Apprenticeship

* Could this be the worst judge in the country? [WFPL News]

* “Study Finds College Still More Worthwhile Than Spending 4 Years Chained To Radiator.” Congrats to Michael Simkovic on his new paper. [The Onion]

* The next Hobby Lobby could be Notre Dame, who wants the right to not have to pay for insurance that might possibly allow women to purchase birth control that kind of but aren’t really abortifacients in any scientific sense. It’s represented pro bono by Jones Day. Honestly, I don’t have it in for Jones Day, but it seems like everysingledamntime I write something about a firm doing awful things I end up typing J-O-N-E-S-D-A-Y at some point in the article. [MSNBC]

* Helpful judge tells criminal to change his ways — not because he’s a criminal, but because he’s a really bad criminal. [Huffington Post]

* J.D.s should consider panhandling as a legitimate career alternative. [Law and More]

* Lat explains why apprenticeship should be an option for becoming a lawyer. But what if you just love law school so much. [New York Times]

* Remember when Examsoft screwed up the bar exam and the Twittersphere went nuts? WBEZ spoke with Lat about what went down. Embed below… [SoundCloud]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 07.31.14″

J.D. = Just Debt? J.D. = Junk Degree? J.D. = Job Disabled?

There is very little that would entice me to go $100,000 or more into debt for a credential.

Chris Tittle, a California man who is attempting to become a lawyer by “reading law,” just as Abraham Lincoln once did. Tittle never went to law school, and is in his first year of a four-year course of law office apprenticeship and study at the Law Office of Linda Alvarez.

I previously wrote about the depressing prospects for graduates of all but the top ten or twenty law schools (“Two Law Grad Markets”). And yes, these were statistical generalizations, and the experience of specific individuals with particular skills and backgrounds will always be different, pro and con. But as an industry, if you care about our supply chain for talent, many law schools are burning platforms.

There are actually some closely connected problems driving this dynamic:

  • More JDs are being turned out each year than there are (a) full-time, (b) long-term jobs, (c) requiring bar passage, (d) at current salary levels;
  • perhaps the primary reason for the mismatch between supply of JDs and current demand for them (about two supplied for every one today’s market is demanding) is that clients increasingly resist paying for junior associates, which makes it uneconomic for firms to invest in traditional training;
  • but/and at the same time, every sentient observer is painfully aware that vast segments of the U.S. population — consumers and businesses alike — remain underserved by lawyers.

This would prompt any economist to ask, almost instinctively, “Why isn’t there a market-clearing price where supply and demand can meet?” Which is another way of asking, “What if there were a way to address both these problems at a single stroke?”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Across the Desk: An Apprenticeship to Practice — That Works”


* Apprenticeship programs sound great (especially to Lat), but will they help you to become a lawyer? Of course they will, but only if you don’t mind failing the bar exam a few times. [National Law Journal]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 100 jobs were added to legal sector in November. Cue unemployed lawyers singing: “Santa baby, slip a law job under the tree, for me?” [Am Law Daily]

* Things you can sell as a practicing attorney: your soul, your dignity, and your standards. Things you can’t sell as a practicing attorney: babies (but it sure is a great way to abort your career). [Daily Mail]

* When you earn $1.50 in attorney’s fees, it’s just not worth it to be nice. Something to remember before you take out six figures of loan debt to become a public interest lawyer. [Wall Street Journal]

* A lesson to be learned by all mothers-in-law: you do not question a man’s sexual prowess, even if there’s a chance that he might be shooting blanks. [New York Post]

I recently received an email from an old friend asking for advice on behalf of a relative who is thinking about applying to law school. I was about to respond with a warning about the dangers of taking on massive student loans to get a degree that just might put you on the fast track to unemployment, but then I reread the email and noticed that the young woman in question is thinking about applying to law schools in Canada (she’s Canadian).

O Canada! Their legal education system is different — and, by some accounts, better than ours. At least if you define “better” in terms of “better at getting law school graduates into legal jobs.”

But could things up north be changing — for the worse, eh?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is the Legal Job Crisis Spreading to Canada?”

Congrats to Mike Sacks on his new gig!

