LLMs

Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo

The topic of whether (and how) to reform legal education remains very hot. The latest New York Times story — by David Segal, who isn’t very popular among law school deans right now — has sparked much online commentary.

And it’s not over yet. What do Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo — two of legal academia’s most colorful characters, rock stars in Federalist Society circles — think of the current state of law schools here in the United States?

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* John Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald. Oscar Ortega-Hernandez. Sorry, Oscar, you have three names, but you didn’t actually kill the president, so you don’t get to join the club. [New York Times]

* Former SCOTUS clerk Roy McLeese III has been nominated for a seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals. I don’t have an opinion on this yet because I can’t tell if he’s cute. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Do you really think that the .XXX domain is going to have any remarkable effect on the online porn industry? Besides more men with sticky keyboards and angry girlfriends, what’s the problem? [CNET]

* USC Law won’t be adding a tax LL.M. program. Because just dying is more advisable than adding additional debt to your name under the school’s debt solution plan. [National Law Journal]

* Wishing a very happy holiday season to you and yours with this top-of-the-line molotov snow globe. Hallmark: When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best. [New York Daily News]

Is the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer more attractive than the average attorney?

Last week, we posed a provocative question: Are The 1Ls Actually Dumber This Year? Based on the decisive vote in our reader poll, the answer appears to be “yes.”

Today we bring you another controversial query: Are male lawyers and law students getting uglier? Does the J.D. degree — and the student debt that comes with it — make them look fat?

Whether male lawyers are decreasing in attractiveness seems subjective. But there’s actually some evidence that the men of the legal profession are 66 percent less hot than they were last year….

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Foreign LLM students are often like Rodney Dangerfield: they don’t get no respect. American-born JD candidates make fun of LLMs: their awkwardness, their accents, their ignorance of U.S. customs, and their repeated references to life and law in their home countries (“Back on Mypos, we don’t have contributory negligence….”).

Well, next time you want to make fun of an LLM student, check yourself. That LLM student might be the future president of his country — like Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president who earned an LLM at Columbia Law School.

Or, better yet, that LLM student might be the most beautiful woman out of 600,000,000. The nation of India has a population of around 1.2 billion — and a former LLM student at NYU Law School was just crowned Miss India, making her that country’s #1 specimen of womanhood. Eat your heart out, Reema Bajaj.

The new Miss India’s name is Vasuki Sunkavalli. Let’s check her out, shall we?

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Ending class early? She strenuously objects.

And maybe that’s why we’re falling behind the rest of the world educationally. But at least we’re having fun, right?

This story comes to us from Boston University Law School (a top 10 law school by alumni median income, by the way). A professor accidentally ended class 15 minutes early, and it looked like class was about to be dismissed — “until one officious intermeddler promptly strode up to the podium and passionately pointed to her watch,” according to our BU Law tipster.

The objector politely “reminded” the professor that there were still 15 minutes left in class — “on arguably the most strenuous day of the week for our section,” said our source. “We all could have used the extra 15 free minutes.”

Perhaps the officious intermeddler didn’t know about our American customs? “Due to her status as a foreign LLM student, and since no one knows her name, she has been dubbed ‘LLM Lady,’” our tipster explained. “She has been the topic of discussion among our section all day now.”

And “LLM Lady” has also been the subject of some amusing Facebook exchanges….

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Ed. Note: Will the Lost Generation ever find its way back into Biglaw? This new column is written by a member of the Lost Generation who initially was thrown off of the Biglaw bandwagon but was able to get back on, and is now trying to hang on to his Biglaw second chance.

By the second semester of my 3L year, I began to realize that my whining about graduating law school unemployed was no longer an overly dramatic response to having been no-offered. It had become a legitimate concern.

For the first few weeks of the first semester, I dreamt of finding another Biglaw job somewhere in the country. As the rejection letters rolled in, I began to embrace the idea of practicing in the public sector. I imagined prosecuting violent criminals for assault or defending drug-users for minor misdemeanors. I managed to snag a couple of interviews through the meager offerings of 3L O.C.I. But, I stood no chance against my classmates who had been committed to a side of the criminal “v” since 1L year. Also, there was a glaring white space on my resume where it should have read “offer received.” Instead, it read, “I’m here because the high-paying legal employer that just reviewed over ten weeks of my work didn’t want me, and now I’m screwed and desperate.”

