Education / Schools

Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

Whether teaching is an art or a science, it requires much more than knowledge of the substantive subject. An understanding of the material is necessary but not sufficient. Effective teaching also demands that the teacher and the students as a group develop a relationship of mutual respect and trust. The classroom dynamic is paramount.

This semester, I co-taught a class with Professor Roger Park. I mean a single class session, not the whole course.

It was terrific to be back in the classroom. That is the point of the entire enterprise in which we are engaged. A law school exists to train people to become advocates and counselors.

The experience reminded me of the importance of rapport based on the implicit pledge that the teacher is on the same side as the students. I have an opinion about effective pedagogy that may seem radical but is not really upon reflection. My hypothesis is that there is not much correlation between knowledge of a subject and success in communicating it to others…

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The Donald

I assure you I have many more important things to talk to the president about than the fact that we busted this penny-ante fraud…. [Trump] seems to be the kind of person who goes to the Super Bowl and thinks the people in the huddle are talking about him.

– New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking to Vanity Fair about Schneiderman’s lawsuit against Trump University. According to Vanity Fair, “Trump claims that Schneiderman cooked up the lawsuit after visiting with President Obama.”

In battles between university presidents and law deans, the university president always wins. The university presidents have the backing of boards of trustees who barely know what is going on. Law deans usually don’t have the ear of the powerful people who actually make decisions about how universities are run.

But not this time; this time everybody loses. The dean who challenged his president is no longer the dean, but the president is now no longer a university president. And the law students… well, they were probably screwed a long time ago…

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Nobody wants to take my side when I say that humiliation should not make you legally culpable for somebody else’s suicide, but I hope we’re all starting to see the dangers of letting these anti-bullying laws (and the scared parents who support them) go unchecked and unopposed. As seen around the internet, a Texas high school football team is being investigated for “bullying” another team that it beat 91-0.

That’s right folks, one parent thinks that running up the score in high school football could be bullying. I bet that parent is also pissed off that little Johnny didn’t get a participation trophy for being on the losing side of a 91-0 score. There are any number of valuable lessons children can learn from a total defeat. These include: getting back on the horse after getting knocked down, the value of a lost cause, hell, even learning when to quit because you are completely outmatched and might hurt yourself is a useful lesson in cultures that value living to fight another day.

But no, this parent wants the kid to learn that even when you get the snot kicked out of you, fair-and square, you should still figure out if there’s anybody you can whine and complain to because the mean boys didn’t let you have a touchdown.

Since this is Texas, I’m forced to blame Ted Cruz: obviously his sore loser approach to national politics is starting to affect his constituents…

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Do you ‘Like’ weird stories? Keep reading.

It’s a bizarre tale. Here’s what happened, according to law enforcement allegations.

On a Facebook page called UW Crushes, where University of Wyoming students could post anonymous, flirtatious notes to one another, the following posting appeared: “I want to hatef**k Meg Lanker Simons so hard. That chick runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its so hot and makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican b**ch.”

The post attracted national attention — and outrage. A rally against “rape culture” took place at UW. University officials condemned the incident and launched an investigation.

Then things got… weird. After conducting an investigation, police came to the conclusion that the “hatef**k” posting was written by none other than Lanker-Simons herself. Lanker-Simons got charged with a misdemeanor count of interfering with a peace officer, arising out of her alleged obstruction of the investigation. According to the Laramie Boomerang, Lanker-Simons will plead “no contest” very soon.

And now the story has a connection to the legal profession: the alleged hoax artist is going to law school. Because of course she’s going to law school. Legal education is, after all, a popular option among murderers, bank robbers, perpetrators of hate crimes, and other colorful characters.

So where is she enrolled? Might she be your classmate?

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Novus Law School’s epitaph?

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), Above the Law will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will be back in full force tomorrow.

