Legal Education

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the trial of Teresa Wagner — the would-be Iowa Law professor who claims she was denied a position because of her conservative views — ended in a mistrial. The jury found that Wagner’s First Amendment rights were not violated, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on whether her Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the University of Iowa College of Law.

And so the liberal bias in higher education is safe for another day.

The Wagner case was a pretty big deal. Conservatives who have long felt “under-represented,” “discriminated against,” and “disrespected” at our nation’s colleges and universities felt like Wagner had a really strong case for unconstitutional liberal bias. They really felt that Wagner was a “victim” here whose “qualifications” were questioned just because the faculty at Iowa Law irrationally “hated” her.

Man, that kind of prejudice must suck. I can’t imagine what that would feel like. Luckily, conservative pundits have showed me what to do when somebody goes to court with a claim that they’ve been unfairly discriminated against: pretend it never happened and denigrate the victim and those who defend her!

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My, NYU Law’s new 3L program sure looks pretty.

The third year of law school is an utterly useless waste of time that exists only to fatten the coffers of American law schools and we all know it. The vestigial human tail is more useful for climbing trees than 3L year is for career advancement.

Of course, the third year of law school is never going away, unless you think that law schools are in the business of giving away a third of their income just because it’s the right thing to do. Like the coccyx, it’s so integrated into the whole system that we can’t really just get rid of it. The ABA mandates it, and everybody loves it when their primary regulator requires an artificial price floor.

Today, NYU Law School is announcing an interesting solution to this problem that it has with taking money from students without teaching them anything useful: it’s going to try not teaching them anything at all! That’s right folks, NYU is “revamping” 3L year to give students more opportunities to study abroad. Because whenever you are gouging students for an additional year of education that nobody needs, you might as well make some other university actually deal with them for the year.

Oh, and this plan comes to you with the Cravath stamp of approval. So you know it’s very prestigious….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

My client is finishing her 1L year. She’s bored.

“I study. Then I study some more. Then I go to sleep. Then I get up and study again. It’s the same for everyone.”

At least, I proposed, the subject matter was interesting.

She demurred. “Yeah, I guess… but — really? I mean… Property law? Contracts? Torts?”

Her demurrer was sustained. She had a point.

Maybe it’s your turn to demur. The subject matter of law schoollaw itself — not interesting!?? That’s unthinkable. It has to be the school’s fault — my client must be attending some fourth-tier degree mill, with subpar teaching, and a dull-witted student body….

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Thomas D. Morgan

The jolt to the legal profession is real, and the world is not going back to the way it was.

Thomas D. Morgan, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, commenting on the state of legal education during a plenary session at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. Morgan, author of The Vanishing American Lawyer (affiliate link), noted that more must be done to make legal education relevant in a post-recession world.

Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo

The topic of whether (and how) to reform legal education remains very hot. The latest New York Times story — by David Segal, who isn’t very popular among law school deans right now — has sparked much online commentary.

And it’s not over yet. What do Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo — two of legal academia’s most colorful characters, rock stars in Federalist Society circles — think of the current state of law schools here in the United States?

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Congrats to Mike Sacks on his new gig!

* I’m not alone in arguing for apprenticeships in the world of legal education. On the other side of the pond, Chris Ashford likes the idea too. [The Lawyer]

* Speaking of legal education, “Some Things Are Funny in Law School.” [Only in Law School]

* Congratulations to Mike Sacks — founder of First One @ One First, and a past contributor to these pages — on his exciting new job! [ABA Journal; First One @ One First]

* What should rejected applicants to the shrinking DOJ Honors Program do? Let them eat… muffins! Cake can’t hold a candle to $16 muffins. [Constitutional Daily]

* Given my own uneasiness about guns, I’m not so enthusiastic about the right to print arms. [Associate's Mind]

* Professor Glenn Reynolds asks: “Can Lack of Sleep Ruin Your Marriage?” Just ask the divorced denizens of Biglaw. [Instapundit]

The 'scamblogging' law professor has revealed himself.

Earlier this month, we wrote about an anonymous law professor — a tenured professor, at a top-tier school — essentially joining the ranks of the law school scambloggers. Writing over at a site entitled Inside the Law School Scam, under the pseudonym LawProf, the author offered a harsh indictment of legal education, purportedly from within the ivory tower.

I believed that the author was who he said he was, but others did not. Professor Ann Althouse, for example, opined that the blogger was a student, “uncharitably projecting thoughts onto [a] professor” (who talked about how little he, and his colleagues, prepared for teaching). Professor Althouse explained that she thought was student-written, “because it had some bad writing and simplistic thinking.”

Well, as it turns out, LawProf is an actual tenured law professor, at a top 50 law school. Who is he, and where does he teach?

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A blogging law professor essentially agrees with the scambloggers.

It’s one thing for the loser of a game to complain that the rules are unfair. It’s quite another for a winner to admit the same thing.

We’ve written before about law school scamblogs. According to the scambloggers, law schools rip off their students by (1) misrepresenting the employment outcomes of law school graduates, (2) taking students’ money (much of it borrowed), and (3) spitting students out into a grim legal job market, saddled with six figures of debt that they didn’t have before they became JDs.

It’s not surprising that many of these unemployed or underemployed graduates have taken to the internet with complaints about legal education; they are, after all, victims of the alleged scam. What would be more surprising is if a law professor — say, a tenured professor at a first-tier law school, a clear winner under the status quo — joined them in admitting that law school is something of a scam.

Which apparently just happened, earlier this week….

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July shaped up to be a pretty good month for going after lower-ranked law schools. It isn’t even mid-August, but this month might end up even better.

Early in July, we reported that Kurzon Strauss, a small law firm based in New York, was trolling Craigslist for plaintiffs to sue Thomas M. Cooley Law School over its employment reporting practices. Cooley Law decided to strike first, suing the firm for defamation. And at about the same time, New York Law School and its dean, Richard Matasar, got ripped a new one in the New York Times.

And now, both law schools are getting sued for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices — à la Alaburda v. TJSL, the lawsuit filed back in May against Thomas Jefferson School of Law by an unhappy alumna.

Karmic revenge sure is sweet….

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Shon Hopwood

* Interesting historical perspective from Professor Dave Hoffman on the current debate over legal education. One critic wrote that “there are too many lawyers in this country,” “many of them are not busy,” and “many of them are on the margin of starvation” — back in 1932. [Concurring Opinions]

* And some thoughts on the subject from someone who, despite all the warnings, has decided to go to law school — Shon Hopwood, our former Jailhouse Lawyer of the Day. [The Cockle Bur]

* Professor Paul Horwitz has a response to Governor Rick Perry’s “Response” — and Horwitz seems somewhat sympathetic. [New York Times]

* No, University of Chicago law review editors, Professor Stephen Bainbridge is not going to give up his valuable time to help you do your jobs. [Professor Bainbridge]

* The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Outside Corporate Lawyers. [What About Clients?]

* The latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Professor Lawrence Connell and Widener Law School: Widener demands that Professor Connell undergo a psychiatric evaluation. [Instapundit]

* On Friday, I spoke with John Patti of WBAL about the idea floated in my recent New York Times op-ed (co-authored with Zach Shemtob). [WBAL Radio]

* And here are some NYT letters to the editor in response to our piece. [New York Times]

* While the ABA hosts its big annual meeting up in Toronto, the ABA Journal hosts Blawg Review #314. [ABA Journal via Blawg Review]

* There’s still time to sign up for our chess set giveaway — but act soon, because time is running out. You can also join our Facebook group. [Above the Law; Facebook]

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