University of Texas School of Law

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 know that tuition keeps going up at American law schools. And, for the most part, we know where the money goes. Law schools use tuition money and alumni donations to fund capital projects and law professor salaries. And, at some schools, the law school kicks back some money to the larger university. Law schools are cash cows, and everybody likes money.

Who is to blame for this? It’s hard to say. I tend to blame the American Bar Association, since the ABA is one of the few entities with regulatory authority over legal education (some law students are trying to get the Department of Education involved).

If the ABA will not act, it’s only natural for people to make as much money as possible, with reckless disregard to who gets trampled along the way. But one can find other culprits if you look hard enough. You could blame law school administrators, who are more concerned with money than education. You could blame the students themselves, for willingly forking over all of this cash. You could blame the federal government, for seemingly giving away money without making sure the taxpayers are getting a return on their investment.

But you know who you shouldn’t blame? Law school faculty. That’s right — they might get fancy new buildings and make six-figure salaries, but it’s not really their fault that the cost of a legal education has outstripped its value.

Who among us would not take more money and more perks for doing our same job?

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Breaking this morning, there’s been a shooting at the Perry-Castaneda Library on the University of Texas – Austin campus. The Houston Chronicle reports:

A man opened fire with an automatic weapon on the sixth floor of the Perry-Castaneda Library early Tuesday, UT police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

“He subsequently shot himself. He is deceased,” she said, adding that no one else was injured.

Police and university officials urged students to stay indoors.

“A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead. Police are searching for possible second shooter. Lock doors, do not leave your building,” the alert said.

Based on reports we’ve received from students at the UT Law School, the potential second shooter might still be at large…

WE HAVE POSTED VARIOUS UPDATES BELOW.

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A couple of months ago, we brought you the story of Simkins Residence Hall at the University of Texas. The dorm is named in honor of a former UT law professor — a professor who was a Ku Klux Klan leader and organizer. University officials claim they only became aware of Simkins’s KKK past when former UT law professor Tom Russell did some research.

After months of debate, a 21-member advisory group has recommended that UT change the name of the dorm. The proposal will now go up to UT’s Board of Regents. CNN reports:

Gregory Vincent, the university’s vice president of diversity and community engagement, told CNN affiliate KXAN that naming a public building after a self-proclaimed racist compromised the university’s image.

“We’re certainly not erasing Professor Simkins from the annals of UT history,” said Vincent. “All we are saying is that honorific is a very special designation and it should not harm the university’s reputation.”

Sorry Klansmen and Klan sympathizers, Texas needs y’all to be a little less prominent…

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William and Mary Marshall Wythe School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgHow long should students have to wait for fall semester grades? Two weeks? A month? Some students at William and Mary School of Law are still waiting for fall semester grades — and they might not be alone.

I understand that law professors would rather drink wine straight from the box than grade a paper. It’s an onerous responsibility. But, it is a responsibility. Especially in this economy, where students are scrambling for scarce job opportunities. If a student has an incomplete transcript, or can’t produce a class rank upon request, a prospective employer might well go with one of the other hundreds of resumes flooding his or her inbox.

Last month, a student at the University of Texas School of Law complained that he lost out on a judicial clerkship because of one professor’s grading delay. Above the Law received this email on January 25th:

UT Austin school of law logo.JPGTexas Law’s Student Affairs Office said over the phone this afternoon that Prof. [Redacted] hasn’t submitted grades yet or filed for an extension. UT’s deadline was Tuesday of last week (which is already hilariously late compared to the University’s undergraduate policies). Supposedly, the Law School will dock [the professor's] pay until the grades are in or until he requests an extension, but he’s big pals with Dean Sager.

I’ve already missed out on at least one internship this summer because I didn’t have grades yet. A judge’s office called me to schedule an interview and asked that I bring a transcript. When I mentioned that, as late as Jan 16th, I still hadn’t received a single grade, they went ahead and hired someone else.

We emailed the professor to see if the grades were still outstanding, or why they were delayed in the first place, but he did not respond.

At William and Mary, the situation is such that the class rank of the entire school has been delayed….

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Grades delayed at W&M, UT – Austin… anywhere else?

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