Remember the barely watchable movie Major League II? Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn arrives at spring training with an assortment of off-speed curveballs and change-ups, abandoning his 100-mph-plus fastball essentially because he’s gone soft.
That (terrible) plot is being carried out by the nation’s top law schools. We’ve reported on HLS and SLS moving away from letter grades. We scuttled a poll by Columbia Law School trying to ascertain whether students there wanted to move to a modified pass/fail system. Now, despite earlier protestation from some members of the student body, NYU Law is now moving towards their own version of grade reform. The hope, apparently, is sterling transcripts for all, academic competition for none:
In Fall 2007, the Executive Committee of the faculty re-evaluated the NYU grade curve as part of a broader charge. The Committee concluded that the curve appears to be somewhat out of line with peer schools, and expressed concern that an unintended effect could be that it systematically disadvantages our students applying for clerkships and some other jobs.
Is there no end to this madness? In essence, that letter represents a bunch of students saying:
Whaaaa. Law school is hard. I want my clerky-ships. How come Johnny gets all the good grades? Whaaaa!
And NYU is caving. They’re throwing a curveball in a 3-1 count instead of having the guts to throw a hard strike.
Getting good grades is not a right. And it shouldn’t be a gift. Some people have the talent and focus to get good grades, other people have the social skills to get laid. What precisely was wrong with that system?
In The Commentator, NYU Law School’s student newspaper, Andrew Gehring vehemently disagrees with the changes adopted by HLS and SLS:
Attempting to provide content to [Stanford Law School Dean Larry] Kramer ‘s claim about “pedagogical benefits” is a more or less futile exercise. I can see no way for a grading system that essentially just eliminates the +/- aspect of the standard system to have an impact on a professor’s teaching style, so the claim about “innovation” seems hollow. (Even if we accept that the system refocuses students on learning–which I’ll dispute momentarily–it seems like professors always teach to get their students to learn, not to get the best grade.) And there’s no more freedom for “designing metrics of evaluat[ion]” under the new system than there would be under a traditional system that isn’t tied to a curve.
Wow. Tell us what you really think.
One tipster suggests that NYU is just feeling like an old, bald man shopping for a corvette:
NYUs student magazine published an editorial slamming Harvards new grading policy and defending NYUs/Columbias traditional approach, which to me seemed very interesting and a standard pattern in NYUs general inferiority complex.
For the commenters who yearn to see more “ordinary” couples in the Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, we commend this pair to your attention. The groom is a radio personality, and the bride has a JD from Loyola. They seem likable and . . . ordinary. Is this the type of couple our readership craves? Should we devote one slot a week to a Tier-II couple? Designate one column a month as Ordinary Week? Please advise. (This is actually a serious question. LEWW recognizes that we can’t satisfy everyone, but we do aim to please.)
For now, we’ll to continue to celebrate the extraordinary. Our finalist couples have degrees from Harvard, Yale, NYU, Chicago, and other elite schools, some with athletic programs. All three brides toil in Manhattan law firms, and all three grooms serve humanity in important-sounding public-sector jobs. Here they are:
Once you get into a top law school, staying on the Biglaw course requires determination, talent and a clear headed focus on your goals. Getting out of Biglaw requires all the same strengths, mixed with a little bit of crazy.
J. Ashwin Madia has been a law firm associate and a Marine, and now he’s running for Congress. But like so many of us his journey started in the relative safety of a top law school. The friends of his from NYU Law might know him better as Jigar. Madia starting using his middle names when he joined the Marines.
The few Marines I’ve met all talk about a desire to give back to the community and Madia is no different:
My parents came to this country with $19 between them, and they bought an $11 bottle of champagne and they started with $8 in this country. So this was a small way to give something back.
Where Madia is different is that his post-bar trip was disturbingly similar to boot camp, insofar as he had to go to boot camp.
The marines are kind of unique in that if you fly a plane or drive a tank or are a lawyer, you all go through the same training. It was funny, after I took the bar exam I had 8 months of crawling around in the mud and shooting a machine gun and learning martial arts and learning how to be a rifle platoon commander.
Madia helped the Iraqi government formulate their legal system, focusing on getting suspected terrorists competent defense lawyers, fair trials, and if guilty, speedy incarceration.
He has also had more traditional legal jobs. After his tour with the in the Marine corps, Madia went back to Minnesota (where he is from) to work at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in their IP department.
But, you know, sometimes I would look out of the window there and just think of other things I could be doing.
More about Ashwin Madia and his G.I. Joe advice to Biglaw associates after the break.
As we expected, celebrity professors Cass Sunstein and Samatha Power were the winners of last week’s July Couple of the Month voting, running away with over 60 percent of the vote. Congratulations to this nerdy-hot duo!
This week’s set of contestants might be the strongest we’ve seen this season. Their write-ups feature five Harvard degrees, a Rhodes, and one of Biglaw’s most exalted surnames. Here are the names of the newlyweds:
The theme of yesterday’s LEWW was the hotness disparity between three glowing brides and their very lucky grooms. Today we’re delighted to report that the wedding gods stepped it up with our most recent batch of newlyweds. They’ve brought us four grooms who are at least as attractive as their brides or co-grooms. (And needless to say, all six of our newlyweds have the shiny credentials that you’ve come to expect from the Legal Eagle Wedding Watch.)
On to the finalists! Here they are:
A tipster pointed out that NYU has revamped their website.
According to the tipster, “It’s hilariously awful and probably can indicate to the Violet alumni [at ATL] just how uncool the student body has become.”
This new web presence can only be understood as a direct challenge to former NYU students to find and pummel current NYU students. It’s about honor at this point.
If you don’t believe us, we invite you to click on Ping-Pong Man. If you do, you will learn that NYU students now are advised to make ping-pong play dates, that the game of ping-pong loosely resembles the Socratic method, and that Richard Posner has been called out.
There is also a student that informs us that her favorite NYC coffee shop still sells coffee “by the cup.” Great tip! So many New Yorkers still must suck their coffee out of a hose.
We think ping-pong man and cup girl should merge their interests and hang out where real NYU students spend their free time. Luckily, organizing beer-pong (or Beirut … discuss) is still easy enough to do over at Off the Wagon.
This installment of the wedding watch is a bit of a hodge-podge. We’ve got old people, Communism, Skadden, HLS, organized crime, a SCOTUS connection, and a midriff-baring bride. But the common thread, as always, is lawyers in love (though not necessarily with other lawyers; there’s just one dual-JD pair in this group).
Here are this week’s nominees:
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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