Elitism

If television producers put up this Craigslist ad because they were casting for a reality show about a bunch of lawyers living in a D.C. house, then this would make sense. Every week, two of the housemates have to argue why they should stay and another should go. People would watch it.

But this isn’t a television producer being polite, this is law graduates being real. A group of self-described, recent law school graduates are looking for another roommate who must also be a recent law grad — preferably one who is clerking or working for a Congressional committee.

It seems like instead of looking for a roommate on Craigslist, they should be using LinkedIn…

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I’ll have been here for six years this summer, and I still read most of the comments to most of my posts. I rarely respond, unless I’ve been drinking, which I do almost constantly, so you do the math. But it’s been years since I’ve directly addressed commenter concerns in an actual post.

In my post about the Ivy League law grad who is struggling to pass the bar and build a career, I expressed sympathy for the graduate’s plight. It was a sad story that was powerfully expressed and tugged at my nearly blocked heart.

But commenters claimed that my sympathetic response to the Ivy League grad was because the person went to top law schools. They argued that I would not be nearly as nice to a person who struggled in the same way after going to a non-elite school.

If I my channel my inner Nathan Jessup: YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I WOULDN’T….

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Usually, when we discuss terrible jobs we’re talking about an employer offering a very low salary (or asking for payment), for a low-level, menial job. This time, the hourly rate is actually pretty decent — at least when you can find the work.

It’s one of the requirements that seems totally ridiculous and newsworthy:

Ivy League or comparable only, please.

This is not going to be a post about how contract work is beneath Ivy league (or comparable) attorneys. This is going to be a post about what kind of a giant douchebag you have to be to feel like your collection work can only be completed by Ivy league attorneys….

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It’s a good news, bad news kind of thing for associates at Kirkland & Ellis.

The good news: their bonuses are much better than the “scraps thrown to the troglodytes slaving away at Cravath,” according to one tipster.

The bad news: the bonuses don’t seem to be as generous as last year’s, and some associates made less in real dollars this year than last year, despite billing the same amount of hours and being a year more senior.

So not everybody at Kirkland is happy, which is weird because usually K&E gives its people happy juice before they talk to anybody.

Of course, when your firm uses Cravath as a baseline for your bonuses, happiness is a relative term….

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Courtney Horne

You can’t keep a good story down. And the case of Courtney Horne v. Donald North, currently being tried in the court of public opinion, is a good story.

We first mentioned this ugly spat between a former law student at Southern University Law Center and her former criminal law professor in passing. Readers clamored for more coverage. So we did a follow-up post, a quick Quote of the Day — which racked up thousands upon thousands of pageviews.

So let’s give you what you want: more discussion of Courtney Horne, Professor North, and Southern University Law Center (SULC)….

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In early 2010, we reported that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told law students at the University of Florida that he was displeased when he found out that his October Term 2008 clerks — who hailed from George Mason, Rutgers, George Washington, and Creighton law schools — were being referred to as “TTT” by the internet’s “self-proclaimed smart bloggers.” (And just as we did in 2010, we’ll again remind our readers that such a label didn’t come from Above the Law editors; we adore SCOTUS clerks, no matter their alma mater.)

On Friday, Justice Thomas again spoke to students at UF Law, and reiterated his prior thoughts on Ivy League bias in the hiring of The Elect. Though Thomas is a graduate of Yale Law School himself, he’s an equal opportunity justice in that he much prefers to choose his clerks from the ranks of the non-Ivies.

Let’s check out some additional thoughts from Justice Thomas on clerkship hiring, how he’d like his epitaph to be worded, and the most important decision the court has made since he was sworn in….

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'Find someone else to draft your asset purchase agreement. I'm too busy smoking this pipe.'

That’s the provocative question bouncing around the legal blogosphere these days. It was raised last week by Vivia Chen of the Careerist, then picked up by Professor William Henderson on the Legal Whiteboard, and now it’s the top story on the ABA Journal.

There’s actually some data driving this discussion. According to Chen, citing research by Professor Henderson, graduates of Loyola University Chicago School of Law are six times more likely to make partner at a major law firm than graduates of the higher-ranked University of Chicago Law School, located just a few miles to the south. It seems that even though Chicago Law grads may have an easier time breaking into Biglaw than their Loyola – Chicago counterparts, the Loyola folks who do make it in the door tend to have longer-lasting law firm careers.

Let’s not pick on U. Chicago. There are other elite law schools with even higher Biglaw “washout” rates….

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Many prominent people, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Judge Harry Edwards, have raised their voices about the increasing irrelevance of academic writing to practicing lawyers and judges. Yet, despite railing at the academy, those judges — and law firms, and sophisticated purchasers of legal services — all rely on the academics to identify talented lawyers. Law schools brand the beef, and purchasers buy based on the brand. What do I mean, and why is that process natural and appropriate?

Let’s start with an example for people coming right out of law school: How should judges pick law clerks? One way — perhaps even the “fair” way — would be for judges to assume that each of the 45,000 people graduating from law school is equally likely to make a fine clerk. Judges would solicit applications from all 45,000 and then start the process of sorting the good from the bad.

That cannot work, of course. Judges don’t have the resources (or, necessarily, the ability) to study transcripts, read writing samples, conduct interviews, and do the other spadework needed to assess all of those candidates comprehensively. And judges can’t externalize the cost of the screening process; there’s no person or institution that would play that role for an acceptable price.

What are judges to do? They rely on law schools to brand the beef.

Rant as they may about scholars producing unhelpful scholarship, most judges rely essentially unthinkingly on those same scholars to have separated the potentially gifted lawyers from the crowd. Judges assume that the best students went to the best law schools; that, after arriving, the more talented law students outperformed the less talented ones; and thus that the best performers at the best law schools will make the best clerks. Judges typically pick their clerks from among the top graduates of the elite schools. Judges may think that professors are insane when they’re selecting topics for their scholarship and then devoting months to researching and writing on those subjects, but those same judges rely on the same professors to brand the beef astutely. Whatever criteria law schools are using within the asylum to rank their students, the outside world seems quite happy with it.

Is that fair?

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Harvard and Yale are, by any standard, great educational institutions, but it is not one of their strengths to instill in their students a sense of humility.

Jerome Karabel, a sociology professor and author of The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, commenting on the high number of Harvard and Yale law school graduates on the Supreme Court.