Chicago Law

Make fun of the University of Chicago Law School’s law-and-economics focus all you want. Their graduates make good use of the training, enjoying tremendous success in the business world. Some of them go on to become billionaires — and then make eight-figure gifts to their alma mater.

The legal eagle featured in today’s Lawyerly Lairs coverage isn’t a billionaire, but he has done very, very well for himself, in both business and politics. And real estate: he just sold his urban mansion for more than $11 million.

You’ll feel pangs of envy when you find out how little he paid for it — and when you see what a beautiful property it is….

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You’ve given a lot to your law school. There was that dumpload of tuition, of course. There was the immediate boost you gave their U.S. News Ranking when they got to count you as employed within nine months of graduation. And there’s the fact that you don’t reach through the phone and strangle them when they call asking for even more money every week.

Isn’t it time the law school gave something back? In addition to that J.D. that’s rapidly diminishing in value, I mean.

It’s the holiday season and one law school decided to get into the Christmas spirit and sent its alums an email with the subject line, “A Gift from the Law School.”

No more waiting, let’s tear off the wrapping paper and see what some law school generously gave its alums…

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Reasonable minds can disagree on how to reform law school, but here’s one thing that almost everyone can agree upon: the tuition is too darn high. In an ideal world, legal education would be much more affordable. Not everyone has wealthy parents who insist on paying for college and graduate school.

Alas, we’re probably not going to see major change on that front anytime soon. As long as the federal government keeps the loan money flowing, law schools have little incentive to lower tuition.

So, at least for now, we’ll have to settle for more modest measures at controlling cost. For example, law schools can and should devote greater resources to scholarships, which lower the effective price tag of a J.D. degree.

One leading law school just received a gigantic gift — which it’s putting towards scholarships, to its credit. Which law school is on the receiving end of this largesse, and how much is it getting?

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Raise your hand if you like prestige. Alright, you can all put your hands down, because we’re about to drop some news on you about one of the most prestigious career paths available in the legal profession. Of course, we’re talking about federal clerkships, which are great opportunities to pursue if you’re lucky enough to be given the chance — not to mention the fact that if you happen to be clerking for a feeder judge, you might just have it made (the going rate for a SCOTUS clerkship bonus is $280K!!!).

In our coverage of career placement statistics from the most recent graduating law school class, we’ve tackled a wide range of career options, from professional couch-sitters to “elite” Biglaw associates. Today, we’re bringing you news on clerkships from the God of Rankings himself, Bob Morse of the U.S. News law school rankings.

So are you ready to see the law schools that had the highest percentages of graduates move on to become federal clerks? Let’s check out the list….

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This is the third in a series of posts looking at how law schools in specific markets stack up based on the results of our ATL Insider Survey. Very few law schools are truly national institutions. Typically, the majority of graduates don’t stray too far from their alma maters, so the strongest network will be local, for local jobs. It’s to your advantage to go to school where you want to practice, sometimes even more so than going to a higher-ranked school.

In recent weeks, we’ve looked at our survey results pertaining to Boston and New York-area law schools. We examined how current law students rate their schools in terms of academics, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life.

Today we turn to Chicago. Which school was highest rated by its current students in all but one category?

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As some of you may have heard, U.S. News & World Report, which used to be a magazine found in dentists’ offices, released its annual law school rankings last week. This event sparked even more than the usual amount of angst and hysteria among law deans and students. Well, then again, this is already the 9th post on ATL concerning this set of rankings, so maybe we’re not helping. Some deans’ heads have rolled already, and angry student petitions are calling for more blood. (Do these reactions among law students run one way though? The anger sparked by a drop in rankings does not necessarily mean an inverse spike in happiness when a school climbs up, as this great pairing of gifs from someone at Chicago Law illustrates.)

Anyway, much of the heightened attention is due to the revisions U.S. News made to their rankings methodology, which now applies different weights to different employment outcomes, giving full weight only to full-time jobs where “bar passage is required or a J.D. gives them an advantage.” Whatever that last bit means. And they won’t tell us exactly how “part-time” and other categories of employment outcomes factor in. But it is at least an acknowledgement on their part of the perception that, as Staci said yesterday, “all anyone cares about are employment statistics.” (We’ll get back to whether that’s strictly true.) Then again, if employment outcomes make up only 14% of your ranking formula for a professional school, you’re doing it wrong. What would a better, more relevant rankings methodology even look like?

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* Mary Jo White isn’t the only Debevoise partner who will face high scrutiny while being vetted for the SEC. Andrew Ceresney may be up for co-chief of enforcement. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The Crowell & Moring ethics complaint alleging the firm suggested Appalachians have family circles instead of family trees was chalked up to an “inbreeding memo mishap.” [Am Law Daily]

* A panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department will hold court at St. John’s School of Law next month. Perhaps the students will be a little less embarrassed happier with the school now. [New York Law Journal]

* Patrick Fitzgerald, ex-U.S. attorney and current Skadden partner, will teach a course in national security law at Chicago Law School. Attend his class, lest his “extraordinary brilliance” go to waste. [National Law Journal]

* Looks like somebody forgot about Dre. The rapper’s headphones company, Beats By Dr. Dre, is now going after people for trying to register anything with “beat” or “beats” as trademarks. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Ross Ehlinger, a litigator who died while competing in the Alcatraz triathlon, RIP. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Excited about fashion law?

* Good news, everyone! According to Citi’s Managing Partner Confidence Index survey, firm leaders are feeling pessimistic about their business due to an overall lack of confidence in the economy. [Am Law Daily]

* Per the Ninth Circuit, an Idaho statute that essentially criminalizes medication-induced abortions imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. Really? You don’t say. [Bloomberg]

* Kiwi Camara’s circuitous route to SCOTUS: thanks to the Eighth Circuit, Jammie Thomas-Rasset started and ended her journey with $222K damages for copyright infringement. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Was Barack Obama ever offered a tenured position on the faculty at University of Chicago Law School? Absolutely not, says longtime law professor Richard Epstein — and he was never a “constitutional law professor” either. [Daily Caller]

* “Fashion law is a real career choice,” says Gibson Dunn partner Lois Herzeca. This niche practice area is one of the hottest new trends in the fashion world, and it’s not likely to go out of style any time soon. [Reuters]

* Your clawback suit is a wonderland? John Mayer was named as a defendant in a suit filed by trustees seeking to recover money paid out by Ponzi schemer Darren Berg. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]

* J. Christopher Stevens, UC Hastings Law grad and U.S. Ambassador to Libya, RIP. [CNN]

* Who needs a Declaration of Internet Freedom when the government supports protesting citizens who go buckwild in the streets? The European Union voted against ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. [Associated Press]

* Kenneth Schneider, the former Debevoise & Plimpton associate serving a 15-year sentence for forcing a Russian teenager to be his sex slave, was suspended from practice pending further disciplinary proceedings. [New York Law Journal]

* Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator who intercepted voicemail messages on behalf of News of the World, lost a bid to remain silent about who commissioned his services. Rupert’s gonna be sooo pissed. [New York Times]

* Congratulations to the team from the University of Chicago Law School that won the United States Supreme Court Prediction Competition. They won $5K for betting on their Con Law nerd-dom. [SCOTUS Competition]

* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. is expected to rule on George Zimmerman’s motion for bond today, and perhaps he won’t be so quick to forget that the defendant already lied to the court to get out of jail. [Orlando Sentinel]

* “You can’t just arbitrarily add anything you want to a sentence.” Well, it looks like you can, because in addition to jail time, a judge in South Carolina tacked on a Biblical book report to this woman’s sentence. [Daily Mail]