Law Schools

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, but here we are. It’s December 31st, New Year’s Eve. The weather is turning cold, the Republican presidential contest is heating up, and it’s time to review this year’s biggest stories on Above the Law.

Consistent with past practice, we will refrain from offering our subjective judgments on the most important stories of the year. Instead, just as we did back in 2010 and 2009, we’ll identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of our friends at Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2011, based on traffic.

In terms of overall topics, the most popular category page for the year was Law Schools, for the second year in a row. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the year was an eventful one for the legal academy. It would be fair to describe 2011 as an annus horribilis for the law school world, with various forces laying siege to the ivory tower. The attackers include not just unemployed lawyers turned scambloggers, but the mainstream media, led by David Segal of the New York Times; plaintiffs’ lawyers, who have already sued several law schools (and have announced plans to sue at least 15 more in 2012); and even a tenured law professor calling for reform (Paul Campos, currently in the lead for 2011 Lawyer of the Year).

The second most-popular category at ATL: Biglaw. Although we’ve expanded our small-firm and in-house coverage dramatically here at Above the Law, adding multiple columnists in each space, our coverage of large law firms still draws major traffic and drives discussions.

Now, on to the ten most popular individual posts on Above the Law in 2011….

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It's like Bizzaro Pursuit of Happyness.

If you were close to a computer yesterday, you probably noticed the article on Gawker about the Yeshiva University student who was “homeless by choice” while going to school. The student, who goes by the name of “David,” gave an interview to the Yeshiva Observer.

If you read the article quickly, you might have missed the part where we found out this David fellow is a 2L at Cardozo Law School. You might have missed the part where this 2L at Cardozo decided to go through a semester of law school while living on the streets.

The Yeshiva Observer interview which Gawker linked to focused on the crazy aspect of a privileged person depriving himself of shelter. But David reached out to Above the Law and gave us short interview, including insight into how his self-challenge affected his legal career….

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Jeremy Paul

For Yale, it’s very economically feasible because almost nobody would do it.

Jeremy Paul, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, commenting on the likelihood (or lack thereof) of law schools adopting the unconventional tuition reimbursement policy proposed by Yale Law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres in their thought-provoking essay, Paying Students to Quit Law School

Paul Clement

* If defending unpopular clients is cool, consider Paul Clement Miles Davis. He’s the lead lawyer in three politically charged cases going up before SCOTUS in the new year. [LA Times]

* Joe Arpaio’s going to have a tough time racially profiling Hispanics in 2012. What’s a man to do without verification powers and the ability to detain people on suspicion alone? [WaPo]

* A summary of the NLJ’s 2011 year in review round-up: all of this was a preview of what’s to come in 2012. And what’s to come? Same sh*t, different docket number. [National Law Journal]

* C&F fail: the California Supreme Court is busy worrying about Stephen Glass, a guy who took his “creative writing” efforts a bit too far. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* The Hollywood actress suing IMDb for revealing her age has to reveal much more thanks to this ruling. She’s got two weeks to amend her complaint to include her name. [The Wrap]

* “Oh my God, the law school has gone crazy.” Don’t blame the messenger, but UVA Law’s headlines on ATL are totally self-inflicted. Here’s Elie’s take on the collar-poppin’ action. [C-VILLE]

* Larry Ribstein, partnership law guru, business law blogger, and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois College Law, RIP. [Truth on the Market]

* Robert Morvillo, New York trial lawyer and white-collar defense pioneer, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Lawrence, plaintiff in the landmark LGBT rights case of Lawrence v. Texas, RIP. [NY Times]

* Merry Christmas! House Republicans will get one less lump of coal in their stockings this year after accepting a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts. [New York Times]

* Another birther lawsuit has been thrown out, but Orly Taitz won’t be stopped. She’s like the Energizer Bunny of questionable litigation. She’ll keep appealing, and appealing, and appealing… [Los Angeles Times]

* John Edwards is trying to delay his criminal trial, claiming to have a mystery medical diagnosis. What kind of disease does karma hand you for cheating on your sick wife? [New York Daily News]

* Nora Demleitner will be will be stepping in as the new dean of Washington and Lee University School of Law. Hofstra Law, you M.A.D.? [National Law Journal]

* Is the American Bar Association really driving up the cost of law school tuition, or is it the law schools themselves? Here are some graphs that might surprise you. [Am Law Daily]

Justice Kavanaugh has a nice ring to it.

