Ian Ayres

'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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Jeremy Paul

For Yale, it’s very economically feasible because almost nobody would do it.

Jeremy Paul, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, commenting on the likelihood (or lack thereof) of law schools adopting the unconventional tuition reimbursement policy proposed by Yale Law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres in their thought-provoking essay, Paying Students to Quit Law School

How screwed up is legal education these days? One mainstream publication recently published an article suggesting law students should be paid to not go to law school, while the paper of record noted that nobody learns how to be a lawyer in law school anyway.

That’s what it’s come to, folks. Can you imagine Slate, which is owned by the Washington Post, publishing an article suggesting that we should pay M.B.A. candidates to stop going to business school? Can you imagine the New York Times publishing a feature article about how medical students don’t learn anything in medical school?

Welcome to law school, the red-headed stepchild of American professional schools….

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Some people — for example, Chief Justice John Roberts — are not fans of contemporary legal scholarship. These critics might say, “You’d have to pay me to read the writings of a law professor!”

Well, what if a law professor were willing to pay you to check out his writings? And what if the writings in question were not, say, 150-page law review articles on “the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria,” but fun stuff — like song lyrics?

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