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….
* Paul Bergrin, more commonly known as the “Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey,” was handed a life sentence yesterday. At least he’ll have street cred with his gen pop friends. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann Levine shares some advice on the law school application process.
1. Asking for fee waivers from schools
Law schools need applications: with application numbers down significantly over the past few years, recruiting the limited number of qualified applicants is a huge concern for most law schools. They need to keep their number of overall applicants high, and their number of admitted students as low as possible. A major strategy for accomplishing this is to offer free applications to some, or even all, applicants. Some schools are offering free applications before a certain date, and some will email you if you meet the pre-determined criteria through the Candidate Referral Service (which you can subscribe to through your LSAC account). You can also obtain application fee waivers by attending a law school fair or LSAC Forum, or simply by asking for them.
* The death toll of the latest mass shooting at the Navy Yard is 13 (including the gunman, military contractor Aaron Alexis), and people are rallying for stricter gun control laws before we’ve even had time to mourn. When will we ever learn? [New York Times]
* Today is Constitution Day, and Justice Antonin Scalia would like to remind you to celebrate — except if you think it’s a living document. If that’s the case, you can just “[f]ugget about the Constitution,” because that thing is dead, baby. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Please sir, we want some more! The Judiciary Conference has been forced to plea poverty to President Barack Obama due to its teeny tiny itsy bitsy post-sequestration budget. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Congrats to Kimberley Leach Johnson, the first woman to climb to the very top of the ladder at Quarles & Brady. That makes her the only eighth woman currently leading a Biglaw firm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* And congrats to Matt Johnson, outgoing chief counsel to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), on his return to the private sector. He’ll be taking his talents to the lobbying firm, McBee Strategic Consulting. [The Hill]
* From second career choices to no career choices: if you want to go to law school after working in another field, you should consider if it will help or hinder your applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Even at the top of the in-house food chain, women lawyers are still paid less than their male counterparts. But hey, at least they’re not being forced to cry poverty like their in-house staff attorney brethren. [Corporate Counsel]
* Neil Barofsky, the former King of TARP in the United States, is making the move to Jenner & Block, specifically because as opposed to all other firms, “Jenner took the side of really getting to the truth of the matter.” [Reuters]
* Luxury fashion is fun: four Biglaw firms, including Cleary Gottlieb, Cravath, Torys, and Proskauer Rose, all took Tim Gunn’s mantra to heart to make it work for the $6 billion sale of Neiman Marcus. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* If you want to try some lawyer, we hear that they taste great when poached this time of year. Speaking of which, Troutman Sanders just reeled in three attorneys from Hunton & Williams. [Richmond BizSense]
* Are you ready for some tax law?! The NFL and other professional sports leagues might lose their nonprofit status if new tax reform legislation makes it through the House and the Senate. [Businessweek]
* “The situation is an absolute mess.” Last summer’s SCOTUS decision on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders has created a “legal limbo” for inmates. We hope they find suitable dance partners. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Even after you retire, you apparently still have to deal with the Cebullsh*t from your life on the bench. Former Chief District Judge Richard Cebull’s misconduct review is likely heading to Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. [Great Falls Tribune]
* Woe unto them that call unpaid work fair: the Second Circuit quickly granted Fox Searchlight an appeal in the Black Swan unpaid intern case in the hope of offering some “much-needed guidance.” [Deadline]
* Which private law schools offer students the best value? Some unlikely contenders are named on this list, and some T14 schools even make appearances. We’ll have more on this later today. [National Jurist]
* GW wasn’t the only school that grew the size of its entering class (although it was the largest increase). William & Mary and Missouri-KC saw big gains, too. Yay, more lawyers! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* If you’re considering applying to law school, think about schools that have lowered their standards and are offering scholarship money like candy. Otherwise, here are some helpful hints. [Huffington Post]
* Henry Putzel Jr., former reporter of decisions at the Supreme Court, RIP. [Washington Post]
As fewer people apply to law school, deans have basically two options: they can shrink the size of the entering class, which reduces tuition revenue, or they can keep the size of the entering class the same, which results in credential dilution — a student body with lower LSAT scores and GPAs. Credential dilution can lead to a tumble in the closely watched U.S. News rankings, which can further reduce applications, setting in motion a vicious cycle.
So far, most schools seem to have opted for shrinkage. Most deans would prefer to be able to claim that they are taking a “stand for quality,” as Dean Patrick Hobbs of Seton Hall recently stated.
Interestingly enough, however, one top law school seems to be going in the other direction. It’s actually increasing the size of its incoming class over last year, even if doing so might lead to credential dilution….
And like any business that suddenly finds itself with fewer customers, law schools are looking to entice new students to apply. Because — and it’s always important to remember this — law schools are businesses, at least as much as they are academic institutions.
Will they take a hint from used car salesmen, setting up whacky, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men to draw the eye of passing motorists?
Or possibly Red Lobster, offering shrimp AND lobster with any J.D.?
Or, more likely, will they try to improve their job numbers while offering larger scholarships?
The law school brain drain is in full effect. Applications from Ivy League graduates are down, and applications are down in general. Last week, my colleague Elie Mystal described the troubling predicament like so: “[T]he 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.” That being the case, how have top law schools responded to the less than impressive talent pool? By doing the same thing they’ve always done.
Despite the fact that some of the most well-qualified students are fleeing the law school application game like rats from a sinking ship, T14 law schools are still attracting rather competitive applicants. Unlike the law schools that would reportedly consider admitting applicants with sub-145 LSAT scores, top schools would never deign to lower their elite standards — well, at least not by that much.
While it’s still difficult to get into a top law school, it’s not quite as difficult as it used to be before the bottom fell out from the entry-level employment market. What do top law schools’ LSAT scores look like now compared to three years ago? Let’s take a look…
Last November, Case Western Reserve University School of Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell took to the New York Times to defend the value of a legal education. Instead of addressing the actual problems with legal education, Mitchell blamed the media for “irrationally” dissuading prospective law students from going to law school. His article touched off a raft of law deans and professors who seem more interested in defending the status quo than addressing structural issues.
It hasn’t worked. Law school applications continue to plummet. It would appear that mind tricks don’t work on prospective law students, only money (and legitimate employment options).
Specifically, it hasn’t worked for Case Western Reserve Law. Mitchell’s protestations generated a lot of press, but I wonder if Case has enjoyed its time as standard bearer for the “nothing is f**ked here, dude” approach to legal education. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Case Western enrollment is down to 104 students this fall. That’s down from 190 in 2011 and 165 just last year. Maybe instead of bitching in the Times, Mitchell should have addressed the problems in his own house.
It looks like he’s doing it now. Case Western is in the press again this week, this time for instituting massive changes to its law school curriculum. Many of the proposed changes sound pretty interesting. But I’ll note that one thing that is not changing is the tuition — that’s going to remain just as high as ever…
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.