Penn State Law

One would imagine that a law school would be prepared to manage an unimpeachable quasi-judicial proceeding. If anything, a bunch of lawyers idealistic enough to turn their backs on private practice to preach from an ivory tower would bend over to expand the bounds of fairness in some kind of hippie Bill of Rights love-in. Law school court would be like Hair with more procedural safeguards and hopefully much less nudity.

That wasn’t the case last year, when a law school convened an Honor Board to prosecute a student for cheating on her exams. Now, that student is suing the school in federal court, alleging due process violations and breach of contract arising out of the investigation and prosecution of her case.

Is she guilty of an infraction or not? We can’t pass judgment on that from the pleadings alone. We can, however, troll this law school for its pretty terrible grasp on how the justice system is supposed to work….

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Lat here. Tomorrow is a big day. First, April 15 is Tax Day; we hope that you’ve filed your return — and that you haven’t been taken advantage of. Second, it’s the deposit deadline at various law schools. We hope that you’ve made up your mind — and that you haven’t been taken advantage of.

Just kidding. Here at Above the Law, where we are sometimes critical of the value proposition of legal education, I’m the designated defender of law schools. I write stories with titles like In Defense Of Going To Law School and Go To Law School: What Else Are You Going To Do With Yourself? I also compile and disseminate law school success stories. We are not uniformly opposed to law school here at ATL; we just want people to make informed decisions.

Helping people make informed decisions is the goal of our popular column called The Decision. We field queries from prospective law students choosing between different schools, offer them advice, and ask ATL readers to weigh in as well.

Now, on to today’s scenarios. We’ve titled them “Jersey Boys” and “The Book of Mormon,” for reasons that will soon become apparent….

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips for law school applicants.

Law schools have been increasing their scholarship opportunities in order to lure applicants. Why? Because law school applicants are in demand. Applications are down yet again, and law schools are scrambling to fill their seats. (See TaxProf Blog for exact numbers and trends, year over year.)

As law schools compete for qualified applicants with better scholarships, it may be easier to consider criteria like debt alongside rank and prestige when choosing a law school. As part of this new trend, law schools are adding on scholarship programs to make attending law school more affordable. Villanova Law recently announced an initiative to add 50 full-tuition scholarships for three years, and in-state students at Penn State are being offered $20,000 per year as part of a new scholarship program.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…


I really don’t want to be that guy at the dinner table who points out that the mashed potatoes are lumpy and the turkey is a bit dry. A law school is cutting tuition by half for some students, and for that we should be thankful. This follows a trend, seen here and there, in which law schools are starting to respond to the low interest in legal education by competing on price.

Except it also follows the trend of not really being a tuition “cut.” Instead it’s a tuition scholarship that is worth about half of the tuition, while the school maintains its high listed sticker price.

Well, this is Above the Law, not a Thanksgivukkah meal. Who wants a side of hater?

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* It’s springtime, and the nation’s highest court is getting ready to drop some of its biggest decisions yet. If Tolkien had written this, Justice Kennedy would be the one to bear the One Vote. [UPI]

* But for SCOTUS to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the people, its justices must do battle against a “modern-day tsunami of special interests.” How well are they doing? [National Law Journal]

* To answer that question, let’s look at their record. Political labels aside, thus far, the Roberts court has shaped up to be “the most pro-business court since the mid-1930s.” [New York Times]

* Meanwhile, Justice Thomas has been busy taking shots at President Obama, noting that he always knew the first black president had to be pre-screened by “the elites” and “the media.” [Mother Jones]

* Sometimes even federal prosecutors are willing to take pity upon rich old white men: Mel Weiss, formerly of Milberg LLP, won’t be returning to jail after his foray into DUI territory. [Am Law Daily]

* “Chevron can afford to litigate this case ‘until hell freezes over.’ But [Steven] Donziger can’t.” As it turns out, clients who can’t pay their bills are problematic for John Keker of Keker & Van Nest. [Reuters]

* Penn State Law is continuing with its plans to fleece students at two separately accredited sites, because clearly what the world needs right now is MOAR LAW SCHOOLS. [Centre Daily Times]

When you have a major law school initiative overturned by local politicians, you can start numbering your days as law school dean.

The inevitable happened today: Philip J. McConnaughay, dean of Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, announced he is leaving the school.

I don’t see what else could have happened. Penn State Law is looking at a 20 percent drop in law school applications, one of the largest in the country. Dean McConnaughay’s major plan to consolidate Penn State’s two campuses was stopped in its tracks by politicians who, frankly, have no idea about the economics of running a law school these days. Then he proposed splitting the two campuses into two different law schools.

Now, he’s just leaving. Not just Penn State, the man is leaving the country. He’s taking an opportunity to become dean of Peking University’s School of Transnational Law.

It reminds me of when a basketball player can no longer play in the NBA and starts playing club ball in China…

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Penn State, which will one day be a case study in “brand damage,” has been struggling to figure out what to do with its two law school campuses. The school has one in University Park, it has another one in Carlisle, and it’s dealing with an over 20 percent drop in law school applications.

Not good times.

The University was thinking of consolidating some programs across its two campuses to eliminate redundancies. The school was considering focusing its traditional law school operations on the University Park campus, while using the Carlisle campus to tap into the international market for law students. It makes sense because law students from China evidently don’t read Above the Law (if they did, I’d be saving Twinkies from bankruptcy by myself), and so they don’t yet know the racket of paying for American legal education.

It was a solid economic plan, but apparently the politicians are pulling the public university in the opposite direction….

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We’ve talked a lot about the decline of people going to law school.

Wait, I need music when I say that.

Cool.

So, yeah, law school enrollment is down at law schools across the country. Top Law Schools has been crowdsourcing the class sizes of some notable law schools, and Tax Prof Blog put that into a helpful chart showing the decrease in matriculation, year-over-year, for about 40 law schools.

Let’s take a look a the schools that look like they’re about to be stabbed by Sephiroth….

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There was also mention in the story about the school losing its accreditation, which is a minor mistake.

Ron Southwick, city editor at The Patriot-News, commenting on one of the “minor” errors made in the paper’s incorrect report about Penn State’s supposed plan to close the the Carlisle campus of the Dickinson School of Law, which allegedly would have threatened the school’s accreditation. The paper has issued a correction.

It may come as a shock to some people, but there are and always have been other things going on at Penn State University other than football and child molesting.

As many regular Above the Law readers know, Penn State has a law school with multiple campuses. One in University Park, another in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (and zero campuses in Princeton, New Jersey).

We’ve written before about the decline in law school applications, and PSU Law is a facing a similar problem. Some schools have responded by raising law school tuition. Penn State is thinking of consolidating some programs to eliminate redundancies between the two campuses.

But since it’s Penn State and people are still reeling from the penalties thrown at the football program, that simple story seems to have been blow way out of proportion….

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