Law School Transparency

Today, the National Law Journal released its list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. The NLJ releases a similar list once every few years, and each time, the nation’s top lawyers — some from Biglaw, some from legal academia, some from the in-house world, and some from the trial and appellate bars — celebrate their success in creating real change in the industry. That said, the people named to this list are relatively well-known to the general Above the Law readership, but they won’t exactly be household names to laypeople.

Which legal eagles soared into the NLJ’s list this time around? Well, the NLJ selected their influential lawyers based on their political clout, legal results, media penetration, business credibility, and thought leadership. We’ve whittled the impressive list of 100 down to our own top 10.

So who made our cut?

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Much credit has been given to the American Bar Association of late for its efforts to rein in law schools and their wily ways as far as employment statistics are concerned. Once upon a time, it was just fine for law schools to publish completely nonsensical data and herald it to the world as if it were true. Prospective (and extremely gullible) applicants were made to believe that it was possible for 98 percent of a class to be employed nine months after graduation during the height of the recession, and they applied in droves.

These days, now that word has gotten out that employment in the entry-level legal sector has run dry, law school applications are on pace to hit a 30-year low. You’d think that given the gravity of the situation — not to mention the ebb and flow of class action lawsuits having to do with job statistics — law schools do their best to comply with the ABA’s standards, but apparently even that’s too hard to do.

Perhaps the ABA’s reporting requirements are too tough in that they require not one, but Dear Lord, two charts to be published, along with consumer information that’s “complete, accurate, and not misleading.” That’s a pretty high bar to reach, amirite? Considering the state of the job market, providing accurate employment information about law schools must be really embarrassing rough for administrators to have to endure.

In fact, some law schools in the T14 can’t even bring themselves to adhere to these stringent requirements….

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* While Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts made a plea to keep funding for the federal judiciary intact, we learned that student loan default cases have fallen since 2011. You really gotta love that income-based repayment. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Introducing the Asia 50, a list of the largest firms in the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to the firms with the biggest footprints, only one American Biglaw shop made the cut. Go ahead and take a wild guess on which one it was. [Asian Lawyer]

* Congratulations are in order, because after almost a year of stalling, Arnold & Porter partner William Baer was finally confirmed by the Senate as the chief of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. [Bloomberg]

* Our elected officials might not have allowed the country to fall off the fiscal cliff, but the American Invents Act was put on hold, so if you’re a patent nerd, you can still be mad about something. [National Law Journal]

* Remember when Rutgers-Camden Law said “many top students” were making bank after graduation? Yeah, about that: Law School Transparency just filed an ABA complaint. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Here are some law school trends to look out for in 2013. FYI, the applicant pool is smaller because no one wants to foolishly gamble on their careers anymore. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* In the latest NYC subway shoving death, a woman was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, and allegedly bragged about other hate crimes she’s committed to police. Lovely. [New York Times]

* Next time you’re trapped on a plane that’s literally filled with other people’s crap for 11 hours, don’t bother suing over your hellish experience — you’re going to be preempted by federal law. [New York Law Journal]

If there’s one thing that lawyers love more than arguing, it’s law school rankings. Whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, or a law school alumnus, you’re likely obsessed with the U.S. News law school rankings, the most well-known of all national law school rankings.

But come on, let’s be real with ourselves: members of the legal profession are unhealthily obsessed with rankings in general. From the rankings that seem to defy logic and common sense to the rankings that seem nonsensical at best, if they’re out there, we know that our loyal readers are going to salivate over them.

One major criticism of the U.S. News rankings of late is that prospective law students still place a far greater weight on these rankings than any other metric — which is quite foolish. That’s why we were excited to see that Law School Transparency recently released an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings, based on factors that ought to be important to would-be law students: cost and employment outcomes.

Let’s check out the LST rankings alternative, and see what they’ve got to offer….

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* The Village Voice is stepping away from Backpage due to its ties to sex trafficking. “This so unfair! Everyone loves online prostitution,” said no one ever (okay fine, a lot of people probably say that). [paidContent]

* Cybersecurity, drones, and smackdowns, oh my! [Lawfare]

* Right now, millions of taxpayer dollars fund legal scholarship. Considering how expensive law review articles seem to be, it’d be nice if law professors could techcite their own material before turning it over to law review peons associate staff members for further review. [PrawfsBlawg]

* We actually needed 25 volumes of things you can’t do on a plane? Apparently common sense is a relic these days. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Should you go to law school? That’s apparently the question on everyone’s mind, so Professor Deborah Merritt of Ohio State Law and Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency are here to help you out. [NerdWallet]

* Wherein the five worst law partners known are discussed. Oh, whatever, partners should be able to act however they want to anyone. [Greedy Associates / FindLaw]

On Friday, the American Bar Association released the employment data for the class of 2011 that they collected from their member law schools. By dumping the information on a summer Friday, perhaps the ABA was hoping that nobody would notice the statistics?

