Clinics

It’s not a change in concept for us. It’s a change in numbers in some ways.

– Professor Jeffrey Gutman, the director of George Washington Law School’s Public Justice Advocacy clinic, explaining the impact of the ABA’s new rules requiring students to rack up six credits in a clinic or some other “practical” experience before graduating. Speaking of changes in numbers, so much for all those lower-tier schools banking their reputations on their “practice-ready training” now that the top schools have to throw their money into clinical programs for every student.

Casey Anthony

* Squire Patton Boggs has announced the new leadership structure of its lobbying and public policy practice. It’s really no surprise that the head honchos of the group hail from the Patton Boggs side of the recent merger. [Politico]

* “It’s funny how the Supreme Court reaches down and picks this case.” The most important digital privacy case of our time just happened to be filed by Stanford Law’s SCOTUS Litigation Clinic. Awesome. [San Jose Mercury News]

* If you’re caught on camera sleeping during a Yankees/Red Sox game, you can probably expect abuse from ESPN announcers. If you call someone an “unintelligent fatty” as an announcer, you can probably expect a $10M defamation suit. [New York Post]

* “I’m proud to do my job.” Madonna finally rescheduled her jury duty session in New York City, but she was dismissed early so as not to create a “further distraction for the courthouse.” [New York Daily News]

* It’s been three years since Casey Anthony was acquitted of her daughter’s murder. Let us remember this most amazing voicemail: “CASEY ANTHONY NEEDS TO ROT IN HELL! SHE NEEDS TO DIE!” [CNN]

Don Draper would be impressed with this one.

A law school that perennially gets the bottom-tier/unranked tag from U.S. News and has never been ranked by the ATL Top 50 — indeed, a strong contender in this year’s Worst Law School bracket — is billing itself to prospective students as a bona fide peer of schools like Duke, Northwestern, and even Yale.

You know what it takes to sell underachieving law schools? It takes brass balls.

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Be careful who you nominate for “Teacher of the Year.”

A law professor was named “Experiential Professor of the Year” at her law school, but she didn’t appreciate the qualifier. Evidently, some people are offended by backhanded compliments like “tallest midget” or “valedictorian of Cooley.”

I’m kidding, but this law professor is certainly not. In a letter to faculty, she calls out the “express ghetto-ization and limitation through labeling” inherent when you distinguish between “clinical” faculty and “regular” faculty….

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It’s been an eventful couple of weeks between the NCAA Tournament and the Worst Law School bracket. Maybe the Warren Buffett billion dollar bracket didn’t work out, but I am guaranteed to win the ATL bracket, which is pretty sweet.

So you will forgive me for not noticing this until now. While perusing Law School Lemmings, I noticed this gem:

Maybe this is the sort of program I needed before I tried to fill out my bracket…

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A lot of ink is spilled over whether or not law schools are failing to produce “practice ready” lawyers. What does it mean to be practice ready? There really isn’t a great definition. I mean, do we want law students to walk out prepared to run their own firms? Argue before the Supreme Court? Draft a credit-default swap agreement from memory? Serve as a bankruptcy trustee? How much practical know-how should we demand our law schools instill?

That doesn’t really matter, “practice ready” looks great on a bumper sticker.

For my money, the phrase means lawyers prepared enough not to drool on their desks when a partner (or supervisor or judge) starts showing them the way they want their young lawyers to practice law. Because make no mistake, lawyers are always practice unready in the eyes of their employers until they do the job exactly the employers’ way. This is why clinics serve an important role in law schools. Not that 6 months of being a glorified paralegal builds a wealth of practical legal know-how, but because 6 months of trying to figure out how to deploy what you do happen to know to satisfy a demanding legal boss is the soul of being a junior lawyer.

To that end, there’s a new ranking of the top clinical programs in law schools with some surprising (or not, depending on your point of view) results….

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Did you know you can do a clinic at Yale Law School if you are a 1L? I’d imagine that a lot of schools offer this kind of experiential learning given the current market conditions, but Yale Law has been doing it for a while. It seems a bit aggressive to allow 1Ls to talk to real people with actual problems, but I spent my first year trying to figure out how to keep my drinking up at college levels, so what do I know?

Apparently Yale Law touts first-year clinical experience as a “thing” that sets Yale apart — as if its top ranking wasn’t enough for students with an embarrassment of good choices. Our own David Lat took part in a clinic as a 1L; it continued into his 2L year, when he conducted a trial and got a published opinion (he won the case, because of course he did).

Lat got to do all that, and he is a man. I’m not saying that those two things are connected, but some people at YLS are questioning whether these clinical placements are equally open to women…

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It has become a somewhat common refrain from legal education types that law schools should do more to produce “practice ready” graduates in response to the tight job market for lawyers.

You haven’t heard much of that BS coming from me though. I’ve pretty consistently said “the tuition is too damn high.” I think the pedagogical infighting over “theory” courses versus “practical” courses is irrelevant when people are graduating from lower-ranked law schools with $100,000 (or more) in student loan debt. I view the “practice ready” debate as just another attempt by law school deans to justify their high salaries and the salaries of their faculty, salaries that are unsustainable for any school that wants to get serious about cutting costs.

Finally, there’s a law professor who agrees with me. Or at the very least equally disagrees with the notion of “practice readiness” as a panacea to the problems with legal education. University of Maryland law professor Robert Condlin calls the practice-ready concept a “millennialist fantasy.”

Again, I don’t think it’s a millennailist problem so much as it’s the last desperate ravings of old people determined to continue fleecing millennails, but we can figure out whom to blame later…

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Tax Men?

* Oh, and by the way, it’s not just Verizon that the NSA is spying on. It’s every major phone and internet provider, too. They must see an amazing amount of foreign pornography on video chat. [Guardian]

* The IRS is under siege over its conservative targeting scandal, and now a training video parodying Mad Men has surfaced with a focus on “customer service.” How incredibly ironic. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Francine Griesing, the woman who sued Greenberg Traurig for $200M over the firm’s so-called “boys’ club” (and later quietly settled), has tips for women who want to succeed in the law. [Am Law Daily]

* This ruling has to do with collecting fees following a law school clinic victory, but the key takeaway is that law students’ “time and effort still has monetary value.” Hear that, ABA? [National Law Journal]

* Rutgers Law-Camden is trying to recover from “an existential threat” after its class size unexpectedly dropped by more than 50 percent. But… that’s a good thing these days. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

* A judge dismissed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA for “fail[ing] to advance the ball.” How kind of her to entertain us with some football references. [Legal Intelligencer]