Law Schools

Why is he smiling? He landed a job at a top law firm.

If your goal in life, or at least your near-term career objective, is to land a job at a large law firm, which law schools would best suit your needs? When it comes to minting Biglaw associates and partners, not all law schools are created equal.

The National Law Journal has just come out with its annual survey of which schools the NLJ 250 law firms relied on most heavily when filling their first-year associate classes. The results are interesting — and also a little depressing.

We’ll start with the depressing part: hiring of top law school graduates continued to decline. As noted by Leigh Jones of the NLJ, “Hiring of graduates of the top law schools by the nation’s largest law firms slid by 10% during 2010 compared with 2009…. In 2010, the top 50 schools sent 3,822, or 27.3%, of their juris doctor graduates to NLJ 250 firms, compared with 30.3% of their 2009 graduating classes. The top 50 schools produced 13,989 graduates during 2010.”

Let’s look at the top 10 law schools, ranked by the percentage of their 2010 graduates who landed jobs at NLJ 250 firms (i.e., “Biglaw”)….

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When you think about it, naming the band "Massa-Bossmans" would have been more ambiguous.

On Friday we wrote about the settlement agreed to by Cure Lounge, a club in Boston that was accused of discriminating against African-American patrons. In the comments, it seemed like some of our Southern readers where all too happy to point out that this example of racist behavior took place in the North.

Lord knows I’ve never said that racism is an exclusively Southern phenomenon. But I’ve met enough Southerners to know that they sometimes feel unfairly maligned just because of their Confederate past. Sure, I could argue that only Southerners would come up with the name like “Lady Antebellum” for a band — and only Southerners would defend that name as “merely” referring to a time before the Civil War, as if I’m supposed to be the idiot who forgets what was happening in the South before the Civil War. But whatever, the point is taken, modern racism exists North and South, East and West, probably in relatively equal “amounts,” if such a thing could be quantified.

But still, you have to give the South credit. When they go for it, they always seems to have more flair. They have a — what’s the word? — one might say “cavalier” way, at least at UVA Law, of going about racial intolerance.

It would be charming, if it wasn’t so damn disgusting…

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The past few weeks have brought lots of news on the law school dean front. Last week, Chapman Law selected a former congressman as its next head. Earlier this month, Pepperdine Law picked up a judge as its latest leader.

Today the University of Richmond School of Law — a top 100 law school, per U.S. News (#86, to be precise) — announced its new dean. Like most law school deans, she comes not from Congress or the bench, but from the ranks of legal academia — Georgetown Law, more specifically….

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How's the job hunt going?

Are you a female law student? Have you put on a few pounds during your time in law school? Would you like to be reminded that fit, attractive women have better employment opportunities?

Then maybe you should consider transferring to Cardozo Law School. The Cardozo Health and Fitness Club is holding a networking lunch, but the flier makes it sound like they’re staging an intervention for fat chicks.

The Health and Fitness Club is forcing me to ask: Are Cardozo women really ready to whore themselves out to potential employers?

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Being a law school dean is a pretty sweet gig. Sure, it comes with headaches and stresses: overseeing ego-filled law school faculties, sucking up to rich alumni, and fending off whiny students. But at least law deans are paid very well for their trouble. Their positions are extremely prestigious, too.

It’s not surprising, then, that law school deanships attract strong talent. And lately California law schools have been making dean selections that are interesting as well as impressive.

Earlier this month, Pepperdine Law announced its selection of Judge Deanell Reece Tacha (10th Cir.) as its new dean. And this week brings news that Chapman University School of Law has selected a former U.S. congressman as its latest leader.

Which ex-congressman? Rep. Christopher Lee, perhaps? (He’s a Chapman University alum; he got an MBA there.)

Alas, no. Although the new dean is a Republican, he knows how to keep his clothes on….

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What your law school dean does when alone at the office.

I, for one, do not think that a person’s salary can or should be used as a proxy for determining whether or not that person is committed to any particular cause. I don’t think people who fight for the poor need be poor themselves. I don’t think people who work for the state should be relegated to the kind of salaries that will convince the best and brightest to never work for the state. I just don’t think a person’s salary is all that indicative of a person’s commitment to doing the right thing.

