Law Schools

After the 1L money runs out....

That’s the question essentially posed in a long and interesting New York Times article, Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win (which we previously mentioned on Saturday; yes, we do post on weekends). The piece is by David Segal, who also wrote a big and buzzy piece back in January, Is Law School a Losing Game?

Segal’s latest article is more interesting than the January one. His January piece, while well-crafted and solidly (if imperfectly) reported, covered ground that had already been covered by many other outlets. Readers of Above the Law, other legal industry publications, or the numerous “scamblogs” already knew that the value proposition of going to law school was very much open to question (to put it mildly).

This weekend’s piece focuses on a less familiar aspect of the law school process, namely, merit scholarships. You might think that these grants, which help law students pay for their education in an age of ever-growing debt loads and skyrocketing tuition, are undoubtedly a good thing.

Well, think again….

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By the middle of second semester of that first year, everyone saw the system for what it was. We were furious. We realized that statistically, because of the curve, there was no way for many of us to keep our scholarships. But at that point, you’re a year in. They’ve got you. You feel stuck.

Alexandra Leumer, a 2009 graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law, quoted in an interesting and provocative New York Times article suggesting that law school “merit scholarships” can be a bit of a scam unfair in the eyes of some recipients, due to the fact that so many students lose them after their 1L year by not achieving the required GPA.

(We’ll probably have more to say about this piece, entitled Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win, on Monday — but in the meantime, feel free to discuss it in the comments.)

Yesterday, we devoted some coverage to the devastation down in Alabama due to the terrible storms there earlier this week. In the National Law Journal, Karen Sloan has an excellent report about how the tornadoes are affecting operations at the University of Alabama, including its law school.

It appears that the storms affected the college more than the law school. But we are hearing students at Alabama law complaining that Dean Kenneth Randall is pushing too hard to maintain a normal schedule.

We understand that finals at the college have been postponed indefinitely. But at the law school, tests are supposed to resume Monday.

Whether or not that is the correct decision, Dean Randall’s method for communicating his directives has rubbed some students the wrong way…

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Many people, especially law school administrators, bemoan the U.S. News law school rankings. Sure, they have their pedagogical reasons for hating the rankings, but there are larger issues here. When schools drop in the rankings, heads tend to roll.

Of course, law schools deans rarely admit they were ousted because of the U.S. News. But now is the season of administrative resignations. There are a couple of them floating around out there, but one in particular caught my eye. The dean of a law school that took a substantial hit in this year’s rankings has resigned. Not to take a job elsewhere or spend more time with his family. No, he’s putting down the deanship to rejoin the faculty.

Interesting…

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Lat’s at NALP – 2011. If you don’t believe me, see Above the Law, April 26, 2011.

If he was here, maybe we’d have the resources to give each of these entertaining lawsuits the full posts they deserve. Instead, it’s just me, and I’m a little pressed for time now that Harvard has decided to release the transcripts of every black person ever admitted so it can prove that we were all more deserving than George W. Bush.

So we’re going to have to tackle three fun lawsuits in one post. Breathe deep and smell of funny, my friends…

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Somewhere down there live law students worse off than you.

You don’t see this every day. We have one law school offering the recent graduates of more prestigious law schools the job of teaching its law students how to pass the bar. It’s probably a great opportunity for people with only limited experience to get into legal academia, but man, I think it would make the students at the offering law school feel kind of crappy.

I mean, the position their school is looking to fill is called “Bar Passage Counselor.” It’ll be a non-faculty, administrative position. One of the core duties will be to “teach a law school course developed to increase students’ likelihood of bar exam success.” Isn’t that, like, the whole point of law school? What does it say about this law school that it’ll be looking for a non-faculty person to spearhead this effort?

At least they’re trying to fill this position with a person who went to a good law school….

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Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker has issued what appears to be his final decision about the Rob Portman fiasco. The Dean has listened to all the relevant constituencies and decided that pulling Rob Portman might cause more long term harm. And so Portman is going to be allowed to speak. Dean Caminker announced this in a letter to concerned Michigan Law alumni.

Maybe Dean Caminker is right. I mean, look at what’s happening with King & Spalding. And, to my mind, a big Senior Day protest involving LGBT and straight students at Michigan Law will really show the community just how many people support the cause of equal human rights. So some good may still come out of all of this.

But perhaps the most important thing that has happened here is that Michigan Law and Dean Caminker have learned a lesson about just how far outside the mainstream the anti-marriage-equality people have strayed. This issue seems to have moved beyond our normal partisan debates about debt ceilings and which sovereign nation we should be meddling in this week. This issue is starting to transcend, and I bet Michigan will remember that next year….

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Oh, I kid the grammar nazis because I’m really bad at it and making jokes is easier than contemplating my own shortcomings. But even I can acknowledge that some typos are distracting. Give me another sentence and I’ll show you — or maybe I have already (that’s an honest question: I’ve got no damn clue just at the moment).

Luckily, I write on the internet, and I have a legion of free copy editors who are happy to help me correct mistakes in real time. If I worked in a more permanent medium… well, let’s just say that I hope that never happens.

Let’s just pray that I’m never in charge of writing copy for people’s graduation ceremonies. Those memories are supposed to last a lifetime and you just wouldn’t want administrative carelessness to ruin anything. You simply don’t want mistakes like this invitation to a law school commencement…

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I graduated from Northwestern Law in 2009. It is now 2011, my loans are coming due (real due — not the fake, put ‘em in forebearance, due of yesteryear), and I am currently “employed” doing two things: reviewing documents at an embarrassing hourly wage on projects that start and stop without any sort of consistency, and writing “jokes” about the Microsoft Zune every weekday morning, every other week. To borrow from David Foster Wallace, this is water.

And so it is with a sick sort of pleasure that I read Professor Paul Campos’s very interesting piece on The New Republic website yesterday. Coupled with Elie’s post on the Biglaw bloodletting, the article tells me what I’ve wanted to know and, in fact, what I’ve been telling my mom for two years now. Namely, that MJ was right. I am not alone.

What is the true state of unemployment for law school graduates? Professor Campos has crunched some numbers….

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They're going to need a new logo.

If your law school sells its naming rights but keeps tuition flat, would you protest? That’s the question facing students at the University of Maryland School of Law. They woke up on Monday morning to find out that instead of going to an easily identifiably state law school, they’ll soon be going to something called the Francis King Carey School of Law.

(Good thing you can spell that name without the letter ”T.”)

Of course, so long as U.S. News keeps identifying the school as “Maryland” in some fashion (the same way that “Levin School of Law” never obscures the University of Florida affiliation), I doubt this name change will affect how the school is regarded. And since Maryland is not raising tuition, the administration needed to raise cash in some other fashion.

So all things considered, I’m guessing Maryland Law students are pretty happy with this outcome. Right?

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