Brooklyn Law School

Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that made up the top half of the traditional second tier. And when we say the “traditional second tier,” we’re harkening back to a time when not all law schools with numerical rankings were classified as “first tier” educational institutions — a time when not all law deans could defend their law school’s rank by telling students and alumni that the school was still in the “first tier.” It’s not an elitist thing, we promise. It’s just much, much easier this way.

That being said, today we’ll take a look at the schools ranked #76 through #98 (where there’s a four-way tie). What does it take to be recognized as a Top 100 law school by U.S. News these days? Apparently your graduates need to be employed….

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One reason law schools care about the U.S. News law school rankings so much is because prospective law students care about the U.S. News law school rankings. The other reason is that people get fired when their schools drop too long and too far in the rankings.

Every year, deans and assistant deans find themselves “pushed out” of a job thanks to the U.S. News rankings. Law schools and university presidents rarely say outright that changes are being made in response to the magazine, but let’s just say that Kenneth Randall, dean of the rising Alabama Law School, is probably very safe in his job for another year.

This year, the rankings seem to have already claimed their first assistant dean casualty. But what’s fun this time around is that students at two law schools have started petitions demanding that their deans get canned for poor performance in U.S. News.

It’s entirely possible that U.S. News is getting more powerful in a market of declining law school applications….

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Talking Heads was a teensy bit before my time, but some of you know the above lyric. I came into my own with music right around “Burning Down the House.” It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started to appreciate the world of music instead of my world of music. Living in New York City at the time of Dinkins showed me just enough rough trade to appreciate what New York was like in the 70s. Today, clubs like CBGBs and Wetlands are but mere memories for those of us with enough memory remaining. If you want a taste of “old” New York, I recommend watching “Dog Day Afternoon,” or even “Do the Right Thing.”

These days it’s almost embarrassing to walk through Times Square with its Disney-fied atmosphere. I am all for safety when walking the streets of Manhattan, but velvet ropes outside of my old dive bars in now gentrified neighborhoods make me long for the days when the City had some edge. Some of you may not believe this, but Bryant Park was once avoided like the plague after a certain hour. There used to be a bar guide put out by some enterprising young men, and my then-girlfriend — now wife of 20 years — once highlighted the names of the watering holes we had visited. When we realized we had been in fully 70% of the bars in the book, we knew it might be time for a change.

The 70% part is absolutely true, but the real reason we left Manhattan was that she got into school in Boston and my acting career was at a standstill…

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I’m not going to lie, these are quickly becoming my favorite columns to write every year.

For approximately 364 days a year, law school deans are free to tell us how great their schools are without being forced to provide any data to support their claims of being the best law school for whatever. But one day, each law school must confront the stark reality of their U.S. News law school ranking. They can disparage the rankings, get angry at the rankings, or boast about the rankings (if they’re lucky). But deans ignore the rankings at their own peril.

And so some deans are forced to address their schools’ poor rankings. They are free to spin things however they want, but for one day, they’re not operating in a vacuum. There is an objective fact that is just a little bit beyond their powers of self-reporting manipulation.

It’s a fun day….

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Apologies to the Saul Steinberg Foundation.

New York City is the logical starting point for this occasional series highlighting law schools in specific locales. New Yorkers’ self-regard is bloated enough to believe they are at the Center of the Universe and that everything that happens there is naturally interesting to everyone, everywhere. The ATL Insider Survey asks, among other things, current law students to rate how their schools are doing in terms of academics, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life.

After the jump, check out how the students at Columbia, NYU, NYLS, Hofstra, Fordham, St. John’s, CUNY, Seton Hall, Rutgers-Newark, and Brooklyn rate their institutions. Somehow we don’t have sufficient survey responses from Pace or Touro….

UPDATE (5:45 p.m.): Apologies to Cardozo Law School. You were mistakenly left out of the initial version of this post and we have revised it to include you.

