Education / Schools

'I'm ending my 1L year with a B-minus average. What's the point in going on?'

Lat here. Your Above the Law editors occasionally receive requests for advice from readers, to which we sometimes respond. Back in March, for example, Elie Mystal and I debated the merits of Harvard Law School versus Yale Law School, for the benefit of a prospective law student choosing between these two fine institutions. In case you’re wondering, he’s going to Yale.

(The future Yalie explained his decision this way: “I didn’t want to take the chance that even if I worked harder at HLS, I could still be ranked below enough outstanding students to not impress a professor, land a good clerkship, etc. I also got the impression that this risk-averse mentality was what drove many people who were on the fence between YLS and HLS to eventually choose YLS.”)

Choosing between Harvard and Yale is a high-class problem. Today we look at a situation that we’ve addressed before, in 2010 and 2011, and that continues to confront our readers. The question presented: If you do poorly in law school, should you cut your losses and drop out? Or should you keep on trucking and collect that J.D. degree?

We have two fact patterns. One involves a 1L, and one involves a 2L. Let’s hear them out, shall we?

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Cheating is never okay, right? That’s one central lesson all students are supposed to learn in elementary school (to say nothing of law school). It’s important to be honest. If a student lies or cheats on a test or homework, there are consequences. There’s nothing up for debate here, right?

Well, at least one northern California lawyer thinks it was unjust that his son was booted from an honors English class for plagiarizing. It appears the lesson he hopes to teach his son is: cheating is bad, but it’s more important that schools have crystal-clear academic honesty policies. He is suing his son’s school district, arguing that his son’s punishment does not fit his crime.

Keep reading to see more about our latest Lawsuit of the Day

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I really, really hate being the one to defend stupid teenagers who get expelled from school. The ones who are kicked out for cursing online or for other forms of bullying.

Because I was a teenager once — not even that long ago — and I still clearly remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of horrid teenage evilness. But somehow, I can’t help myself.

So here you go. Keep reading to see why the ACLU is doing the right thing by defending three eighth-grade girls who were expelled for talking about killing people on Facebook

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Now this is a radical nun.

* In America, secret agents drive awesome spy cars. In Soviet Russia, awesome cars spy on you. Actually, cars spy on Americans, too. [Not so Private Parts/Forbes]

* An accused inside trader used his ill-gotten gains to buy a jet, four houses, and an island help the homeless. The government is still prosecuting him. Sir, with all due respect, you are doing it wrong. [Dealbreaker]

* The Vatican is going to crack down on radical nuns. I can’t even think of a good joke because radical and nun so obviously don’t belong in the same sentence. Unless you’re having some sort of nun surfing contest and the Mother Superior catches a really sick wave. [BBC News]

* I frequently get upset with schools that punish students too quickly and harshly for relative nonissues. But hacking into the school attendance system and “selling” absences — yeah, that’s probably not okay. [Bay Citizen]

* Let me explain to you how this works: you see, the corporations finance the law firms, and then the law schools go out… and the corporations sit there in their… in their corporation buildings, and… and, and see, they’re all corporation-y… and they make money… Matt Damon! [Centre Daily]

* Don’t forget to vote for your favorite ATL Law Revue entry. Also, tune in tomorrow to see our picks for honorable mention. [Above the Law]

There’s a great story in the Washington Post this morning about how senior citizens are still struggling to pay off their educational debt. Senior. Citizens. The story says that collectively Americans over 60 owe $36 billion in student debt. That figure includes seniors who have co-signed on loans for their children or grand-children.

And yes, I love the holier-than-thou people who lecture me or other debt-defaulters on our financial responsibilities who went to school by putting their parents or grandparents at financial risk.

But seniors are also in trouble because they took out loans to finance continuing education later in life. I’m sure if you look around your law school, you’ll think of a couple of people who are really too old to be there but were led to believe that one more credential would solve all of their life’s problems.

