GMU Law

Today is the first day of April. You know what that means (besides April Fools’ Day jokes). It’s almost time for prospective law students, the future members of the class of 2017, to decide where they want to go to school.

Last month, the highly influential U.S. News law school rankings came out (and the Above the Law rankings are not far behind). There was a decent amount of movement among the schools this time around — and deans around the country went into spin mode, of course.

Also spinning: the heads of prospective law students. One of them, confused by the latest ups and downs in the rankings, reached out to us for advice on his choice….

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These are trying times — not just for law students and law graduates, but for law professors as well. Despite occasional (and unfair) depictions of law profs enjoying lives of leisure and six-figure salaries while their unemployed students suffer, legal academics know that their fates are tied to the health of the legal profession as a whole. Law professors have an interest in seeing that law students land jobs. After all, more employed law grads–>more students going to law school–>more tuition dollars to fund faculty positions (and raises, summer research grants, and sabbaticals).

So law professors are turning their considerable talents towards making legal education a more viable long-term enterprise. Let’s hear one professor’s proposal for reform, and another professor’s optimistic take on the future of legal academia and the legal profession more broadly….

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Bill Henderson

It’s kind of like the Hunger Games. You’re just trying to survive.

– an anonymous partner quoted by Professor William Henderson in a presentation today at Unlocking the Law: Building on the Work of Larry Ribstein. Professor Henderson noted that today many partners move laterally not for greater prestige or pay but for sheer survival.

(One factor that’s keeping partners up at night, after the jump.)

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Last week, in the wake of the Jennifer Livingston fat-shaming drama, my email inbox was inundated with diet tips and tricks from readers who were interested in helping me reach my weight loss goals. Much to my surprise, no one recommended that I partake in the “Starbucks diet” — but that’s probably because no one knew that it existed.

Well, that’s not true, because one person, a law librarian at a Top 50 law school, is certainly aware of its existence, and she claims that it helped her to lose nearly 80 pounds over a two-year period. To lose that much weight, you may be wondering how she was able to subsist on a diet of coffee grinds alone, but she actually eating quite healthfully from the Starbucks menu. (Apparently the establishment serves more than just delicious pastries and Frappuccinos. Who knew?)

Who is this woman, and how can you follow the Starbucks diet? Let’s find out….

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'She was just asking me for directions, officer.'

* Three days after arguing that an alleged Sandusky victim’s lawsuit lacked any factual basis, Second Mile decided to settle. Better strike while the iron is hot (and the wallet is open), lawyers. [Bloomberg]

* So much for that “real shot,” huh? After a failed bid for bail, Galleon Group’s Raj Rajaratnam will begin serving the longest insider trading sentence ever come Monday. [DealBook / New York Times]

* A memo to all Biglaw bachelors: if your game is anything like that of Kenneth Kratz’s, then it’s not just ethics boards who will think you have an “offensive personality.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

* In Tampa, purchasers of prostitutes’ services will now have their cars impounded. Good thing Miami isn’t adopting this law, eh, Professor Jones? (Allegedly, of course.) [St. Petersburg Times]

* Law school is really tough, so the GMU Law administration has some advice for you: the best way to avoid becoming an alcoholic basket case is to play with cuddly puppies. [Washington Post]

Just because Nonie Darwish is controversial doesn't mean she shouldn't be allowed to speak.

It appears that some people have forgotten that they are free to not attend events sponsored by the Federalist Society.

There is a controversy bubbling at George Mason University School of Law because the law school’s chapter of the Federalist Society has invited Nonie Darwish to speak at an event. Darwish has been described as a “notorious Islamophobe” who argues that Islam should be “annihilated.” Some people on campus, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have asked the law school to disinvite Darwish.

Come on, people. We live in a world where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets to speak at the U.N. (to say nothing of Columbia University). Ahmadinejad has been described (by me) as a “notorious a**hole” who argues that the Holocaust “didn’t happen.”

The world is just going to be a lot easier to navigate if the Federalist Society can invite whom they want and the American Constitution Society can invite whom they want…

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We’ve seen it in California; we’ve seen it in New York. Now it looks like Puff the Magic Grade-Inflating Dragon is heading for Washington, D.C.

Yes sir, a school in the D.C. market has decided that the reason its students can’t get jobs has nothing to do with the quality of education or services the school provides, and everything to do with how the school itself calculates student GPAs. And so we have another institution of legal education that is poised to randomly make its curve a third of a grade easier. And the school will also introduce the dreaded A+ — which is worth 4.33 points and should be written on construction paper in glitter, to emphasize how absurdly weak it is for a person over the age of 14 to receive an A+ on anything.

CORRECTION: As pointed out in the comments, the new grade is an A+*; the A+ already exists. I’m sorry, but my little brain could not comprehend such a thing as an A+*; I thought it was a typo.

And the school’s students — who should be embarrassed by this blatant inflation of their grades, in the same way that governments cringe when they are forced to devalue their currencies — are so hopeful that this little gimmick will work that all they can do is ask if the inflation will be applied retroactively to their previous grades.

So really, the only question left is whether this trend will catch on with other D.C.-area schools, rendering the efforts of the first inflator functionally moot….

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There’s poor, there’s broke, and then there’s whatever you would call the economic state of current law students. They are up against it, and they know it.

It’s particularly tough on 3Ls. We’re in March, so graduating law students without jobs lined up are about to get kicked out of school and on to the street (or “mother’s basement” or “youth hostel” or whatever). So right now is about the time when these kids really start to freak out.

At one law school, fear and angst are reaching a fever pitch, over the most trivial of things. The soon-to-be graduates are having a conniption over having to pay $136 to rent a cap and gown for graduation.

Yep, some of these kids took on tens of thousands of dollars in order to go to law school, but now — at the end — they’re making a stand over a hundred bucks…

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