Northwestern University School of Law

I wonder if Todd Akin has some way of shutting this whole thing down, or is it that he secretly wants this?

It’s been a fun couple of days trying to figure out what Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin meant when he said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin claims he misspoke. In a new political ad (look, if the guy doesn’t understand how women get pregnant, it’s probably going to take him a while to figure out how voters decide elections), Akin says: “Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize… The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

But what did Akin really mean when he tried to distinguish “legitimate” rape from the regular kind of “rape-rape” that seems to void a woman’s reproductive rights?

In these times when words are mean and hurtful, we tend to turn to Northwestern Law for guidance. The students at Northwestern Law have long taken their role as the PC Police very seriously. And so it shouldn’t surprise us that a Northwestern 2L is credited with main definition of “legitimate rape” on the incomparable resource of Urban Dictionary…

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Ed. note: Your Above the Law editors are busy celebrating their freedom today (and we hope that you are, too). We will return to our regular publication schedule on Thursday, July 5.

* At this point, the Supreme Court’s dramatic deliberations on the Affordable Care Act are like a leaking sieve. Now we’ve got dueling narratives on Chief Justice Roberts’s behind-the-scenes flip-flopping. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Life, liberty, and the pursuit of fabulosity! The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to grant cert on two DOMA cases, contending that Section 3 of the statute is unconstitutional. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* A famous fabulist: according to California’s State Bar, disgraced journalist Stephen Glass is a “pervasive and documented liar,” but that’s not stopping him from trying to get his license to practice law. [Los Angeles Times]

* Clayton Osbon, the JetBlue pilot who had an epic mid-flight nutty and started ranting about religion and terrorists, was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a federal judge during a bench trial. [New York Post]

* After a month of bizarre legal filings, Charles Carreon has dropped his lawsuit against Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. We’re hoping that there will be an awesome victory cartoon drawn up soon. [Digital Life / Today]

* Northwestern Law is the only American law school to have joined a 17-member global justice league geared toward legal teaching and research collaborations. But do they get cool costumes? [National Law Journal]

* UNC Law received two charitable gifts totaling $2.7M that will be used to fund tuition scholarships for current and future students. Maybe their students won’t have to create tuition donation sites anymore. [Herald-Sun]

* This law is for the birds (literally and figuratively). California’s ban on the sale of foie gras had only been in effect for one day before the first lawsuit was filed to overturn it as unconstitutional. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce recently announced that mermaids do not exist. Not to worry — it’s still legal to believe that Ariel is a babe. [New York Daily News]

Aficionados of wedding-related WTF-ery should not miss this slide show of married-name train wrecks. The one shown at right is mild compared to some of the other exhibits!

And speaking of train wrecks, lawyers continue to marry at a depressing rate. Here’s our roundup of all the recent legal weddings, plus an in-depth look at the following outstanding newlyweds:

Heather Davis and John Jones II

Leah Raful and Seth Goldberg

Stephanie Adams and Patrick Ryan

Read on for the details on these couples — plus photos and links to their wedding registries.

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* Dewey know how deep in the red D&L’s international operations were? Enough to make you shout bloody hell and sacré bleu: the U.K. and Paris offices had liabilities of at least $175M. [Financial Times (reg. req.)]

* “To the extent that we the estate have claims, we would like to settle those claims sooner rather than later.” The joke’s on you if you thought you’d be able to keep your Dewey defector money. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* According to the allegations in former Cravath associate Ellen Pao’s sex discrimination suit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, the “Mad Men” culture seems to be alive and well in Silicon Valley. [New York Times]

* Who will be the first to puff, puff, pass the vote — Obama or Romney? It looks like the path to the White House in Election 2012 might depend upon the legalization of marijuana in key states like Colorado. [Reuters]

* Apparently you can’t take the “duh” out of “Flori-duh” when it comes to voting laws without a fight in the courts. A federal judge has blocked portions of the Sunshine State’s “onerous” voter registration law. [Bloomberg]

* “People want to go to our school, and why should we say no?” Because they can’t get jobs? Northwestern Law is considering shrinking its class sizes; John Marshall Law, not so much. [Crain's Chicago Business]

* Stop crying about coming in second in the U.S. News rankings, Harvard, because you can still brag about beating Yale in having the most-cited law review articles of all time… for now. [National Law Journal (reg. req.)]

