Nick Allard

Back from the big NALP conference, back from Seattle, happy to be back in New York City. The five boroughs came up a lot at the conference thanks to the big move by Brooklyn Law School to cut tuition by 15% next year.

If I may summarize the reactions from other schools about Brooklyn’s cut (I’m paraphrasing):

  • F**k those motherf**kers. It’s still super-expensive. Go STATE!
  • Actually my school did something very similar. [Elie explains why their school is not similar.] Well, that’s just your opinion, man.
  • Can somebody wake me up when Yale does it?

I expected that other schools would be a little annoyed with Brooklyn. Schools are already facing a financial crunch given the sharp drop in new law students; not many want to take on the additional financial burden of across the board rate reductions. I recently appeared on CNBC with Brooklyn Law Dean Nick Allard, and he explained that Brooklyn Law sold off some of its capital assets to afford this. I noted that not every school is in the position to do that.

But I didn’t expect some prospective Brooklyn Law students to also bitch about the reduction. I guess when you expect dumber people to subsidize your education, having that taken away from you is jarring…

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket, one New York law school just decided to cut its yearly tuition by a whole lot — 15 percent, actually. That’s right: a top 100 law school is reducing its tuition, across the board, in a move that will take it from being the second-most expensive private law school in New York City to being the cheapest of its kind.

Of course, by “cheapest,” what we really mean is “still prohibitively expensive,” but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Perhaps this is a trend in the making for the rest of New York City’s law schools.

So, which law school is helping its students take on a little less debt?

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The guy in today’s story didn’t dress up like Gumby, but it’s still an amazingly stupid disguise.

* Man tried to rob a convenience store so he could go back to prison. And he almost screwed that up… [KMOV]

* The CIA’s former lawyer explains how torture came to be a go-to national policy. According to John Rizzo, author of the forthcoming Company Man (affiliate link), George W. Bush basically had no conception of what was going on, which makes a lot of sense anyway. [The New Yorker]

* Brooklyn Law’s Dean Nick Allard makes predictions for law schools in 2014. “[P]eople will look back at 2014 and say it marked the start of the new world of law: a renaissance where the respect and reputation of lawyers and law schools began to rise by measurable benchmarks.” Go ahead and laugh, I’ll wait. [TaxProf Blog]

* Paul, Weiss picks up tax partner Scott Sontag from Weil Gotshal. (Congrats to both firms, by the way, on tying for the #9 spot in our list of top-ranked law firms for 2013.) [Paul, Weiss]

* Nooooooooooooo! Judge Richard Kopf is ending his blog. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* And the hits keep on coming. Professor Kyle Graham is also leaving the blogosphere. [Non Curat Lex]

* The Ninth Circuit will start streaming all of its oral arguments next week. If you want to help them out, tune in. No promises that the panel will excoriate any prosecutors this time. [Ninth Circuit]


There might be too many cooks at this law school.

In many constitutional democracies, the role of the president and prime minister are split. The prime minister functions as a kind of “head of the legislature,” kind of like a more powerful version of our “Speaker of the House.” He or she sets the the legislative agenda. The president is endowed with certain executive functions, like telling the army where to go. It’s not perfect, and in many countries with this split one person is clearly in charge and the other person is clearly the butt-boy.

Sometimes I think law schools could benefit from splitting the traditional responsibilities of the law school dean. We need one person who is the Prime Minister of the Faculty — I’d call that person “the dean.” That person would manage the curriculum, and would be ultimately in charge of student and faculty concerns. Issues such as practice-ready preparation, faculty hiring, and tenure decisions would ultimately fall on the prime minister’s desk.

The other guy would be the President of the Law School (Cash Money Overlord?) — he can handle all the business. Fundraising, capital projects, setting the budget, and the like. Students wouldn’t need to know his or her name. When the University President wakes up and says, “Fee-fi-fo-fum, someone stick it to the law student scum,” it’s the president who gets the call.

That way, there’s at least some nominal separation between the people in charge of milking the law students for all they’re worth and the people allegedly responsible for preparing these kids for an unforgiving job market.

On paper, it’s not the worst idea in the world. In practice, it looks like a complete disaster. A local law school has been trying to do it that way, and it looks like the whole thing just went up in flames…

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Make it rain, law schools!

* With the Supreme Court’s term winding quickly to a close, it’s likely that conservative justices will write for the majority in some of the most closely watched and controversial cases. Uh oh. [Washington Post]

* Judge Edward Korman, the man who slapped around the FDA like it owed him money in a ruling over access to the morning-after pill, is actually a very soft-spoken, kind-hearted fellow. [New York Times]

* Wherein a Chicago Law professor and a Vedder Price partner argue that instead of cutting law school down to two years, financial aid should be given out like candy. Hey, whatever works. [Bloomberg]

* Brooklyn Law’s got a whole lot of drama these days: Their president is stepping down, their dean is apparently still a full-time partner at Patton Boggs, and a law professor is suing over alleged ABA violations. [New York Law Journal]

* That’s not the only New York-area law school awash in scandal. Chen Guangcheng has received the boot from NYU Law due to alleged harm done to the school’s relationship with China. [New York Times]

