Those are real, serious challenges. Stated, those extremes are not representative of what’s going on at NYU or, in my sense, at any other of its immediate peers. I think a question for all leading law schools to answer is to what extent do they feel a need to respond to any of the changing dynamics and challenges in the legal profession.
Law School Deans
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Every now and again, a foreign news agency picks up a story from The Onion as fact and the world snickers behind their back. A Chinese state-run paper and a South Korean paper picked up Kim Jong Un’s election as the “Sexiest Man Alive.” The Iranians ran with an Onion story that rural whites “would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama.”
One law school is now prominently displaying its award as the “Most Amazing Place to Get Smart” from a local satirical newspaper…
- Columbia Law School, John Roberts, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Music, Non-Sequiturs, Paul Weiss, Religion, SCOTUS, Supreme Court
* Dean David Schizer is leaving. [The Faculty Lounge]
* Missouri tried to “save Christmas” from heathens, but had its efforts stymied when the governor realized it could literally set the state on fire. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Cardinal Dolan, America’s most prominent Catholic bishop, apparently shifted Church assets to keep them from falling into the hands of abuse victims. Perhaps he could have exerted the same effort keeping abuse victims out of the hands of abusers? [New York Times]
* It looks like a Paul Weiss associate, Molissa Farber, is still alive in the $1,000 No-Limit event at the World Series of Poker. Maybe she’ll be able to pay off her loans sooner rather than later. [Poker News]
* Did you enjoy Milli Vanilli? Perhaps you’d like watching air guitar? The national semifinals are in New York tonight. [Bowery Ballroom]
- Biglaw, Bryan Cave, Crime, In-House Counsel, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Morning Docket, Samuel Alito, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, University of Alabama School of Law
* Bad boy! After last week’s dramatic bench performance by Justice Samuel Alito, the Alliance For Justice, a liberal watchdog group, is petitioning the Supreme Court to adopt and adhere to a code of conduct. [National Law Journal]
* There’s been a changing of the guard at the Supreme Court, where Scott Harris will be stepping into the role of Clerk of Court in September. Here’s hoping he can fill William Suter’s shoes. [Supreme Court of the United States]
* If you’re in-house and searching for the best outside counsel, you may be best served by going to one of these Biglaw firms. But which were the “absolute best”? Take a wild guess. [Corporate Counsel]
* “Let’s record this as a threat…” If you say so. Wherein a former Bryan Cave attorney gets federally indicted for threatening to murder a colleague still employed at the firm. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
As law school applications continue to decline, law schools must make hard choices. A law school can maintain the size of its entering class — and the revenue stream generated by those students — but at the cost of lowering its admissions standards. Or a law school can shrink the size of its entering class, accepting the decline in revenue to maintain the caliber of its student body, and make up for the lost revenue by cutting costs.
In my view, the second approach is superior. As the legal job market continues to shrink, with even top law firms conducting large-scale layoffs, it makes sense for law schools to produce fewer graduates. The legal profession is “right-sizing,” and law schools should follow suit.
But even if the second approach is better than the first, it’s not without pain. Last week, we heard reports of one law school basically axing its entire junior faculty. All of the untenured professors received notice that their contracts might not be renewed for the 2014-2015 academic year. Ouch.
As is so often the case, though, there’s more to this story than meets the eye….
Whenever a law dean abruptly retires over the summer, it’s suspicious. When a law dean abruptly retires and our tipsters start screaming that there’s something more going on here, it’s very suspicious.
And when the university responds to the retirement by essentially saying, “there’s nothing to see here, move along,” then it’s time to fire up the Above the Law crowd-sourcing machine…
Nelson Mandela is not dead. At least not yet, and there is hope that the ailing former president of South Africa is on the mend.
When the famed civil rights leader passes away someday down the road, there will be no end of tributes, including law school symposia celebrating his contributions.
But one law school decided it was tired of waiting for the hospital-bound former president. The school went ahead and wrote his obituary, using it as an opportunity to pimp their connections with South Africa….
(Please note the UPDATE at the end of the post.)
There’s a lot of SCOTUS attention today, but there’s still some doings in the law school world. Specifically, an ousted dean of a top law school is threatening a lawsuit against a regent.
Apparently, the former dean feels he was defamed when the regent in question started throwing around allegations of stealing from the law school.
Once more, the important life lesson is that if you’re going to defame someone and want to get away with it, don’t defame a lawyer…
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”….
In many constitutional democracies, the role of the president and prime minister are split. The prime minister functions as a kind of “head of the legislature,” kind of like a more powerful version of our “Speaker of the House.” He or she sets the the legislative agenda. The president is endowed with certain executive functions, like telling the army where to go. It’s not perfect, and in many countries with this split one person is clearly in charge and the other person is clearly the butt-boy.
Sometimes I think law schools could benefit from splitting the traditional responsibilities of the law school dean. We need one person who is the Prime Minister of the Faculty — I’d call that person “the dean.” That person would manage the curriculum, and would be ultimately in charge of student and faculty concerns. Issues such as practice-ready preparation, faculty hiring, and tenure decisions would ultimately fall on the prime minister’s desk.
The other guy would be the President of the Law School (Cash Money Overlord?) — he can handle all the business. Fundraising, capital projects, setting the budget, and the like. Students wouldn’t need to know his or her name. When the University President wakes up and says, “Fee-fi-fo-fum, someone stick it to the law student scum,” it’s the president who gets the call.
That way, there’s at least some nominal separation between the people in charge of milking the law students for all they’re worth and the people allegedly responsible for preparing these kids for an unforgiving job market.
On paper, it’s not the worst idea in the world. In practice, it looks like a complete disaster. A local law school has been trying to do it that way, and it looks like the whole thing just went up in flames…