Touro Law Center

We’re a little bit late with April’s lawyer of the month reader poll. First of all, we’ve been doing a lot of reader voting so far in this month. (There are still a few hours for you to vote in our Law Revue Video Contest.)

The other reason why we’re a bit delinquent this month is because we think we know who is going to win. It’s not every day that a recent law grad finds himself trying a murder case — and getting reprimanded by the judge for “lack[ing] knowledge of proper trial procedure.”

Such is life during the Obama “recovery.” Check out this month’s nominees below…

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Look, Touro Law students and alumni, please don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger.

The Washington Post is reporting that a D.C. Superior Court judge, William Jackson, declared a mistrial in a murder case on Friday so that the defendant could fire his lawyer. The attorney, Joseph Rakofsky, a 2009 graduate of Touro Law School, showed “numerous signs” that he “lacked knowledge of proper trial procedure,” according to the judge.

If you are wondering why people sometimes make fun of Touro and other very low-ranked law schools, it’s because this kind of stuff is straight-up embarrassing. Good schools try to not let people like this into to law school, and they certainly don’t let them depart so poorly trained.

But most damning of all is that Joseph Rakofsky doesn’t even seem to understand how totally embarrassing this result is for him. The kid is bragging about the result, on Facebook…

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Critics of the legal-education industrial complex would probably like to see some radical changes in the U.S. law school system. They’d probably want a few dozen law schools to shut down entirely, to reduce the glut of lawyers in this country. Barring that, they might want to see law schools reduce tuition dramatically — not just freeze tuition, which some schools are already doing, but make an outright cut in the sticker price of a J.D.

Alas, expecting such changes isn’t terribly realistic. Law school deans and law professors aren’t going to willingly reduce their salaries or send themselves into unemployment — and why should they? Despite all the warnings about the risk involved in taking on six figures of debt to acquire a law degree, demand for the product they’re selling, legal education, remains robust (even if it’s showing signs of abating).

Interestingly enough, however, we’re seeing some law schools cutting their production (of graduates, of J.D. degrees)….

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Last week, I wrote a post about Touro Law School. The post highlighted allegations of wrongdoing at Touro College. In light of these allegations, and after talking about Touro Law’s reputation with a St. John’s law student I know, I suggested that the ABA might want to take a closer look a Touro Law — a fourth-tier law school that charges students $40,000 a year. Read the original post here.

Students at Touro and other fourth-tier law schools quickly came out of the woodwork. I see myself as a clear voice against the exploitation of these people by institutions charging them way too much. But they see me as an elitist who places institutional prestige ahead of quality education.

In my youth, I knew a lot of Touro Law graduates — I grew up on Long Island, and there are a lot of them out there. But it occurs to me that as an adult (and especially since I started working for Above the Law almost two and half years ago), I’ve had very little opportunity to interact with Touro students or grads, or people from other fourth-tier institutions. Our top-tier readers are often the most vocal, and ATL has put me in contact with scores of law students and alumni from second- and third-tier schools. The fourth tier, not so much.

With that in mind, one Touro Law student took the time to write an epic defense of Touro and fourth-tier legal education more generally. I don’t agree with a lot of it, but here at ATL, we do like to hear and present different sides of important arguments.

Everybody has heard my position on this matter (“the tuition is too damn high”), so let’s take a look at the other side — straight from the mouth of a student actually enrolled at Touro…

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This week — in between tweeting some really funny stuff (such as how I want to blow up airports — it was so funny!), buying up every last can of Four Loko that I could get my hands on, and forwarding Skadden employee evaluations to all of my friends — I spent the rest of the time tracking the news articles and blog posts I wanted to cover in The Rundown.

Among other things in this edition, a prominent e-discovery company offers its predictions for 2011, a big fish swallows a little fish, and we engage in more Touro talk (this time positive).

There is even a crossword puzzle — seriously, a crossword puzzle…

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We don’t cover Touro Law School a lot on these pages because frankly it would just be mean. The school, located in New York, is ranked fourth tier by U.S. News, and that’s probably generous. The school charges $40,000 a year which is just… I mean… Well, “crime, boy I don’t know.”

Its reputation just isn’t the best. I had drinks with a St. John’s Law graduate once, and after calling me an “elitist prick” she said, without a hint of irony, “Great lawyers can come from anywhere, Elie. We’re not talking about Touro here, we’re talking about real, legitimate law schools that you overlook.”

Fair enough. But really, there’s no reason to look at Touro Law differently than any number of law schools the ABA allows to run around doing their thing. At least, there was no reason until today, when the New York Post unleashed a scathing report which they probably stole from someone else without giving credit that detailed the shenanigans of the late Bernard Lander, the president of Touro College, who was apparently the best paid university president in the country.

While the allegations focus on the college and not the law school, the taint on Touro is terrible….

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