Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

I previously wrote about the depressing prospects for graduates of all but the top ten or twenty law schools (“Two Law Grad Markets”). And yes, these were statistical generalizations, and the experience of specific individuals with particular skills and backgrounds will always be different, pro and con. But as an industry, if you care about our supply chain for talent, many law schools are burning platforms.

There are actually some closely connected problems driving this dynamic:

  • More JDs are being turned out each year than there are (a) full-time, (b) long-term jobs, (c) requiring bar passage, (d) at current salary levels;
  • perhaps the primary reason for the mismatch between supply of JDs and current demand for them (about two supplied for every one today’s market is demanding) is that clients increasingly resist paying for junior associates, which makes it uneconomic for firms to invest in traditional training;
  • but/and at the same time, every sentient observer is painfully aware that vast segments of the U.S. population — consumers and businesses alike — remain underserved by lawyers.

This would prompt any economist to ask, almost instinctively, “Why isn’t there a market-clearing price where supply and demand can meet?” Which is another way of asking, “What if there were a way to address both these problems at a single stroke?”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Across the Desk: An Apprenticeship to Practice — That Works”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Again With The Law School Rankings: Winners, Losers, Critics, And U.S. News”

Last week, we published our second annual law school rankings. The USC Gould School of Law plummeted, falling 15 spots to #35. Over the weekend, we received the news that the USC Law Dean, Robert K. Rasmussen, has decided to step down. COINCIDENCE?

Yes. It’s almost certainly a coincidence. USC still ranks solidly in the U.S. News rankings — solidly behind UCLA, but still.

In light of declining employment prospects, financial challenges, and professors who are gaining more attention for their hair than their scholarship, might it be a good time for USC Law to change direction?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “USC Law Dean Steps Down. The First ATL 50 Casualty?”

When you go on national television you just hope the producers are there to help you look your best.

Especially if it’s a pre-taped segment. Meaning they set it up, chose the shot, taped it, edited it, and then chose to put it on TV — leaving a whole bunch of last clear chances to fix anything that undermines your credibility.

For this professor, the producers probably could have done him some favors.

Dropping the extreme close-up and telling him to blink would have been good starts.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Check Out This Law Professor Looking Like A Mad Scientist On NBC News”

Wait, this isn’t the outfit provided to USC students for graduation?

On the one hand, when your school is charging you $55,084 a year to get a law degree, bitching about having to pony up $100 for your graduation gown is a little ridiculous. It’s not like you see mugging victims complaining that their attacker didn’t wash his hands.

On the other hand, when your school is charging you $55,084 a year to get a law degree… they could freaking rent you the cap and gown for free. How does $55K/year NOT include the cap and gown? For $55K, the school should throw in the cap, the gown, the diploma frame, THE JOB, and the freaking Carfax if you ask for one.

A group of law students are outraged that their school has decided to nickle and dime them for graduation. I can feel their anger. But the time to be concerned about law school expenses is before graduation — approximately three years before graduation….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Dean Complains That School Is Too Poor To Pay For Caps And Gowns”

The criminal justice system has all sorts of problems. Far, far, far too many people are in prison. Hell, lots of them are downright innocent. Most of those inmates are drawn disproportionately from the poor and minority population while the more affluent and white receive better treatment for the same crimes. And the wealthy, mostly white people who caused widespread economic pain not only avoided prosecution, but made healthy sums.

But one big problem with the criminal justice system that we’ve harped on before is the broad, largely unchecked power of federal prosecutors to bully the accused.

A prominent federal judge thinks it’s gone too far and he’s got a proposed solution.

Too bad it’s far too sensible for anyone in a position of power to actually adopt….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge’s Proposal For Criminal Justice System Is Far Too Sensible For Anyone To Actually Implement”

This seems a better way to go than a hunger strike.

