Law School Deans

What do you do with the dean of an unranked, fourth-tier law school, who gets made fun of in national newspapers for his enormous salary, tries to fire 35 to 40 percent of his faculty, and even makes taking a 25 percent pay cut look disingenuous and self-serving?

Well, if you are the American Bar Association, you give him an award. And not a sarcastic one like the one I suggested in the headline. I should give New England Law | Boston law dean John F. O’Brien an award for “Most Effective Troll Of His Own Students.” But the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is giving him a real award: the 2014 Robert J. Kutak Award. The award is given annually “to an individual who has contributed significantly toward increased cooperation among legal education, the practicing bar, and the judiciary.”

You know you are dealing with a cartel when it is so tone deaf that it starts giving awards to the members who seem to do the best job of exploiting non-members. Didn’t anybody tell them that handing out a “Pimp of the Year” award is supposed to be a joke?

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bar exam failures famous failed bar exam Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg

Ed. note: This post was originally published on July 17, 2007. We republish it today, with a few updates added, to remind our readers taking the bar exam later this month that even though you surely won’t fail — especially if you’re having fun studying — even failing the bar won’t stop you from having a spectacular career, in the law or elsewhere. Good luck!

We recently wrote about Paulina Bandy, that poor creature who failed the California bar exam thirteen times, before finally passing it on try #14. Her story seems to have freaked out some of you who are sitting for the bar exam later this month.

Relax. Take a deep breath. You won’t wind up in a 365-square-foot shack in your mom’s backyard. Chances are, you will pass. And even if you fail the bar once or twice, you’re still not on your way towards Paulina Bandy-dom.

As it turns out, a number of well-known individuals — some famous for their accomplishments in law, and others for different reasons — didn’t pass the bar on the first (or even second) try….

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Former dean Larry Mitchell

Color me disappointed. The parties have reached a settlement in Ku v. Mitchell. We won’t get to hear trial testimony about a law school dean allegedly propositioning students and staff or trying to set up threesomes on a bed with Chinese silk sheets.

Okay, let’s rewind. Last October, Case Western law professor Raymond Ku filed a lawsuit against former Case dean Lawrence Mitchell and against the university. Ku alleged that he suffered retaliation after reporting to university officials that Mitchell had potentially sexually harassed women at the law school, including employees and students. In the wake of the lawsuit, Mitchell took a leave of absence as dean, then resigned the deanship (but remained on the faculty).

Today brings word of the parties settling the case. What are the terms of the settlement, and what do the parties have to say about it?

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton

* Justice Sonia Sotomayor insists that her meeting with Hillary Clinton at Costco wasn’t planned. She just wanted to say hello to the “other lady,” as referenced by the woman at the store’s pharmacy counter. [Washington Post]

* Six U.K. firm leaders got together to talk about how to run their practices during challenging economic times. It turns out they’d prefer not to run their firms into the ground. [The Lawyer]

* Look out everyone, because Taylor Wessing, an international law firm that’s known for its IP, media, and telecommunications work, is storming both coasts of the United States in its very own dual office launch Biglaw blitzkrieg. [Am Law Daily]

* “It is a shameful canard that student loans and indebtedness are the cause of high tuition. They are not; they are the symptom,” says a law dean standing up for his students. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* If you want to go to law school and you’ve got an undergrad degree in a technical area like engineering, then congrats. You might stand to get a job after graduation. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Recently, a solo practitioner somewhere in the Midwest posted on Facebook about her “incredible” annoyance at the fact that the ATL Law School Rankings do not count solos (and therefore her) as part of a school’s “employment score.”1

That’s unremarkable, of course. We don’t expect or intend that our approach will please everybody. Anyway, the resultant comment thread was, for the most part, a thoughtful discussion of the pros and cons of excluding solo practitioners in evaluating a particular law school school class’s employment outcomes. Again, all of this is unremarkable, and — especially considering the ATL rankings were published back in April — hardly worth noting now. But one particular commenter really, seriously disliked the ATL rankings methodology. Before you say “so what?” (or “me too”), consider the commenter is indisputably one of the most influential law school deans in the country. Not only that, this dean made a “suggestion” in the course of the discussion that, if it were adopted, would be a game changer for how law schools would share employment data….


1 It must be noted that the solo did not read or did not understand our methodology in the first place. Our employment scores measure the most recent class ten months after graduation. She only recently began her practice. Prior to that she worked for a couple years as a public defender, a job that would have been counted under our formula.

