Law Schools

This has all happened before, and this will all happen again. So say we all. At the beginning of the recession, just weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, we brought you a New York Times article from 1990 that illustrated the similarities between the tough legal job markets created by Bush 41 and Bush 43.

Today, we run the DeLorean even further back in time, and to an entirely different country. A loyal reader was cleaning out his office and came across an article from The Law College Magazine of Bombay, India, from 1930. The piece is entitled: “Is It Worthwhile? A Frank Talk With Budding Lawyers.” And it’s all about whether a person should pursue a two-year law degree in India in the 1930s.

Folks, let me tell you: some people worry that India will become the new market for American legal jobs, but that’s not the real fear. The real fear is that American law students will become like Indian law students in 1930.

And maybe that process is already well underway….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to the Future: What the J.D. Class of 2011 Can Learn From Indian Law Students in 1930″

Last month, we reported on the Best Value Law School Rankings produced by National Jurist. The initial list just mentioned the publication’s “honorees,” with a promise of numerical rankings later. That day has arrived, and the magazine is ready to tell us which is the very best value for law school in 2010.

I’ve already highlighted the many problems with this list. Click here for my take.

The National Jurist attempted to address some of these concerns (I think) with the publication of its numerical rankings and grades. You tell me if its arguments are convincing…

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Breaking this morning, there’s been a shooting at the Perry-Castaneda Library on the University of Texas – Austin campus. The Houston Chronicle reports:

A man opened fire with an automatic weapon on the sixth floor of the Perry-Castaneda Library early Tuesday, UT police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

“He subsequently shot himself. He is deceased,” she said, adding that no one else was injured.

Police and university officials urged students to stay indoors.

“A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead. Police are searching for possible second shooter. Lock doors, do not leave your building,” the alert said.

Based on reports we’ve received from students at the UT Law School, the potential second shooter might still be at large…


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As I was putting together last Friday’s post about the challenges faced by Duke Law School in recruiting minorities, I had this Gchat conversation with former ATL editor and Duke alum, Kashmir Hill (paraphrased and annotated in various places):

KASH: Good post. But one issue: there are actually a lot of black people living in Durham.
ELIE: Not to pull a Nifong but I don’t think I’ll get a lot of blowback by suggesting Durham isn’t a bastion of racial harmony.
KASH: Yes, there are tensions, but there are a lot of African-Americans who live in Durham.
ELIE: And it’s certainly not a ‘black city’ like Atlanta or anything.
KASH: Yes, but a lot of black people live there. I’d change it.
ELIE: You’re missing the point. The point is whether or not Durham is a welcoming place for blacks.
KASH: But you wrote that there “aren’t a lot of brothers in Durham,” and there are.
ELIE: For Christ’s sake, I’m not saying no black person has ever set foot in Durham. I’m saying that Durham isn’t a black city. Maybe it looks like a black city to white people who get freaked out when they see two brothers on a corner, but it’s not a black city.
KASH: Maybe it looks like a white city to people freaked out by cold, hard demographic statistics.
ELIE: [increasingly annoyed]: Look, NOBODY is going to give me s**t for a throwaway line that’s a segue from a Chris Rock joke to the larger point I’m trying to make. It’s one line in a 1500-word post. Come on.
KASH: [remembering/enjoying that she no longer has to work with me]: Just saying dude… lots of black people in Durham.

350-plus comments, numerous emails, and a boatload of tweets later, it appears that I was wrong. Dead wrong. Much to my surprise, people were very invested in the “but Durham has black friends” argument.

Fair enough. There are a lot of black people living in Durham, and I was wrong to suggest anything else. Next time I want to hang out with a bunch of black people, instead of going to Atlanta or Zimbabwe, I’ll go to Durham, North Carolina. Happy?

Now that I’ve accepted that Durham has a healthy population of African-Americans, can we get back to the discussion about whether or not black people actually want to live there? Because the people at Duke Law School seem to think that Durham is holding them back when it comes to minority recruitment, and I doubt that quoting demographic data is really what prospective minority law students are looking for…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “On Duke Law School, Durham, and Perceptions of Racism”

This picture is worth a thousand diversity brochures.

Duke Law School is known for a lot of things: its top 14 ranking, 100% employment rate, and crown as douchiest law school in the nation. It’s not known as a friendly school towards black people.

Why? Well, that’s what Duke Law wants to find out. A tipster reports that Duke Law has been sending around a questionnaire to the few minority students currently at the school. It aims to figure out what recruiters should tell minority students thinking about matriculating at Duke Law.

