If the American Bar Association was serious about protecting its members, it’d be trying to do something to stop the influx of market-depressing new attorneys. America might need more lawyers willing to work for next to nothing to help those who can’t currently afford legal representation, but the last thing current attorneys need is even more law school graduates competing for the few paid positions available. Let the Obama administration start some kind of Americorps program for attorneys; the ABA should be concerned about keeping the supply of attorneys competing in the private market down around levels that come within shouting distance of demand.
(Of course, the ABA is still trying to figure out how to keep member institutions from lying to the ABA. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the ABA to figure this one out.)
Instead, it looks like some law schools are starting to voluntarily reduce the sizes of their incoming classes. We reported on two schools, Albany Law and Touro, doing this back in March, and it seems that the trend is continuing.
I guess there are only so many disgruntled, unemployed graduates these schools want walking around griping about their legal education (or suing them over it)….
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)….
It’s a sad state of affairs when a law school holding the line on tuition is breaking news. But with nearly every other law school rushing to bilk students who will pay anything for a legal education (law schools at Stanford, Arizona State, and Minnesota spring to mind), it’s nice to see at least a couple of schools that regard their students as something more than profit centers.
Maryland announced its tuition freeze in December. The National Law Journal reports that Miami recently announced it would be maintaining a tuition freeze already in place. Now UNH Law is joining their ranks. There’s still plenty of room on this bandwagon if your law school would like to take a brief break from molesting your financial future.
Not that UNH Law is cheap, especially for a third-tier law school. But this tuition freeze is another indication that UNH is at least trying to think about legal education in a somewhat realistic way…
Here at Above the Law, we like to know what’s going to happen, before it happens. We therefore pay special attention to Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. The firm is a trendsetter of sorts — at least for things that are bad. Few remember, but Cadwalader faced down a bed bug epidemic back in 2007, long before every New Yorker lived in fear of the critters.
More people know that Cadwalader was one of the early adopters of massive associate layoffs, with the first sizable round all the way back in January 2008 — well before the fall of Lehman and the true start of the financial crisis. CWT was kicking people to the curb before it was cool.
Nobody knows why Cadwalader seemingly has this mystical power to experience calamities before they happen elsewhere, but one doesn’t have to be able to explain every thing that happens to be true. So ignore the following email sent around the New York offices of Cadwalader at your own risk — but don’t say that CWT didn’t warn you…
Hello? Anyone home? Right now it feels like everyone is on vacation, even though Labor Day is still two weeks away. C’mon, folks, this isn’t freakin’ Europe.
Maybe some people are still on their “bar trips” — multi-week (or even multi-month) post-bar-exam vacations, to some exotic destination (or destinations; I have friends who have traveled around the country, or even around the world, on their post-bar jaunts).
But wait. Do people still do bar trips? That’s the question we raised last August, when the Great Recession and pushed-back law firm start dates threw customary ways into chaos. Many of you answered in the negative last year, claiming that you were replacing Carmen Sandiego-esque globetrotting with more staid “staycations” — or even using the time to get an early start on the job search, for the many readers without employment already lined up.
This year, things seem to be returning to normal in law firm land, at least in part. Not as many lawyers are deferred, and some of the deferrals are shorter (or being ended early). Does this mean bar trips are back on? Let’s discuss — not just bar trips, but summer vacation more generally, since August is a big month for getting away.
Are you traveling this summer, or have you traveled already? If so, where? Do you have any travel tips or great destinations that you’d like to recommend to others? Or perhaps you’re in need of some advice and vacation ideas yourself?
In the movie The Untouchables, Sean Connery counsels Kevin Costner: “If you don’t want to get a rotten apple, pick one fresh off the tree.” Apparently, Hewlett-Packard is taking the same advice; instead of hiring in-house attorneys seasoned in Biglaw firms, HP is getting its next crop of legal help directly from the nation’s top law schools. The Recorder reports (gavel bang: ABA Journal):
This fall, Hewlett-Packard is going where few corporate law departments have gone before: hiring fresh graduates for full-time in-house positions.
Four first-year associates will join HP in Palo Alto, Calif., in September — one from Harvard, two from Northwestern and one from UC-Berkeley. The associates will earn $115,000 per year plus a $15,000 signing bonus and undergo a training program similar to the type installed recently at firms like Howrey and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
We just did a report about how the lawyer training programs offered by firms like Howrey weren’t catching on. But perhaps HP can offer the renowned better lifestyle of in-house attorneys to buttress their below Biglaw market salary?
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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