Over the summer, the American Bar Assocation announced that it would stop collecting data on law school expenditures. Ignoring law school expenditures is (counterintuitively perhaps) an important legal education reform. Law schools should be spending, and charging, as little as possible. The fact that a law school spends a lot of money on its professors really doesn’t seem to have a great effect on the quality of legal education, especially if that quality is at all measured by job placement rates.
Of course, getting the ABA on board is only part of the battle. In June, we noted that the real prize is for U.S. News to stop rewarding law schools for spending as much as possible. A law school shouldn’t be able to improve its ranking by tricking out its library or giving its faculty fat raises in a market where law school tuition is far too high.
I had expected U.S. News to follow the ABA’s lead. Law schools might not be the most transparent institutions, but they generally try to avoid lying to the ABA (at least some of them do). But without an ABA check, there’s nothing to prevent schools from lying to U.S. News to inflate their expenditure figures in an attempt to game the rankings. Reasonable people can disagree about what factors should be important in a set of law school rankings, but I had assumed U.S. News would at least want their data to be tied to reality, instead of made-up statistics offered up by law schools without any independent auditing or fact-checking.
Any time you can shut down the entire government because you still really don’t like a law that helps uninsured Americans that was passed five years ago, you’ve got to do it. Well, at least if you want to be a regional party that can only be competitive in elections by gerrymandering and suppressing voter turnout.
The Republicans have shut down the government, the President doesn’t give a s**t and can’t be held hostage because he doesn’t have to run for anything anymore, and the federal courts will take a beating. The courts have already been operating on a shoestring thanks to the sequester (that other total failure of government), and now this.
The courts can stay open for ten days, and then things get ugly. Even the ABA is not impressed…
* Congress could throttle tech innovation with two words. Thankfully, I don’t think Congress knows any two words beyond “defund Obamacare.” [Slate]
* The University of Washington was slapped with a $720,000 fine for withholding documents from a professor suing the school for gender discrimination. Every time something bad happens to the University of Washington, an angel gets its wings. Go Ducks! [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* The ABA has issued its draft report on the future of legal education. Highlights include recommending a 50% tuition cut. Ha! Just kidding. [Associate's Mind]
* Congress is targeting the people who are really making off like bandits: poor people on food stamps. But there’s another link in the federal agriculture spending chain that might make more sense to target if you really wanted to save the government money. Silly me, budgetary discipline has nothing to do with budget cuts. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Here are 15 things wrong with the criminal justice system. Only 15? [Boston Review]
* Lessons on the defense of others from Back to the Future. I’m still waiting for a legal analysis of buying plutonium from Libyans. Is that legal? I’m kind of fuzzy on that one. [The Legal Geeks]
The American Bar Association is out there, fighting for the rights of law students to labor without pay. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Maybe that sentence should go, “The American Bar Association is out there, fighting for the rights of legal employers to not pay their laborers.” Yes, that makes much more sense.
The Department of Labor sent a letter to the ABA, assuring the organization that hiring unpaid law students to do pro bono work is totally fine. This news makes the ABA happy for some reason. The ABA applauds the Labor Department declaration because of something about “service” and “experience” and other things that sound really nice when you can already pay your bills…
Were you part of that email catastrophe this past Friday? It seems that the American Bar Association added the world to one of its email listservs, and the crowd went wild.
No? You weren’t? Here’s what happened.
An email arrived from a 2007 John Marshall Law School graduate (that’s how we’re supposed to refer to lawyers here because when and from where they graduated means everything in the world, right?), via an ABA listserv:
Just as a reminder, the YLD Antitrust Law Committee, the Section’s Joint Conduct Committee and Distribution and Franchising Committee will host a live webinar entitled “Antitrust Fundamentals for Distribution and Franchise Practitioners” this coming Monday, September 9th.
