Law Schools

Even people inside the Ivory Tower can tell that legal education needs serious reform.

I just got back from the International Legal Ethics Conference in Banff, Alberta. I feel like I literally just got back, since WestJet made an atrocious decision to detour a direct Calgary to Newark flight — full of people who had already cleared U.S. Customs — to Toronto, where we were trapped on the tarmac for six hours.

In any event, the ILEC conference was full of law professors from just about everywhere. I enjoyed many discussions about how the next generation of lawyers are being trained. I’m happy to report that a lot of the professors I talked to understood that one of the big problems facing American law students is the out-of-control cost of legal education. And I spoke to many American professors who understood that high professorial salaries are partially responsible for the runaway cost of tuition. There were lots of innovative ideas about how to make legal education cheaper for students, and more useful for clients.

Unfortunately, while there are many great ideas out there, the 800-pound gorilla is the restrictive American Bar Association, and it didn’t even have to bother being in the room for everybody to feel its weight. The ABA is perhaps the only organization in the world that doesn’t understand that the American legal education system is horribly flawed.

If the ABA could get a clue, there are a lot of people willing to go into the laboratory and experiment with new ideas. I was at ILEC on a panel about whether or not law should be an undergraduate degree. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but the ABA needs to realize that almost anything is better than the current system.

You don’t have to listen to me, you can listen to the New York Times….

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* Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one Supreme Court justice thinks that things will be back to normal at One First Street come the start of the next term, despite his colleagues’ loose lips. [National Law Journal]

* Hourly billing rates for associate are on the rise nationwide, while partner and counsel billing rates only saw modest bumps. Is Biglaw back in business, or is this just another “retention strategy”? [New York Law Journal]

* This is a really hard to believe newspaper headline: “Law firm recognizes employees have life outside of work.” Carlton Fields, what kind of gypsy voodoo magic spells are you casting? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

* Another day, another editorial about the “irretrievably broken” state of legal education in our country. But the ABA admins needn’t worry their oblivious little heads, because people will keep applying. [New York Times]

* And in today’s disturbing law school debtor news, Jason Bohn’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after a DA announced via indictment that Bohn allegedly intended to torture his victim. [New York Post]

* “Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man.” You can look, but never lick: it’s not really a good thing when a judge uses a sentence like this to describe an attorney’s alleged client relations skills. [CBS News]

* For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball fraud game. Lenny Dykstra pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud among a potpourri of other felony counts, and he’ll now face up to 20 years in prison. [CNN]

You may recall that in July 2011, Craigslist ads started popping up in search of plaintiffs for a possible lawsuit against the second-best law school in all the land, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Those ads were posted by David Anziska, one of the leaders of what is now known as the law school litigation movement. Anziska, along with Jesse Strauss, formerly held positions at Kurzon Strauss (now known as Kurzon LLP), a small law firm in New York led by managing partner Jeffrey Kurzon.

Shortly after the ads were posted, Cooley Law fired back with a defamation complaint against the firm, alleging in a school-wide announcement that Team Strauss/Anziska and Kurzon Strauss had been “unethically soliciting former and present Cooley students to join in a class action lawsuit.” One month later, that very class-action lawsuit was filed, and rocked the world of legal education as we know it — calls for reform were made, and career services offices scrambled to clean up their employment statistics.

Perhaps Cooley Law wasn’t as superstitious as it should have been, because now, one year later, the little law firm that could has launched an additional suit against Cooley Law and its dean, Don LeDuc, this time alleging that the law school’s public claims against Kurzon LLP were false and defamatory….

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Earlier this week, the City Room blog of the New York Times ran a story about a man who was being hassled here in the Mike Bloomberg police state of New York City for drinking a beer on his stoop.

First of all, open container laws are always some of the most intrusive and stupid laws on the books in any county they exist. They’re a waste of time, and a colossal waste of police resources. I’ll let Major Bunny Colvin explain in three of the best minutes of scripted television:

Well, Brooklyn Law student Andrew Rausa figured he didn’t need a paper bag to enjoy a beer while sitting on his stoop on July 4th. When the officers rolled up to hassle him — on the very birthday of freedom in this country — Rausa figured he had the law on his side.

Rausa answered a few questions from Above the Law about his fight to quash tyranny and a $25 fine….

