Law Schools

Because explaining things to people isn’t always enough, God created infographics. Sure, “infographic” is a modern-sounding internet word, but the concept has been used since time immemorial. I’m sure the first cave drawing was done by a smart guy trying to explain the concept of hunting to a dumbass.

I’ve been trying to explain the pitfalls of going to law school for years, but will forevermore be thankful to Professors Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit for pointing me in the direction of this extremely helpful infographic. Basically, if you took everything I’ve ever written about law schools and distilled it into a picture, it wouldn’t be very long.

And it would look something like this…

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What is this, a law school for ants?

If the American Bar Association was serious about protecting its members, it’d be trying to do something to stop the influx of market-depressing new attorneys. America might need more lawyers willing to work for next to nothing to help those who can’t currently afford legal representation, but the last thing current attorneys need is even more law school graduates competing for the few paid positions available. Let the Obama administration start some kind of Americorps program for attorneys; the ABA should be concerned about keeping the supply of attorneys competing in the private market down around levels that come within shouting distance of demand.

(Of course, the ABA is still trying to figure out how to keep member institutions from lying to the ABA. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the ABA to figure this one out.)

Instead, it looks like some law schools are starting to voluntarily reduce the sizes of their incoming classes. We reported on two schools, Albany Law and Touro, doing this back in March, and it seems that the trend is continuing.

I guess there are only so many disgruntled, unemployed graduates these schools want walking around griping about their legal education (or suing them over it)….

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For the most part, I’ve just been happy that the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics, exists. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about raising awareness of the disingenuous way law schools go about filling up their classes.

Of course, anytime somebody says “it’s not about winning or losing,” you can best believe that person expects to lose. I’ve been operating under the assumption that Anna Alaburda, the woman suing TJSL, would get her butt kicked all over the courthouse.

But maybe I am wrong to give up hope for a victory so quickly. Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal has managed to find a couple of lawyers who believe law schools could be in big trouble…

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Yesterday, we brought you a story about the plight of UGA Law students who were still jonesing for their grades. After having received a number of comments, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages, it seems like the moral of the story for rising 2Ls and 3Ls at UGA Law (and at every other law school) is this: “Quit bitching, gunners.”

I guess everyone will get their grades sooner or later, but to be honest, it will probably be later.

But, in particular, we noted that graduates from the school’s class of 2011 had not yet received their transcripts. The transcripts in question were due to the Georgia Bar yesterday, but as commenters and tipsters alike responded, this really, really isn’t a big deal. Really.

Apparently, UGA Law has some sort of secret agreement with the Georgia Bar that negates the deadline in question…

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Uga, did you eat the grades?

Well, it’s the middle of June, and it seems that some law students are still waiting for their grades. As we know from past discussion of the issue, this is a fairly common practice. The only problem with it is that it keeps law students fiending for their last grade like a crack addict searching frantically for his last rock.

The worst part of this situation is the fact that the grade delay may be keeping these law students from becoming gainfully employed. The legal job market may allegedly be on the rise, but when law students can’t do more than offer two-fifths of their updated transcripts to prospective employers, you can take a wild guess as to where their résumés will be headed.

So, while the professors are taking their sweet time grading their exams and possibly costing you a job, your classmates are banding together to try to figure out how to resolve the problem. First, they go to the Student Bar Assocation. Then, when they don’t like the answer they get from the SBA (“there’s a grading deadline, I’m sure we’ll get our grades soon”), they go straight to the source, the administration. Finally, when the administration’s response isn’t good enough (“it’ll be okay, you’ll get your grades when you get your grades”), they come to Above the Law. And we’re happy to help.

Hey, University of Georgia School of Law, we’re looking at you. Where are your grades?

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Who is the real spy? Ilan Grapel (left) or Austin Powers?

As we mentioned yesterday, a student at Emory Law School by the name of Ilan Chaim Grapel was arrested in Egypt on Sunday, and ordered held for 15 days. The Egyptians allege that Grapel is a “highly trained” spy, working for the state of Israel.

Ilan Grapel is a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. And he did serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) prior to law school, as a paratrooper (which sounds pretty awesome bad-ass).

But does that make Ilan Grapel a spy? Some observers, including classmates of Ilan’s from Emory Law, find the allegation highly dubious….

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I’m not sure how to say this, but I think some of our columnists are starting to get a little unhinged.

This week on the Bar Review Diaries, we’ll start off with some wood-piling hallucinations and imaginary Kiwi exchange students.

Let’s join Mariah in Vermont, a.k.a. the 1860s, after the jump…

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Is this law student a spy?

At this year’s Emory Law School commencement, Professor Sara Stadler urged graduates to think outside the box with respect to their career options: “You might not be able to land that [top-choice] job…. You might have to move to Nebraska.… You might have to join a small firm where they don’t make the big bucks.”

Or you might have to… become a spy in the Middle East? Emory law student Ilan Grapel has been detained in Egypt, by authorities who allege that he is a “highly trained” spy working for Israel.

Ilan Grapel is… pretty cute. Is he a spy?

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On Thursday night, I tried to explain the ups and downs of living your life under constant threat from debt collectors. Based on the reaction to the post, I have to say that the reading comprehension of my post was poor, even by “internet commenter” standards. Even Megan McArdle in The Atlantic missed some of the key points in my post.

Mostly, I blame myself. When that many people gloss over things in your post, chances are you didn’t make things clear enough. So allow me to correct that problem now. This time, I’ll use capital letters and aggressive fonts to make sure we’re all on the same page: when it comes to negotiating down your educational debts for less than the principal, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT FEDERAL LOANS. You should never, ever mess around with your federal debt because Uncle Sam ALWAYS GETS HIS MONEY.

Are we clear?

McArdle also claims that she doesn’t know anybody who successfully negotiated down their student debts with their lenders (missing again my point that my debts had already been sold to a collection agency). McArdle’s skepticism sounds to me like a person who goes to a car dealership, pays sticker price, and then wonders why everybody was high-fiving the dealer as she drives off the lot.

But these factual issues are not what interested me about McArdle’s post. What I found interesting was the subtle scorn she (and many commenters) had for those who do not pay back their debts. I should have included that scorn in my list of things that happen when you default on your loans…

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Are you ready for some change? We’re about to see if two organizations worth about a quarter when it comes to regulating law schools can add up to a dollar’s worth of law school transparency. The American Bar Association has adopted new reporting standards for law school graduate employment data.

And at least for the first year of the new standards the ABA will be partnering with the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) to try to get accurate post-graduate employment data to prospective law students.

Let’s hope the ABA and NALP take their talents to the U.S. News law school rankings…

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