In today’s age of gun violence at schools, anything and everything can be construed as a precursor to the next classroom shooting. Wearing a trench coat? You might be hiding a gun under there. Got a crazy look in your eye? You might be plotting a mass murder. Eating an ice-cream cone? Oh my God, drop the weapon!
But if you think that you can get away with eating an ice-cream cone and wearing a trench coat with a crazy look in your eye in a law school classroom, you’ve got another thing coming — especially if you allegedly proceed to flip tables, leap over desks, and run up and down the aisles like a wild man while blathering incoherently.
And, perhaps most fittingly, this happened during a torts class….
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan shares some practical advice with associates.
When you show up for work at a law firm, you realize pretty quickly that there’s a lot to learn. Some things people will tell you, but there’s a lot of stuff no one’s going to tell you. Having been on both sides of the equation (as the one screwing things up, and the one getting annoyed with more junior people making my life difficult), here are a few things I learned along the way.
Ten Rules of Thumb for Law Firm Success
1. Don’t bring cases from the wrong jurisdiction. You remember Erie, right? If not, it’s time to review. There is very little that’s more annoying than giving a junior lawyer an assignment to find some case law, and having them come back with a state case, when you need a federal case, or vice versa. It’s one of those situations where you, as the assigning attorney, feel really confused. Did they not understand the assignment? Did they sleep through Civ Pro? Or do they just not care? None of these thoughts make me like you, or want to work with you again. Be sure you understand what you’re looking for, and resist the temptation to bring an irrelevant case, because you can’t find a relevant one.
2. On that note, no one cares how much effort you exerted. If you can’t find a case on point, just say that! If I ask what steps you took to search, feel free to tell me — in detail — so I won’t replicate your work. But do not go on about how many hours you spent, or how hard you looked. I don’t care. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure you’re doing the best you can. But, if you can’t find what I need, I’ll have to find it myself, so it’s best just to give me the bad news, and get out of the way.
Ah, UVA Law School. I’ll be the first to admit that we’re often a little harsh on this particular law school, but that’s only because it’s so damn easy to do. When we write about UVA Law, the jokes virtually write themselves.
But let me tell you, it’s a rare day when we’re able to tell students from this school to pop their collars with pride, and we actually mean it without a hint of sarcasm. Today we’re going to congratulate a student from UVA for an accomplishment that everyone with student loan debt wishes they could achieve.
This young woman appeared on live television and was handed thousands of dollars to pay off her loans, just for being a decent human being. How much was she able to walk away with?
A couple weeks ago, we shared with you some of our survey data, which showed that, generally speaking, law students’ experiences with their schools degrade over time. The ATL Insider Survey asks law students and alumni to rate their schools in the areas of academic instruction, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life. When the ratings by first-year students are compared with those of third-years, the 3L scores are lower across the board, in all categories. In other words, the longer students are exposed to their schools, the lower their regard for the institution becomes. More equals worse.
We wondered whether or how this downward trajectory manifests itself after the students become alumni. After the jump, we compare the perceptions of students to those of graduates. The answer may surprise you, but probably not. Also, we identify the law schools where there is the greatest contrast between the views of current students and alumni — both negatively and positively….
I didn’t have “teaching assistants” when I was in law school, nor did I have “homework” in the grade-school sense of the term. In law school, we were treated, more or less, like adults. You show up to class, get yelled at by people who are smarter than you, have a ton of work to do when you get home, and a couple of times a year everything comes down to one arbitrary exam or contest.
But some law schools try to maintain the child-like comfort of TAs and response papers and multiple-choice exams. Now, TAs are generally useless everywhere, but most of them know that. They’re fine as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Greetings from Sin City. Elie and I are in town for a debate we’re participating in tomorrow on the future of legal education. The debate will take place on Monday at noon in room 102 at UNLV Law School. The event is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided, so please come if you can. Thanks to the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society for co-sponsoring. (You can check out the event flyer here.)
While in Las Vegas, in addition to stimulating the local economy by losing money at craps and poker, I paid a visit to the site of a major Above the Law story: the alleged bird beheading that resulted in criminal charges for two Berkeley law students. Here are my observations and photographs….
* Dear professors, please try to understand that most people who experience normal, human emotions are more concerned with the future of American law students than they are with whether or not American law schools can survive by bilking the hell out of foreigners. [PrawfsBlawg]
* In Canada, they raided somebody’s Super Bowl party to bust up an illegal gambling ring. They never would have done this during the Grey Cup. [CTV News]
* Apparently some kind of law something happened on Downton Abbey last night? I missed it, because staring at a dark stadium is literally more interesting than that freaking show. [Law and More]
* Thomson Reuters is getting out of the academic book publishing business. If only law professors would do the same thing. [TaxProf Blog]
“One of the well-known facts about law school is it never took three years to do what we are doing; it took maybe two years at most, maybe a year-and-a-half,” Larry Kramer, the former dean of Stanford Law, said in a 2010 speech. The continuing existence of the third year of law school is generally held to be one of the basic structural defects in our current legal education model, alongside the contracted job market and soaring tuition. There have been efforts to address the problem, the latest being NYU’s announced overhaul of its third year curriculum.
Yet these attempts to redefine what the 3L year means appear to many like half-measures at best, “lipstick on a pig” at worst. As we noted back in November, Professor Bill Henderson of Indiana/Maurer has made a sweeping proposal that calls for a special new program for 3Ls by a coalition of willing law schools. The 3Ls would embark on a skills-based, teamwork-heavy course of study in partnership with law firms who agree to employ the students, albeit at a reduced rate. Also, there is a proposal currently before the New York Bar that would allow students to take the bar exam after two years. These students would not obtain a J.D. unless they return for their third year, but would be eligible for a bar card.
In assessing the NYU proposal (basically an increase in study abroad and specialty courses), Professor Kenneth Anderson argues that law schools have allowed educational incentives (i.e., learning to how to be a lawyer) and credentialing incentives (i.e., becoming an attractive job candidate) to drift apart: “The problem lies in how very, very unattractive we’ve institutionally made [students’] incentives – and the price tag attached to what is essentially a bet rather than investment. It’s a bet with many more bad payoffs than good ones.”
All the discussion and debate about the three-year law school model focuses, understandably, on the utility of that third year. We thought it would be interesting to have a look at our survey data to get a sense of how the experience of law students changes over time. The ATL Insider Survey asks law students and alumni to rate their schools in academic instruction, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life. We wondered how, if at all, these perceptions differ between 1Ls and 3Ls….
* When it comes to medical marijuana prosecutions, the government is supposed to have “bigger fish to fry,” but it looks like even the Department of Justice couldn’t resist reeling in one last big catch. [New York Times]
* According to the results of this study, if you want to do well in law school, you should probably stop being so damn awkward, scale back your antisocial habits, and consider joining a study group. [National Law Journal]
* “[U]nder American law, anyone interesting is a felon.” This Columbia Law professor argues that the legal system failed Aaron Swartz because he was treated like a criminal instead of a deviant genius. [New Yorker]
* Porn stars in Los Angeles are challenging the constitutionality of being forced to wear condoms during filming — because the transfer of STDs is “constitutionally protected expression.” [Courthouse News Service]
* So, it looks like Lindsay Lohan fired her best gal pal in the world: her lawyer. But sometimes you have to fire people when you allegedly owe them oodles of money to the tune of $300K and you don’t have any. [Daily Mail]
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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