The other candidates had PILC and PILF all over their resumes . . . in bold. I, on the other hand, had never even been to that damn auction everyone kept talking about. Even if I could have competed for those jobs, I knew that I was undeserving as compared to many of my hard-working peers who had committed to being A.D.A.s or public defenders from the beginning of law school. Don’t get me wrong, though. If given the chance, I would have taken one of the jobs immediately

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Last week, we asked if there was any value to getting an LL.M. The upshot seems to be that law schools have no idea whether or not their LL.M programs are any good.

In lieu of information from the schools or the ABA, we turn to where we always turn: a magazine. The New York Law Journal has stepped into the rankings fray to rank New York-based LL.M programs.

The results are somewhat surprising. NYU Law has long been considered, by U.S. News and others, to have the best tax LL.M program in the land. But that’s not how the NYLJ sees it.

Of course, there’s a big flaw in the NYLJ’s methodology. Let’s take a closer look — and also find out the winners in the other LL.M. categories….

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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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diploma degree LLM degree cap diploma Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve had open threads before about the value of the LLM degree. There’s always a big debate about whether the programs are worthwhile (though tax LLMs almost universally get big thumbs up from readers).
The question keeps coming up though. And now in a different context. If you’ve been laid off, or can’t find a job, is an LLM a good option? Here’s one query we received from a reader:

I am a recently laid off big law associate, who practiced tax. I am considering pursuing my tax LLM this fall. I have been accepted to both NYU and Georgetown. I have struggled over whether I should go back to school and “wait out the market.” Currently, there are few, if any, positions open in my specialty area. It would be very helpful to myself (and I am willing to bet – many others) if you could post an LLM thread.

So folks, here’s your chance to offer advice. If you don’t have a firm paying you $80,000 to go away for a year, should you shell out some cash to add a few more letters to the end of your title?
The reader also asks:

I would also like to specifically hear from commentors, what their view is of Georgetown’s Tax LLM program.

Nothing like a little school brawl in the comments. G-town vs. NYU for the tax LLM. Ding ding ding…
Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree, Revisited: Open Thread (With a focus on IP.)
The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread

Not too long ago, a curious reader emailed us:

What are your thoughts on LLM degrees for U.S. law students? I’m considering an LLM program in Intellectual Property, to gain more experience and make myself more desirable for law firms. Do you have any advice whether this is a good idea or not?

We aren’t experts in the IP field. But as it turns out, the value of LLM degrees was the subject of a prior open thread, back in January. It was more focused on LLMs in tax, but there was some discussion of intellectual property:

diploma degree LLM degree cap diploma Above the Law blog.jpg“What if I want to teach? Can an LLM – but not in tax, probably in IP – help me?”

“[I] hear G.W. has a killer LLM in IP Law if you are interested in IP matters.”

“The down shot of an LLM in IP, especially if you are into patents, is that it is generally more advisable to spend the money you are considering on an LLM in IP on a Master’s or PhD in a science discipline instead.”

“An LLM will not help you get a job in IP. Period.”

“An LLM in IP isn’t going to help a wannabe patent litigator get a patent litigation job just like being a patent litigator will never make you a real patent attorney . . . unless you actually have a hard science background and can sit for the patent bar.”

Those thoughts were fairly general. We asked our source for more information about his specific circumstances:

I am a rising 3L at mid-30s school, and I’m in the middle of my class. My grades are improving, and I’m involved in extracurriculars like law journal and student organizations, but I still haven’t been able to get any attention from firms at OCI. My interests are trademark and copyright law, and I have considered getting an LLM IP to make myself more attractive to employers.

I’m wondering: What are the top IP LLM programs? Does someone with in my situation have a shot at being admitted to a top program? Would it even be worth it in the long term?

If you have information or opinions responsive to these questions, or if you have views on the value of LLM degrees in the IP world more generally, please share in the comments. Thanks.
Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread

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