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Zach Warren

* They know where to find a deal: Justice Sonia Sotomayor ran into Hillary Clinton at Costco this weekend where the former secretary of state was hawking her book (affiliate link). It’s almost like this wasn’t arranged. [Huffington Post]

* “[T]his is my chance to do what I love and I am going to seize it!” Judge Randall Rader stepped down from his role as chief of the Federal Circuit less than a month ago following an ethics issue, and now he’s retiring for good. [Reuters]

* The government says that Zachary Warren’s prestigious legal accomplishments “left him well-able to understand the criminal nature of his conduct at Dewey.” Ouch, the People just turned it around on him. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “The reasons they have are the reasons they have.” The ex-dean of Indiana Tech Law quit his job weeks ago, but no one has any idea why. We guess he got out while the getting was still good. [Journal Gazette]

* Kenan Gay, the Charlotte Law student charged with murder after allegedly tossing a man into traffic, was acquitted. He graduated this spring. Nice work, but loans are still a life sentence, bro. [Charlotte Observer]

* It’s been 20 years since the O.J. Simpson case — aka the “trial of the century” — came to its dramatic conclusion. If you want to know what happened to all of the lawyers involved, we’ve got you covered. [CNN]

‘Should I go to law school? Nah, I don’t want to be poor.’

Last year, there was such a substantial national decline [in law school applicants], and a lot of law school deans said, “It’s got to be the bottom of the market, right?” People assume there has to be an uptick, because there’ll be a recovery and students will see an opportunity to get into better schools. But then a year goes by and there’s an additional decline. I will say this: The preliminary data I’ve seen on the students who have taken the LSAT this year suggests that we’re not seeing a big recovery — let’s put it that way.

– Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez of Northwestern Law, in an interview where he discussed the problems that law schools face in the post-recession world.

Would you wear these to court?

* Hmm, somebody didn’t review those documents quickly enough: the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial has been delayed for about a month’s time by Judge Steven Rhodes because the parties needed additional time to get their acts together. [Bloomberg]

* The NCAA may have lost the battle in the Keller EA Sports video games case with its $20 million settlement offer, but it’s clearly out for blood to win the war in the O’Bannon case with its tough cross-examination tactics for the lead plaintiff. [USA Today]

* GW Law, a school that recently increased its class size by 22 percent and allowed its average LSAT score to slip by two points, yoinked its new dean right out from under Wake Forest’s nose. [GW Hatchet]

* The legal profession isn’t exactly diverse, and law schools want to change that — the more pictures of “diverse” students they can display on their websites, the better. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Who really cares what prospective jurors wear when they show up for jury duty? The lawyers arguing that being turned away for wearing sneakers affected their clients’ rights in a case, that’s who. [WSJ Law Blog]

Stanford grads chilling around campus while studying for the bar exam received the grim news that the school was cutting off their access to the gym and pool. Not a huge shock since these folks are technically no longer students. Is this worth making a big deal out of? Meh. I mean, they’ve just indebted themselves to the tune of $130K+, so it’s not entirely unreasonable for the school to let them take a swim for an extra month. Especially for the subset of students still paying to live on-campus as opposed to just living in the area. On the other hand, school’s over. You have to expect to leave the nest some time, kids.

In any event, nothing engenders more sympathy for a cause than an over-the-top, petty response from a bureaucrat drunk on her own meager power. As they say, fights in academia are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.

And the dean and students trade barbs over a string of emails….

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Over the course of the past few years, law school personnel have found it especially difficult to keep their students’ personal information private. In April 2012, someone at Baylor Law School sent out an email containing a trove of admissions data — from names, to grades, to LSAT scores — to every student admitted to the Class of 2015. In March 2014, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles sent out an email with a heap of financial information for the entire graduating class — up to and including Social Security numbers and loan amounts — to some members of the Class of 2014.

Today, we’ve got another email screw-up for you, and this is one of the juiciest and most prestigious accidental data dumps we’ve seen yet. Someone at a T14 law school “inadvertently” sent out every piece of vital information possible about its clerkship applicants — from GPA, to class rank, to work experience, to recommenders, right down to where their girlfriends live — to everyone on its clerkship listserv.

If you’d like to see how you stack up against elite law students, now you can. We’ve got all the data…

Please note the UPDATES at the end of this post.

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