Hello, West Coast readers! How’s it hangin’ out there past the Rockies? Here at Above the Law, we try to overcome any suggestion of East Coast bias by consistently publishing a post later in the day for our readers in the Pacific time zone. And we try to be generally aware of West Coast firms and schools.
We’ve even heard of Stanford Law School. It’s like the Harvard of the West, right? We hear it’s wonderful. It’s not Yale, but hey, neither is the Harvard of the East (a.k.a. Harvard).
Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer wants that to change. He’s already pushed through grade reform, so now Stanford copies Yale’s grading methods. (Berkeley kids, just be quiet. Nobody wants to hear about how everybody copied it from you.)
But apparently grade reform was just step one of Kramer’s grand plan to oust Yale from its position as the nation’s best law school…
The new U.S. News law school rankings are out. Now it’s time to allow students and alumni to weigh in on their law school and their brand new rank.
At the very top, the order remains unchanged. Yale, Harvard, and Stanford continue to be kings of the U.S. News world. If prospective students can get into one of these schools, they should probably go. Biglaw, legal academia, and Article III clerkships await graduates of these prestigious institutions.
We know the stereotypes of the east coast schools. Yale is the elite training ground for clerks and scholars — and Biglaw dollars are available to those students who want a slice of the pie. Harvard is the most prestigious J.D. diploma factory in the world. HLS is all about big numbers: lots of students, and lots of money for graduates who dive into Biglaw.
Is Stanford the Yale of the west or Harvard of the west? Or would Stanford be ranked even higher but for “east coast bias”? Aside from U.S. News prestige, what’s special about Stanford that Berkeley students wouldn’t understand?
The subtle differences between the top-3 are questions for only a few LSAT rockstars.
Next, let’s check in on Chicago’s march up the rankings…
The Skadden Fellowship Foundation, described as “a legal Peace Corps” by The Los Angeles Times, was established in 1988 to commemorate the firm’s 40th anniversary, in recognition of the dire need for greater funding for graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights. The aim of the foundation is to give Fellows the freedom to pursue public interest work; thus, the Fellows create their own projects at public interest organizations with at least two lawyers on staff before they apply.
Fellowships are awarded for two years. Skadden provides each Fellow with a salary and pays all fringe benefits to which an employee of the sponsoring organization would be entitled. For those Fellows not covered by a law school low income protection plan, the firm will pay a Fellow’s law school debt service for the tuition part of the loan for the duration of the fellowship. The 2010 class of Fellows brings to 591 the number of academically outstanding law school graduates and judicial clerks the firm has funded to work full-time for legal and advocacy organizations.
The 2010 class of Skadden Fellows was just announced. Congratulations to the 27 winners, selected from 20 different law schools. Yale had four, Berkeley (aka Boalt Hall) had three, and Stanford and Fordham had two each.
Check out their names, law schools, and sponsoring organizations — maybe you know some of them? — after the jump.
Stanford Law School is one of the best law schools in the country. SLS is ranked #3 in the latest U.S. News law school rankings. Stanford graduates are generally intelligent, capable, and employable individuals (with some exceptions).
But are they smart enough to miss the first few weeks of Bar/Bri? The law school has changed its academic calendar to a quarters system. Stanford University already followed a quarters system, but the law school had been on a semester-based academic calendar.
The change could result in some conflict between 3L classes and the beginning of bar review courses. One student explains:
Stanford Law School changed to the quarter system, leaving their students in very precarious position vis a vis the bar exam. Classes do not end until several weeks after the California bar review courses start. Aside from the fact that this puts an extra burden on all SLS 3Ls, who will have to study for the bar at the same time they are attending classes and studying for finals, it creates a real mess for those students who are not remaining, or cannot remain in the immediate area. to study for and take the California bar.
This is because the bar review curricula differ from location to location. Accordingly, a student who is planning to take the bar review course somewhere other than in the Bay Area cannot take the first few weeks of the bar review course in the Stanford area and then move to wherever it is they are planning to move and finish up the bar review course at that location. Moreover, many of the students have leases on their apartments that end before the bar exam; thus, even those students who have the flexibility and financial wherewithal to change their relocation plans and remain in the Stanford area through the bar exam may not have any place to live (and how many of those do you think there are?) Stanford Law School refuses to address this issue head on, attempting to placate their students with vague promises that they’re “looking into it.”
We spoke to officials at Stanford Law School, and it appears that the school has “look[ed] into it.” Overall, the school feels that the benefits outweigh the burdens, and the burdens can be mitigated.
Look at it from Stanford’s perspective, after the jump.
