For the past few years, law schools have been in a state of crisis, and it’s getting worse. Prospective students just aren’t as interested as they used to be in borrowing up to six figures of government Monopoly money in the hope of surviving the post-graduation gauntlet of legal employment. At last count, applicants were down 11.1 percent from this time last year, and national 1L enrollment is down 24 percent from where it was in 2010.
Unable to keep up with the changing times and put asses in seats, law schools are doing anything they can to cut costs — up to and including laying off faculty and staff. Amid hefty declines in enrollment, some schools seem to be struggling.
But which law schools have suffered most? Even though law is a profession obsessed with rankings, this is one list your school probably doesn’t want to be on…
We’re now in year two of the Michigan “let’s make the bar exam more difficult” plan. In 2012, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners changed the weight it gives to the essay questions, with the goal of producing lawyers with a better understanding of state law. I don’t know, there are probably all sorts of things that don’t apply to automakers in Michigan that you’d never see on the Multistate section.
This makes the bar more difficult and more stupid at the same time. It’s harder to answer an essay question than a multiple choice event where you can make an educated guess, but it’s also dumber to administer a “standardized” test that relies heavily on the individual tastes of essay graders.
In any event, the results from the July 2012 bar exam were predictably horrific. Only 55% of test takers passed the July 2012 test. Cooley totally embarrassed itself, even by Cooley standards, with only 42% of test takers from that school passing.
This year, 60% of test takers passed the July 2013 Michigan Bar. So that’s better, though still pretty rough. Cooley, again, covered itself in glory by posting a 43% pass rate. But all the law schools have complained about Michigan’s new, harder exam.
And the Michigan BOLE doesn’t care. Law schools in Michigan better raise their game, because the game ain’t changing….
* Trouble in paradise, so soon? The proposed merger between Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge has been delayed. McKenna has postponed its partnership vote, and Dentons says no partnership vote was ever planned. [Daily Report]
* Wherein a firm fails to Latham an ex-employee’s baby mama drama: a legal secretary who was allegedly told her pregnancy complications “were not [the director of HR's] problem” will see her case against L&W move forward. [Blog of Legal Times]
* You know that relations have grown bitter between opposing counsel when attorneys from one firm refer to lawyers from the other as “Monday Morning Quarterbacks.” The legal fee dispute in the BARBRI antitrust case rages on at the Ninth Circuit. [National Law Journal]
* Paging ProudCooleyGrad: Kurzon Strauss, the firm that sued Cooley Law over its allegedly deceptive job stats, is trying to get records unsealed in the school’s defamation case that’s now on appeal. [MLive.com]
* Convicted murderer and jailhouse hottie Jodi Arias is accepting donations for her appeals fund. It could be worth your while — if you donate enough, maybe she’ll consider turning you into her next victim. [HLN TV]
* Harry Belafonte is suing MLK’s kids to establish ownership of a few documents. Why won’t the King kids jump in de line? [CNN]
* Bad news for Charleston Law: South Carolina has decided to pass on taking over the school. To InfiLaw and Beyond! [The State]
* Sometimes advertising creates some strange bedfellows. This story brought to you by the U.S. News rankings. [PrawfsBlawg]
* School sends in a fake masked gunman to scare kids as part of a lesson. This will end well. [Jezebel]
* Maryland’s Attorney General is a terrible backseat driver. Do with that information what you will. [Lowering the Bar]
* Sullivan & Cromwell is bringing in Jeffrey Wall, an assistant to the Solicitor General, to be co-head of its appellate practice. [Blog of the Legal Times]
* Some advice that you wish someone imparted back in the day. [Legal Cheek]
* The government shutdown wasn’t as much about tearing down government as it was about creating a paradoxical dictatorship of freedom. Time to brush up on your Carl Schmitt, y’all. [Concurring Opinions]
* The legal issues involved in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The traffic laws governing flying cars not included. [The Legal Geeks]
* Airport security has forbidden joking about bombs and hijacking. Now TSA is cracking down on joking about TSA itself. In the interest of my next flight, “I love you, TSA!” [Daily Mail]
* A detailed analysis of the 14th Amendment’s role in the debt ceiling debate. President Obama should employ this solution now before the Supreme Court realizes there’s another part of the 14th Amendment they can overturn. [Main Street]
* Law school professors do not take kindly to your antics. [Law Prof Blog]
* The rules don’t apply to Yale or Harvard. Or at least the rules don’t apply to their law reviews. [Professor Bainbridge]
* Congress is still trying to decide how to regulate FM radio instead of looking at salient issues in modern copyright law. Given how brilliantly they keep the government open, maybe FM radio is the biggest issue we should give them right about now. [The Daily Caller]
* The lawyer as generalist is fading into obscurity. Let’s commemorate it in poetry, shall we? [Poetic Justice]
* A preview of some upcoming Supreme Court cases this week. Complete with cartoons! [The Spark File]
* Finally, here’s a little gem for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fans that we got….
