Law Schools

Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that traditionally made up what used to be the alphabetically listed third tier. Last year, however, the law schools that once constituted the “third tier” received the gift that keeps on giving: numerical rankings.

Today, we’ll be talking about the law schools that used to comprise the fourth tier, but now have a new name. These days, this segment of the U.S. News list is referred to as the “second tier,” and although they are all ranked, those rankings are not published (presumably because no one wants to brag about going to the worst law school in the nation).

Let’s use this post to discuss these schools, collectively or individually, and to compare and contrast….

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Almost everyone I know from law school is unemployed or seeking alternative employment.

Richard Komaiko, a former student at Chicago-Kent College of Law, lamenting the plight of young lawyers in a story profiling “10 Faces Behind the Incredible Law School Underemployment Crisis.”

Oopsie, it’s been quite a while since we last discussed law-related vanity license plates. We haven’t updated the series in a while, but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking for more photos. So if you’re a fan of our Law License Plates posts, please send some in via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

Today, we’ll be writing about lawyers who really, really love their law schools. Because hey, let’s face it, with six figures of student loan debt, these educational institutions basically own you. Why not brand your car with your law school’s name and let the world know who you’re enslaved to?

But loan debt and all, we really thought that graduates of the so-called “T14″ could afford to drive nicer cars….

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This is Elie Mystal, coming to you live from Austin, Texas, and the 2012 conference of the National Association of Law Placement. It’s my favorite annual conference, because every year, NALP just gets all the law school career services officers and all the law firm recruiters in a room, and tells them all the trends in legal hiring. We’re not talking about anecdotal evidence or law firm spin. It’s the one time each year we get to look at some hard numbers.

And in case you live under a rock, let me tell that every year since the recession, the numbers get more and more terrible. Looking at some of these statistics is as close as you can come to physically witnessing a dream die a horrible, mangled death.

This year, the numbers are worse than ever! And that’s the good news. NALP’s Executive Director, Jim Leipold, thinks that we’ve probably “hit the bottom” in terms of new associate hiring, with the class of 2011 suffering the absolute nadir of this process. While he doesn’t know if things will get significantly better any time soon, he figures they pretty much can’t get any worse.

Yay!

Does anybody want to hear the bad news?

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Yesterday we wrote about a recent law school graduate who is now eligible for food stamps. He owes over $200,000 in student loans.

It’s hard to wrap your head around such a big number. What does six figures of educational debt actually represent?

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Ah, law school graduation. It’s a time for you and your classmates to reminisce about all of the good times you’ve had together, and some of the bad times, too. These people have gotten you through the past three (or four) years of your life, and they’ll always remember you in the most flattering light.

Unless, of course, your complexion is cause for major concern.

It’s not every day that your law school classmates are reportedly email-bombed with photos of you that look like before-and-after Proactiv ads. But that’s what one recent Cooley Law graduate alleges in his complaint against the photo studio that took his senior picture….

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New Yorkers: you can have this house for the cost of a one-bedroom in Queens.

We will admit to some bias in Lawyerly Lairs, our column about the fabulous homes of lawyers all across this great land. As you may have noticed, Lairs coverage focuses disproportionately on the East Coast and the West Coast. Most recently we’ve written about a $10 million beach house in Malibu, a $3 million condo in Manhattan, a $10 million mansion in Brooklyn Heights, and a variety of properties in Washington, D.C.

So we’re going to try something different today. We’re heading to the heartland, where there are some major real estate bargains to be had.

Have you ever fantasized about selling your $500,000 (or $1 million or $2 million) home in an expensive coastal city, buying a $250,000 place in a less expensive part of the country, and pocketing the difference (so you can live off it for a while)? Keep reading….

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Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that made up the bottom half of the traditional second tier (no, not the U.S. News second tier). This time, we’ll be taking a look at what was once known as the “third tier” — a group of law schools that was previously unranked.

Just one year ago, these law schools were visited by Bob Morse, the U.S. News rankings fairy, who left a now-treasured numerical rank under each of their pillows.

Let’s see if there were any movers and shakers this year in this section of the list….

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You’ve seen the worst of the worst; now cast your eyes on the best of the best. Or, perhaps more accurately, “the least musically and comically painful videos of the 2012 law revue season.”

Maybe we’ve just been doing this for too long, but this felt like a rough year in terms of overall quality. And overall eye candy. And overall “could somebody have an original idea”-ness. But there were still a couple of real gems.

As in years past, your reviewers will be David Lat, Elie Mystal, and special guest star Kashmir Hill (now over at Forbes). But they just issue advisory opinions; you hold all the power. Vote early, and vote often.

Who will follow the winners of years past — UVA, Northwestern, and Boston University — into Law Revue lore? The decision lies in your hands….

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Anybody can say no to crack, but I know Superheroes who wouldn't turn down $160K.

It’s a story so common that it’s almost a cliché to bring it up. Idealistic young people show up at law school full of commitment to the public interest or something similar, time passes, and three years later they’re all heading off to S&C, to Proskauer, to the best Biglaw job they can find. Or they clerk for a year and then go to one of these firms. If they don’t get teaching jobs, you’ll see them sharing offices in the highest-paying law firm they can find.

It happens all the time. And, for the most part, it always happens for the same reason: money. Oh, individuals will tell themselves they gave up on their low-paying dreams for all sorts of reasons. But they’re just trying to make themselves feel better. It’s always about the money. ALWAYS.

Trust me, if it wasn’t always about the money, I would not be able to guarantee a traffic spike whenever I put “bonus” in a headline. Or whenever I write about law firms paying first-year associates more than $160K.

Right now, at Harvard Law School, there is a group of students trying to push back on this transformation of idealistic Harvard Law students into materialistic lawyer drones. It’s a really nice, heartfelt effort, one that we don’t see nearly enough of on campus.

I’m going to be sad when reality wears them out like a Colombian prostitute on some Secret Service agents….

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