Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

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It’s not much of a secret that women are routinely paid less than their male counterparts in the United States — to the tune of about 20 percent. It’s such a non-secret that even those who call the gap a “myth” don’t actually deny it as much as say “who cares?” Which makes the word “myth” more of a PR move to sell a license to be a prick. Usually literally.

More of a secret is the fact that even bastions of self-described enlightenment participate in this system. For example, academia. A new report by research site FindTheBest discovered that some of the top universities in the country — most boasting law schools — systematically underpaid female faculty.

And one law school clocked a $44,000/year pay gap between male and female faculty, making it the second-worst offender in the study….

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The whole world has ground to a halt to watch the World Cup. Except of course in the United States, where the World Cup is mostly a curiosity to fill our days now that the NBA and NHL have finished their seasons.

Perhaps you’d pay closer attention if you had a guide to the teams that gave you a personal stake in a given squad. Without further ado, here’s an explanation of which law schools most closely resemble World Cup sides…

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Zephyr Teachout

I know I’m an underdog. But New Yorkers love underdogs!

– Professor Zephyr Teachout of Fordham Law School, who is running for governor of New York with Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School as her running mate.

(More about the professors’ foray into politics, after the jump.)

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As lawyers, we’re not about to win the Super Bowl, let alone turn in an MVP-worthy performance. And lawyers are also unlikely to end up dating an actress/model who routinely appears on Maxim covers. But grads of one law school got a little closer to that dream over the weekend when a Super Bowl MVP was caught on camera kissing his actress/model girlfriend while wearing a law school t-shirt.

And not just some joking “Harvard Law” t-shirt, but a t-shirt commemorating a very specific law school tradition. How did he even get this shirt?

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Petitioner’s brief, unfortunately, was laden with obscure acronyms notwithstanding the admonitions in our handbook (and on our website) to avoid uncommon acronyms. Since the brief was signed by a faculty member at Columbia Law School, that was rather dismaying both because of ignorance of our standards and because the practice constitutes lousy brief writing.

– Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit, condemning a brief for an abundance of acronyms.

(More information — including the identity of the offending professor, and the full opinion — after the jump.)

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I’ll have been here for six years this summer, and I still read most of the comments to most of my posts. I rarely respond, unless I’ve been drinking, which I do almost constantly, so you do the math. But it’s been years since I’ve directly addressed commenter concerns in an actual post.

In my post about the Ivy League law grad who is struggling to pass the bar and build a career, I expressed sympathy for the graduate’s plight. It was a sad story that was powerfully expressed and tugged at my nearly blocked heart.

But commenters claimed that my sympathetic response to the Ivy League grad was because the person went to top law schools. They argued that I would not be nearly as nice to a person who struggled in the same way after going to a non-elite school.

If I my channel my inner Nathan Jessup: YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I WOULDN’T….

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We’ve received many emails here from struggling law students or recent law grads who have high debt and no job. Some of them deserve mockery. Some of them are good jumping off points for a discussion on the failures of legal education.

But this one is just sad. I feel bad for this person. The kid went to Columbia, got an LL.M from Cornell, but has now failed the bar four times.

I don’t have any flip or snarky internet advice. I just honestly hope that somehow things get better for this person. I think I’m feeling what you humans call “sympathy”…

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

* If you want to become a Supreme Court justice, you can start by attending one of these three schools. The schools that produced the most justices are Harvard Law, Yale Law, and Columbia Law. [TIME]

* Many of the transactional practice areas that took a bruising during the height of the recession, like corporate work, M&A, real estate, and tax, seem to be coming back. Sorry litigators. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Following Oklahoma’s botched lethal injection, another death row inmate has been given a new lease on life — for the next six months — while an investigation is being carried out. [Associated Press]

* Members of the defense team for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev not only want their client’s comments after arrest stricken from the record, but they also want the death penalty off the table. Good luck. [CNN]

* A lawyer was arrested after a school board meeting because he complained for too long about a graphic sex scene in a book his daughter was assigned to read for school. That’s typical. [New York Daily News]

Since we released the ATL Top 50 Law Schools last week, we’ve received a fair amount of feedback and criticism regarding our approach to ranking schools. As noted (again and again), our methodology considers “outcomes” only — the idea being that, in this dismal legal job market, that’s all that truly matters. Our rankings formula weighs six outcomes; these three below were the most disputed:

Supreme Court Clerks. This is simply the number of SCOTUS clerks produced by the school over the last five years, adjusted for the schools’ size. By far, this is the most heavily criticized aspect of our methodology. “Preposterous!” “Irrelevant!” “Reflective of some weird fetish on the part of one of your editors!” And so on. To which we say, sure, SCOTUS clerkships are irrelevant in assessing the vast majority of schools. Properly considered, this component is a sort of “extra credit question” that helps make fine distinctions among a few top schools.

Federal Judgeships. The number of sitting Article III judges who are alumni of the school, adjusted for size. Some complain that this is a lagging indicator that tells us something about graduates from 25 years ago but little about today’s students’ prospects. Besides, aren’t these appointments just a function of the appointees’ connections? True enough, but this is certainly an indicator of the enduring strength and scope of a school’s graduate network — surely a worthwhile consideration. Connections matter.

Quality Jobs Score. The percentage of students securing jobs at the nation’s largest law firms combined with those landing federal clerkships. The principal criticism with this metric is that it fails to include some categories of desirable job outcomes, including so-called “JD Advantage” jobs and certain public interest/government positions. However, parsing out the “good” jobs from the rest is the problem. Whenever we could, we used the most straightforward, obtainable, and well-defined data points, with the goal of a “quality jobs score” as a reasonable proxy for quality jobs generally.

Read on for a look at which schools rated best in each of the above categories, as well as on Employment Score and Lowest Cost. We’ll also look at some of the biggest gainers and losers in the ATL 50, plus significant differences between our rankings and U.S. News….

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