We have a lot of fun with Cooley Law around here. Oops. Sorry, Western Michigan University Law School. You know a school is on the upswing when it rebrands itself in the middle of the night.
Anyway, we’ve also talked about Cooley’s sports connection before, including Thomas M. Cooley Law School Stadium, which I suppose will become Western Michigan Stadium even though Western Michigan doesn’t play there. Or something.
It turns out Cooley Law also does a great job training people for their future careers. As long as that future career is an NHL coach instead of a lawyer….
* Musical chairs (White House hottie edition): Michael Gottlieb, former associate counsel to President Barack Obama, is joining the Washington, D.C. office of Boies Schiller & Flexner. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
* The search is on for jurors to serve in the criminal trial for Bernie Madoff’s former employees, but in a case of guilt by association, it’s proving to be a difficult exercise. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* “Democracy is not on autopilot,” said Justice Kennedy at Penn Law. Just because we have a Constitution doesn’t mean it will prevail — which is being evidenced by our government now. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
* Because no one could be more “non-essential” than a law student during this mess, the government shutdown is taking a toll on their externship placements throughout the district. [National Law Journal]
* The Princeton Review’s annual law school rankings are out, and boy, have things changed — including the schools with the best career prospects. We’ll have more on this news later today. [Chicago Tribune]
* Cooley Law is teaming up with Eastern Michigan University to offer joint degrees. But we thought Cooley was teaming up with Western Michigan University. Is Cooley infiltrating all Michigan schools? [MLive.com]
Back up the van, folks. There’s nothing more to see here. Somebody wrote an entire book entitled “What the Best Law Teachers Do,” and two Cooley Law professors made the list of 26 profiles. Two. Cooley was the only school to have two professors on this list, a fact that the school is crowing about online like they’re promoing a James Spader drama.
I can take cheap shots at the list, like “I guess the best law teachers do NOT help people get jobs.” Or I can launch substantive complaints, like pointing out that professors had to be nominated and then jump through a lot of hoops to be included, almost like a glorified Super Lawyers process.
But really, I’m just sitting here watching legal academics circle-jerk other academics with no regard for cost or jobs, and I’m just thinking “screw you guys, I’m going home”…
The long awaited re-branding of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School will happen. On Tuesday, officials from Cooley and Western Michigan University will announce an affiliation that will allow Cooley to call itself the “Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.”
When reached for comment, Western New England grad Staci Zaretsky said, “OMG no, nooooooo! Now Cooley is going to be RIGHT ON TOP OF WNEC in U.S. News. ” That’s because unranked law schools are listed in alphabetical order.
I wasn’t able to talk to anybody associated with the Cooley law firm (formerly Cooley Godward Kronish), most likely because they are all having a huge party in the hopes that somehow people will no longer think their respected law firm is at all associated with the garish Cooley Law School.
I’m skeptical that this name change will scrub Cooley’s embarrassing Google footprint in a meaningful way, but then again, Cooley exists because people are bad at using the internet…