Law Schools

Earlier today, we reported on the illustrious position of “dude who puts litter on parked cars,” which was being offered to jobless students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

This wasn’t the first terrible job being offered to law students we’ve posted about. And sadly, it probably won’t be the last. But perhaps we’ve gotten to the point where these kinds of jobs are so pathetic that law school administrations are starting to feel bad about it.

We just received word that the Pitt Career Services Office has officially apologized to students for presenting them with such a terrible option…

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Space is still available for our Above the Law Event: We Know What You Should Do This Summer. But we are filling seats, so sign up today if you would like to join us — and our co-sponsors, Practical Law Company and the ABA Law Student Division, Second Circuit — for a frank discussion about how to make the most of your summer experience. It’s taking place on April 6th at 6:30 p.m.

As we’ve said before, we’d like this panel to provide information attendees can actually apply towards their summer experiences. Whether you have a summer position locked down or not, there are things you can do with your summer that will make you more attractive to employers in the future. Towards that end, let’s meet another one of our panelists.

Anastasia Boyko is the Professional Development Manager at Practical Law Company (PLC). She specializes in professional development and training, and she’ll be there to add some insight into how people can use their summers to actually become better lawyers. Before joining PLC, Boyko was an attorney at Akin Gump and Katten. Prior to that she was an investment banker and has her Series 7, 63 and 79 licenses. She is also a founding member of a NYC women’s networking organization. Boyko received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2005.

Get TicketsIf you want to learn how to use all of the tools at your disposal this summer, we’re here to help. We hope to see you on April 6.

Welcome Texas!

As you are all know, the University of Texas School of Law has moved into the “top 14″ in this year’s U.S. News law school rankings. It’s a bit of cheat for U.S. News: Texas is technically tied for 14th, which means that the magazine has actually managed to cram 15 schools into its top 14. I’d complain more, but I’m a fan of a Big (We Can’t Count To) Ten school.

While we all know that Texas is in the top 14, very few of you remember the significance of the top 14 in the first place. The top 14 isn’t as arbitrary as it sounds. Since U.S. News started publishing these law school rankings, no school that ranked in the inaugural top 14 has ever been ranked outside of the top 14, and no school that did not rank in the top 14 that first year has ever cracked that list. Until now.

The top 14 has been a way to distinguish elite institutions that are nearly interchangeable with one another from really good law schools that are just a cut below. When viewed that way, Texas’s inclusion was probably long overdue.

Let’s take a look at some of the other movement in this rarefied group of law schools….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As the owner of a small law firm, I’m always surprised at how many blind résumés I receive in the mail. First of all, who even uses mail anymore? Does anyone seriously think that I’m going take them more seriously because they used cream-colored, 100% cloth, 24-pound bond paper? I’m not.

But forget the résumés for a minute; for me, it’s the cover letter that tells me whether I want to interview this person. Over the years, I’ve received thousands of cover letters from lawyers and law students. I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t need to read the résumé before I’ve made my decision.

So with that in mind, here are 11 tips for writing cover letters to potential employers.

1. Spell my frikkin’ name right. You’d be astounded at how many times candidates blow this one.…

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Does this count as 'employed at graduation'?

This has not been a great weekend for the University of Pittsburgh community. As many of you know, the school’s college basketball team choked disappointed fans with an early round exit from the NCAA tournament.

You should always avoid comparing a school’s basketball team with its law school, but it appears that things aren’t going much better at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. While there is some evidence that the legal economy is recovering, the improving fortunes have not trickled all the way down to 3Ls searching for work….

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* If you root for your law school alma mater over your undergrad alma mater, you are the kind of unprincipled betrayer who deserves the very worst of all that life has to offer. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Did you know that university professors could get fired for appearing in burlesque shows? [Siouxsie Law]

* Some thoughts on what black prospective law students should consider when choosing a law school, from Yolanda Young. [On Being a Black Lawyer]

* Best. Deposition transcript. Ever. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Please, please, please, let there be many character and fitness boards who will ding this law student who stomped a bird to death. [Huffington Post]

* Happy Purim, everybody. And if you are an Irish Jew, I wish your liver the best.

Big deans don't cry?

