This has become one of my favorite posts to write every year. The U.S. News 2015 Law School Rankings are out. Some schools did well, some schools dropped like stones, and some deans from some schools send out emails encouraging students that there is NOTHING TO SEE HERE and the U.S. News rankings should be ignored.
Unless they do well. Deans from schools bathing in the warm light of U.S. News send out messages like this one from Florida State’s dean:
I am delighted to report that U.S. News & World Report has ranked Florida State University College of Law as Florida’s #1 law school, at 45th best nationally. Our closest Florida competitor was the University of Florida Levin College of Law, which it ranked at 49th best nationally. Thanks. Don
Donald J. Weidner
Dean and Alumni Centennial Professor
Florida State University College of Law
Undefeated football team, top-ranked law school in Florida, Chief Osceola seems to be leading the University of Florida on a trail of tears.
Congrats to FSU. Now, let’s get to the sad-faced deans….
For the past few years, law schools have been in a state of crisis, and it’s getting worse. Prospective students just aren’t as interested as they used to be in borrowing up to six figures of government Monopoly money in the hope of surviving the post-graduation gauntlet of legal employment. At last count, applicants were down 11.1 percent from this time last year, and national 1L enrollment is down 24 percent from where it was in 2010.
Unable to keep up with the changing times and put asses in seats, law schools are doing anything they can to cut costs — up to and including laying off faculty and staff. Amid hefty declines in enrollment, some schools seem to be struggling.
But which law schools have suffered most? Even though law is a profession obsessed with rankings, this is one list your school probably doesn’t want to be on…
A couple weeks ago, we shared with you some of our survey data, which showed that, generally speaking, law students’ experiences with their schools degrade over time. The ATL Insider Survey asks law students and alumni to rate their schools in the areas of academic instruction, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life. When the ratings by first-year students are compared with those of third-years, the 3L scores are lower across the board, in all categories. In other words, the longer students are exposed to their schools, the lower their regard for the institution becomes. More equals worse.
We wondered whether or how this downward trajectory manifests itself after the students become alumni. After the jump, we compare the perceptions of students to those of graduates. The answer may surprise you, but probably not. Also, we identify the law schools where there is the greatest contrast between the views of current students and alumni — both negatively and positively….
* Should the mentally disabled receive the death penalty? Neither SCOTUS nor Georgia’s Supreme Court stayed Warren Lee Hill’s execution, but the Eleventh Circuit saved the day. [Washington Post]
* If you’re looking for a mishmosh of Biglaw news, from new offices to new hires to new firm leaders, then look no further. If only this list were in alphabetical order! [Law Firm Insider / U.S. News & World Report]
* Dewey know why this partner who was sued by Barclays in the U.K. over his capital loan is suing the bank in the U.S.? It involves an alleged fraud and Joel Sanders. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* So much for that “silly sideshow”: Judge Richard Sullivan of the S.D.N.Y. hasn’t made a ruling in the Greenlight case yet, but he says David Einhorn may have a “likelihood of success on the merits” if the matter proceeds further. [Bloomberg]
* One of the partners at this small law firm apparently watched Secretary a few too many times, and he’s now accused of threatening to “whip” his ex-assistant into shape because she was a “bad girl.” [New York Post]
* The University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law named an interim successor to former dean Hiram Chodosh, but we can’t say he’s a law dean hottie. He looks like Van Pelt from Jumanji. [Salt Lake Tribune]
* The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law will house the first clinic in the nation devoted to pardons and the law. It figures that a religious school would focus on legal Hail Marys. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Career alternatives for law school dropouts: mining magnate and financier of the Titanic II. Much like the value proposition of going to law school for today’s generation, this idea is unsinkable. [New York Times]
* Prosecutors have upgraded the charge against Oscar Pistorius to premeditated murder, and one could now say the track star doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to being released on bail pending trial. [CNN]
* D is for… divorce? Sesame Street is talking about divorce in a way that children can understand, but alas, the series neglects important topics like “why mommy is a whore” and “why daddy drinks.” [Law Firm Newswire]
* Chief Justice John Roberts gave a Solicitor General’s Office attorney a vicious tongue-lashing for failure to be upfront about policy changes between presidents. Now that’s what we’d call a verbal benchslap! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* When asked if they’d be following Cravath’s bonuses, a dozen Am Law 100 firms didn’t even care to respond or discuss the matter. It seems the partners would rather keep their associates squirming with suspense a while longer. [Am Law Daily]
* Watch out, world, because Catholic University of America just hired a Biglaw senior partner to lead its law school. Say hello to Dean Daniel Attridge, formerly managing partner at the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis. [National Law Journal]
* A federal judge ordered tobacco companies to disclose in product warnings that they chemically induce smoking addictions to turn a profit, but those fools will keep puffing their cancer sticks anyway. [WSJ Law Blog]
* This just in from Flori-duh: you know you’re probably going to have a bad day in court when the judge won’t declare a mistrial even though the prosecutor technically wasn’t a member of the state Bar. [Miami Herald]
Lawyers tend to overindulge in the finer things in life — things like designer clothes, fast cars, and luxurious lawyerly lairs. Unfortunately, lawyers also tend to overindulge in alcohol. In fact, according to the ABA, about 13 percent of lawyers qualify as alcoholics. Keeping that in mind, practicing law may be fine preparation for a new career in the wine bar business.
Meet Elizabeth Banker. This former in-house lawyer for Yahoo! and current counsel at ZwillGen is putting her legal career aside to follow something she’s been passionate about since her college days: wine. (Despite sharing a surname, apparently she’s not a fan of Banker’s Club vodka.)
Back in the day, Banker drank gallon-sized jugs of Chablis. Since then, her “tastes have evolved,” and now she’s more of a high-class sommelier. Let’s learn more about Banker’s new business, and find out when opening day will be….
Apparently, suing law schools isn’t a fool’s errand.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law filed a motion to dismiss its class action lawsuit over its employment statistics this summer. On a conference call with Team Strauss/Anziska today, we learned that TJSL’s motion has been denied.
Guess that means we’re in for the long haul with these lawsuits.
Three other law schools have filed motions to dismiss — New York Law School, Cooley Law, and Florida Coastal. Will this be the start of a trend?
When we last checked in with the attorneys responsible for the law school litigation movement, we were informed that “a very big announcement” would be coming in the “next few days.” With a promise to make 2012 the “year of law school litigation,” Team Strauss/Anziska is working hard to remain true to its word. March isn’t even over, and they’ve already sued 12 law schools. In fact, they’re so efficient that we only had to wait one day for the big reveal.
Today, the lawyers leading the law school litigation squad announced that they are planning to target 20 more law schools for class action lawsuits over their allegedly deceptive post-graduation employment statistics. This time around, you may be surprised by some of the law schools that appear on their list.
Is your law school or alma mater going to be a defendant?
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
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