Rankings

Those working in the Biglaw world may think they’re living lifestyles of the rich and famous, but their prestige pales dramatically when compared to those working in the glittery world of Hollywood glamour. Let’s face the facts: rainmaking aside, being a behind-the-scenes ERISA or tax practitioner is nowhere near as fabulous as keeping Lindsay Lohan out of jail. Representing celebrity clients will catapult your name into the news and turn your practice into a household topic of conversation.

Those behind the entertainment law bar have worked with some of the most celebrated (and sometimes reviled) clients in the country, and in most cases, the world. Obviously, there should be some sort of a ranking to evaluate the top talent from this Hollywood throng of attorneys.

Luckily, the Hollywood Reporter has been in the rankings game for seven years, and this year’s list is no less entertaining than last year’s. Let’s check out the newly released list of the entertainment industry’s top 100 “power lawyers,” which we’ve dubbed the Hollywood 100….

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You could make an entire Olbermann-like career just exposing the ridiculousness of legal education… I think.

A couple of days ago, we talked about how law schools are trying to increase revenue by offering “master of laws” degrees of questionable value. These programs are just the latest attempts by law schools to charge people for something without assessing their value in the marketplace for jobs.

The more traditional way for law schools to jack revenue out of students who want “extra” credentials is to offer LL.M. programs. We’ve talked about the low value of these programs before. In fairness, there are a couple of useful LL.M. programs. If you can match the degree with a specific employer who wants it, some programs can help. Note: you’ll want to ask the employer if it’s worth it for you to get the LL.M., not the law school administrator trying to get you to sign up and cut them a check.

But one of the scam bloggers has put together a list of LL.M. programs that you should almost certainly avoid at all costs. That seems more useful than arguing whether NYU or Georgetown has a better tax LL.M. program….

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* NY Attorney General investigating fast food restaurants for shorting their employees. This is a worthwhile cause, but what he should be looking into is who ate the bones? [CNN]

* Two schools, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and York College of Pennsylvania admit they gave false information to U.S. News resulting in better rankings. Those were their BETTER rankings? [TaxProf Blog]

* To keep “misleading statistics” in perspective, the Department of Education leveled one of its steepest fines on Yale for covering up multiple “forcible sex offenses” to keep its campus safety statistics down. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* A measure of resource governance finds the U.S. has the second best governance of its oil, gas and mining sectors. Give yourself a hand regulators. And we’re gunning for you Norway! [Breaking Energy]

* The Honorable Felicia Mennin does not grasp how time works. Thinks artist should have been more conscious of the public fear surrounding the Boston bombings… back in February. [New York Times]

* Congratulations readers for helping the profile of a White House petition to reform student loan policy. Here are a couple more if you feel like making more reforms to the process… or at least more suggestions for reforms that will sit on someone’s desk. [Whitehouse.gov and Whitehouse.gov]

* Is political intelligence practice too risky? Is political intelligence an oxymoron? An interview with Robert Walker of Wiley Rein LLP after the jump [Bloomberg Law]

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* An analysis of Vijay Singh’s suit against the PGA. Any legal analysis that requires that much use of the phrase “deer antler spray” is worth it. [Sports Law Blog]

* The highest paid state employee by state. If you’re a lawyer, you want to live in Maine. [Deadspin]

* A visual representation of every Federalist Society event. [UChiLawGo]

* Cheez-Its are really, really good. [Legal Juice]

* “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a bear cub with a gun. Or something.” [Bear Lawyer]

* Professor Nick Rosenkranz wonders if a 50/50 quota is appropriate to generate intellectual diversity at law schools since Harvard Law seems to think that gender diversity merits a 50/50 quota. The answer is no. Thanks for playing. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Our own rankings guru Brian Dalton sat down for an interview about the new ATL Top 50 Law Schools rankings. [PrawfsBlawg]

* And Elie went on Bloomberg to discuss our inaugural rankings, too….

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It’s a good thing lawyers love law school rankings, because there are tons of them. Every year, it seems like there’s a whole new crop of them. Aren’t you getting tired of them? No, of course not. You just want MOAR RANKINGS!

