Law Schools

Conceptual designs for a new building to house Pitt Law School.

I feel bad for Pittsburgh Law students. Just ten days ago, career services embarrassed them by offering students jobs putting fliers on parked cars. And now today, an out-of-control driver punched a hole into their law building.

Literally. Last night an SUV crashed into the Barco Law Building and punched a hole in the wall. Nobody was hurt during the accident, but we hear that nine people were injured during the ensuing stampede of Pitt law students trying to escape through the hole. (Just kidding — nobody was injured — the hole wasn’t nearly big enough for people to fit their non-dischargeable debts through.)

The crash was pretty epic — and there’s a photo. Check it out for yourself…

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If you want something versatile, buy a Swiss Army Knife.

Raise your hand if one of your reasons for going to law school was that somebody told you a law degree was “versatile” and that you can do a whole bunch of things with a J.D.

Keep your hand up if time and the recession have proven that “versatility” thing to be a complete load of BS.

Now extend one special finger if you blame somebody at your law school for filling your head with misleading platitudes about all the options you get when you go to law school.

If you are flipping the bird at thin air, maybe you should have gone to the University of Washington Law School School of Law. They at least give students subtle clues….

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Barbara Boxer is taking the gloves off.

Hell. Yeah.

Today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer called out the American Bar Association and asked the ABA to require law schools to provide accurate post-graduate employment and salary information about their former students. And so now the movement to get law schools to engage in some basic transparency about the value of a legal education just got some political muscle.

What a day.

And the ABA should heed this warning. Those who are ruined in part due to the misleading information spewed out by American law schools are generally a powerless bunch; the ABA can ignore their cries with impunity. But you ignore U.S. senators at your peril. If you want to turn a blind eye to the senior legislative chamber, you best be a President eager to engage in military action. Heck, with the political muscle of a U.S. senator behind it, maybe the mainstream press will start noticing that America’s future lawyers are lied to by legal educators on a daily basis.

You can read the full press release below (which has been blasted out to a number of publications). Law schools, the time for honoring yourselves is almost at an end….

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After we announced our special event for law students, We Know What You Should Do This Summer, we heard from a number of our readers from outside New York. These law students, from D.C. and South Carolina and elsewhere, expressed apoplectic anger regret that they wouldn’t be able to attend our NYC event and benefit from the wisdom of our great panelists.

So we’ve decided to make a change. As a web publishing company, we’ve decided to take our event to the web. We’re turning this panel discussion into a webcast — or, more precisely, a series of webcasts — which we will post on Above the Law, accessible for free to all of our readers.

Here’s where we need your help. These webcasts will be providing career advice, with a focus on summer opportunities. To make the webcasts interactive with our readership, we’d like to address the issues that are most relevant to you, our readers. So if you have career questions or requests for advice that you’d like our experts to tackle, please submit them to us by email (subject line: “Event Question”). We will review them and pose selected queries to the panel.

Thanks to the readers who took the time to reach out to us about this; thanks to our sponsor, the Practical Law Company (read more about PLC here); and thanks in advance for your questions to the panel. We look forward to reading them, and to hearing what our panelists have to say.

(And thanks to everyone who originally registered for the in-person event; we’ll be issuing you refunds shortly.)

Yale Law School

We’ve talked about how there’s been a general decrease in law school applications. I’d like to interpret that as a sign that people are being more prudent about making the investment in legal education, but the decline could also be an indicator of more general economic recovery in America.

Hey, if fewer people are applying to the disreputable law schools out there, that’s a good thing. But if fewer people are applying to the best law schools, then dear God, what’s the point?

One of the biggest drops in applications we’ve heard about comes not from some unranked law school, but at Yale Law School. That’s like saying, “I’m going to diet by replacing all my salads with junk food and bacon.”

Why are people staying away from Yale?

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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)]

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