Karen Rothenberg

As much as some people glorify being a “Jack of all trades,” the truth is that in order to succeed, most professionals have to specialize. After all, the full idiom is actually “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

At a certain point in a person’s career, if he really wants to go somewhere, he must become an expert at something specific and be able to do that one thing better than anyone else. No one wants to get complacent, but at some point work hopefully becomes comfortable.

And that’s what makes Judge Ann Pfau’s story so intriguing and unique. The 64-year-old was, until recently, the chief administrative judge for the State of New York. But late last year, after massive budget cuts, the lifelong administrator ended up as a trial judge, “in the gray courthouse that hulks next to Brooklyn Borough Hall like some weird tribute to bleak Soviet architecture.”

Talk about an unexpected career move…

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Next month I’ll be appearing on a panel at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. The subject of the panel: how to get good press for your law school.

One obvious answer: do good things for your students. Just like the University of Maryland School of Law.

Our coverage of UMB hasn’t always been kind. See, e.g., discussion of former Dean Karen Rothenberg’s controversial pay packages (here and here).

This time, though, Maryland Law is doing the right thing. In a time of strained state budgets, it has succeeded in holding the line on tuition increases (which, as we’ve discussed, are running rampant throughout the law schools). UMB law students won’t see their tuition go up next year, academic year 2011-12, even though students in other schools at the university will.

How did Maryland manage this feat? Let’s take a look — which might prove instructive for other law schools….

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