University of Pittsburgh School of Law

The life of a law school dean.

Law school deans are used to begging. They beg their faculty to assume additional teaching responsibilities. They beg their university presidents to stop slashing their budgets. Mostly, they beg wealthy alumni and community members for money. More money. As much money as they can fix their mouths to ask for. If law school deans could play instruments, they’d be on the subway begging for change.

But in this market, instead of begging alumni for money, law deans really need to be begging their alumni for job openings. Deans should be on the phone every day, talking to people who are in a position to hire graduates of their law schools.

Are law deans doing that? Are law deans taking the responsibility unto themselves to relentlessly push for job opportunities for their students? Beyond New York Times op-eds and grand re-imaginings of the third year curriculum, are law deans digging in and doing the person-to-person work of begging powerful alumni to hire new graduates?

I think some of them are. I know some of them are not. Here, we have one law dean’s letter to alumni that can serve as a kind of blueprint for how a dean should be hawking her students. Maybe you can send it to your dean and ask if she is sending out the same kind of letters…

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Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that made up the top half of the traditional second tier. And when we say the “traditional second tier,” we’re harkening back to a time when not all law schools with numerical rankings were classified as “first tier” educational institutions — a time when not all law deans could defend their law school’s rank by telling students and alumni that the school was still in the “first tier.” It’s not an elitist thing, we promise. It’s just much, much easier this way.

That being said, today we’ll take a look at the schools ranked #76 through #98 (where there’s a four-way tie). What does it take to be recognized as a Top 100 law school by U.S. News these days? Apparently your graduates need to be employed….

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I’m not going to lie, these are quickly becoming my favorite columns to write every year.

For approximately 364 days a year, law school deans are free to tell us how great their schools are without being forced to provide any data to support their claims of being the best law school for whatever. But one day, each law school must confront the stark reality of their U.S. News law school ranking. They can disparage the rankings, get angry at the rankings, or boast about the rankings (if they’re lucky). But deans ignore the rankings at their own peril.

And so some deans are forced to address their schools’ poor rankings. They are free to spin things however they want, but for one day, they’re not operating in a vacuum. There is an objective fact that is just a little bit beyond their powers of self-reporting manipulation.

It’s a fun day….

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Finding a roommate for your first year of law school can be a challenge. You’re probably moving to a new city and you don’t know anybody. You’re reluctant to get a random roommate, because you don’t want to end up living with some crazy party-goer who ruins your study cycle just when you’ve started to learn about noise pollution in class.

In the modern era, social networking is a great tool for law students to meet up before classes start, and maybe find a roommate among their soon-to-be classmates.

But how should you choose a roommate among interchangeable matriculating law students? One guy has a plan, and that is to advertise his “success” in front of all those who might want to live with him.

Get used to this type of guy, 0Ls, you’ll be seeing a lot of him over the next three years….

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* “We can’t engage the public in a seminar about health law.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor informed the public at Penn Law that she would not be taking up a post as a Wise Latina civics instructor. [Wall Street Journal]

* Next on Meltdown with Keith Olbermann: this liberal commentator has sued Current TV over getting fired. It is clearly the most irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, tea-bagging network ever. [Businessweek]

* George Zimmerman has added another lawyer to his soon-to-be defense team — a “veteran criminal defense” lawyer. Why did he need to hire such a hot shot if what he did to Trayvon Martin was legal? [Reuters]

* Step aside TSA: what kinds of rights do cruise passengers have at sea? How about the right not to be interrogated, strip searched, and then forced to pee in front of security guards? [Overhead Bin / MSNBC]

* Jordan Wallick has been convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of James Wallmuth III, a University of Pittsburgh law student. Wallick is now looking at life behind bars for his crime. [CBS 21 News]

Last night, a dramatic scene unfolded in the parking lot of a movie theater. A suspected drunk driver allegedly took off without his headlights on, hit two police cruisers, terrified several witnesses, and then slammed his car into a tree. The driver was killed.

“It was coming straight towards us and I didn’t know if he was going to stop or what he was doing,” said one witness. “He was going 70, 80 miles an hour. It was scary.”

The driver of the vehicle was a young lawyer, an associate at a law firm. He graduated not too long ago from a leading law school….

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Parents wield an unbelievable amount of power in the naming of their children. And as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. Bizarre names can ensure that your child sits alone and friendless in the cafeteria for the better part of his formative years. Great names can spur children on to greatness.

Naming children after gods or powerful mythological figures, on the other hand, can create an unnecessary amount of pressure. These names set them up for failure. Sure, their names may make for better tattoo choices and save them from the ranks of misguided youth who think butterfly tramp stamps are good ideas. Still, unless they are blessed with extraordinary athletic ability, these children will likely lead lives full of vain attempts to live up to their names.

For instance, what would we expect from a man named Atlas? Great strength. After all, Atlas was forced to bear the weight of the entire sky on his shoulders. There’s even a World’s Strongest Man event named after him. But what do you do if you’re named Atlas and you’re not predisposed to feats of great strength? If you’re like the millions of other people in this world who don’t know what else to do, you become a lawyer. And like the great solo practitioners who have come before you, you come up with some sort of crazy shtick and a wacky website to try to set yourself apart from the masses.

Meet today’s solo practitioner, Joel Atlas Skirble. Dubbing himself “El Capitan,” Skirble, with the help of Team Atlas and his handy Atlasmobile, is saving the fine folks of Virginia and Maryland, one personal injury or criminal charge at a time….

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A bright, 23-year-old woman is thinking of going to law school. Should she do it?

Let’s learn about the particulars of her case….

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Changing of the guard.

It’s the season for law school deans to step down. We never get to know exactly why deans step down, but when students relate stats like the one below, it certainly leaves an impression.

Our tipster reports: “When she took over, [our school] was ranked tier one, around 46 or 47. Now it hovers around the upper 70s…”

Yeah, not good times. And the dean isn’t the only one on the way out. The school is making a minor shake-up in its career services department too.

Which school?

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The Jones Street townhouses. Number 20 has the purple door.


As small-firm columnist Valerie Katz previously discussed, some partners at small law firms are worth big bucks. The only practicing lawyer in the Forbes 400 is a small-firm attorney, in fact.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some partners at small firms have big and beautiful wives homes. The New York Times recently featured one such lawyerly lair: a magnificent townhouse in Manhattan’s coveted West Village neighborhood, now on the market for almost $7.5 million.

The owner of this house once worked at a large law firm and is now a partner in a small law firm. Which firms?

Find out — and ogle photos of the palatial spread — after the jump.

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