For those of you considering prostitution to pay off your law school debts (you know who you are), consider the cautionary tale of Cristina Warthen. As we have previously reported, Cristina graduated from Stanford Law School in 2001. But instead of going into Biglaw, Cristina adopted the porn name “Brazil” and turned herself into a high-priced escort.
Granted, if she graduated today, Cristina might have been able to get some public interest deferral money for her “service.” But this was a long time ago.
And for a while Cristina was a smashing success. She even landed a rich husband, AskJeeves founder David Warthen.
But the Warthens were hit hard by the recession, and the couple split. Meanwhile, the government came looking for $313,000 in back taxes from Cristina’s sultry side business.
The ABA Journal reports that there is a resolution in Cristina’s case. What sentence did she get?
LEWW is fascinated by ATL’s Douchiest Law School contest. Official results haven’t been announced yet, but based on our preliminary read, Yale seems to have notched a decisive first-round victory over the University of Texas, and it looks like Harvard has trounced UCLA. Stanford Law School, however, appears to have been decisively out-douched by lowly Georgetown. Conclusion: The relationship between douchiness and prestige is not linear.
This week’s weddings feature two YLS grads and two SLS grads, so these lawyer newlyweds are undeniably prestigious. But are they also representative of their respective institutions’ reputations for d-baggery? We’ll let you make the call.
Here are the couples:
Rejoice, wedding fans! We have some compelling mid-summer material for you this week: Wachtell, SCOTUS, lesbians, French nobility — read on for the details on all of that and more, as reported in the New York Times and filtered by us.
Our finalist couples:
Another week, another NYT Vows column comparing the bride to a giant coniferous tree (“The bride stood stately and erect, echoing the Redwoods that surrounded them . . . “). Seriously, could they maybe assign Vows once a month to a real writer, just to make it a little less chirpy and insipid? What about Maureen Dowd? What about Paul Krugman?
Here are this week’s finalists, including the tree-like bride:
When we first got a tip that a Florida lawyer had been disbarred for making a client pay her fees with sexual favors, we thought, “Ho hum. Another crazy Florida lawyer.” Then we Googled the pro boner attorney, James Harvey Tipler, and found out that the low-life lawyer has a sterling Stanford degree.
According to his Justia profile and his listing on the California Bar Association website, Tipler is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School. We hope this doesn’t make Stanford fall even lower in the U.S. News rankings.
Tipler is not the first Stanford Law graduate to get mixed up in sex work. But making an 18-year-old client pay for legal work on her parental custody case with sexual favors is a new low.
From the Florida Supreme Court order disbarring Tipler:
Tipler charged his client a fee of $2,300 and entered into a fee agreement with her that allowed a “credit of $200 for each time she engaged in sex with Respondent” and a “$400 credit if she arranged for other females to have sex with him.” For his misdeeds, Tipler was charged with racketeering and four counts of prostitution. He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution.
Fellatio in exchange for filings was not Tipler’s only offense. He’s gotten into trouble in many other ways, and not just in Florida. He’s got a record in California and Alabama, and we suspect he may be trying to set up shop in South Carolina now. More after the jump.
Stanford Law School just issued a press release announcing that Judge Michael McConnell of the 10th Circuit will be joining the school’s faculty in the fall. McConnell hails from Utah and was on Bush’s Supremes short list in 2005. From the press release:
McConnell will step down from his role on the bench to rejoin the legal academy and direct the Stanford Constitutional Law Center.
McConnell is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top judges and most distinguished constitutional law scholars. He has written broadly on many aspects of the Constitution but is best known for his work on freedom of religion–a critical area of constitutional law that he effectively redefined before ascending the bench. McConnell was appointed to the Denver-based Tenth Circuit in 2002 by President George W. Bush.
This is great news for Stanford, but surprising news from McConnell, who had already lined up his clerks for 2009-2010. McConnell is a highly-regarded judge who is reputed to be great to work for and has been known to feed clerks to SCOTUS in the past. This must come as a big disappointment for the four clerks who had been slated to work with him. David Tighe, the 10th Circuit’s spokesman, says he’s unsure of the would-have-been clerks’ plans. Well, it’s easy to get a job nowadays, right?
In a press release [PDF] from the 10th Circuit, McConnell says:
“The opportunity to serve on the Tenth Circuit has been a great privilege and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I will especially miss working with my colleagues on the court, whose friendship, collegiality, and commitment to upholding law and justice are a model and an inspiration. But my first love remains in teaching and scholarship. Especially at this time of grave international and domestic challenges and transformation, I want to contribute more openly to debate, scholarly analysis, and public understanding of the governing principles of the American Republic.”
Unsaid is that a Stanford salary trumps that from the 10th Circuit. And that McConnell’s SCOTUS dreams died along with Obama’s winning the election.
After the jump, we’ve got McConnell’s resignation letter to President Obama.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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