Law Schools

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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We continue our series on law-related license plates that are interesting or amusing. We’re still taking submissions, for a contest we will eventually hold; please submit your pictures via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

One way of communicating your status as an attorney to your fellow motorists is by dropping some mad legal knowledge — you know, a little legalese.

Check out this next license plate….

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Santa Claus — aka Bob Morse, rankings czar at U.S. News & World Report — is letting us open our presents early (or at least before midnight). The U.S. News law school rankings were supposed to come out on Tuesday, March 15, but Morse and his colleagues at U.S. News kindly posted them sometime around 10 p.m. Eastern time tonight. Yay!

(You’ll recall the same thing happened last year, too. The rankings were supposed to come out on April 15, 2010, but they were made available online by April 14 at 10:30 p.m., when we wrote about them.)

Now, on to the latest rankings — technically the 2012 law school rankings, but “ranked in 2011,” as noted on the U.S. News website.

We’ll start at the top, with a look at the top 14, or so-called “T14,” law schools. For the first time in ages, there’s a newcomer among their ranks. Guess who?

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The U.S. News law school rankings come out tomorrow, Tuesday, March 15. In the meantime, however, U.S. News has given us a little teaser.

They’ve posted the top 10 law schools, over on their website. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Last week we told you about our spring event for law students who want to learn about how to make the most of their summer experience. Like many of the things we do around here, it should be a lot of fun. But it should also be extremely useful — to law students who need to turn their internships into full-time offers, law students who don’t have jobs yet and are exploring all their options, and law students who just want general career advice from a panel of experts.

The panel discussion, entitled We Know What You Should Do This Summer, is taking place on Wednesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. It’s being co-sponsored by the Practical Law Company and the ABA Law Student Division, Second Circuit.

Steven Molo

Over the course of this week, we’ll be revealing the other panelists (in addition to David Lat and Elie Mystal). First up is our small-firm partner: Steven Molo, founding partner of the litigation boutique MoloLamken (whose launch we covered here). Before starting MoloLamken, Steve was a prosecutor in Chicago; a partner at Winston & Strawn, where he served on the firm’s Executive Committee; and a partner at Shearman & Sterling. Given the breadth of his career experiences, Steve has a tremendous amount of wisdom to impart.

Get TicketsThere’s a small admission fee (to help us cover the cost of the venue), but we’re extending the $5 DISCOUNT until Friday, March 18, at 11:59 PM, because some people were away on vacation last week and didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the offer. We’ll also be giving away free ATL t-shirts to the next 25 people to sign up (as well as everybody who signed up last week). Just enter the following discount code when registering: Y084BG.

But don’t delay, since seating is limited, and the discount code expires on Friday night. You can get details and register by clicking here (or on the button above). See you on the 6th!

On Friday we posted a photo of a law-related license plate that struck some of you as rather obnoxious. We asked you to send in pictures of additional legally-themed vanity plates, by email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

We received a number of interesting submissions. Check out the first one….

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[I]t is not in anyone’s interest — especially that of prospective students — to have less than accurate data being put out by law schools. It’s creating a crisis of confidence in the law school sector that is unnecessary and we think could be easily fixed.

Specifically, employment 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 editor Brian Kelly, in a letter recently sent to law school deans. As explained by U.S. News rankings czar Bob Morse in a post at Morse Code, U.S. News “agrees with the efforts of Law School Transparency to improve employment information from law schools and make the data more widely available.” (Read more at the WSJ Law Blog and ABA Journal.)

Numerous applicants to law school claim that they want to become lawyers in order to serve the public interest — and some of them are telling the truth. Alas, after burdening themselves with six figures of law school debt, they find it difficult to follow through on their public-interest dreams. The path of least resistance, or at least the path to the fastest repayment of loans, is working for a large law firm.

Working for a prominent law firm is great — lucrative, prestigious, honorable work — provided that it’s actually what you want to be doing (as opposed to, say, public interest work in Nepal). Unfortunately, many who toil in Biglaw do so primarily for the debt-dispelling powers of the paycheck.

Well, if you go to the University of Chicago Law School, you might be able to have your cake and eat it too — i.e., obtain an amazing legal education, work in the public interest, and not find yourself trying to invoke the “undue hardship” exception in bankruptcy.

Let’s learn about some changes that Chicago Law just announced to its LRAP, or Loan Repayment Assistance Program (those wonky Chicago types love their acronyms)….

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A couple of participants played Courtship Connection musical chairs

At the heart of our Courtship Connection series is the premise that lawyers play well together in romantic relationships. Hopefully the story earlier this week of an engagement between two lawyers going horribly wrong won’t discourage future participants from taking on a fellow lawyer as a playmate.

Previous Courtship participants aren’t discouraged, at least. Perhaps you remember the whiskey-swigging law student who was “prettier/kinder/smarter” than the Blue Moon-drinking fellow student I paired her with? In her write-up, she expressed an interest in the “nice, smart, and talkative” Big Gov lawyer who wasn’t swept off his feet by a fellow conservative attorney over dim sum on Valentine’s Day. She was up for “steamed buns” but, sadly, he wasn’t.

Our picky Elephant says that “a friend” alerted him to whiskey girl’s call to action. He emailed me to say he was up for it, so I sent them out to The Tabard Inn in Dupont Circle. He wound up getting that action. At least, I think he did…

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Monty, the Yale Law library dog

In the past week, we’ve learned about the best law schools for getting rich and the best law schools according to law firm hiring partners. So let’s do one more ranking: the best law schools for dog lovers.

This ranking, as it turns out, looks a lot like the U.S. News law school rankings: there’s Yale Law School at #1, and then there’s everyone else.

How many law schools let you “check out” a certified therapy dog from the library, for thirty-minute periods of stress relief? As far as we know, YLS stands alone.

We kid you not. And this time around, YLS isn’t denying it….

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