Law Professors

Dean Lawrence Mitchell

Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell of Case Western Reserve University School of Law is not your ordinary law school dean. How many other deans have been the subject of an ATL caption contest?

Case Western is a prominent and well-ranked law school, #68 in the latest U.S. News rankings. It didn’t make the ATL Law School rankings, which stop at the top 50, but Case Western alumni give their alma mater a solid B-plus, as you can see from the school’s ATL Career Center profile.

But Mitchell’s fame comes less from Case Western and more from his national profile as a defender of legal education. Last year, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, Law School Is Worth the Money, that went viral.

Critics of Mitchell’s piece, including my colleague Elie Mystal, accused the dean of screwing over his students. Case Western charges tuition of almost $50,000, but less than 50 percent of its graduates secure full-time, long-term employment as lawyers, according to Law School Transparency.

Today Dean Mitchell is back in the news. A lawsuit filed this morning alleges that he screws his students more literally….

(See the UPDATE added below for the university’s response to the complaint.)

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Would you want The New England Journal of Medicine to be edited by medical students?

Richard A. Wise, a psychologist and lawyer who teaches at the University of North Dakota, quoted in the latest indictment of legal scholarship, a New York Times article by Adam Liptak.

* Airport security has forbidden joking about bombs and hijacking. Now TSA is cracking down on joking about TSA itself. In the interest of my next flight, “I love you, TSA!” [Daily Mail]

* A detailed analysis of the 14th Amendment’s role in the debt ceiling debate. President Obama should employ this solution now before the Supreme Court realizes there’s another part of the 14th Amendment they can overturn. [Main Street]

* Law school professors do not take kindly to your antics. [Law Prof Blog]

* A Cooley Law professor is arguing against gay rights. Sorry, a Western Michigan Law professor is arguing against gay rights. [Pride Source]

* The rules don’t apply to Yale or Harvard. Or at least the rules don’t apply to their law reviews. [Professor Bainbridge]

* Congress is still trying to decide how to regulate FM radio instead of looking at salient issues in modern copyright law. Given how brilliantly they keep the government open, maybe FM radio is the biggest issue we should give them right about now. [The Daily Caller]

* The lawyer as generalist is fading into obscurity. Let’s commemorate it in poetry, shall we? [Poetic Justice]

* A preview of some upcoming Supreme Court cases this week. Complete with cartoons! [The Spark File]

* Finally, here’s a little gem for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fans that we got….

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This law school has a healthy approach to slimming down.

Layoffs continue to march through law firms. We reported yet another layoff story earlier today.

But now we have some happy news to share, regarding potential layoffs that were averted. A law school that was contemplating junior-faculty layoffs fortunately won’t have to go through with the cuts it had been contemplating.

Which law school achieved this feat? And what lessons might it have to offer to other law schools that are attempting to rightsize themselves in this challenging environment for legal education?

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

* “We’re in uncharted territory right now.” The federal courts made it through the first week of the shutdown, but they’re approaching “here be dragons” land in terms of funding. [National Law Journal]

* “It would be the most interesting case in decades.” Legal experts debate whether President Obama can ignore the debt ceiling for much longer. [New York Times]

* People are getting out of Biglaw while the getting’s good. Reed Smith’s global managing partner is leaving the firm for a general counsel gig after 13 years at the helm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Law firm leaders met to discuss how to empower women attorneys, and agreed it’s wise to parade them around in front of clients. Getting to work on those clients’ cases is another question. [Blog of Legal Times]

* No debacles here, contrary to past precedent: Kasowitz Benson poached two superior legal minds from NBCUniversal and welcomed them to the firm to open an entertainment litigation practice. [Bloomberg]

* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want their client’s prison restrictions to be lifted and are raising a slew of constitutional claims. We think the members of his fan club are the only ones feeling sorry for him. [CNN]

You’ve got to love it when a law professor turns up the snark on his own students. It happens often enough in class, but you don’t often see a professor doing it on a school-wide listserv.

Then again, you don’t often see students willfully piss off law professors this much. A professional responsibility professor has noted some very unprofessional behavior from the kids at his school, and he used the listserv to make his point with comic effect…

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Man who just can’t stop masturbating.

I hesitate to call Liberty University School of Law a “real” law school, as opposed to a finishing school for Christian soldiers, but whatever. They’re accredited. Wackadoodles need lawyers too.

So what are the good people at Liberty doing to make sure the legal world is safe for Christians? Combating sex addiction, of course! Because I guess it’s easier to fight a fake disease than wrestle with the fundamental hypocrisy of puritanical mores.

I thought “sex addiction” only afflicted world-famous celebrities who have the debilitating problem of getting a lot of ass. But apparently even regular people can get addicted to screwing anybody available…

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In a way, I think the schools ranked just below the top schools have felt the decline in law school applications the most. Schools ranked in the top 50, but not the top 15, foolishly charge comparable rates to the very best institutions, but they can’t provide the same kind of employment outcome success as the very top schools. Students either go to the top schools that maybe they couldn’t have gotten into in a more competitive pool of applicants, or they go to get significant cost savings (and maybe a full scholarship) at less prestigious, local schools.

You’d think that the very bottom schools would be hurt the most by the decline in applications, but the Cooley model shows us that the people who don’t do well on tests but are desperate to go to law school are still applying, while there appears to be a brain drain in terms of the most qualified applicants.

The choice for law deans just outside the top tier seems to be to cut class size or massively lower admissions standards. I’d argue that there’s a third option: deans could actually compete on price and start charging a reasonable tuition for legal education. But that option might actually start to solve the problem, and right now deans think that prospective law students not acting like idiots is a temporary condition that they just have to ride out.

Earlier this month, we talked about George Washington’s decision to lower admission standards in order to keep class size high. Today we’ve got a similarly ranked school that has evidently decided to go in the opposite direction — in a big way….

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My professor is rich. I’m not.

– a response submitted after Professor Lisa Mazzie of Marquette Law tasked her students with coming up with a six-word story to describe law school.

(Readers, are you up to the challenge? Give us your own six-word stories about law school in the comments.)

This grading system is a total train wreck.

If law students want one thing in their grading system, it’s clarity. This is especially true for first-year law students; 1L grades are too important for future job prospects to have a confusing and muddled set of rules.

Well, maybe not Yale law students. Famously, Yale doesn’t have traditional letter grading. A few top schools have followed Yale’s lead in recent years, but Yale is the OG of meaningless grading systems. (Berkeley students to start bitching in 3, 2, 1….) The meaningless of Yale’s Honors/Pass grading system doesn’t matter because all Yale students get jobs. No grades + Good jobs = “I don’t understand why humans cry.”

Yale students have such good job prospects that they can get jobs as law professors at other Ivy League law schools right after they graduate from Yale. But bringing happy-clappy Yale concepts of grading to “normal” law schools is not without its problems….

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