Law Schools

Justice Clarence Thomas

Elie here. Imagine Santa Claus stopping by your house — except this time Saint Nick is a mute, who stuffs your stocking with personal responsibility and brings you wooden toys, because those were the only ones available when his legend was born.

Well, joking aside, Justice Clarence Thomas will be stopping by Yale Law School on December 14th. And since there won’t be a case in front of him, he’ll actually be talking.

But not to everybody. Sources tell us — and Yale Dean Robert Post confirmed, in a school-wide email — that Justice Thomas will be speaking to the Yale Federalist Society and to the Black Law Students Association, as well as attending a class and a private reception. He won’t be making any general public appearance.

Setting aside commencement, it’s fairly typical for guest speakers (including Supreme Court justices) to speak to specific student groups and not the law school at large. If Justice Elena Kagan went to Yale, she’d likely speak to the American Constitution Society and the Socratic Hard-Ass Faculty Coven.

Some students claim, however, that the Yale administration has contacted several student organizations and asked them not to protest during Thomas’s visit. We don’t know if that’s true, and a message from Dean Post (reprinted below) does not directly mention anything about student protests. But the mere rumor of Yale trying to quash protests, circulated on “The Wall” (the YLS list-serv), has made some students angry.

Should they be? Strap yourselves in for an ATL Debate….

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[T]he dislike [for legal academics] is a result of law professors being too much in the world. You see, law professors — and I should disclose here that I am one — very nearly run the world, or at least certain parts of the U.S. government. When you include Justice Anthony Kennedy, who taught nights, they make up the majority of the Supreme Court.

– Professor Noah Feldman, in an interesting and provocative Bloomberg opinion piece (via Overlawyered), responding in part to David Segal’s latest New York Times piece criticizing legal education.

(Additional excerpts and discussion, after the jump.)

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Last week, we covered the apparent epidemic of snitching happening at USC Gould School of Law.

(Yes, at the law school. If this snitching took place at the college, people would be dropping bodies instead of emails to Above the Law.)

As we first heard the story, somebody allegedly ratted out a popular law professor to the administration for his unorthodox teaching techniques. While many students wanted to find the “snitch,” a person who sympathized with the snitch wrote a sarcastic email making fun of those who were outraged by the tattletale:

TO THE PERSON WHO BETRAYED THE SANCTITY OF OUR CLASSROOM: HAVE YOU NO SHAME? I HONESTLY HOPE THAT YOU ARE CAPTURED BY TERRORISTS AND THAT THE RANSOM VIDEO IS LOST IN THE MAIL! AND NOBODY EVER FINDS YOU! I HOPE THAT WHEN YOU GO ON YOUR NEXT JOB INTERVIEW, AN AIDS-INFESTED BABOON TAKES A S**T ON YOUR CHEST!

And he was just warming up. Read on for updates, amusement, and enlightenment….

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You have to love it when law students are openly telling New York Magazine that they are stripping on the side.

It’s even better when it’s a student at one of the best law schools in the nation. Or did the magazine just successfully troll its own readers?

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[Y]ou have one child who is a lawyer; you don’t think twice about it. You have two, and you write it off as a coincidence. You have three, and you begin to lie awake at night and scratch your head. You have four, you’re pretty sure there is a special place for you reserved in the hereafter.

– Dean Joseph Kearney of Marquette University Law School, recalling one of his father’s quips about his children’s career paths.

At some point law students have to take responsibility for their own choices in professional schools.

Yes, we know that schools purposely mislead prospective law students about the glories of going to law school. And we know that the American Bar Association won’t hold law schools accountable. And we know that the economy is tough and going to school, any school, can seem like a good place to hide for three years.

But there really is enough information floating around on the internet warning potential law students about what they are getting into. If law students choose to disregard that information and instead rely on the fantastical promises of some unranked regional law school, they really have nobody but themselves to blame. You can marry the reformed prostitute, but you can’t be surprised when you find out she’s had sex with half of your buddies.

So, while normally I’d feel sorry for this kid who wrote a “Dear John” letter breaking up with his law school, I also what to grab this guy by the throat and scream, “What did you think was going to happen?”

At this point in time, if you believe what American legal education is trying to sell you, it’s your own damn fault….

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New partners, jumping for joy.

Is making partner at a major law firm as desirable as it used to be? In an interesting article in the New York Times about the growing trend of lawyers leaving large firms to start their own boutiques, Margie Grossberg, a partner at the legal recruiting firm of Major, Lindsey & Africa, offered these observations: “In the past, associates found if they worked really hard and did the right things, they made partner. That’s not necessarily the case anymore. The odds are a lot slimmer, and it’s also not as coveted as it once was.”

These are all fair comments. Note also the number of partners who leave Biglaw behind for other opportunities, such as in-house posts, or government or judicial service.

At the same time, however, let’s face it: being a partner at a top law firm is still highly desirable. The pay, prestige, and perks are tremendous. In a recent survey of new partners by the American Lawyer, over 80 percent of respondents said their new jobs were either what they expected or better than they expected. As Aric Press of Am Law noted, “new partners are basking in the land of more: more money, more responsibility, and more information about their firms.”

This is especially true of partners at firms near the top of the Biglaw hierarchy — places like Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, with profits per partner in 2010 of $3.17 million and $2.64 million, respectively. They both announced new partnership classes this month.

Let’s learn about the new partners at CSM and STB. Maybe you know some of them — from college, or law school, or a case or matter you’ve worked on….

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Sometimes I wonder why law schools don’t institute mandatory nap times. Sometimes law students just need to take a little break — a little “time-out” before proceeding with their day.

Some people will say that today’s stupid law student email of the day comes from a rat. A snitch. A person who betrayed the trust of his fellow classmates.

Others will say it comes from a whistleblower. A person of conscience. A student who saw a wrong being committed and decided to speak up.

Either way, it comes from a person who needed to take a break, a nap, a siesta, before rattling off an email to his entire class….

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* The American Bar Association can’t handle law schools, yet Obama trusts them to vet potential judicial nominees. Well, seems like they’re doing a bang-up job with that, too. [New York Times]

* First the New Jersey bar exam results, and now more MF Global drama. Angry investors want to know if a lawsuit will help Jon Corzine remember where he put the missing $600M. [Bloomberg]

* Law school debt increased by $475M between 2008 and 2010. Grab a raincoat, because this bubble’s going to burst soon, and it’s not going to be pretty (except for Cooley Law; they’ll be rich). [Am Law Daily]

* And on that note, what on earth was Cornell Law thinking? Did they fail to realize that their Cooley rankings would plummet if they decimated their library square footage? [Cornell Daily Sun]

* UC Berkeley: “We never like to hurt our students.” Yeah, apparently that’s what the police are for. Occupy Berkeley protesters are suing the school over police brutality allegations. [Huffington Post]

Dear Suffolk University Law School Administrators: Your Michael Avery problem is not going away (and not just because he has tenure).

On Veterans Day, we told you about Avery, a Suffolk Law professor with a real bug up his ass when it comes to care packages for troops serving overseas. Not long after our story, Suffolk released a wacky statement in which they tried to seem supportive of everybody and everything.

I told them at the time that wouldn’t work.

Now, an adjunct law professor currently in Kabul has cut ties with Suffolk because of Avery, and Suffolk is now in the uncomfortable position of de facto supporting Avery’s comments against a pissed-off military.

What should the school do now?

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