* Searching for the perfect holiday present? Via Professor Glenn Reynolds: “As A Christmas Gift, Tell Your Friends and Relatives They’re Fat.” [Instapundit]

* If a Republican wins the White House in 2012, who might get nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court? Mike Sacks offers up a star-studded SCOTUS short list: the brilliant and genial Brett Kavanaugh, the fabulous Diane Sykes, certified superhottie Jeffrey Sutton, emerging feeder judge Neil Gorsuch, and star litigator Paul Clement. [Huffington Post]

* Another proposal on law school transparency. What is this “gainful employment” of which you speak? [Law School Transparency]

* If you can’t find gainful employment, well, maybe you can score a $500 reward from a concerned parent. [The Legal Satyricon]

* Speaking of Marc Randazza, here’s an interview in which he discusses “putting the nail in copyright holding company Righthaven’s coffin.” [WebmasterRadio.FM]

* A riddle from Eric Turkewitz: How is Indiana just like the old Soviet Union? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* An interesting profile (by Peter Lattman) of Albert Foer — father of the three famous Foer brothers, and a celebrated and successful antitrust law crusader. [DealBook / New York Times]

Captian Picard as a member of the ABA

If you had told me a week ago that I would end up writing three stories on Duncan Law School, I’d have said: “I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more, is none.”

But now I’m stepp’d in so far into the Duncan Law spitting match with the American Bar Association, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er. (Shout out to commenter guest9999999 who nailed the Macbeth angle in the last Duncan Law post.)

Duncan Law talked to the New York Times, the ABA denied provisional accreditation to Duncan Law, and now Duncan is suing the ABA, alleging an antitrust violation.

And you know what, in all this back and forth, I’m going to have to pull a Romney and kind of flip-flop….

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Am I happy, or in misery? Whatever it is that exam, put a spell on me.

If this were any other school, if this were any other professor, I’d probably be screaming about this in my sleep. But I can’t get mad at Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School. He’s old. He’s kooky. He’s got a personality and tenure. What’s not to like?

A tipster forwarded a copy of the 2011 Evidence exam Professor Nesson just issued. I think it’s great. Some people are going to go all nuts about how their school is “just as good as HLS if this is the kind of crap exam they give to students.” Some Harvard students, especially the ones who spent all semester reading and making their own case briefs, are going to scream about how they’re paying nearly $50K a year “for this.”

But whatever. You’ve got all these people running around, mainly deans at lower-ranked law schools, screaming about how legal education confers some kind of intangible, experiential benefit that cannot be codified in simple job placement statistics. Well, Professor Nesson is all about the existential experience of thinking deeply (or casually) about law — and he’s doing it at a school that confers the very tangible benefit of high-paying, prestigious jobs to all who want them.

So, strap yourselves in: two questions, 500-word limit per answer. Have fun, kids….

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Michigan Law School, a state school, charges $46,586 per year in tuition. It then conservatively expects students to incur another $18K-plus in living expenses to bring the price tag for one year’s worth of a Michigan legal education to $64,716 for in-state residents. That prices out to $194,148 for the full three years, and that’s assuming that Michigan doesn’t raise tuition while you are there.

And Michigan is one of the few places that can, more or less, claim that it’s worth it. To be sure, it’s not worth it for all the students. Remember, Louisville Law Dean Jim Chen just told us that people need to make three to six times their law school’s yearly tuition in annual salary if they go to school on loans and want to one day be financially sound homeowners. Some Michigan grads are banking upwards of $279,516, but certainly not all.

Still, one would expect a significant amount of that high tuition goes toward making Michigan Law what it is, and keeping the professional opportunities rolling for Michigan graduates.

Apparently, keeping Michigan Law what it is involves paying Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker quite a tidy sum….

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A little while back, we asked how many of you had tried Adderall, the ADHD drug that some students use to get a boost around study time. A whopping 30% of you said you had tried the drug and 70% of you are lying.

It’s a figure that should make law school deans sit up and take notice. You know, if they weren’t busy figuring out how to charge the students more money for an education that isn’t getting more valuable in any way.

But now let’s ask the fun question. Is using Adderall that big of a deal?

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