Alumni Giving

Law schools believe that if you start making people give to your program early, you increase the chances of turning them into lifelong alumni donors. That’s why schools try to start their alumni giving campaigns while students are still on campus. It’s not that your law school thinks they’ll make a lot of money off of graduating 3Ls. But they believe that a $20 pledge while students are on campus is the gateway drug to a $200,000 donation in twenty years.

It all makes a lot of sense for the law school, but what do the graduating students get out of it? A lot of students will be paying off their law school tuition for decades, and many will have to start making those repayments before they get a good legal job. Law schools spend money on a slick alumni giving team, with the law school dean serving in the role of “fundraiser-in-chief.” But 3Ls need their schools to focus on “job-raising” instead of fundraising.

To the extent that 3L giving is a reflection of the services rendered by the law school over three years of expensive education, you’d expect a lot of law schools to get squat out of their 3L giving campaigns. That is exactly what one law student is suggesting to his fellow classmates.

The fun thing is that this 3L is on the committee for 3L fundraising…

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* This IRS scandal is really like a Republican’s wet dream. Obama needs to start firing people. [Washington Post]

* The Department of Justice also looks pretty shady. See, it’s not the “size” of government we should worry about. It’s the power of government that leads to problems. Obama needs to start firing people! [Associated Press]

* Maybe the DOJ needs some compliance officers to tell them how to use the phone? [Corporate Counsel]

* Law schools still seem to know some rich people. [National Law Journal]

* Are law deans going through the five stages of grief? [Am Law Daily]

* Fabrice Tourre is changing up his legal team. [Wall Street Journal]

* France is going to tax smartphones and put the money into art. It’s really one of the most French things France has done in years. [CNBC]

As we all know, law schools are eager to sell you naming rights if you give them money. Bad schools are willing to sell out, good schools are willing to sell out. Harvard Law School sold the naming rights to their freaking bathrooms.

Usually, these sales are made by deans at country clubs or wherever, with handshakes and checkbooks.

But one law school has put out a chart so that interested alumni can buy naming rights to things like they’re shopping at Wal-Mart.

Why not? It’s better than raising tuition. How much do you think it should cost to name a law school dining room?

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Whenever a law school solicits money from its recent graduates, it ends badly. Almost always. The best a law school can hope for is for the recipient to throw away the solicitation or delete the email. More often, the mere request can bring up bad memories and harden the ill will that recent graduates have toward their law schools (unless the request for donations happens to hit the inboxes of the few financially secure recent law grads).

Law schools aren’t even playing the long game anymore. If law schools keep their tuition manageable and help their students find jobs, then they will produce happy graduates who might feel lifelong allegiance to their schools. But instead of cultivating golden little eggs, law schools are all too happy to slay their gaggle of students with unreasonable costs and poor post-graduate options. Schools take the short-term money even while souring their students on the law school experience.

Of course, “sour” law graduates make for some funny emails. Check out how this class of 2010 graduate responded to his school’s alumni giving request. And if you want to copy and paste it into an email to your law school, I don’t think anybody would object….

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Should we pass around the collection jar for graduates, or their law schools?

Have you ever noticed that law schools claim it’s incredibly hard to find all of their recent graduates for the cause of transparency, but when it comes time for alumni giving, they always seem to know where everybody is?

The ink isn’t yet dry on their diplomas, but members of the class of 2012 are already being hit up for money by their law schools. No, we’re not talking about collections on the debts they still owe (those phone calls don’t start for a year). But law schools are already up with alumni giving campaigns aimed at recent graduates.

I used to make fundraising calls for my college and I know that conventional wisdom says that if you get people to give even a little bit early on you’re setting up a lucrative lifetime relationship with the graduate. But I think conventional wisdom needs to be thrown out of the window when you are dealing with recent graduates who don’t have jobs and do have a lot of debt.

Asking these kids for money right out of the gate isn’t a way to make them feel a connection with the school, it’s a way to further solidify how much they regret borrowing so much money to go to law school in the first place…

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File this under: “reasons why the alumni office should clear everything with the PR department.”

Yesterday, somebody at Columbia Law School sent out an email to recent alumni asking for a $1,000 donation (or twelve $85 monthly installments) to help current law students. No, Columbia isn’t setting up another scholarship fund for public interest fellows. CLS isn’t even trying to make direct cash transfers to unemployed graduates in exchange for their silence. Instead, Columbia wants $1,000 from alumni to help offset the cost of the “early interview program” during which Columbia rising 2Ls interview with Biglaw firms and snag offers for jobs.

Do you think Columbia culled its alumni list to make sure that only graduates who were also working in Biglaw were even asked to make this kind of questionable donation? Of course they didn’t! A bunch of Columbia grads who aren’t working in Biglaw were asked to… wait, let me get this language exactly right:

“Give a student the chance at a dream job.”

Hilarity ensues….

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It’s hard to step back and take an objective look at what’s happening at Penn State. One man allegedly sexually molests God knows how many children, and it’s horrible, but now the entire university is under suspicion. Under siege. Under indictment in the court of public opinion.

And still, they have to go on. Teachers have to teach, grants have to be funded, and at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, they still have to try to raise money.

But as Penn State tries to resume normal operations, the administration has to fall over itself trying to prove that they are not a university full of child rapists. They love children! When you think of Penn State, think of child abuse victims.

Wait, no, not in that way….

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La vengeance se mange très-bien froide. Or as a Klingon might say, “revenge is a dish best served cold.”

I’m pretty sure that the administrators at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles didn’t think they were walking into a smackdown when they sent out an email to alumni asking them to update their employment statuses. But smacked they were, down on their heads, as one student’s epic, slightly rambling response to the innocent request just tore up the school for its behavior towards recent graduates.

And this comes from a student who seems to be doing well, despite the challenging economy. You want to know the best way to “get back” at your law school, if you so desire? Send them an email that says: “I am going to be very wealthy here, and I will not be giving a dime to Loyola.”

Time for the cold revenge of living well?

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