* Gloria Allred is representing one of the Miami “zombie’s” girlfriends for reasons unknown. Maybe the zombie apocalypse is truly upon is and she saw an opportunity to stand up for undead women’s rights. [CBS Miami]

* Obamacare’s individual mandate may be in jeopardy, and it’s all because of that stupid broccoli debate. No, Scalia, as delicious as it is, not everyone would have to buy broccoli. [New York Times]

* Biglaw firms aren’t going away, but thanks to the recent onslaught of partner defections to small law firms, their high hourly rates might soon be going the way of the dodo. [Corporate Counsel]

* The “good” news: Northwestern Law will be limiting its tuition hike to the rate of inflation. The bad news: next year, it will cost $53,168 to attend. I officially don’t want to live on this planet anymore. [National Law Journal]

* A Littler Mendelson partner is recovering from a stabbing that occurred during a home invasion. On the bright side, at least he’s not a partner at Dewey — that’s a fate worse than being stabbed these days. [Am Law Daily]

* Law school applicants are dropping like flies, but some law schools were able to attract record numbers of students. UVA Law must have some real expertise in recruiting collar poppers. [The Short List / U.S. News]

* “I have a suggestion for you; next time, keep your [expletive] legs closed.” O Canada, that’s the basis of one crazy class action suit, eh? Dudley Do-Right would never treat a female Mountie like that. [Globe and Mail]

Over the weekend, a Northwestern 3L was hit and killed by an allegedly drunk driver in downtown Chicago.

The student was crossing the street to get a late-night snack when a woman hit him. She continued driving — at one point going the wrong way down a one-way street — until police noticed the extensive damage to the front of her car and pulled her over.

This is not the kind of story we like to write here at Above the Law. But keep reading for details on the student whose life was cut too short….

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Last week, we received our 4,000th response to the ATL School & Firm Insider Survey. (Please take it here, if you haven’t yet). Approximately half of our respondents are current law students, and in the wake of the U.S. News rankings release and the resultant hullabaloo, we thought it would be interesting to compare how the vaunted T14 stack up based on our own survey feedback.

The ATL survey asks students to rate their schools in five different categories:

  • Quality of faculty and academic instruction;
  • Practical / clinical training for the practice of law;
  • Career counseling and job search help;
  • Financial aid advising; and
  • Social life.

After the jump, we’ll look at how the elite schools compare….

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... to take a survey.

Yesterday, David Lat took a detailed look at the National Law Journal’s newly released list of “go-to” law schools — the ones placing the highest percentage of their 2011 graduates in Biglaw. Of course congratulations are due to Penn and Northwestern and the other schools whose graduates are still landing associate positions. But the real news is how seriously discouraging the NLJ data is. We all know the legal job market is tough, yet Bruce MacEwen’s observation that 85% of law schools give students a worse than 10% chance of getting a job in Biglaw still manages to startle.

Our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey (take it here!), asks current law students, among other things, “What do you expect to do after you graduate?” A whopping 71% tell us that they expect to work for a firm. (This percentage was consistent across class years.) That this proportion is so high, and so at odds with the NLJ findings, can mean some combination of two things:

  • The ATL student readership skews heavily toward that minority of students who will actually snag Biglaw gigs.
  • Many (if not most) expectations of law firm employment will be dashed against the reality of a contracting job market. In other words, a majority of students think they are in the fortunate minority

After the jump, we’ll look at how wide the gap between student expectation and market reality is, even at the “go-to” schools:

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Which law school helped her land a fabulous Biglaw job?

The general economy started to turn around last year, but the legal job market remains sluggish. In 2011, many top law schools sent fewer graduates into first-year associate jobs at the nation’s largest 250 law firms than they did in 2010. That’s the bottom-line finding of the National Law Journal’s annual survey of which schools the NLJ 250 firms relied on most heavily when filling first-year associate classes.

The results of the survey should be interesting to current law students and law firm attorneys. And they’re of possible practical import to prospective law students who are now choosing between law schools (or deciding whether to go to law school at all, based on a cost-benefit analysis that pits tuition and student loans against post-graduate job prospects).

So let’s look at the top 10 law schools, ranked by the percentage of their 2011 juris doctor graduates who landed jobs at NLJ 250 firms (i.e., “Biglaw”)….

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Kyle McEntee (left) and Patrick Lynch (right), co-founders of Law School Transparency (LST).

Late last year, plaintiffs’ lawyer David Anziska pledged to make 2012 “the year of law school litigation.” Anziska, who’s currently spearheading efforts to sue law schools over allegedly misleading employment statistics, told my colleague Staci Zaretsky that he and his team members “want to sue as many law schools as we can to bring them into the fray.”

That’s all well and good — for plaintiffs’ lawyers, and for news outlets like ours seeking juicy stories to cover. But there are other ways to achieve reform. So here’s another thought: Could 2012 instead be the year of law school transparency? Transparency achieved voluntarily, by law schools coming forward on their own to share comprehensive data about how their graduates are faring in the job market?

In the weeks since we wrote about the University of Chicago Law School providing very detailed employment data about its recent graduating classes, based on our interview with Dean Michael Schill, we’ve heard from deans, professors, alumni and students of other law schools, all with similar messages. They believe that their schools, like Chicago, are also transparent about graduate employment outcomes — and they want to be recognized for it.

This chorus of “me too!” messages raises a promising possibility: Is law school transparency becoming, for lack of a better word, “cool”? Will honesty about employment data become the hot new trend for U.S. legal education?

Perhaps. But there’s still a long way to go, as shown by a report issued this week by Law School Transparency….

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