm job.

We had a similar competition when I went to school. It was called “Early Interview Week,” and the top 98 percent of competitors won a job.

So what do the winners get at Case Western? We have the official advertisement for the competition.

Spoiler alert: They don’t get jobs….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School Throws ‘Job Idol’ Competition, Grand Prize: Not a Job”

PPP at one top law firm?

* Law School Transparency? Nay, Biglaw Transparency! Peter Kalis, global managing partner of K&L Gates, just opened the kimono wide on his firm’s financial performance in an “unusually detailed” fashion. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Talk about a pain in the pocketbook: although profits per partner and revenues are up overall, one firm saw shrinkage of 16 percent in PPP. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA is just now thinking of trying to find someone who will audit the graduate employment data that law schools release each year. Gee, it only took 15 fraud lawsuits to get the ball rolling. [National Law Journal]

* Oh my God, you guys, carrying six figures of law school debt on your shoulders is “unsustainable” in the long run, especially when your salary sucks. This is new information that no one’s heard before. [News-Gazette]

* Former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is now Tulane Law’s new assistant dean for experiential learning. For the school’s sake, hopefully he’ll be able to control his students better than he did his AUSAs. [Tulane Hullabaloo]

* “You’re a cold-blooded murderer and I’ll stare you down until I die.” Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife. A sequel to the Lifetime movie is likely forthcoming. [Reuters]

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