Northwestern

Last summer, David Van Zandt announced that he was stepping down as dean of Northwestern Law, in order to assume the presidency of the New School here in New York. In the fall, he put his magnificent mansion on the market — for a whopping $4.7 million. (DVZ bought the 6,300-square-foot house, in Chicago’s tony Lincoln Park neighborhood, for $922,550 back in 1996.)

We were impressed. We wrote at the time: “It seems that Dean Van Zandt’s talents extend to real investing as well as academic administration!”

But some commenters were less enthused. Wrote one, “Let’s wait and see how much he actually gets, shall we?” Said a second, “I live in the area…. he will be lucky to get $3.0M.”

We can now report that a buyer has closed on President Van Zandt’s former home. How much did he get for it?

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Almost a year ago, David Van Zandt, one of the most admired figures within legal education, announced his departure as dean of Northwestern Law School. Van Zandt moved to New York, leaving behind his multimillion-dollar mansion in Chicago, to assume the presidency of the New School (a move that made headlines here in NYC).

A search committee went to work, to try and find someone to fill Dean Van Zandt’s large shoes. Today the law school announced its new leader.

The new Northwestern Law dean, like his predecessor, is a distinguished scholar. He also comes with a strong track record as a law school administrator.

Who is he? Let’s find out….

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We are almost three months into my one-woman quest to convince the world (or at least ATL readers) that bigger is not always better. Isn’t that why Jamie Oliver is moonlighting as a lunch lady? Unfortunately, some people still are not convinced. So I called in an expert, Steven Harper (previously featured here).

Harper, a Kirkland & Ellis partner turned novelist, has been studying and writing about attorney unhappiness and Biglaw for some time. He also teaches a class to undergraduates at Northwestern University entitled “American Lawyers – Demystifying the Profession.” The class, which is now in its fourth year, offers undergrads “ten weeks of reality therapy” about what it means to be a lawyer. Although most of the students end up going on to law school, at least they are better informed.

What wisdom does Harper impart to his young charges?

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* Wesley Snipes wants the Supreme Court to review his conviction. Or maybe he’s just doing research because he wants the lead role in a Clarence Thomas biopic: The Silence. [TaxProf Blog]

* Congratulations to David Rivkin of Debevoise & Plimpton — a man who I remember as having great seats at Shea Stadium — for scoring one for the Americans. [Am Law Daily]

* Speaking of Debevoise, I probably could have used these tips on how to resign gracefully from my former firm. Instead, I think I stood up in the middle of a conference room and started shouting, “give us, us free.” [Corporette]

* Why do law school administrators act like telling the truth is one option among many, instead of a professional responsibility? [Vault]

* You can pick up a sex slave at the Super Bowl? [Change Makers]

* Doesn’t New York State understand that judges are kind of important? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Honestly, do you think that the diversity rationale for affirmative action also justifies having a preference for white males in some situations? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Ha ha. Northwestern college kids need to see a live sex act in order to learn. [Reuters]

* If you’re on Facebook — and who isn’t? — feel free to “like” Above the Law. We’ll be getting busy on FB in the weeks ahead (like we already are on Twitter, @ATLblog). [Facebook]

If I were a Republican on the court, I wouldn’t think twice about this if I thought the law was unconstitutional. I don’t think they’re going to take some giant hit on it.

— Professor Lee Epstein of Northwestern, commenting to the New York Times on how a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice might rule on a constitutional challenge to health care reform.

Isn’t it nice when people who do good also do well? David Van Zandt — the outgoing dean of Northwestern Law, and the incoming president of The New School — is a beloved figure, at NU Law and beyond. Professionally, he’s an innovator in legal education; personally, he’s a great guy. We’re big fans of his here at Above the Law, especially since he once wrote a guest commentary for our pages (on law school rankings).

When Dean Van Zandt announced his departure, Northwestern Law students were heartbroken. But don’t shed tears for DVZ: he’s going to a better place. Hello, New York City! [FN1]

And assuming The New School doesn’t provide its new president with housing, Dean Van Zandt should be able to snap up a fabulous pad for himself here in Gotham. He has put his Chicago mansion on the market, for a very pretty penny. If he succeeds in selling it for anywhere near the asking price, he’ll be able to live large in NYC.

Dean Van Zandt bought the home back in 1996, for $922,550. How much is it on the market for today?

Let’s find out — and ogle some pictures of the house, inside and out….