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In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

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My friends, today we have reached a singular height of self-serving hypocrisy. We’ve got a law professor out with the helpful suggestion that the way to deal with the vast oversupply of law school graduates who don’t have jobs is for law firms to collusively decide to pay the people they do hire less money.

According to this professor, law firms will magically hire more people if they just didn’t have to pay as much as $160,000 for new associates. Of course, the argument completely ignores the fact that Biglaw firms could find associates on the street willing to work for nine bucks an hour and a Metro card if they really wanted more people. It overlooks the reality that firms are more interested in hiring as many people as they need, not enough people to make sure law schools are happy. But what does this guy care? He’s a law professor, and as long as he’s shifting the blame away from law schools to somebody else, it’s a deflection mechanism worth putting on the internet.

So yeah, let’s all take a look at the latest bit of horrible logic coming from somebody who is happily profiteering off of the oversupply of young attorneys but is eager to blame somebody else for the crisis that pays his salary. It’ll be good fun…

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Paul Cravath does not approve of this post.

Light years away and in the distant future, perhaps some alien grad student in Defunct Planet Studies will stumble onto the ATL archives. He’ll conclude, not unreasonably, that the legal industry was a sort of oligopoly. That there were only a handful of firms: Skadden, Cravath, Latham, Quinn Emanuel, Tannebaum Weiss, and those few others that get such a disproportionate amount of our attention. And of course, there were only 14 real law schools.

This singular obsession with “prestige,” this mindset that the most elite firms and schools are the only worthy ones, is detached from the experiences of the vast majority of lawyers practicing at the 50,000 other firms and the students at the 180+ other law schools. Back in December, we had a little debate about the effect of prestige in the legal industry. In the spirit of the “prestige obsession is bad” side of that argument, we thought it would be worthwhile to see which firms and schools outside of the very top tiers are, according to insiders, great places to work or learn.

Over the course of 2012, we received close to 10,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey, where lawyers rate their firms based on compensation, culture, morale, training, and culture, and students and alumni rate their schools based on academics, social life, clinical training, career services, and financial aid advising. Based on our survey, the most highly rated firms and schools also happened to among the most prestigious (e.g., Stanford, Davis Polk), but there is certainly not a correlation between prestige and insider rating.

After the jump, we’ll see which schools outside of the T14 and which firms outside the Vault 50 were rated the highest by their own people….

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The train to crazy town is now entering the station.

I was getting worried. It’s almost Christmas, and I hadn’t seen one really good “law student meltdown” during finals period. Until today. Today, the good students at Brooklyn Law School provided me with my favorite semiannual experience of following along as a law student cracks under the pressure over email for every one to see. It’s like watching Gollum scamper out on screen and thinking, “Yes, this is why I’ve committed 29 hours to see this movie.”

Allow me to set the stage. It’s a three hour exam: one hour of multiple choice, two hours of essays. The exam is being administered in two different rooms. The proctors are supposed to collect the multiple choice section after the first hour. And that happens in exam room 601. But in exam room 603, the proctors don’t collect the multiple choice; instead, they leave it with the students as they hand out the essay section. So, arguably students in room 603 had two “extra hours” to fiddle with the multiple choice section if they wanted to.

And this caused one Brooklyn Law student who took the exam in room 601 to basically lose his freaking mind and try to start a grassroots campaign to get the multiple choice section nullified.

It’s pretty funny, in a “crazy person loses his s*** in public” kind of way….

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A 43-year-old trust fund baby?

Talk about #RichPeopleProblems. And #DaddyIssues.

A prominent Manhattan lawyer is suing his own daughter. For libel. Because she allegedly harmed his reputation. By seeking an accounting of her trust fund. Which he set up for her and reportedly administers. Got that?

Yes, Dad v. Daughter. How could something this messed-up not be our Lawsuit of the Day? Especially given the claimed size of the trust fund, stocked with such goodies as Hamptons real estate?

It’s hard to get one’s head around these allegations, but the litigation is for real. Let’s take a look at the competing claims. And how much the trust fund was supposedly worth at one point — we’re talking seven figures here….

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