Law Schools

This is the time of year when future lawyers have to make a crucial choice that will follow them for the rest of the legal careers: where to go to law school. The choice of law school is critical, maybe unfairly so. When you look at medical schools, the hard part is getting into a medical school. But in the legal profession, your choice of law school will be a huge factor in what professional opportunities you can take advantage of with your J.D.

Perhaps in past years, this choice was really easy for 0Ls: they could just go to the highest-ranked school they got into, and then hope for the best. But given the realities of the legal economy, 0Ls need to look at a number of factors beyond the U.S. News law school rankings: how much the school costs, what job markets the law school feed into, and so on.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a number of inquires from 0Ls asking for advice about which law school to attend. We’ve pulled out two of the best questions, and now we want to open it up to the Above the Law readers to give these students — and all 0Ls — the combined wisdom of the ATL community.

These are really tough choices, and we know reasonable people will disagree. Hopefully you guys can help these 0Ls feel comfortable with their decisions, whichever way they go….

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* Some people regret going to law school; Rachel Kramer Bussel regrets not finishing. But she wound up at the same delicious destination as so many JDs, namely, cupcakes. [The Gloss and Cupcakes Take the Cake]

* Speaking of law school, Professor Dan Filler asks: Despite all the gloom and doom, is now actually an ideal time to apply? [The Faculty Lounge]

* Still on the law school beat, here’s the latest proposal from the LST gang on how to improve the reporting of employment outcomes. [Law School Transparency]

It's Britney, b**ch.

* Deal flow was fabulous in the first quarter of 2011 — and the M&A boom shows no signs of letting up. [Am Law Daily]

* Sue me baby one more time? Everyone wants a piece of her. [Radar Online]

* Bad news for same-sex, bi-national married couples confronting immigration issues. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* A few law firms made this list of best 401(k) plans. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Here’s an interesting (and free) program coming up, “JD in the New Economy: Multiple Perspectives.” [West LegalEdcenter]

On what basis can one be confident that law schools acquaint students with prosecutors’ unique obligation under Brady? Whittaker told the jury he did not recall covering Brady in his criminal procedure class in law school. Dubelier’s alma mater, like most other law faculties, does not make criminal procedure a required course. [FN21]

[FN21] See Tulane University Law School, Curriculum, http://www.law.tulane.edu (select “Academics”; select “Curriculum”) (as visited Mar. 21, 2011, and in Clerk of Court’s case file).

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting, in Connick v. Thompson (via Josh Blackman, who provides additional context and excerpts from the opinions; there’s also discussion of the case at Gawker).

Now is the season when law school applicants, having received their admission and rejection letters, need to make up their minds about where to attend law school (or if they want to go at all). We’ve received a number of inquiries from anxious 0Ls seeking advice about whether to matriculate at School X or School Y (which we might work into a post at some point, but which we don’t have the time to answer individually, for which we apologize). See also this post (asking whether you’d go to Notre Dame, for $X, or a lower-ranked school, for some number lower than $X).

In these discussions, the question of value looms large. We’ve previously mentioned lists of “best value” law schools in these pages, but some of these lists have methodological problems. And other lists — like the National Law Journal’s recent list of law schools that will get you into Biglaw on the cheap — while helpful, are too narrow in focus for some readers. Maybe you’re not looking for a Biglaw job, but you would like to attend a law school that is worth the price (i.e., a law school that can get you a job that will allow you to service the debt you incur).

Say hello to yet another set of law school rankings: U.S. News & World Report’s list of “10 Law Degrees With Most Financial Value at Graduation,” i.e., law schools whose graduates “have the highest first-year salaries relative to debt load.”

Did your school make the cut? Try to guess at some of the names you’ll see on the list, and then read on to see if you’re right….

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* I hate crappy customer service as much as the next guy; I just hope UCLA law students from “third world s**tholes” aren’t offended. [Professor Bainbridge]

* Forgive my ignorance, but I don’t see why the right has a problem with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. They know you don’t catch “the gay” from working with gays. I mean, I’m still as straight as an arrow. [Bilerico]

* A very thorough Wal-Mart v. Dukes linkwrap — big enough to be discounted at Wal-Mart. [How Appealing]

* As long as we’re thinking of giving prosecutors bonuses, let’s also grant them the right of prima nocta over the wives of any men they convict. The latter idea is just as stupid as the former. [Overlawyered]

* While law students suffer in unemployment and tuition continues to spiral upwards, law professors have decided to draw a line in the sand over tenure. In related news, 18 law professors have been hospitalized after attempting to wedge their heads up their own asses. [TaxProf Blog]

* Law school valedictorians are so socially awkward that they need this advice. [Law Riot]

* What lessons can we learn from the demise of Howrey? [Law 360 (via Hellerman Baretz)]

I feel like there should be a student protest reality show.