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Ed. note: In advance of the soon-to-be-released U.S. News and World Report law school rankings, we wanted to get a fresh take on why the rankings are something we should care about. So we reached out to one of the most well-known proponents of law school rankings, Dean David E. Van Zandt of the Northwestern University School of Law. His guest post appears below.

By David Van Zandt

The debates about the merits of the U.S. News & World Reports annual law school rankings undoubtedly will escalate with the imminent release of the new rankings. The rankings indeed are far from perfect. (I myself think there should be a different weighting of variables.) And we, as legal educators and practitioners, should continue to share our concerns about the methodology and weightings used by U.S. News.

That said, my unpopular position on law school rankings essentially remains unchanged for the past decade. I strongly believe in them. Rankings offer prospective law students an important source of consumer information with which to evaluate law schools.

Frankly, I believe we need more rankings. I especially would welcome additional rankings that would focus on employer perspectives and employment outcomes. Business Week’s rankings of MBA programs, for example, do a much better job of focusing on employers and allowing them to rank graduates of schools based on specific desired qualities and outcomes. However, just having more independent publications (as occurs in the business school world) rank law schools in different ways would help…

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So let’s focus on making them better.

CORRECTION AND UPDATE (12/6/2010): We are advised as follows by a knowledgeable source: “There was never a charge of ‘fleeing’ the police or anything of the sort. Todd was, in fact, ‘pulled over’ while parked in the parking lot of his hotel and the only charge against him, driving under the influence, has been dismissed.”

We’ve had quite a bit of fun around these parts with the Northwestern Student Bar Association’s role as PC Police for the entire Northwestern Law community. You’ll remember that the Northwestern SBA admonished students for using “any racial or sexual epithet[s]” around exam time — e.g., “that exam raped me.”

But now tipsters report that outgoing SBA president Todd Belcore is in trouble with duly recognized officers of the law, and it’s got nothing to do with his language:

[O]n a school trip to MS, Todd Belcore was arrested for DUI and fleeing from the police. The people on the trip were warned not to discuss the arrest to avoid the news getting to you guys.

Getting hemmed up on a DUI in Mississippi? That is so gay.

Various Mississippi sheriffs’ departments declined to talk about the incident, but additional sources confirmed the reports….

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northwestern law school.gifEarlier this week, at the PLI Law Firm Leadership and Management Institute — which was excellent, by the way (and not just because we presented there) — Dean David Van Zandt, of Northwestern University School of Law, offered some reflections on the future of legal education. (We used one of his comments as a recent quote of the day.)

Dean Van Zandt’s presentation was thoughtful and thought-provoking. He analyzed a number of recent reforms made by leading law schools. He also explained the changes that Northwestern Law School has made to its academic program.

One of his most interesting tidbits was the starting salary that would constitute a “break-even point” for going to law school. In other words, what salary would you have to earn upon graduation in order to make going to law school an economically rational decision?

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northwestern law school.gifOn Friday, we told you that the Northwestern Law School Student Bar Association wanted people to watch their language come exam time. In a letter to all students, the SBA told the student body about the kind of language that would not be tolerated:

Therefore, to be clear, saying things like “that’s so gay”, “that exam raped me”, or any racial or sexual epithet, are inappropriate and unacceptable. Accordingly, we ask that every student be cognizant of the critical role you play in maintaining NUSL’s vibrant diverse, collegial and supportive student culture and refrain from using such language.

The response to the SBA’s email has been overwhelming. Over the weekend, Above the Law readers offered every version of “This [protected class] exam [violated me sexually] in my [orifice of choice]” known to man. If the SBA’s letter was meant to inspire civility and tolerance, it was an epic fail.

Which Northwestern SBA members have taken responsibility for the letter? Which students want to stand by the opinions the board disseminated school-wide?

So far, none of the Northwestern SBA members claim responsibility for the message. In fact, finding a Northwestern student representative is more difficult than finding a job in this depressed economy. Above the Law reached out to the SBA president, but he has not responded to our request for comment.

It’s a bit surprising that after so publicly asking the student body to keep it clean, the SBA is suddenly keeping very quiet. Shouldn’t they use this as an opportunity to disseminate their message to a larger audience?

Others at Northwestern are talking, however. And tipsters tell us that this isn’t the first time that the current SBA has sent around a plea for civility in speech. Details after the jump.

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