Yesterday we talked about a couple of schools that fell in this year’s U.S. News law school rankings, whose deans promptly devoted school-wide emails making excuses for their programs dropping. Predictably, they criticized U.S. News’s latest methodology, even though this year’s formula did a better job of focusing on factors law students actually care about (like jobs, not donuts).

We asked you to send us other responses from law school administrations regarding this year’s rankings. And, ye Gods, foot soldiers with no clear mission or exit strategy in Afghanistan aren’t bitching and moaning as much as law school deans are just because U.S. News prefers schools that get their students jobs. If these crybaby deans could care about the employment outcomes of their students half as much as they care about the U.S. News rankings, then going to law school wouldn’t be such a financially dangerous option and their schools would do better in the rankings.

We were overwhelmed by the responses. Keep ‘em coming! But we’ll have to deal with many of them when we get to the appropriate point in our series of open threads on law schools.

Today I just want to focus on a few schools that did better in the rankings this year, yet still found the time to bitch about U.S. News. You expect schools that drop to be dismissive of the rankings, but when schools that are bathed in rankings glory are unsatisfied, that’s a little bit more interesting….

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Is your law school being a crybaby?

We’ve already noted that there was no change at the very top of the 2012 U.S. News Law School Rankings. The best schools remain the best schools.

Further down the list, we start to see some volatility. Now, every year there needs to be some change in the rankings; how else is U.S. News going to get people to buy new magazines? When you cede control of your legal education system to the list-making skills of a for-profit magazine, those are the kinds of realities you just have to live with.

But the way U.S. News tweaked its methodology this year is special. This year, U.S. News tweaked things ever so slightly to make their rankings just a little bit more output-oriented. While the rankings are still unabashedly focused on the qualifications of students on the way in than what those kids end up doing on their way out, this year’s list pays more lip service to the employment outcomes of recent graduates. We recently quoted this section of a letter U.S. News editor Brian Kelly sent to law school deans: “[E]mployment after graduation is relevant data that prospective students and other consumers should be entitled to. Many graduate business schools are meticulous about collecting such data, even having it audited. The entire law school sector is perceived to be less than candid because it does not pursue a similar, disciplined approach to data collection and reporting.”

U.S. News placed a little more emphasis on employment after graduation this year, and some schools took a significant hit because of it.

And now? Well, my friends, now we get to hear a couple of law schools squeal — just like their graduates have for the past three years….

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* Sorry Wisconsin, but Judge Sumi’s going on vacation, so you can take your bargaining rights and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine. Man, I hope she’s going to a place where the sun does shine. [Wisconsin State Journal]

* An NBA referee is suing a sportswriter over a tweet made during a Timberwolves/Rockets game. Seriously? You can’t call a foul just because someone hurt your feelings. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]

* Quinnipiac Law: where being convicted of fraud is a pre-req for employment as the registrar. I guess they must have a work from home option, since Mary Ellen Durso is under house arrest. [Hartford Courant]

* Should all buildings that were damaged in the September 11th attacks be declared landmarks? Probably not — after all, Century 21 was damaged, and that’s just a landmark for crappy couture. [Reuters]

Capturing Somali pirates.

* Arr, me matey. Five Somali pirates were forced to walk the plank. Okay, not really, but it was the first time in 190 years that a U.S. jury convicted a defendant of the peg-legged kind of piracy. [CNN Justice]

* Because common sense is hard for some lawyers, you probably shouldn’t advise your clients to break into their foreclosed homes. You probably shouldn’t break in on their behalf, either. [ABA Journal]

* William J. Stuntz, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, R.I.P. [Harvard Law School]

Drums please.

The U.S. News law school rankings for 2012 are here, y’all. Time to pay tribute to that which is more important to legal educators in this country than anything else.

As is customary here at Above the Law, we will be posting a series of open threads, running through at least the top 100 law schools. These open threads offer you a chance to compare and contrast different schools, praise (or condemn) your alma mater, and talk trash about rival law schools.

We’re not sure what we’ll do with the formerly “tier 3″ schools that have now been graced with numerical rankings by U.S. News. And we have no clue how we’ll handle the formerly “tier 4″ schools, which are now being classified as “tier 2″ schools — but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle before I quietly accept U.S. News’s misleading attempt to recharacterize these schools as “second tier”….

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