Law Schools

The 2014-2015 law school year is now in full swing. 1Ls are grappling with the strange new world of the Socratic Method and briefing cases. 2Ls are hoping to score some sort of job out of the fall interviewing season. And 3Ls are wondering just what the heck they’re even doing on campus. If, in fact, they are even on campus at all. ATL’s law school experts have designed this challenge to help determine how much you know about the realities of the 3L experience. Take the 3LOL ‘Challenge’ and find out what you know.

(This challenge is brought to you in partnership with our friends at CredSpark.)

To ask the students to, on top of [paying for law school], do an internship and not get paid for it, I think that’s just ludicrous. The ABA should do better.

– Monalisa Dugué, a student at Valparaiso University Law School, commenting on the fact that the American Bar Association prohibits law students from receiving monetary compensation for academic credit-bearing internships and externships. Dugué, a mother of two, was forced to leave an internship this summer because working for free “became too expensive” — her financial situation eventually became so dire that she “couldn’t even afford to put food in the refrigerator.”

(The ABA had the chance to revise its rule barring pay for academic credit-bearing internships and externships this summer, but law students’ hopes were quickly dashed. Better luck next time, struggling students.)

* The Oakland Raiders have settled their cheerleader lawsuit for $1.25 million. Here’s to a season of crippling losses! [SF Gate]

* The death of law schools requires observing the 5 stages of grief. It’s DABDA right? Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Debt, AGAIN! [TaxProf Blog]

* You don’t need permission to change careers… though many law firm hiring departments are giving their implicit permission to a bunch of applicants. [Forbes]

* Justice Kagan stopped in on her old stomping grounds at Harvard Law. [Harvard Gazette]

* LexisNexis went Hollywood with a shout out in the preview for the Veronica Mars movie. Hopefully they’ll remember the little people when they make it big. [Business of Law Blog / LexisNexis]

* So, law professors, how did you spend your summer vacation? Because this Stanford Law instructor spent it finding security flaws in an online educational platform. [Slate]

* A juror who wanted none of the jury process is ordered to serve a timeout. [Missouri Lawyers Weekly]

* It’s not as exciting as his Dating Game appearance, but here is a video of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski riding a carabao. Beyond the jump… [YouTube]

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Judge Richard Posner

* A unanimous Seventh Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge Posner, just struck down Wisconsin and Indiana’s bans on same-sex marriage. The result isn’t surprising in light of the blistering benchslaps delivered by Judge Posner at oral argument, but the timing is faster than usual (for a federal appellate opinion in a high-profile case, not for the prolific Posner). [BuzzFeed]

* Bad news for Cahill Gordon: the Third Circuit just revived a fraud case against the high-powered firm and one of its clients, a unit of BASF. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And badder news for BP: a federal judge just concluded that the oil giant was grossly negligent in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. [New York Times]

* Freshfields gets fresh talent, adding former Wachtell partner Mitchell Presser and former Skadden partner James Douglas to its ranks. [American Lawyer]

* The dean of Seton Hall Law, Patrick Hobbs, will step down from the deanship at the end of the current academic year. Congratulations to Dean Hobbs on a long and successful tenure. [South Orange Juice]

* And congratulations to John Grisham and Jason Bailey, winners of, respectively, the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and the 2014 ABA Journal/Ross Short Fiction Contest. [ABA Journal]

* Brittany McGrath, Brooklyn Law class of 2014, RIP. [TaxProf Blog]

The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been wildly successful, raising more than $107 million to support the nonprofit and its great work fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The success even prompted the association to file trademark applications for “Ice Bucket Challenge” and “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” (ultimately withdrawn, so as not to stop other worthy causes from using the challenge).

As we reported last month, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been very popular within the legal profession. Even your Above the Law editors got into it. I was challenged by Travis Lenkner of Gerchen Keller Capital, the litigation finance firm, and I responded to that challenge by making a donation in lieu of icing myself. I then challenged my colleague Staci Zaretsky, who responded by dumping ice on herself (and contributing too).

We were joined by many other lawyers and law students in this endeavor. Here’s a round-up of Ice Bucket Challenges from around the legal world….

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The results are in. It turns out that a snazzy, mass-transit ad campaign mocking elites is not enough to turn around an entire law school. Law school applications are down because law school isn’t a good value, not because law school hasn’t been correctly marketed to prospective students.

It looks like Suffolk Law is going to have to face the music. The university has already replaced its president. Now the law school is offering buyouts to tenured faculty and professors with renewable contracts…

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I have a great strategy for passing the bar: write it in Ontario. The Law Society of Upper Canada (our governing body) doesn’t publish official statistics, but it is anecdotally reported that 90% of takers pass in Ontario. Contrast that with New York, where approximately 30 to 40% of takers fail in any given year. That’s a bloodbath.

The system has changed a bit since I wrote, but let me take you back in time to 2002. I had just graduated from Queen’s law school in picturesque Kingston, Ontario. I then had to face something called Bar School. That’s four months of sitting in a stifling classroom during the beautiful and inviting months of May, June, July, and August. Don’t feel bad for me — you’ll see why in a second….

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Career services. They are the unsung heroes of the law school experience. Though they only ever appear in our pages when there is a massive screw up (or an ice bucket challenge), they assist countless law students get those coveted jobs — oh and tweak those valuable employment statistics.

With so much riding on the success of that department — for both the law school and the individual students — it is understandable when career services get a little… creative in their presentation. And as hard as your run-of-the-mill career services professional may work, the level of difficulty is jacked up to hero mode when you work at a TTT law school….

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A couple of months back, Jordan Weissmann of Slate and our own Joe Patrice got into an entertaining little dust-up over Weissmann’s assertion that “Now Is A Great Time To Apply To Law School.” The various arguments ranged over — among other things — the available data from the ABA and the BLS, the scholarship of Michael Simkovic and Brian Tamanaha, and the impenetrable mystery that is the “JD Advantage.” We’ll let readers determine who got the best of the debate. (Hint: Joe did.) But as pundits squabble over the value of a JD or the wisdom of the applying to law school in 2014, what are current would-be law students themselves thinking?

Recently, in collaboration with our friends at Blueprint Test Prep, we conducted a survey of 400 Blueprint students studying for the October 2014 LSAT. (We conducted an earlier, different 0L survey in conjunction with Blueprint back in 2012.) Our goal was to get a snapshot of these 0L’s perceptions of the legal education landscape: will it be harder or easier to get admitted? What are the most important factors in choosing a law school? What are law school admission officers looking for? What are employers really interested in?

Read on to see what we could glean from the 0L mind, including their thoughts on why fewer people are taking the LSAT and applying to law school, even as some — à la Weissmann — predict the demand for lawyers will outstrip supply the supply of law school graduates in 2016.

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Whenever you go to an unaccredited law school, you are assuming the risk that the school doesn’t get accredited. The law school isn’t going to give you your money back if the ABA doesn’t accept it into the club.

Then again, even if you go to an accredited school, things are not set in stone. The gamble of going to a law school of middling rank is taking its toll on some students in the Pacific Northwest. On the bright side, at least some students can now leave, guilt-free, and start whatever else they’re going to do with their lives…

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