It had one of those typical endings about how to get off the list — email or call the ABA. Or, of course, email the whole list…
* Biglaw’s billing bonanza: at least 12 firms are advising on the multi-billion dollar deals going on between Microsoft / Nokia and Verizon / Vodafone, and Simpson Thacher landed a seat on both. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* Standard & Poor’s is now accusing the Department of Justice of filing its $5 billion fraud lawsuit in retaliation for downgrading the country’s credit rating. Aww, we liked the “mere puffery” defense much better. [Reuters]
* The new ABA prez doesn’t think Obama meant what he said about two-year law degrees. He thinks it’s about cost. Gee, the ABA should probably do something about that. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Meanwhile, New York Law School wants to condense its offerings into a two-year honors program that comes complete with a $50,000 scholarship. Sweet deal if you can get it, but it sounds like most people won’t. [Crain's New York Business]
* Stewart Schwab, the dean of Cornell Law School, will be stepping down at the end of the academic year. The search for someone new to oversee the filming of amateur porn in the library is on. [Cornell Daily Sun]
* Crisis? What crisis? Nothing is f**ked here, dude. Amid plummeting applications, GW Law increased the size of its entering class by about 22 percent. The more lawyers, the better, right? /sarcasm [GW Hatchet]
* Jacked up! Attorneys for NFL player Aaron Hernandez got a stay in the civil suit accusing the athlete of shooting a man in the face until after the athlete’s murder charges have been worked out. [USA Today]
Did you know that the ABA maintains a listerv for all of the law deans at ABA accredited and provisionally accredited schools? I did. And I’ve always thought that it would be great to hack into that listserv. As far as I can recall, we’ve had just one story (although a great story) come from that listserv. I assumed it was because law deans were just really disciplined about not forwarding me threads from their private discussions.
Now I realize that their listserv is just boring as all hell.
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the WSJ Law Blog obtained a copy of the “rules” for the listserv that the ABA circulated to all the law deans recently. I’ve seen law review notes that inspire more interest and discussion….
* Man gets 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old who later killed herself. The judge explained that he’d already been punished with “the scarlet letter of the internet.” The new sentencing guidelines are really web-literate. [Jezebel]
* Infilaw is taking over Charleston School of Law eliminating all the pretense. [Post and Courier]
* On that note, Steven J. Harper discusses President Obama’s call to eliminate the third year of law school. Simpler Harper: Law schools and the ABA are too vested in ripping off students to listen to reason. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* The “most intimidating man in hip-hop” is a Columbia Law grad. Hip-hop has come a long way from allegedly dangling rappers off hotel balconies. [GQ]
David Lat and I were on CNBC’s Power Lunch with Dan Rodriguez, Dean of Northwestern Law School, discussing whether law school should be two years. As I mentioned earlier today, this debate got started again when President Obama said that he thought law school should last only two years, at least in terms of classroom instruction. Please see my earlier post if you’d like to talk about why Obama’s thought bubble was literally the least useful thing he could have done to effectuate the change he desires.
Here, we’re going to talk about whether Obama’s idea is good in the first place. Should law school be two years long? Let me rephrase that question: is there any possible justification for forcing people to sit through a third year of law school if they don’t want to?
Former constitutional law professor and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, has decided to wade into the great law school debate by offering his “thoughts” on the length of law programs. On Friday, Obama said that he thought law school should just be two years instead of three.
Great. It’s nice to know what the President thinks. Too bad those thoughts aren’t backed up with the very simple actions necessary to make his dreams come true.
Obama’s thoughts touched off a weekend debate about the value of the third year of law school. I think I’m clearly on record saying the third year of law school is completely useless. There is no educational value to the thing, but law schools certainly make a lot of money off of it. David Lat and I will be discussing this in more depth on CNBC’s Power Lunch this afternoon around 1:00 p.m. EDT. Check it out.
Regardless of what you think about the value of the 3L year, the timing of Obama’s announcement is certainly curious. In June, Obama’s own Department of Education rubber-stamped ABA oversight over law school regulation and accreditation for another three years. Since the ABA is the organization most responsible for keeping law school at three years and preventing schools from experimenting with shorter programs, I can only assume that Obama’s statement was timed to be as useless as humanly possible…
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