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Last year, my colleague Elie Mystal opined as follows: “Any lawyer who calls himself ‘doctor,’ like a Ph.D., should get punched in the mouth.” Given the self-aggrandizing nature of a lawyer taking on the additional title of “doctor,” I can’t say I disagree with him (with all due respect to the efforts on Facebook to get lawyers referred to as doctors).

But what if lawyers — more specifically, aspiring law professors — actually got Ph.D. degrees in law? That’s what will soon be happening at Yale Law School. The school just announced a new “Ph.D. in Law” program, aimed at aspiring law professors.

How will this program work? And is it a good idea? I reached out to a number of prominent law professors, all graduates of YLS themselves, for thoughts on their alma mater’s plan to grant a new degree….

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In recent months, we’ve covered quite a few stories about attorneys from Texas with a certain je ne sais quoi — we’ll call it “flair.” Today, we’ve got some positive news from the Lone Star State, straight out of Texas Tech University School of Law, an institution known for “keepin’ it real.”

Although the school is ranked at No. 101 by U.S. News, just on the cusp of the traditional second and third tier, a tipster notes that “one tiara is better than any tier.” In exciting news, over the weekend, a beautiful rising 3L at Texas Tech Law was crowned as the new Miss Texas 2012.

We know, we know: pics or it didn’t happen.

We aim to please, so of course we’ve got the pictures — yes, the pageant included a swimsuit competition — as well as an interview with this law student turned beauty queen.

Let’s check out the new Miss Texas 2012, shall we?

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Can being seen in this keep you out of law school?

I’ve spent some time this morning pondering the definition of “aspiring law student,” in the context of what could be done to ruin somebody’s aspirations to go to law school. Murder would put an end to a person’s aspirations. Perhaps a massive head wound of some kind. But given the state of American law schools, there is very little that could happen to a person that would prevent an individual from following their dream of going to law school.

Certainly, leaking lingerie photos and being the subject of a case of mistaken identity on the internet wouldn’t prevent a person from going to law school. It wouldn’t even get someone dinged during the character and fitness process after passing the bar exam.

I ask this question because the suddenly hot story of Shana Edme — an “aspiring lawyer” whose lingerie photos were “leaked,” leading her to become the subject of some internet rumors for a day or two — seems to rest on the premise that there is some nexus between her leaked photos and her (as yet unrealized) legal career. Edme has filed a complaint claiming that because her lingerie photos were leaked, her “future career plans to apply for and attend law school have been placed in jeopardy.”

That seems totally bogus to me. But maybe the difference between “aspiring” to go to law school and going to law school involves not inventing fake hurdles to stand in the way of your dreams….

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Krapp graduates from law school

– a headline pulled from the Jamestown Sun in an article detailing the achievements of Kelsey Krapp, a 2012 graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Law. Back in 2009, the Sun had another suitably-titled article: “Krapp accepted into UND law school.”

Tied as the the lowest-ranked school with a U.S. News numerical ranking, there may be some truth to these regrettable headlines. But hey, at least Krapp’s employed — and no, it’s not a “sh*t law” job.

Over the past few days, we’ve received numerous emails from our readers asking about the fate of the Clerkship Scramble. This website, a popular read among the clerkship-crazed (we count ourselves in this camp), went offline sometime last week, on or about July 4. If you go to its former address, you’ll encounter this message: “Sorry, the blog at clerkshipscramble.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.” The site archives are gone, and they don’t seem to be available via Google Cache either (at least not on a comprehensive basis).

The Clerkship Scramble has been gone for just about a week, and readers already miss it. Fans have described it to us as “very useful,” “a promising site that filled a much-needed information gap,” “the best unofficial resource for law students applying to clerkships,” and “so good!” The site maintained data about clerkship placement rates by law school, compiled rankings of Supreme Court feeder judges, offered advice about the application process, and broke clerkship-related news (such as Georgetown Law’s decision to abandon the Law Clerk Hiring Plan).

So what happened to the Clerkship Scramble?

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There is sad news this weekend from Boston. A law student at Suffolk University Law School apparently committed suicide on Friday.

The student, Willie Carlton Sellers, was pursuing a JD/MBA at Suffolk. He jumped to his death from a university building.

A message from Suffolk University president James McCarthy informed the Suffolk community on Friday night. This is the second apparent suicide this year on Suffolk’s campus….

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