The senior struggle is just one more indication that our system for financing higher education is about to implode…

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Apparently, this is the kind of image that is just too confusing for the children of New York.

I mentioned this yesterday, but I think it deserves further discussion. In a move that can only be characterized as bizarre, the New York State Department of Education has decided to ban words — lots of words — from standardized tests that cause children to feel bad, confused, or bring up “controversial” topics. Yep, the NY Regents was apparently just too controversial for some parents.

And we’re talking about some very common words here. Words like dinosaur. Dinosaur is deemed “controversial” because it brings up evolution, according to a report in the New York Post. Words like “birthday” are banned because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.

I didn’t know Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t celebrate birthdays. Maybe instead of banning the word “birthday,” they should ask a question like: “Which of the following groups don’t celebrate birthdays?” That way, our children might learn something about other cultures instead of being protected from ever having their precious points of view challenged because of f***ing PC helicopter parenting idiots who are trying ruin America one stupid goddamn rule at a time. It’s not that I don’t care about the views of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Creationists or poor little children who don’t know what a Mercedes is (“Mercedes” is another banned word). It’s that banning words IN NO WAY ADDRESSES THE PROBLEM and is freaking stupid.

In a multicultural society, words are our friends….

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Every so often we hear a new story about a student getting suspended / expelled / paddled for some nonsense offense. These days, the disciplinary problems usually are are a result of some alleged electronic misconduct.

A debate usually follows, where people question the legality and general appropriateness of several issues: was the student punished for something he did at school or at home? Was he or she making some kind of threat, whether serious or sarcastic? How much should a school insert itself into its students’ private lives?

Whatever side of those questions you fall on, at least they are valid points to raise. But what about the student who is expelled for a 2:30 a.m. tweet from his home — a tweet that was simply a juvenile exploration on the word “f***”?

You have to be f***ing kidding me.…

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Georgetown University Law Center (known for its great gym).

I feel very fortunate to have had an idea of what I wanted to do from such a young age, and even more fortunate that it involved graduate school. What can you do with a bachelor’s degree anymore? I’m hoping that the job market will pick up in the three years I spend at law school, because a lot of lawyers are getting laid off. The American Bar Association is even encouraging college students not to apply to law school, citing the bleak job market.

– Noah Rich, a Georgetown 1L who was interviewed by the New York Times as part of the newspaper’s survey of the class of 2011 at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

(It’s hard out there for a class of 2011 college graduate. More findings, and additional law-related tidbits, after the jump.)

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Remember back in high school, when the prospect of being named prom king or queen was oh-so-exciting (or incredibly annoying, depending on your social circle)? Attaining such a title was like winning the grand prize in a four-year long popularity contest. The hottest girl always took home the queen’s crown, and the most beloved football player always took home the queen.

Ah, memories. But what about students who swing a different way? Can they aspire to be crowned at the high school prom? Unfortunately, it looks like one high school in Georgia wants to keep students’ memories of prom as heterosexual as possible. A student body leader claims that he was ousted from his position because of his proposal to open prom royalty positions to gay couples.

Let’s take a look at the allegations made in our Lawsuit of the Day….

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To be fair, this little brat could use some discipline.

Kids say the darndest things. More specifically, a lot of things children say don’t make any sense. That is why you smile and nod as your 5-year-old nephew rambles about the Lion King or Transformers or whatever toy is popular now.

Same goes for children’s drawings. That’s why teachers always say, “Great job Billy. That’s a really nice tree,” even though children are all terrible artists. Maddox might be the only person ever to be honest about children’s art.

But that’s okay. Because why in hell would a kindergartner be a great painter or a master orator? They have no idea what is happening in the world. And that’s why it was completely absurd when a 10-year-old was suspended from school for six days because he unsuccessfully tried to be funny and drew kind of a violent picture in class.

Yesterday, the Second Circuit upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by the boy’s parents five years ago, but the dissenting judge’s opinion showed at least someone behind the bench still understands what it means to be a kid…

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