* I’m not alone in arguing for apprenticeships in the world of legal education. On the other side of the pond, Chris Ashford likes the idea too. [The Lawyer]

* Speaking of legal education, “Some Things Are Funny in Law School.” [Only in Law School]

* Congratulations to Mike Sacks — founder of First One @ One First, and a past contributor to these pages — on his exciting new job! [ABA Journal; First One @ One First]

* What should rejected applicants to the shrinking DOJ Honors Program do? Let them eat… muffins! Cake can’t hold a candle to $16 muffins. [Constitutional Daily]

* Given my own uneasiness about guns, I’m not so enthusiastic about the right to print arms. [Associate's Mind]

* Professor Glenn Reynolds asks: “Can Lack of Sleep Ruin Your Marriage?” Just ask the divorced denizens of Biglaw. [Instapundit]

Judge Sam Sparks

* Remember the “kindergarten party” that Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) was planning to hold? His Honor has canceled the festivities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Althouse Cohen — yes, son of La Althouse — discusses one way in which Texas might be emulating… Europe? [Jaltcoh]

* Professor Paul Campos opens up a can of whoop-ass on people who say students go to law school — and take on six figures of debt — “for the chance to make a difference.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Musical Chairs: Mr. Quinn Goes To Washington (with the help of three Alston & Bird partners). [ABA Journal]

* The latest news on Stephen McDaniel / Lauren Giddings: if the blue gloves don’t fit, you must acquit? [Macon Telegraph]

* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]

Steven Seagal

* After a judge shot down the effort by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to stop “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” from airing, Arenas’s ex-fiancee, Laura Govan, was allowed to strut her stuff on television — and it wasn’t pretty. [Sister2Sister]

* Congratulations to super-mensch Stanley Levy, senior counsel at Manatt, on winning Am Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011. [American Lawyer]

* And congrats to Masimba Mutamba, a 3L at Miami Law, who has just been awarded an apprenticeship with Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [University of Miami School of Law]

Today we bring you a new installment in our popular series on celebrity summer associates. The stories in this series have been positive and uplifting — but we should note that we welcome tales of summer associate scandal as well.

With the summer winding down, it’s safe to share salacious tales of SA misbehavior. Please submit them by email, to tips@abovethelaw.com (subject line: “Summer Associate Story”), or by text message. As you know, we keep our tipsters anonymous.

Now, on to today’s celebrity summer associate.

Last week, in a piece for the New York Times’s Room for Debate project, I argued for reforming legal education by bringing back apprentices in law. But I was not optimistic about that change happening anytime soon.

Well, it seems that my call for apprentices has been heard. A former star of Donald Trump’s popular reality television show, The Apprentice, is now “apprenticing” at a major law firm, as a summer associate.

Who is this ex-Apprentice, and where is this person working?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Celebrity Summer Associate: An ‘Apprentice’ in Law”

Yale Law School

Here at Above the Law, we’ve been discussing problems with the current law school model for quite some time now. My colleague Elie Mystal, for example, has railed against the high cost of law school, the crippling debt taken on by many law students, and the scarcity of jobs waiting for them on the other side.

By now we’re all aware of the problems. What about possible solutions?

In the wake of David Segal’s most recent New York Times exposé on law school shenanigans, the Times’s Room for Debate section solicited perspectives from a number of experts — including yours truly — on whether and how to reform legal education.

The responses are quite interesting. Let’s check them out, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Broken Law School Model: What Is To Be Done?”

A year ago, Howrey announced that it was slashing first-year starting salaries and radically changing its first-year program. Drinker Biddle had adopted a similar “apprenticeship” approach a few weeks before Howrey. Aside from Howrey, Drinker Biddle, and some firm in Kentucky, no other law firm has tried to sell below market salaries and intensive “training” to new recruits.

Despite the paucity of firms attempting to remake the first year experience, the press remains fascinated by the experiment. In April, the Washington Post did a feature on Howrey’s first year experiment. Today, the National Law Journal has a full breakdown of the year-old program:

Proponents hail the programs as a positive step away from the sink-or-swim environment many young attorneys encounter when they show up at large firms, and as a practical response to the growing cost-consciousness of clients. The firms bill at much lower rates or not at all for work performed by the apprentices, who earn lower salaries than the industry standard.

The three firms that have gone in this direction claim that the apprenticeships are working. But since nobody is following their lead, it’s evident that the rest of Biglaw is not at all convinced…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Press More Fascinated By Apprenticeship Programs than Law Firms”