Alumni

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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The life of a law school dean.

Law school deans are used to begging. They beg their faculty to assume additional teaching responsibilities. They beg their university presidents to stop slashing their budgets. Mostly, they beg wealthy alumni and community members for money. More money. As much money as they can fix their mouths to ask for. If law school deans could play instruments, they’d be on the subway begging for change.

But in this market, instead of begging alumni for money, law deans really need to be begging their alumni for job openings. Deans should be on the phone every day, talking to people who are in a position to hire graduates of their law schools.

Are law deans doing that? Are law deans taking the responsibility unto themselves to relentlessly push for job opportunities for their students? Beyond New York Times op-eds and grand re-imaginings of the third year curriculum, are law deans digging in and doing the person-to-person work of begging powerful alumni to hire new graduates?

I think some of them are. I know some of them are not. Here, we have one law dean’s letter to alumni that can serve as a kind of blueprint for how a dean should be hawking her students. Maybe you can send it to your dean and ask if she is sending out the same kind of letters…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Liz Brown, author of Life After Law: Finding Work You Love With the J.D. You Have (affiliate link), offers suggestions for at least appearing engaged at the office while contemplating leaving the law behind.

Someone asked me a great question the other day. “I’m having a hard time staying engaged at the office,” she explained. “I want to leave, but I’m not sure what to do next. How do I keep up the appearance that I’m still interested in practicing law while I figure out my next move?”

This in-between stage is hard in so many ways. It can be hard to force yourself to work on cases when you no longer care about the outcome. It can be hard to make yourself meet your billable hour minimum when you find the work dull and unrewarding. It can be hard to act happy, or at least not to growl at people, when you desperately want to do something else. Here are seven strategies for the summer of your discontent.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Kristina Tsamis shares some career advice for JD/MBAs from a panel discussion hosted by Duke Law in conjunction with other peer law schools.

We spend a lot of time discussing the dismal employment outcomes for JD grads. Things aren’t so rosy for MBA graduates either. To talk about a dual JD/MBA degree in this context seems like a double fail — a one-two punch of more work and potentially more debt in exchange for the same sad outcome.

Enter the panelists of How to Use the JD/MBA Degree in Business and Entrepreneurship: all JD/MBA graduates who touted the usefulness of a dual degree during a discussion hosted by Duke Law in conjunction with other peer law schools. The panelists centered their advice on four main areas: what to focus on while pursuing the dual degree, how to select a good mentor, how to interview well, and how to stop being risk-averse.

1. Maintain the Right Focus as a JD/MBA student

That class in early English case law will leave you painfully ill-equipped for the modern practice of law. But there are some courses you should be paying attention to, both on the JD and MBA side.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

A couple weeks ago, we shared with you some of our survey data, which showed that, generally speaking, law students’ experiences with their schools degrade over time. The ATL Insider Survey asks law students and alumni to rate their schools in the areas of academic instruction, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life. When the ratings by first-year students are compared with those of third-years, the 3L scores are lower across the board, in all categories. In other words, the longer students are exposed to their schools, the lower their regard for the institution becomes. More equals worse.

We wondered whether or how this downward trajectory manifests itself after the students become alumni. After the jump, we compare the perceptions of students to those of graduates. The answer may surprise you, but probably not. Also, we identify the law schools where there is the greatest contrast between the views of current students and alumni — both negatively and positively….

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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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