Law School

Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

People ask me all the time, “Isn’t it all a cycle?” They want to know if the legal marketplace will come back, with legal education then following.

My answer is, “No.”

A better answer, like most law professor’s answers to simple questions, would be, “It depends on what you mean.”

Yes, law as a business will rebound. It has already done so by some measures. However, it won’t come back in the same form. Nothing ever does.

We all are the products of our backgrounds. For me, that means Detroit.

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Is it me or have there been a lot of food stories coming out of law schools this semester? I take it as a sign that the economy is improving. If people can worry themselves about eating, maybe they are not worrying about jobs?

You might remember that last month a law student had a conniption about people eating in class. The student had a long list of foods that she considered off limits for in-class consumption. But she seemed to not understand the sounds certain foods make. She wrote: “Apples, pineapples and other crunchy fruit: your helpless classmates are here to study. We want to hear the professor, not the gnashing of your teeth and the crunch crunch crunch.”

Her fellow students seized on this clear distinguishing failure, and defended the noble, quiet, and delicious pineapple.

Now we’ve got a fun update. Apparently the pineapples noticed….

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Pineapple, or deadly weapon against learning? You be the judge.

In early returns from the 2013-2014 academic year, the leading theme seems to be the revenge of the stuck-up law student. Usually we work with stories where law students engage in some kind of bad behavior that is humorous to the rest of us. But this year it feels like the good stories are about the law students getting their panties in a bunch over the (not so) bad behavior of others.

We’ve already had the NYU guy being a whiny little bitch about people hanging out late in his building. Note to that guy: things might get a little loud after the ATL/Kaplan Bar Crawl tonight. Buy some earplugs.

Yesterday we got a slew of tips from Osgoode Hall Law students in Toronto. One of the classmates sent around a nasty school-wide email, complaining about people eating in class. I’m telling you, these are the kinds of kids who have a nervous breakdown when the air conditioning comes on during the bar exam.

On the positive side, the Osgoode Hall students have taken collective action to defend one our most important and delicious fruits…

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’ll be sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

For a long time, I was young. Now, however, I am old enough to have contempt for the young. It turns out I am not alone. Anyone approximately my age laughs when I inform them I have reached this milestone.

Despite their desire that we all lighten up and their conviction we are peers, youth today — like youth of any era — take umbrage at this remark. What can I say. They have no sense of humor.

When I participate in the blogosphere, I wonder if the world is about to end. The lament about internet discourse has become cliched. It is angry, communicating hardly anything more than grunting. Even those who wish to be meaningfully provocative cannot compete.

Yet maturity is all about realizing one is wrong. I take it all back. I realize I am not understanding the norms…

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I had just finished preparing for my first interview, and I got this email from Vivek [Ranadivé]. I was thinking, “Wow, I think I need to do a lot more.” I proofed everything on the flight over, and then when I landed, I went to a Kinko’s in Palo Alto and made copies. I pulled an all-nighter. I felt like I was back in law school.

Pete D’Alessandro, the new general manager of the Sacramento Kings, reflecting on what he had to do to prepare for an intensive interview process with one of the team owners. D’Alessandro graduated from the Nova Southeastern Law Center in 1994.

* Maker’s Mark will not get diluted after all — likely causing a shortage. Start hoarding mediocre bourbon, folks! [Wonkblog]

* If you’ve ever wondered what the Supreme Court feels like to a pro se petitioner, here’s your answer. “Simply put, the Supreme Court uses its desktop publishing and printing guidelines as a weapon against the American public.” So much for “the least dangerous branch.” [Aaron Greenspan]

* “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Russia’s taking that phrase to a whole new level by pushing forward with a criminal tax evasion trial against a dead man. This is the first case of its kind since United States v. Bernie Lomax. [Reuters]

* Is the pressure mounting on the Washington Redskins to change their name? It’s an interesting take, but overlooks one important detail: Dan Snyder is a tone deaf jerk. [Sports Law Blog]

* Computer science students realize that taking collective action to intentionally fail the test was better than trying to pass it. It’s like The Producers of education. And if this grading policy applied to 1Ls, there’d be at least one jerk who defected to ruin everyone else’s curve. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Ten points to Gryffindor if you know what “tumid” means. Because you’re going to have to know before you pass through Ohio again. [Legal Juice]

Law students react to op-ed in the New York Times.