You know what they say — there is no such thing as a stupid question…

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Ed. note: This post is written by Will Meyerhofer, a Biglaw attorney turned psychotherapist, whom we profiled. A former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney, he holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work. He blogs at The People’s Therapist.

So many cases like this appear at my office that I’ll construct him/her as a composite. That way perhaps I can spare myself the chore of receiving those “how dare you write about one of your clients” comments that I receive every week when I get specific in detailing my fictions, and some of you decide I simply must be writing about your roommate. So here goes.

He/she is very young — 22 or 23 or 24 or 25.

He/she moved across the country to go to a law school that I’ve heard of vaguely. It turns out to be number 79 or 83 or 66 out of the top 100, according to some hack magazine that profits from disseminating this sort of nonsense.

He/she is the son/daughter of immigrants from Bangladesh, Peru, Kenya, Romania or Ireland.

His/her immigrant parents operate a doughnut bakery, dry cleaner, small hobbyist shop, motel or air-conditioner repair service.

His/her parents are adamant that he/she marry someone from Bangladesh, Peru, Kenya, Romania or Ireland in a traditional ceremony — soon — and produce male children.

Before then — quickly — he/she has to become a doctor.

He/she is no good at math or science or dating, so that’s not going to happen to him/her any time soon. Being a lawyer is the official second choice — not as good as a doctor, but acceptable…

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Earlier this week, the legal blogosphere took a look at the “value” of an LL.M degree. I put “value” in scare quotes because the main point of the pieces in the National Law Journal and the WSJ Law Blog was that we don’t really know how valuable these degree programs are.

Now, in most markets, not knowing whether or not something has value would kind of be a big deal. But when it comes to legal education, the inability to determine the value of the degree isn’t a problem.

Faced with a lack of information about how much the LL.M credential is worth, law schools are quite happy to charge as much as possible for it anyway….

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Last month, on their blog, Bruin Briefs, staffers in the career services office of UCLA School of Law offered some advice to 3Ls who didn’t receive offers from their summer employers. If you’re in this ship that be sinking boat, you might find the counsel helpful; check it out here.

One UCLA law student identified this language as the best excerpt:

To many, [being no-offered is] a huge, unforeseen blow. If it’s happened to you, you may be cycling through feelings of anger, betrayal and/ or self-doubt. You’ve worked hard only to have the rug pulled out from under you. Give yourself a bit of time to recover. Remember to use your support systems and seek out help if needed. Take care of yourself and remember you’re the same person you were at the beginning of the summer. This experience doesn’t define you.

The tipster’s take: “It sounds like it was lifted from a suicide prevention handbook.”

We found a part of the post that we liked better….

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Last year, Harvard Law School abandoned letter grading and went to a High Pass/Pass/Low Pass/Fail system. The news was greeted with much fanfare, as it seemed like HLS was trying to become a kinder, gentler academic environment — one that wouldn’t be dominated by cutthroat competition to beat the curve. You know, something like a mega-Yale.

But it appears that soft grading just didn’t appeal to the lords of HLS. This semester, a more traditional grading scale is back. The letter grades are still gone, but now the grading distinctions at Harvard Law will conform to the tyranny of numbers. The Harvard Law Record reports that students will receive a point value for each grading distinction — five points for each Dean’s Scholar Prize credit, four for each Honors credit, three for per Pass credit, two for a Low Pass credit, and zero for a Failing grade — and those numerical values will be transmitted to employers.

And unlike last year’s grade reform, which was wildly publicized and discussed both inside and outside HLS, students only learned of this new grading system if they bothered to read the student handbook….

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In a couple of years, we might look back on today as the first point where the giant, unsustainable bubble that is the student loan market began to burst. Check out this press release:

The Student Loan Corporation (NYSE:STU – News), a subsidiary of Citibank, N.A., and a leading originator and servicer of student loans, announced that The Student Loan Corporation (“SLC”) and Discover Financial Services (“Discover”) have entered into a definitive agreement for Discover to acquire SLC, and thereby become the owner of its private student loan business as well as $4 billon of its private student loans. Separately and immediately prior to the transaction, (i) SLM Corporation (“Sallie Mae”) will acquire from SLC $28 billion of securitized federal student loans and related assets and (ii) Citi will acquire from SLC certain federal and private student loans and other assets totaling $8.7 billion. Upon the closing of the transactions described above, shareholders of SLC will receive $30 per share.

So Citi is getting out of the student loan origination business (although they’ll still have some existing loans on their books). I guess they don’t want to be the Lehman Brothers of this failing market…

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