Law School Admissions

The median LSAT score for students at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is 145. This means that Cooley is already trawling in the waters of the bottom 25 percent of LSAT takers. So when Cooley Law Dean Don LeDuc says that the school might consider lowering its admissions standards to cover the drop in law school applications, it’s fair to ask what’s lower than the bottom of the barrel.

Are they going to start admitting people who took the LSAT in crayon? Are they going to start admitting people who can’t read? If the median score is 145 and you’re going to bring that number down, what (if any) “standards” does your school still purport to have?

Cooley would rather lower its standards than lower its tuition. In fact, LeDuc says that tuition is going the other way: Cooley announced that it will raise first-year tuition by 9 percent and tuition on everybody else by 8 percent. It’s almost as if Cooley has taken upon itself the responsibility of punishing people too ignorant to research legal education….

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We’ve talked before about the law school brain drain. Essentially, and despite the best efforts of some law professors, the students with the best “logical reasoning skills” as measured by the LSAT are avoiding law school at a higher rate than people at shallow end of the LSAT pool.

There are a couple of possible explanations. Sure, you could say that smarter people aren’t being fooled by the law school value proposition and are making wiser choices. But you could also say that people who test well will naturally have more non-law-school options as the economy recovers.

Still, the fact that law school looks like a bad option to more and more people with lots of options is something that should worry law school administrators — you know, if law school administrators worried about the long-term viability of the current system of legal education.

In Non-Sequiturs on Tuesday, we mentioned a new chart that illustrates this brain drain from a non-LSAT angle. I wasn’t here on Tuesday, so I wanted to highlight it and talk about it a little. Let’s look at whether students from top colleges are applying to law school…

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If Socrates was a law professor today, he’d be telling prospective law students not to believe what the blogs say about hemlock.

One expects legal academics to use the Socratic method for teaching students. But when it comes to the subject of going to law school, many of them are engaged in pure sophistry. I think many of them felt insulated from the effects of the recession when only recent law school graduates faced challenging job prospects and non-dischargeable debt loads. But now that law school applications have dropped off, professors are starting to see the barbarians at the gate. For God’s sakes, junior faculty are getting layoff notices, and the ABA just voted to consider dropping tenure as a requirement for accredited law schools. Professors must know that this system of high tuition and no jobs for graduates can’t go on forever.

And so some of them are fighting back. No, not with real reform. But by doing what professors do best: making theoretical arguments largely detached from the realities on the ground. They’re on a public relations campaign of lip flapping, as if the entire crisis in legal education is a media fantasy. For my money, this concerted effort by law school types to fight the war in the press started with Lawrence Mitchell, but we’ve since seen too many bad studies and bad arguments to count.

Today’s entry isn’t even all that bad. This professor spends a large part of his paper detailing the decline of Biglaw hiring that is unlikely to come back any time soon. But at the end, he tries to sound a note of hope — a misleading note of hope — that once again seems to encourage students to go to law school without fully grasping the depths of the problem in the market for legal education…

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Pithy guides to getting into law school are not new. Indeed, we offer a comprehensive guide here at ATL. That said, a good guide mixes practical advice with honest counseling about what a student should really consider before blindly applying to Yale in hopes of being a “constitutional lawyer.”

Not every publication shares that view.

U.S. News & World Report has a new guide to crafting a successful T14 law school application that it’s peddling to its readers. Is there some good advice in the guide? Sure. Does it include shameless propaganda to entice students with no business applying to law school? Obviously.

Without further ado….

