Law Schools

Law students are a pretty sneaky bunch. For example, you may have heard stories about some of them stealing other people’s school lunches. You may have heard urban legends about some of them ripping pages from library books so other students don’t have proper study aids. You may even have heard about law students stealing other law students’ laptops. The list goes on and on.

When you stop and think about it, law students are the worst. Because they’re so terrible, they’ve figured out ingenious new ways to deceive others — one of which could come in handy for you some day if you’re in need of a place to hide things, legal or otherwise…

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Ed note: Cedar Ed Private Student Loan Consolidation products enable recent graduates to lower their private student loan rates and monthly expenses into one manageable payment. See more here.

The average debt load of law school graduates is well over $140,000. That’s roughly the cost of purchasing a Maserati, or 88% of your first-year Biglaw salary. Couple that with a notoriously grim employment outlook and law school grads often find themselves tethered to mortgage-sized repayment plans, minus the actual house.

One thing law school doesn’t teach you is the variety of loans that are available and the advantages and disadvantages of each loan type. With a little foresight, law school students can select the proper loan and create a repayment plan that is best aligned to their career and lifestyle post-graduation.

Let’s start by breaking down each type of loan to better understand consolidation after graduation…

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A prominent Canadian magazine, Maclean’s, ranks our Canadian law schools every year. Here are the categories it uses:

1. Trees per campus acre (15%)
2. Square footage of the law library (30%)
3. Number of left-handed professors (20%)
4. Proximity to Toronto (40%)
5. Supreme Court of Canada clerkships (2%)

Some call Maclean’s methodology suspect. But my law school, Queen’s, ranks third in the country, so who am I to argue? It’s not my fault Queen’s has a huge law library on a leafy campus just up the highway from Toronto in a region with the highest concentration of left-handed people in the country. We didn’t do so well on SCC clerks, but I am told that Queen’s is working diligently to improve in that area.

Anyway, Maclean’s says these are the top 5 law schools in Canada:

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The traditional arguments against going to law school are: (1) there are too many lawyers and not enough jobs; (2) tuition and student loan debts are too damn high; (3) the high-paying or high-powered jobs are available only to the top students of the top schools; and (4) most “JD Advantage” jobs could have been obtained without a law degree.

The typical response to the above is something along the lines of, “That won’t apply to be because I’m going to put in the work and be one of the top students.” Now those of us who lived through law school might find this amusing and even ridiculous. But we can’t really blame them for their determination. We were their age once. Back then, the world was a playground and full of opportunities. If 0Ls today know all of the risks and can obtain a decent scholarship at least for the 1L year, then they should take a shot and see where they fall on the bell curve.

Today, I am going to talk about a few issues regarding law school and law practice that have not been discussed (at least extensively) amongst the law school critics. The issues apply to most students (even the top students) of almost every law school….

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‘Hmm, which law school should I apply to?’

Law school applications are down by 37 percent since 2010, and it’s growing more and more likely that the class of 2017 will be the smallest one we’ve seen in about 40 years. With a soft job market still at hand, people are finally realizing that it’s not a very good time to go to law school.

In fact, just 385,400 full-time law school applications were received for class that started in Fall 2013 — that may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that the number of applications once topped 500,000. What’s even more heartening is that the law schools that received the most applications were all ranked among the U.S. News Top 25 (and most of them were ranked among the ATL Top 25, too).

U.S. News kindly provided us with a list of the ten law schools that received the most applications. Unfortunately, not everyone can get into a highly ranked law school, so we compiled our own list of the top ten unranked law schools that received the most applications.

Which schools appear on the dueling lists of the cream of the crop versus the cream of the crap?

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Dan Markel

No major breaks have been announced in the investigation of the tragic death of Professor Dan Markel. Law enforcement authorities have not publicly identified any suspects. Dan’s former wife, Wendi Adelson, is working with the police and is both devastated at his loss and fearful for herself and their children, according to her lawyer. We extend our condolences and sympathies to her and to all of Dan’s family and friends at this time.

Until there are further developments in the case, let’s focus on Dan’s life rather than his death. I shared some of my own memories of Dan yesterday. Here are additional recollections of Dan from around the country….

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There’s another story today about the soft market for law school applications. According to the National Law Journal, law school applications are down 8 percent this year, and a shocking 37 percent since 2010.

We’ve discussed at length different theories for why this keeps happening.

But one law school is experiencing a boom in applications. It’s a new law school, one that probably shouldn’t exist in the first place. But it is doing one thing right that other law schools still resist: it’s dirt cheap….

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Philip Seymour Hoffman

* From Big Government to Biglaw: Our congratulations go out to Benjamin Horwich, most recently of the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, as he joins Munger Tolles & Olson as counsel. Nice work. [Munger Tolles & Olson]

* The number of law school applicants took a nose dive for the fourth year in a row, this time by 8 percent, summarily crushing the hopes and dreams of law deans praying for a change of their otherwise most dismal fortunes. [National Law Journal]

* Considering the latest slump in applicants, whether a law school evaluates your average LSAT score or highest LSAT score matters little. Admissions officers will jump for joy that you have a pulse. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* “You don’t have to convict on every count to have a win.” Azamat Tazhayakov, friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was convicted of obstruction and conspiracy to obstruct justice. [Bloomberg]

* Per documents filed by a lawyer appointed to represent Philip Seymour Hoffman’s children, the actor didn’t set aside money for them because he didn’t want them to become “trust fund kids.” [New York Post]

Dan Markel

As I mentioned in my earlier story about the horrific killing of Professor Dan Markel, I knew Dan since our days working together on the Harvard Crimson. Back then, he was Dan E. Markel ’95 and I was David B. Lat ’96. We both wrote columns and would edit each other’s work. We didn’t often agree — I was even more conservative back then, and he was, well, not conservative — but we respected each other’s thinking and writing.

After graduating from Harvard College (A.B.), Cambridge University (M. Phil.), and Harvard Law School (J.D.), Dan went on to have a tremendous career in law practice and teaching. He clerked for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate at Kellogg Huber, the insanely elite D.C. litigation boutique. He then joined the faculty of the Florida State University College of Law, where at the time of his death he held an endowed chair as D’Alemberte Professor of Law. A prolific scholar in the areas of criminal law and punishment, he published numerous law review articles, pieces for general-interest news outlets like the New York Times and Slate, and a book, Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties (aff. link).

But Dan was much more than the sum of his résumé items. Here are some testimonials and memories, from myself and others who knew him….

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When it comes to paying for law school, most of us fill out paperwork to secure shiny loans that haunt us for years to come. But there are a few students who think outside the box. Law school tuition Kickstarter campaigns crop up from time to time. There was also a website set up to sell future income streams in exchange for debt payments. Generally, these efforts to outsource student debt are the work of narcissists unwilling to take personal responsibility and pay for their life decisions.

And then we see something like this:

God asked me to go to Law School for the good of the Kingdom of God. Help me raise $28,500 by 5/1/15!

Well, that’s a horse of another color! It’s not that you want a law degree without having to suffer the consequences of your actions, it’s that God wants it. Nothing reflects the model of Jesus Christ more than getting what you want without suffering at all.

Let’s check out this plea for a free law school education — complete with its own movie trailer!

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