LLM

There’s a curious case making the rounds today involving a top law school, its LL.M. program, and a convicted con man.

Mauricio Celis was convicted in 2009 for pretending to be a lawyer in Texas. Celis said that he was barred in Mexico but authorities contended that he was not, though Celis maintains his innocence.

In any event, after his conviction for unauthorized practice of law, he went to get an LL.M. After he enrolled, paid money, and spent months in the program, the school found out about his conviction and expelled him before graduation. After expulsion, Celis essentially filed an Adam Sandler-style lawsuit against the school, arguing that this was news that could have been brought to his attention yesterday.

While most of the internet is reacting with antipathy towards Celis, I’m going to defend the man. If schools weren’t so desperate to cash in on foreigners through expensive LL.M programs, they might have noticed the easily available public information about Celis’s past…

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This punishment is more harsh than anything the ABA will do to a law school.

Jokes about basketball aside, the ABA’s decision to censure and fine the University of Kansas School of Law is bewildering. I mean, I get why the ABA would want to punish Kansas; the school did something that is kind of obviously wrong. But what’s confusing is that KU’s infraction is just a different form of what law schools do every day.

Why is the ABA singling out Kansas Law as opposed to 50 or 100 other schools? Well, as clear as I can tell, it’s because KU didn’t ask permission before it bamboozled foreign students.

Of course, luckily for Kansas, the penalties from the ABA are so toothless that KU will probably barely notice the hypocrisy….

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Usually, law school finals do not produce great moral dilemmas. Most of them are open book, so you are allowed to use any information you can get your hands on. And since the whole thing is graded on a curve, “cheating” in the sense of copying from somebody else doesn’t really get you anywhere. You can use any means, fair or unfair, to get ahead.

But today we have an interesting question coming out of final exams at a top law school. A student observed another student breaking the rules of the exam. The other student was clearly breaking the letter of the law of the exam administration. But was the other student really cheating?

Our tipster didn’t report the offense, and I think that was the right call. But what would you have done?

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This takes balls. Not courage, but balls.

I’m using the term “balls” as a synonym for gall. I’m invoking the connotation of “stubbornness.” A law professor who can look at the current legal job market and the financial ruin suffered by so many law graduates, and fix his mouth to suggest that law school should take longer (and thereby cost more), really has balls. It’d be like Orson Scott Card thanking the producers of Ender’s Game for not casting “a little gay kid” in the title role.

I’m reluctant to even write this post and give this professor a wider circulation for his crackpot views, but I want the internet record to be complete, lest some person who hasn’t been paying attention happens upon the professor’s article and stupidly thinks, “This makes sense to me….”

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Linda Doyle

[A] brick-and-mortar LL.M. would be far more beneficial than an online LL.M. at this point.

Linda Doyle, a hiring partner at McDermott Will & Emery, commenting on the utility of pursuing an online LL.M. degree. Washington University recently made headline news for its introduction of an online LL.M. degree.

* Dewey get the chance to reap revenge against all of the partners who defected? Only in bankruptcy clawback suits. Many are keeping an eye on the Coudert and Thelen Chapter 11 cases to see if they’ll have to pay up. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “People have bigger concerns on their mind than whether Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee.” Well, Scott Brown isn’t most people. He wants all of her job records from her career as a law professor. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* “We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage.” I don’t think “pro-marriage” means what you think it means. Last night, North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. [CNN]

* Mike McQueary is filing a whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State. Hate to say it, but that’s definitely not the first time Penn State’s seen a lawsuit over something being blown in the locker room. [Centre Daily Times]

* Washington University in St. Louis Law is launching an online LL.M. program for foreign lawyers for the low, low price of $48K. The exchange rate surely can’t be good enough for that to be worth it. [New York Times]

* Joran van der Sloot will likely be extradited to the United States from Peru this summer. His lawyer, Maximo Altez, isn’t a fan, because he thinks that we’ll charge his client with murder. America, f**k yeah! [ABC News]

* Oh, of course a member of the Village People’s claim just had to be the test case for 35-year copyright transfer termination. Well, kudos to you, Mr. Motorcycle Cop. You’re a real “Macho Man.” [Bloomberg]

Every so often, people ask us about the “value” of getting an LL.M. degree. Our answer has remained pretty consistent. Is it a tax LL.M. from Georgetown or NYU? No? Then save your money and buy something valuable like gold or drugs. See this graphic (click to enlarge):

Photo credit: some dude on TLS.

But still, people ask: “Is it worth it to get an LL.M. degree?” And obviously, there are a bunch of people who put down good money chasing an extra credential that has little to no impact on their job prospects.

Why? Well, the simplest answer is that LL.M.s are extremely valuable to law school budgets. LL.M.s are so lucrative for law schools that law school deans are willing to lie or become willfully ignorant as to the employment opportunities generated by an expensive post-law school degree.

The National Law Journal made that EXTREMELY OBVIOUS point yesterday (again)….

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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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* John Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald. Oscar Ortega-Hernandez. Sorry, Oscar, you have three names, but you didn’t actually kill the president, so you don’t get to join the club. [New York Times]

* Former SCOTUS clerk Roy McLeese III has been nominated for a seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals. I don’t have an opinion on this yet because I can’t tell if he’s cute. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Do you really think that the .XXX domain is going to have any remarkable effect on the online porn industry? Besides more men with sticky keyboards and angry girlfriends, what’s the problem? [CNET]

* USC Law won’t be adding a tax LL.M. program. Because just dying is more advisable than adding additional debt to your name under the school’s debt solution plan. [National Law Journal]

* Wishing a very happy holiday season to you and yours with this top-of-the-line molotov snow globe. Hallmark: When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best. [New York Daily News]

Foreign LLM students are often like Rodney Dangerfield: they don’t get no respect. American-born JD candidates make fun of LLMs: their awkwardness, their accents, their ignorance of U.S. customs, and their repeated references to life and law in their home countries (“Back on Mypos, we don’t have contributory negligence….”).

Well, next time you want to make fun of an LLM student, check yourself. That LLM student might be the future president of his country — like Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president who earned an LLM at Columbia Law School.

Or, better yet, that LLM student might be the most beautiful woman out of 600,000,000. The nation of India has a population of around 1.2 billion — and a former LLM student at NYU Law School was just crowned Miss India, making her that country’s #1 specimen of womanhood. Eat your heart out, Reema Bajaj.

The new Miss India’s name is Vasuki Sunkavalli. Let’s check her out, shall we?

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