Yesterday, we discussed a New York Times op-ed, “Law School Is Worth the Money,” by Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Mitchell has been slammed — by me, by Professor Paul Campos, by Alison Monahan, and by many others. If you’ve been looking seriously at the state of legal education, it wasn’t hard to eviscerate Mitchell’s arguments.

But Mitchell seems to believe that looking critically at the value proposition of legal education is a media-driven phenomenon. As he wrote in his op-ed, “For at least two years, the popular press, bloggers and a few sensationalist law professors have turned American law schools into the new investment banks.”

It seems that Mitchell has forgotten about the students. Bloggers and law professors don’t really have any skin in this game. But actual students feel like law school deans have taken advantage of them, and telling them “everything is okay here” isn’t a winning argument.

These kids are tired of law deans, like Mitchell, who continue to act like law schools can keep doing what they’re doing while recent graduates don’t have jobs and are crushed under a mountain of debt. They’re really sick of the subtle implication that they only reason the “great deal” of law school didn’t work out for them was that they were “lazy” or somehow undeserving.

In short, they are sick and tired of the very kind of arguments Mitchell made in the New York Times — and yesterday they spoke out about it, loudly….

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This law dean is hoping you’re wearing Bad Idea Jeans when you read his NYT op-ed.

You know that you are selling a substandard product when you start trying to blame “bloggers” as the reason people are refusing purchase your bill of goods.

Lawrence E. Mitchell, the dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, took to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times to defend the value proposition of going to law school. Mitchell would have you believe that the media — which only recently started asking law schools to provide evidence that legal education was worth the exorbitant prices schools charge for it — has unfairly and “irrationally” dissuaded the brightest students from attending law school. He writes: “The hysteria has masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.”

To be clear, the argument here is that some of the BRIGHTEST potential lawyers are acting “irrationally” by not going to law school, which I suppose leaves only some of the not-brightest potential lawyers as the ones who still believe op-eds from law school deans touting the value of law school.

Mitchell’s problem is actually quite common among law school deans. In fact, Mitchell unintentionally captures the basic disconnect between law students and the deans that take their money: the facts Mitchell wants people to focus on when they are considering going to law school are not the facts that matter to people when they graduate from law school.

And the reason law school applications are on the way down is that the brightest potential lawyers are starting to understand the difference….

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Are you thinking about going to law school — and being encouraged to go, or even pressured to go, by your parents? Let’s start with the probably reasonable premise that your parents want the best for you. (Sure, your parents might be sociopaths who are trying to destroy your life, but why would you listen to them at all, if that’s the case?)

Not infrequently, the parental conception of “what’s best for you” involves a stint in law school. If you don’t want to go, how can you convince your parents that law school is a terrible, awful, very bad idea?

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Kate Middleton

* Come on, people, Dewey really think that it’s fair that these proposed partnership clawback settlements blame only us for the firm’s implosion? The Steves and ex-CFO Joel Sanders don’t think so. [Bloomberg]

* “[E]ven if partners’ capital contributions were used to repay Dewey’s indebtedness—so what?” Well, that’s certainly one way to defend a suit alleging Citibank’s participation in a Ponzi-like scheme. [Am Law Daily]

* A $280K bonus sure seems nice, but do all Supreme Court clerks choose life in Biglaw once they’ve completed their stints at the high court? As it turns out, the answer is no — some view the money as “golden handcuffs.” [Wall Street Journal]

* Because nobody can ogle these crown jewels except Prince William: the royals’ potential suit against Closer magazine over topless pics of Kate Middleton has turned into full-blown privacy proceeding. [New York Times]

* If you’re struggling in law school, it may be wise to take some advice from those who’ve been there before you, like SullCrom’s Rodge Cohen, or the Ninth Circuit’s Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. [National Law Journal]

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