You’ve seen the National Jurist law school rankings (and you raised an eyebrow at the usage of RateMyProfessors.com). You’ve seen the U.S. News law school rankings (and you watched your dean play the blame game). You’ve seen the ATL law school rankings (and you cheered for realistic, employment-based metrics). You’ve even seen the Cooley law school rankings (and you’re eagerly awaiting the latest edition just for sheer comedic value).

But have you seen a ranking of the best law schools in the world? Here’s your chance….

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As all sentient beings are aware, we have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad legal job market. According to NALP data, the industry is down 50,000 jobs since 2008 and there is no reason to believe they will ever reappear. If you ignore school-funded positions (5% of the total number of jobs), this market is worse than its previous low point of 1993-1994. In light of these grim economic realities, we feel that potential law students should prioritize their future job prospects over other factors in deciding whether to attend law school. To put it mildly, inputs- (LSATs, GPAs, per capita spending, etc.) and reputational survey-based law school rankings schemes have proved unsatisfactory. Hence our release last week of the ATL Top 50 Law Schools, which is based on nothing but outcomes.

(Although he probably disapproves of all rankings, it must be said that the legal world owes a great debt to Kyle McEntee and his colleagues at Law School Transparency. LST has forced us all to look at the publicly available employment data, submitted by the schools to the ABA, in a more meaningful way. Like all good ideas, it seems obvious in retrospect.)

We received a ton of feedback and comments regarding our rankings and our methodology, much of it thoughtful and substantive. (Our very own Elie Mystal weighed in with this takedown the day after we published.) Quite a few recurrent criticisms emerged from the comments. Of course there’s no perfect dataset or methodology. At best, rankings are a useful simulacrum and just one of many tools available to 0Ls for researching and comparing schools.

What follows are the most common criticisms of the ATL Top 50 Law Firms rankings….

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I have been thinking about how to explain the Am Law 100 rankings to a layman. Quite frankly, there is little use in trying to engage in a productive discussion of the rankings with colleagues. One segment of the Biglaw population is fixated on the fictional profits-per-partner figure, while another marvels at the “global reach” and exploding headcounts of the giga-firms. Some like to talk about the firms they interviewed with in law school, while others only care about the firms that have stronger resources in their practice areas. If you are in Biglaw, or hoping to be, you will come up with your own way of making sense of it all. Have fun.

What is more interesting to me is the following question: How can a normal person relate to this year’s Am Law 100 rankings? Put another way, if I was told that I was eligible for a large cash prize if I could explain the Am Law 100 chart to ten random strangers in a way that was compelling to them, what would I say?

Think about your own answer, then keep reading….

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* “Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey. Chim chim cher-ee! A sweep of a law firm has found a body!” Dead body found in law firm chimney at Moody and Woolley Solicitors in England. [BBC]

* Reddit joins the new trend of writing terms of service that can be read by real-life people. [Associate's Mind]

* Defense Distributed, the arms dealer fronted by Texas law student Cody Wilson, announced today that they have completed a fully 3D printed gun, with the added benefit of avoiding metal detectors. Yay? [Gizmodo]

* In honor of May the Fourth: a legal analysis of the Chewbacca defense. [The Legal Geeks]

* A Howard Law School grad has set up a new business allowing companies to hire bike messengers through their smartphone. So now there’s an app for THAT. [DCist]

* Is the legal profession poised for a comeback? Not sure I buy the argument. Just because more litigation kicks up, doesn’t mean firms will go on a hiring spree because litigation doesn’t need a glut of associates anymore. Document management companies are smothering future associate jobs in the cradle and they’re not going anywhere. [TaxProf Blog]

* A review of ATL’s Top 50 Law School Rankings. In the interest of complete modesty, this is the most accurate review ever. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

Yesterday, we released the inaugural ATL Top 50 Law School rankings. A lot of us here worked really hard on it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of the effort.

But I haven’t made my career based on liking things. I hate things. If anybody else released a new law school rankings, I’d be critical of it. There’s no reason I should give ATL special treatment.

No rankings are perfect — ours certainly aren’t — so we should talk about the problems. And I mean the real problems, not the stupid interview answer of, “I think my biggest weakness is that sometimes I try too damn hard.”

Let’s douse these new rankings in a cold shower of haterade….

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We present the inaugural ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings. Our rankings methodology is based purely on outcomes, especially on the schools’ success in placing its graduates into quality, real attorney jobs.

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