* When questioned about the need for his school, Indiana Tech’s dean says the lawyer oversupply and lack of jobs don’t matter. It’s about the quality of the graduate. Good luck with that! [Journal Gazette]

* This came too soon (that’s what she said). The alleged porn purveyors at Prenda Law will close up shop thanks to the costly litigation surrounding their copyright trolling. [Law & Disorder / Ars Technica]

* Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hassan won’t be allowed to use a “defense of others” strategy in his murder trial, because not only does it fail as a matter of law, but it’s also ridiculous. [Associated Press]

* Harvard Law grad Cate Edwards, daughter of disgraced pol John Edwards, took a dramatic step away from her father’s tabloid-esque pubic interests by opening her own public interest firm. [WJLA ABC 7]

* Judge Thomas Jackson, well-known for his antitrust ruling against Microsoft, RIP. [New York Times]

One reason law schools care about the U.S. News law school rankings so much is because prospective law students care about the U.S. News law school rankings. The other reason is that people get fired when their schools drop too long and too far in the rankings.

Every year, deans and assistant deans find themselves “pushed out” of a job thanks to the U.S. News rankings. Law schools and university presidents rarely say outright that changes are being made in response to the magazine, but let’s just say that Kenneth Randall, dean of the rising Alabama Law School, is probably very safe in his job for another year.

This year, the rankings seem to have already claimed their first assistant dean casualty. But what’s fun this time around is that students at two law schools have started petitions demanding that their deans get canned for poor performance in U.S. News.

It’s entirely possible that U.S. News is getting more powerful in a market of declining law school applications….

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I’m not going to lie, these are quickly becoming my favorite columns to write every year.

For approximately 364 days a year, law school deans are free to tell us how great their schools are without being forced to provide any data to support their claims of being the best law school for whatever. But one day, each law school must confront the stark reality of their U.S. News law school ranking. They can disparage the rankings, get angry at the rankings, or boast about the rankings (if they’re lucky). But deans ignore the rankings at their own peril.

And so some deans are forced to address their schools’ poor rankings. They are free to spin things however they want, but for one day, they’re not operating in a vacuum. There is an objective fact that is just a little bit beyond their powers of self-reporting manipulation.

It’s a fun day….

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* Oh, by the way Dewey & LeBoeuf partners, the little contribution plan you signed that received court approval last week might not protect you from your former landlord’s claims for back rent. Hope you’ve all got an extra $45 million sitting in the bank. [Am Law Daily]

* Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson will finally get to claim her seat as chief justice of the state’s high court after official judicial recognition — on both the state and federal level — that the year 1994 does indeed come before 1995. [Bloomberg]

* No matter how hard law school administrators wish it were so, or how much they beg Jim Leipold of NALP, he’s never going to be able to describe the current entry-level legal job market as “good.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* NYU Law School is changing its third-year program in the hopes of making a “good” market materialize. If you ship students to foreign countries for class, maybe they’ll get jobs there. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “[W]e’re determined to do everything we can to help them find jobs and meaningful careers.” We bet Brooklyn Law’s dean is also determined to avoid more litigation about employment statistics. [New York Law Journal]

* Has the other shoe finally dropped? After the Second Circuit ruled that YSL could sell monochromatic shoes, the fashion house decided to drop its trademark counterclaims against Christian Louboutin. [Businessweek]

Nick Allard: no sleep till Brooklyn?

As one Biglaw partner makes plans to leave Brooklyn, putting his $10 million mansion on the market, another partner is packing his bags for Kings County. Nick Allard, chair of the lobbying and election law practice at Patton Boggs in D.C., is heading for the Heights: he’ll be the new dean of Brooklyn Law School, effective July 1.

Going from a law firm partnership to a law school deanship is an unusual move. What’s behind Allard’s career shift? A desire to be closer to Sarah Jessica Parker, who is apparently Brooklyn bound?

Let’s find out….

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* It’s Obamacare week at the Supreme Court, and people have been waiting in line since Friday morning to see the oral arguments. It’s kind of like Black Friday, except more people care about affordable TVs than affordable health care. [New York Times]

* Growth in the NLJ 250 increased by 1.7 percent in 2011. That’s fantastic for Biglaw, but associates at these firms care more about the growth of their bank accounts. Seriously… where are the spring bonuses already? [National Law Journal]

* George Zimmerman’s lawyer says he doesn’t think the “stand your ground” law applies to Trayvon Martin’s shooting. This was just self-defense — against Skittles. [MSNBC]

* The finalists for deanship at Baltimore Law include a Patton Boggs partner, an assistant attorney general, a law school dean, and two law professors. But which will be able to stand up to Bogomolny? [Baltimore Sun]

* Since blogging allows “big personalities” to run free, does the prosecommenter, Sal Perricone, have a bright future ahead of him here at Above the Law? Let’s see what David Lat has to say about that. [Times-Picayune]

* Millionaire John Goodman has been convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges, and now he’s facing 11.5 to 30 years in prison. Boy is his girlfriend-slash-daughter going to miss him. [CNN]

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