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* Judges on the Third Circuit bench must really ♥ boobies. Breast cancer awareness bracelets can’t be banned by public schools if they aren’t lewd and if they comment on social issues. [Legal Intelligencer]

* A bevy of Biglaw firms were involved as advisers in the sale of the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, including Cleary Gottlieb, Cravath, and Morgan Lewis, among others. [Am Law Daily]

* After surviving a motion for disqualification, Quinn Emanuel will continue to represent Snapchat. A short video of John Quinn laughing his ass off will be available for the next 10 seconds. [TechCrunch]

* Alex Rodriguez, the only MLB player who will be appealing his drug-related suspension, has hired Reed Smith and Gordon & Rees to hit it out of the park during arbitration proceedings. [Am Law Daily]

* Don’t say we never did you any favors: Here are the top 5 mistakes new in-house counsel make from the perspective of outside counsel. Take a look before you make them yourselves. [Texas Lawyer]

* We saw this coming back in June (seventh item), but now it’s official. Prenda Law has dissolved after posting six figures in bonds for various ethical sanctions. Next step, bankruptcy? [National Law Journal]

* If you’re interested in applying to a top 14 law school, make sure your stats and your story are both compelling. No one likes a boring law student. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

To accompany Noam Scheiber’s big article on Biglaw — which I discussed yesterday, and Anonymous Partner analyzed this morning — the New Republic asked six prominent observers of the legal profession (including yours truly) for their ideas on how to fix law school. For all of the blame that Biglaw gets for the profession’s problems, some of the difficulties can be traced back to the legal academy and how it teaches and trains lawyers (or fails to do so).

Let’s check out the various reform proposals. Which ones do you agree with?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine debunks three popular law school admission myths.

1. The Earlier You Apply the Better

“I want to submit my applications September 1, so I am not going to take the October LSAT (even though I could get a better score).”

Yes, rolling admissions is a “thing” in the law school world. There is some advantage to applying earlier. However, it’s always better to wait and get an LSAT score that more accurately shows your aptitude than to be the first application in the door. There is no advantage to applying in September versus October or even November. The advantage comes in applying in December/early January as opposed to end of January/early February. However, the importance of rolling admissions as a whole has been diminished as the number of law school applicants overall has dropped significantly in the last few years.

2. Taking the LSAT a Third Time is Bad

“I don’t want to retake the LSAT because it would look bad for me to take it a third time.”

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

Day by day, law school applications continue to tumble. As of May 31, applicants were down 13.2 percent and applications were down 18.6 percent from last year. As we’ve mentioned previously, this is the third year in a row that there’s been a double-digit percentage drop like this. Welcome to the reckoning.

Law schools are understandably scared by the precipitous drops in applications. While some are handing out admissions offers like candy, others are exploding scholarship offers to entice prospective students to join their ranks. Still others have been forced to think outside the box to come up with innovative ways to fill their incoming classes.

Have you heard of the “Just Diapers to Juris Doctors” program yet? We’ve got to hand it to this school, because it’ll be at least two decades before this new admissions program turns into “Just Debt”….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, AdmissionsDean helps prospective law students better get to know the Associate Dean of Admissions at New York University Law School. This is the first in a series of interviews with admissions deans at the top 10 schools per ATL’s Law School Rankings.

Dean Kenneth Kleinrock received his BA from Queens College (CUNY), magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa (1975), his M.A.T. from Duke University (1977), and his Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University (1987). In 1989, Mr. Kleinrock joined the admission staff at the New York University School of Law. He began as Director of Recruitment and Admission Services, and became Executive Director of Graduate Admissions in 1997. He was named Assistant Dean for Admissions in 1998 and became Associate Dean for Admissions in 2012. Currently, Dean Kleinrock oversees the offices of J.D. Admissions, Graduate Admissions, and Student Financial Services.

Read more at the ATL Career Center…

Chaos is a ladder. And right now, the legal education business is chaotic. Prospective law students are starting to wise up to the law school game. Applications have been dropping as law schools struggle to explain how it makes sense to go deep into debt just to participate in a very challenging job market. It’s very likely that the smarter people with good options are avoiding law school, leaving many law schools competing for a less intelligent crop of students. And still, more law schools are coming.

I don’t know if some law schools will fail, but I do know that some law students will be taken advantage of. But some law schools will also “win.” Some will come out of this “crisis” stronger and better off than before. Bloomberg Law crunched some numbers and has come up with some interesting stats on which law schools are gaining strength through the crisis, and which ones are grasping at straws…

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