Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

Laura Puleo

Because I really enjoy a good mental workout. After graduating from Duke with a degree in ancient Latin and Greek, I figured that my best option for a mentally stimulating career was either academia or law. Law seemed like the more practical choice.

Laura Puleo, a rising third-year student at Washington and Lee Law, commenting on why she chose to go to law school during a time when legal education was in upheaval. Puleo is a contestant in the upcoming Miss Virginia pageant, and you can support her in her race for the crown here.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand.”
– Frederick Douglass

Washington & Lee has displayed Confederate flags in the chapel dedicated to Robert E. Lee since the 1930s… and now they won’t. All because 14 black Washington & Lee law students demanded that the university stop. Those students risked the consequence of potential employers who could and probably still will label them as agitators. They risked disapprobation from those in the dominant culture who still expect black people to “just get over” slavery, racial oppression, and continued racism. They risked time, energy, and stress that could have been devoted to finals or networking or just finding a good microbrew.

They demanded. And now Washington & Lee president Kenneth P. Ruscio has agreed to remove the controversial symbols from a place where students are forced to gather. The struggle continues

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After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee accepted a position as president of what was then called Washington College. By all accounts, he served the school well and had a nice end of life. After his death, Washington College was renamed Washington & Lee.

Today, many black people attend the university that bears Marse Robert’s surname, so I guess we won. But a group of black law students at Washington & Lee Law School is getting really sick of the university’s consistent, stars-and-bars waving support of Lee’s legacy and the whitewashing (no pun intended) of what that legacy represents.

They’ve got a list of some very specific “demands” for the Washington & Lee administration…

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Today is the first day of April. You know what that means (besides April Fools’ Day jokes). It’s almost time for prospective law students, the future members of the class of 2017, to decide where they want to go to school.

Last month, the highly influential U.S. News law school rankings came out (and the Above the Law rankings are not far behind). There was a decent amount of movement among the schools this time around — and deans around the country went into spin mode, of course.

Also spinning: the heads of prospective law students. One of them, confused by the latest ups and downs in the rankings, reached out to us for advice on his choice….

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Yesterday, we walked you through some of the emails from sad deans who got knocked around by U.S. News this week. But we’re still eager for more information from one of the biggest droppers.

Washington & Lee Law School dropped 17 spots. That’s doesn’t make them the biggest loser, but going from the relatively strong position of #26 all the way down to #43 has caused a lot of people to take notice.

To its credit, W&L hasn’t yet called a school-wide emergency meeting where administrators are purified by stone and fire. But they have reached out to admitted students to try to convince them that going to the #43 law school is just as good as going to the #26 law school.

It’s a tough sell….

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Judge Judy

* According to a confidential report from Deloitte, another major firm is set to follow in Heenan Blaikie’s footsteps within the next year. The sheer number of “sorries” after another Canadian Biglaw collapse would be simply terrifying. [Legal Post]

* Dean Demleitner of Washington & Lee Law doesn’t think its 3L reform program is to blame for its decline in rank. It’ll “take five to 10 years for the benefits of the program to become apparent.” Oh, that’s great… for the Class of 2023. [Fortune]

* Here’s another look at the U.S. News rankings. Compare Nebraska and Hofstra. One shot up in rank and tuition increased slightly. The other sank like a stone and tuition skyrocketed. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* For the first time in years, the number of LSAT test takers has increased by a whole 1.1 percent year over year. We can guarantee law schools will fight to the death to enroll those 213 students. [LSAT Blog]

* Judge Judy has never sued anyone, but now she’s suing a personal injury firm for using her picture in its ads. Damages recovered will be donated to scholarships for women. Classy lady. [New York Daily News]

‘But we didn’t even have the biggest drop…’

2012 was a poor year for us with regard to our employment numbers and bar passage rates. We have begun to address these issues through stronger bar support and changes in our approach to the employment market, and have already seen improvements in both areas for the Class of 2013.

– Dean Nora Demleitner of Washington & Lee University School of Law, in comments made following news of the law school’s 17-spot decline in the U.S. News rankings, from No. 26 last year to No. 43 this year. Bob Morse, director of research at U.S. News, said W&L was “hit hard” by its lower employment rate.

‘Congratulations. You’re still in the running towards becoming America’s next top law review.’

Replace the gorgeous, leggy models with bespectacled, Bluebook-wielding law students. Replace the photo shoots with cite checks. Replace Tyra Banks with a law librarian.

Voilà! You’ve replaced America’s Next Top Model with something far more fabulous: America’s Next Top Law Review.

And yes, there is a new top law review. Harvard Law Review, which has dominated the leading set of rankings for the past seven years, has been dethroned. To quote Dani from Cycle 6 of ANTM, “Shut yo mouth and say it ain’t true!”

Oh, but it is true. They’re all beautiful — or at least impeccably Bluebooked — but only one girl has what it takes. Who is the nation’s new #1 law journal?

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Last week, we looked at which Biglaw firms were the highest rated in 2013 by their own lawyers, according to the ATL Insider Survey. As we noted, we’ve amassed in excess of 15,500 responses to our survey from practicing lawyers and law students. The information from our survey provides our readers with a deep resource for comparing and evaluating schools and firms, particularly in the form of our Law Firm and Law School Directories.

Today, we continue to milk the “it’s a New Year/here’s a list” format and present 2013’s highest-rated law schools. Please note this is not to be confused with the ATL Law School Rankings, which assess schools based on a range of employment outcomes (and which are coming out later this year). These ratings are a pure function of how schools were rated by current students in the areas of academics, financial aid advising, career services, practical/clinical training, and social life.

More clues that these are not the ATL Law School Rankings: Northeastern beats Northwestern, while Yale and Harvard do not even make the cut…

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Ed. note: This is the latest post in our series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes.

We know that law school applications are down, but how are the rest of the numbers looking for the class of 2016? Which schools experienced the most dramatic shrinkage in class size? How have LSAT scores and GPAs changed for the T14 vs. the T100? Which schools defied the downward spiral and actually experienced an increase in class size?

Check out our infographic, after the jump.

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