It finally looks like the out-of-control cost of legal education came back to bite a law school in the behind.
A scandal is erupting at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. The law school reportedly made more financial aid commitments than the school had a budget for. Brandeis blew their financial aid budget by more than 100%. That is, they promised more than double the money the school had budgeted.
Louisville Law’s assistant dean of admissions, Brandon Hamilton, has resigned. It appears that Hamilton may have been offering more money to students who had not yet decided on an Louisville in order to entice them to matriculate.
Maybe if Louisville had done more to contain tuition costs it wouldn’t have felt pressured to throw so much financial aid money at students to make their education cost effective?
* I’m not sure why Romney won’t just say that he lied to the SEC about when he left Bain. Lying to the SEC is just good business. Lying to the American people is something that politicians are only supposed to do for sex. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]
* Character and fitness can be a surprisingly tough hurdle, so I’ve been told. [The Toronto Star]
* Here are the top law faculties by scholarship. I’d bet this list and the list for top law faculties by salary are pretty similar. [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
Now another top law school — a top, top law school, one that sends many of its graduates into clerkships — has joined Georgetown in departing from the Plan. And the school’s dean has offered a full-throated defense of the decision to diverge.
Which school are we talking about? And is its argument persuasive?
If we want career service gurus, we're going to have to pay for them.
I think we’ve established that law schools, as currently constructed, are terrible at helping their students find jobs and preparing students to practice law. If you think otherwise, you likely are on the payroll of a law school and are skilled in the arts of self-delusion.
Is there anything law schools can do to make themselves actually useful to their students?
One suggestion is for law schools to put more money in career services. Most law schools lack skilled and robust career services offices, but you could argue that the dean of the career services office is vastly more important to students than their Con Law professor.
A law school is trying to dump money into their career services office and make career development part of the 1L curriculum. Sounds like a step in the right direction, right? Well, professor Paul Campos doesn’t think so….
* “Many organizations have people who do dumb things.” Members of the Secret Service aren’t the only suits getting secretly serviced. Apparently Treasury Department officials like hookers, too. [New York Daily News]
* The cool cats at WilmerHale arrived for their first day of work yesterday at their hip new downtown location. Their library has a Wii, but who are they kidding, it’s probably just for show. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* On the other side of the fence, we’ve got some signs of the impending lawpocalypse. Soon Biglaw veterans will be forced to say goodbye to the corner office and hello to the glass-walled cubicle. [WSJ Law Blog]
* George Zimmerman: alleged murderer, and now an alleged child toucher (though he was still a child himself). Witness 9 claims Zimmerman abused her for a decade while they were both underage. [CNN]
* “We want to have a bar pass standard that really works. And it’s clear it doesn’t work now.” Oh boy, would you look at that. The ABA is trying to make it look like it’s doing something to improve law schools! [ABA Journal]
* Emory Law received a record donation, and more than half will fund minority student scholarships. Little do these kids know that they’ll soon be condescendingly told to move to Nebraska. [National Law Journal]
* But then again, maybe Nebraska isn’t so bad, considering three law schools are shipping students to neighboring Iowa. The towns are tiny, and the surroundings are rural, but come on, the state’s got jobs. [NPR]
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….
* 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]
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….
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….
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….
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
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● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!