That said, it doesn’t look good to be putting other people in financial distress while you enjoy a large paycheck, especially when you are in a position of public trust. When you are in a leadership position at a public university, you are expected to be looking out for your students, not just your own bank account.

The salaries of deans from public law schools don’t prove that these people are placing themselves above the needs of their students. They don’t really reflect anything — other than the going rate for a law school dean, in a competitive market for talent. But man, they don’t look good. In fairness, they look awful, given that we’re living in a world where many of these deans are raising tuition on students who for the most part won’t even be able to dream of making the kind of money these deans pull down.

So take a look, but try to remember that if you were in the deans’ shoes, you’d act no differently. You’d take every penny that was offered to you…

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You have to hand it to the University of Michigan Law School. They always keep it interesting in Ann Arbor.

Today’s tale of wacky wolverines arises out of the law school’s “Mr. Wolverine” beauty pageant. Yeah, it sounds like exactly what it is. It’s a nice little event where Michigan men “dress down” for the amusement of their peers, with proceeds going to charity.

You’d like to think that a law school could pull one of these things off without turmoil, but this is Michigan. After the event, the student newspaper, Res Gestae, ran a review of the pageant authored by Chaka Laguerre. Laguerre is a Michigan Law student and a former Miss Jamaica World.

Laguerre’s review was a little bit snarky. And for reasons passing understanding, people got so pissed about it that the paper took the review down, and the Michigan listserv went nuts.

You’ve gotta love Michigan….

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A law student said this picture best captured the feeling of his date

Last week, we had two more blind dates in the swampy city: a pair of lawyers and a pair of law students.

Both dates left me feeling that I really need to start recruiting more candidates from outside of the legal field. (Note to Lat and Elie: Could you get your colleagues to send some Dealbreaker and Fashionista readers my way?)

The late 20s-early 30s lawyers I sent out both went to school in Boston, both described themselves as Dem-GOP mixes (she said she was a hybrid, he ‘fessed up to being a libertarian), and both named Scalia as their man at One First Street. Asked to describe themselves in three words, she gave me an alliterative four — “sweet, sarcastic, smart, social” — and he used slashes with abandon — “Spunky/energetic, funny, old school/1950s-ish, conservative.”

I sent them to Proof wine bar on a Tuesday night. Here’s what happened next….

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High school prom: lost innocence.

The volume of applications to law schools nationwide is down by about 13 percent for the fall 2011 class, as noted recently by the Daily Journal (subscription). This is positive news. Maybe it means that people who are thinking prudently about their futures are finally getting the message that law school is no longer a golden ticket (assuming it ever was).

Of course, if all the wise people start avoiding law school, we’ll be left with the Idiocracy paradigm: only the slow and reckless will submit themselves to three years of legal education.

That might be bad for the legal profession, but it will certainly give us more to write about here at Above the Law. It’s been far too long since we’ve had a bunch of law students doing dumb, drunken things at a law school event. (Tulane, I don’t even know who you guys are anymore. The bad economy must be killing your mojo.)

With Tulane sidelined by a case of “let’s try to be respectable,” I’m happy to report that another law school seems ready to step up and fill the embarrassingly drunken void….

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You can’t call it a trend just yet, but the University of New Hampshire School of Law has joined Maryland Law and Miami Law in the fight to keep law school tuition down during a still-recovering economy. The school reports it will not be raising tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a law school holding the line on tuition is breaking news. But with nearly every other law school rushing to bilk students who will pay anything for a legal education (law schools at Stanford, Arizona State, and Minnesota spring to mind), it’s nice to see at least a couple of schools that regard their students as something more than profit centers.

Maryland announced its tuition freeze in December. The National Law Journal reports that Miami recently announced it would be maintaining a tuition freeze already in place. Now UNH Law is joining their ranks. There’s still plenty of room on this bandwagon if your law school would like to take a brief break from molesting your financial future.

Not that UNH Law is cheap, especially for a third-tier law school. But this tuition freeze is another indication that UNH is at least trying to think about legal education in a somewhat realistic way…

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