* O.J. Simpson is pursuing a hunger strike because he’s looking to die. If only he knew who the real killers were, they could help him out. [Radar Online]

* Dean I. Richard Gershon of Ole Miss Law thinks Elie is just wrong. [Law Deans on Legal Education Blog]

* In continuing Seventh Circuit benchslappiness, Judge Richard Posner got feisty with an attorney for Notre Dame who kept interrupting him. If this lawyer keeps it up, Posner’s going to treat his client like Alabama did a year ago. [Chicago Tribune]

* Comcast wants to buy Time Warner, pending DOJ approval. The DOJ wants to talk to Comcast, but they’re only available to talk between 10 and 10:15 on alternating Wednesdays. [ATL Redline]

* California and New Jersey have banned gay conversion therapy programs. Is that the best way to combat these schemes? [New York Times]

* A look at getting started as an entrepreneur. See, there’s hope after bailing on practicing law. [Big Law Rebel]

* Daria Roithmayr of USC Law thinks The Triple Package (affiliate link), the new book by Yale’s Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, doesn’t hold water. I mean, since when are we holding academics to writing “scholarship” as opposed to “controversy bait”? Professors need to eat, after all. [Slate]

* A cop who got in trouble for bashing Obama online thought he was protected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed. [IT-Lex]

William Tell

On a Wednesday evening in January, William Tell, a 33-year-old 3L at USC Gould School of Law, was sitting in the backyard of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, a few blocks away from his apartment, sipping a scotch and munching on a bowl of pasta. At the moment, Tell is the only law student in America who goes home to the woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan — he’s engaged to Lauren Conrad, the reality TV star-turned-lifestyle entrepreneur who is regarded by many, including Martha Stewart, as being something like the next Martha Stewart.

More than a decade before his stint as a figure of tabloid fascination, Tell’s first act was as a guitarist in early ’00s pop-rock band Something Corporate, a band that was playing stadiums, arenas, and late night television shows by the time he was 22.

Clean-cut and wearing a simple grey sweater and skateboarding shoes, Tell laughs a lot but speaks with a hint of careful distance. He makes clear that he guards his privacy and would not have consented to an interview with a publication whose focus was his romantic life. But I wanted to ask Tell mostly about his unique experience as a law student, so I connected with him on LinkedIn, emailed him to explain myself, and now here we are….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Rock Star To Law School: Meet William Tell”

Lady Gaga

* Shine bright like A. Diamond: Howrey’s bankruptcy trustee has secured yet another multimillion dollar settlement for the defunct firm from places like Covington, Kirkland, and Shearman. [Am Law Daily]

* If for some reason you’re still shocked that GCs are breaking up with their Biglaw boyfriends, here’s some additional info on why corporate clients are moving from Biglaw to “big enough” law. [Corporate Counsel]

* Man, this LL.M. program seems like the best of both worlds for foreign students. They can learn U.S. law without ever being with stepping on U.S. soil. Thanks USC Law! [National Law Journal]

* Three more states could legalize gay marriage by the end of the year, making the marriage equality movement 17 states strong, plus D.C. Here’s to an extra fabulous new year. [GovBeat / Washington Post]

* Yaaasss Gaga, oh my God, yaaasss! Lady Gaga settled a suit filed by her ex-assistant for an undisclosed amount, and we bet the number was so high it elicited many an F-bomb. [New York Post]

These days, when we speak about new lawyers, we tend to focus less on the mere accomplishment of graduating from law school, mainly because the only admissions requirement at some institutions is a pulse, and more on sobering topics like incredibly high student debt loads and rampant joblessness. This is the “new normal” for law school graduates, and it isn’t as appealing as deans would have you believe.

Given the fact that the market for legal employment dropped out from underneath those who graduated between 2009 and 2011 (and continues to falter to this day), servicing high amounts of law school debt is more difficult than ever before. Declaring bankruptcy isn’t a real option for many, and enrolling in income-based repayment is a temporary solution that has been called a ticking time bomb. You just can’t win.

Unwelcome debt situations usually go hand in hand with law degrees, and they can happen to the best of us — even those who were once lauded as geniuses, like Andrew Carmichael Post. In America, even if you graduate from college at 17, enroll in law school at 18, and pass one of the most difficult bar exams in the nation at 22, you’ll still be saddled with unmanageable debt — in this case, to the tune of $215,000.

How in the world will Post be able to shoulder such a heavy debt burden?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “If A Boy Genius Can’t Escape His Six-Figure Law School Debt, How Can You?”

  • Interview with AdmissionsDean

    Provided by the school


    “We place a premium on collegiality here at USC, so you definitely want to make a good impression with anyone you come into contact with…” – Chloe Reid – Associate Dean and Dean of Admissions, USC Law
    See more at AdmissionsDean.