The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an “HBCU” as “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.” Out of 105 current HBCUs, five of them operate law schools: Howard University, Texas Southern University, Southern University, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina Central University. The University of the District of Columbia also enrolls a predominantly black student body, and is home to a law school, but it is not considered an official HBCU by the Higher Education Act of 1965 because it was formed after 1964.
These schools purport to fulfill a noble mission: opening the doors to the legal profession once shut by generations of racial oppression. They offer not only a distinctive purpose in admissions but also a distinctive experience for their students and faculty. Providing access to legal education to historically — and often contemporarily — disenfranchised black men and women is a laudable goal.
Do you know what else is a laudable goal? Getting those same men and women to pass the bar exam so that they can actually practice law. And there’s the rub….
Of course this happened. Of course Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student who was famously tased during a John Kerry speech, ended up going to law school. Of course a law school looked at Meyer’s history of barely civil disobedience and resisting police and said, “Come on down.”
And really, Meyer’s story isn’t even the craziest law school matriculation story out there today. Not in a world where a 15-year-old kid is trying to figure out which law school he’s going to.
Which institutions of legal education are welcoming these students with non-traditional life stories?
Now this is an interesting list. Yesterday we wrote about how the National Law Journal ranked law schools based on how many graduates they send straight into large law firms. Even if you think law school is a “scam,” you have to at least acknowledge that it’s a pyramid scheme. There are some winners. There are some people who mortgage their financial futures but are then rewarded with $160,000-a-year jobs right out of school. (Yes, I’m suggesting that billing 2400 hours a year, locked in a windowless conference room, reviewing some stupid emails or lease agreements, is a “reward” — just go with it.)
As we discussed yesterday, you can look at the list in many different ways, and quibble with certain aspects of it. The ranking doesn’t account for schools who send people into Article III clerkships, for instance. And you should note that getting a Biglaw job isn’t the be all and end all of a successful law school experience.
Still, given the cost of law school, it’s a very useful list. And today the NLJ looks at its rankings through what is to my mind the most important lens: which schools will do the best job of getting you a Biglaw position, while charging you as little as possible for the opportunity. That’s the question more prospective law students should be asking.
The answers that the NLJ comes up with are simply awesome….
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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