* Justice stops for no one, not even a broken Congress. With the end of days approaching quickly for federal courts in terms of funding (or the lack thereof), many judges are lashing out and declaring all their employees essential. [National Law Journal]

* Legal expenses can be especially “painful,” even for the biggest of banks, but sadist firms like Sullivan & Cromwell, Paul Weiss, and WilmerHale are really getting their rocks off on Jamie Dimon’s suffering. [DealBook / New York Times]

* DLA Piper’s future’s so bright it’s got to wear shades — and appoint a new co-managing partner in New York City, its largest office. Congratulations to Richard Hans, you’ve co-made it! [New York Law Journal]

* “It’s not just about me.” Jim Tanner, a Williams & Connolly partner who represents Jeremy Lin, is leaving the firm to start his own sports management business, and he’s taking people with him. [Bloomberg]

* “I have no apologies to make about anything I did.” Steven Donziger of Chevron/Ecuador infamy will be defending himself in court this week in what’s being called a legal cage match. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Touro is asking a judge to declare the school a diploma mill.” Irony alert: Touro wants Novus University Law School, a school supposedly conferring “worthless law degrees,” to be stopped. [New York Post]

* If you think SCOTUS abused its discretion in the early abortion cases, you’re going to love this book (affiliate link), a “cautionary tale” about consequences of decisions like Roe v. Wade. [Wall Street Journal]

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Legal secretaries and other support staffers aren’t the only folks getting exiled from Biglaw. Partners who lie on their résumés are getting shown the door too.

In the prestige-soaked precincts of Biglaw, the pressure to inflate one’s credentials is understandable. Once you’re above a certain threshold, the quality of legal work can be hard to judge. In other fields of endeavor, you either can do it or you can’t — write code for a specific program, execute a triple Lutz, surgically reattach a severed hand (my dad can do this, in case you ever need his services).

In law, many people can write a brief or negotiate a contract. It then becomes a matter of how well you can do these things — and pedigree inevitably colors the evaluation of the legal services rendered.

In light of all this, a lawyer’s lying on his CV might be understandable — but it’s still a firing offense. A Biglaw partner learned this lesson the hard way….

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You gotta grow up sometime.

Quick question: when is your child no longer a “child,” so that you are not legally obligated to support the bugger when you are a non-custodial parent?

If you answered “over 18,” you might be wrong, depending on your state. Some states require you to pay child support for college expenses even after your kids are no longer minors. Sounds “enlightened,” doesn’t it? I’m sure it does if you are a university president who enjoys charging as much as possible for tuition. I’m telling you, birth control is the biggest bargain in the world.

A decision last week will take one state off the list of those with an extended definition of childhood. The decision can be looked at in a lot of ways: it’s a strike against the extended childhood of millennials, while at the same time registering as a shot to single parents trying to do their best for their children. And the decision is penned by a wackadoodle judge who probably thinks this will help Jesus in his eternal quest to keep people locked into loveless marriages.

It’s fun for the whole family…

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* With all the focus on law schools, medical schools are quietly dropping the last year of schooling. If they can cut out a year of learning how to keep people alive, we can drop a year of learning Jane Austen and the Law. [The Atlantic]

* MoFo lost a T&E team to Shartsis Friese. Hmm…. Maybe Shartsis should put ego aside and let Friese have his day in the sun. [Am Law Daily]

* Congrats to Bayan Alzahran, the first licensed female lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Soon she’ll be valiantly trying to keep people from being stoned to death with the best of them. [Al Arabiya]

* Good news, recovering criminals! As we mentioned earlier today (ninth link), mug shot extortion sites are getting whipped by Google. [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]

* God needs a lawyer in federal district court? Paging Roy Cohn. [Forbes]

* If you’re interested in international law, International Law Weekend is coming up. Maybe Vladimir Putin will show up and learn a thing or two. [International Law Students Association]

Three of your Above the Law editors — David Lat, Elie Mystal, and Joe Patrice — met up in the ATL offices earlier this week to discuss whether going to business school is a better financial decision than going to law school.

Spoiler alert: Elie thinks law schools cost too much.

The gang weighs in, after the jump….

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