Too often, people act like post-graduation unemployment is a malady that affects only students at lower-ranked law schools. People act like only lazy students at third-tier institutions — or “rank not published” institutions, if you prefer — end up desperate for work after three years of legal education.

But we know better. We know that the threat of unemployment is very real to all law school students. Sure, the higher-ranked schools might do a better job of getting their students jobs, at least in percentage terms; but even top schools have students who want to work but cannot find jobs.

Students at one top-ten law school are sick of suffering in silence. They want everybody, especially admitted students, to know that going to an elite law school doesn’t guarantee you a good job.

Given the state of the legal economy and the cost of law school tuition, it’s a wonder that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often….

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Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected].

Dear ATL,

I am an aspiring law student getting ready to send off my law school application.  However, I have a problem: I can’t go to the only law school that makes sense for me; not because I did not score well enough, but because of an American Bar Association rule whose blanket coverage does not really apply in its intended sense to my situation.  The rule deals with not allowing anyone to attend a full time law program while working more than 20 hours per week.

Currently, I have my full time dream job as New York City fireman and, honestly, I could not imagine quitting it for anything.  However, it does not mean that obtaining my J.D. and having the opportunity to give back more to the community and stimulate my mind on my days not at the firehouse is not also an aspiration of mine.  Unfortunately, it seems that both of my dreams cannot be achieved in an economically feasible manner.  Only one of the schools in the area is a state school and affordable (see: rational) for me to attend, but they only offer a full time program….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Should New York’s Bravest Brave Law School?”

It’s frigid in the Northeast, but the cold temperatures can’t obscure all the signs that spring is upon us. America is engaged in an unnecessary military action in the Middle East, purported Wake Forest Law students are freaking out, and I’m talking myself into a Mets ticket package. Yeah baby, spring is in the air.

And so it’s time for another rite of spring: Above the Law’s annual Law Revue video contest. For the third year in a row, we will be accepting submissions for the funniest law-student-generated video clip of the year. The Annual Law Revue (or whatever the parody show is called at your law school) allows students to poke fun at law and life. And now, thanks to the wonder of file-sharing sites, the musical creations last beyond the run of the show, and can be enjoyed (or hated) over and over again on YouTube. We’ll watch all the videos, and you guys will vote for the best.

Last year, Northwestern took home the honors with a brilliant parody of an Annie Lennox song. Check it out to see a winning effort.

As in any contest, THERE ARE RULES. The rules are listed below. Since many of you aspire to be lawyers, we trust that you are CAPABLE OF FOLLOWING RULES. Those who do not follow rules will be punished, in this life and the next….

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Bow down before the most popular.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a seemingly endless stream of law school rankings. For example:

If you thought that rankings fatigue would set in at some point, think again. Every new set of law school rankings, no matter how arbitrary or methodologically suspect, generates buzz and massive web traffic. The message that readers are sending to publishers: MOAR LAW SCHOOL RANKINGS.

Publishers are hearing it, loud and clear. U.S. News, the kings of the rankings game, just released a new rank-ordered list: the 10 most popular law schools.

How do they define “most popular law school”? And is your law school or alma mater one of them? Some of the schools on the list might surprise you….

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Even witches must pay full price for BAR/BRI.

Law school is expensive. We get it. Preparing for the bar exam is expensive too. We know.

What’s a law student to do? Taking out more loans is the obvious answer, but at a certain point, one cries out, “!No más!”

Some have turned to, for lack of a better word, begging — like this aspiring UNC law student, and this 3L at Arizona State. But their efforts were not well-received. In these troubled times, we all have our own financial burdens to bear.

Alas, one student at Temple Law School didn’t get the “no begging” memo. She sent out a Facebook invitation to almost 800 people, requesting their attendance at an event entitled “HELP [REDACTED] RAISE MONEY FOR THE BAR EXAM IN JULY!!!!”

Yes, she’s asking her law school classmates — some of whom are probably just as cash-strapped and debt-burdened as she is — to just give her money.

Or pay her for one of her magic spells. Because she’s a witch, you see….

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(And begs her classmates for cash, too.)

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