Well, we noticed. The numbers are too bad not to notice. Earlier this month we reported on the NALP employment data, and the ABA data here doesn’t look any better. Only 55% of people in the class of 2011 are known to have found employment in full-time legal jobs.

And really, that’s the nice way of putting it….

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On Friday, we reported on an aggressive and arguably misleading sales pitch from the people at Rutgers Law – Camden. The pitch, aimed towards students who had taken the GMAT, made this claim (among others): “As a direct result of the quality of legal education at Rutgers, of those employed nine months after graduation, 90% were employed in the legal field and 90% were in full time positions.” The school was clearly trying to make the economic case for going to law school, something you don’t see as much of in this difficult economy — at least from schools willing to tell the full story of their employment outcomes.

We wondered whether Rutgers was being as forthright as it could with its potential students. Over at Inside the Law School Scam, Professor Paul Campos took a closer look at the Rutgers numbers, and not surprisingly he found them to be highly suspect. Law School Transparency also shed more light on how Rutgers cooked up these numbers, and they went so far as to call for the resignation of the school’s associate dean of enrollment, Camille Andrews, who sent out the recruitment letter.

If you thought Rutgers Law Dean Rayman Solomon was going to throw Dean Andrews under the bus for this adventure in advertising, you haven’t been paying attention to how the law school game is played. Dean Solomon has come out in defense of his school’s recruitment materials.

I’m not entirely sure about the meaning of what he said, but there were definitely words involved…

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Not the alleged hot-dog hooker.

* While Dewey’s former culture gets roasted on a spit, and the seemingly unending drama gets turned into a montage of living lawyer jokes, we’re still waiting for the final punchline. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal]

* Don Verrilli tried so hard, and got so far (depending on who you ask), but in the end, it doesn’t even matter. When Linkin Park lyrics apply to your oral argument skills, you know you’re kind of screwed. [New York Times]

* The 9/11 arraignments went off without a hitch this weekend. And by that, we mean that it was a 13 hour hearing filled multiple interruptions, and grandstanding about “appropriate” courtroom fashion. [Fox News]

* In a “re-re-reversal,” Judge Jerry Smith, on a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, reinstated Planned Parenthood’s injunction against Texas without even so much as a homework assignment. [Dallas Observer]

* The It Gets Worse Project: if you thought that the Law School Transparency debt figures were scary before, then take a look at them now. Six figures of debt just got a lot harder to swallow. [National Law Journal]

* Scalia gets busted on a case of hot-dog hooking. No, not that Scalia. A woman from Long Island has been accused, for the second time, of selling swallowing foot-longs in the back of her food truck. [New York Post]

Mmm... shoe porn.

* Dewey really need to keep coming up with punny headlines about D&L’s painful probe? Pass the lube, ’cause you better believe we dew! Steven Davis, the firm’s former chairman, has hired Barry Bohrer, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and partner at the Morvillo Abramowitz firm. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Of course all of that money for my baby mama is legal. I… uh… checked with my lawyers. Um, yeah. Just get the money in.” Cheri Young gave some pretty damning testimony yesterday during the John Edwards campaign-finance violations trial. [CNN]

* As if you didn’t have enough to worry about during finals, Law School Transparency has come out with a new clearinghouse that includes employment outcomes, salaries, and student debt loads. [National Law Journal]

* “I do not own a color. I own a specific color in a specific place.” Christian Louboutin was seeing red when he responded to interview questions over his trademark infringement suit against Yves Saint Laurent. [Fox News]

* Remember that Nutella class action suit? Ferrero settled, and you can cash in if you bought their delicious hazelnut crack during the relevant time period. Needless to say, they owe me $20. [American Thinker]

* Richard Bellman, the lawyer behind New Jersey’s “Mount Laurel doctrine,” RIP. [New York Times]

When we crowned the University of Michigan Law School as our Most Honest Law School, my colleague Elie Mystal chalked it up to their good, old Midwestern values. But just a few weeks after winning our March Madness competition, Michigan Law actually did something really honest — the school released all of its employer statistics for the classes of 2009 – 2011 (not to mention that it was the first elite law school to release its 2010 NALP report to Law School Transparency). Now if that’s not transparent, then we really don’t know what is.

While you ponder when the rest of the T14 is going to step up to the plate and reveal all of its employment information, we’ll help you analyze the data, and tell you what it could mean for you….

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