USC Law

I previously wrote about the depressing prospects for graduates of all but the top ten or twenty law schools (“Two Law Grad Markets”). And yes, these were statistical generalizations, and the experience of specific individuals with particular skills and backgrounds will always be different, pro and con. But as an industry, if you care about our supply chain for talent, many law schools are burning platforms.

There are actually some closely connected problems driving this dynamic:

  • More JDs are being turned out each year than there are (a) full-time, (b) long-term jobs, (c) requiring bar passage, (d) at current salary levels;
  • perhaps the primary reason for the mismatch between supply of JDs and current demand for them (about two supplied for every one today’s market is demanding) is that clients increasingly resist paying for junior associates, which makes it uneconomic for firms to invest in traditional training;
  • but/and at the same time, every sentient observer is painfully aware that vast segments of the U.S. population — consumers and businesses alike — remain underserved by lawyers.

This would prompt any economist to ask, almost instinctively, “Why isn’t there a market-clearing price where supply and demand can meet?” Which is another way of asking, “What if there were a way to address both these problems at a single stroke?”

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Last week, we published our second annual law school rankings. The USC Gould School of Law plummeted, falling 15 spots to #35. Over the weekend, we received the news that the USC Law Dean, Robert K. Rasmussen, has decided to step down. COINCIDENCE?

Yes. It’s almost certainly a coincidence. USC still ranks solidly in the U.S. News rankings — solidly behind UCLA, but still.

In light of declining employment prospects, financial challenges, and professors who are gaining more attention for their hair than their scholarship, might it be a good time for USC Law to change direction?

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Wait, this isn’t the outfit provided to USC students for graduation?

On the one hand, when your school is charging you $55,084 a year to get a law degree, bitching about having to pony up $100 for your graduation gown is a little ridiculous. It’s not like you see mugging victims complaining that their attacker didn’t wash his hands.

On the other hand, when your school is charging you $55,084 a year to get a law degree… they could freaking rent you the cap and gown for free. How does $55K/year NOT include the cap and gown? For $55K, the school should throw in the cap, the gown, the diploma frame, THE JOB, and the freaking Carfax if you ask for one.

A group of law students are outraged that their school has decided to nickle and dime them for graduation. I can feel their anger. But the time to be concerned about law school expenses is before graduation — approximately three years before graduation….

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William Tell

On a Wednesday evening in January, William Tell, a 33-year-old 3L at USC Gould School of Law, was sitting in the backyard of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, a few blocks away from his apartment, sipping a scotch and munching on a bowl of pasta. At the moment, Tell is the only law student in America who goes home to the woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan — he’s engaged to Lauren Conrad, the reality TV star-turned-lifestyle entrepreneur who is regarded by many, including Martha Stewart, as being something like the next Martha Stewart.

More than a decade before his stint as a figure of tabloid fascination, Tell’s first act was as a guitarist in early ’00s pop-rock band Something Corporate, a band that was playing stadiums, arenas, and late night television shows by the time he was 22.

Clean-cut and wearing a simple grey sweater and skateboarding shoes, Tell laughs a lot but speaks with a hint of careful distance. He makes clear that he guards his privacy and would not have consented to an interview with a publication whose focus was his romantic life. But I wanted to ask Tell mostly about his unique experience as a law student, so I connected with him on LinkedIn, emailed him to explain myself, and now here we are….

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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 ascended to the tippy-top of the rankings — the top 14 law schools. With the Harvard/Stanford tie, UC Berkeley’s dip, and the Georgetown v. Cornell switch-up, there was certainly a lot to talk about.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at some additional top-tier law schools that sit just below the coveted “T14.” And much like the rousing game of musical chairs we saw play out among our nation’s most elite law schools, there were some pretty significant moves worth noting in this segment of the rankings as well….

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Back in November, when we broke the news about the release of the California bar results from the July 2012 administration of the exam, after celebrating their success or bemoaning their failure, people immediately wanted to know about the pass rates by law school. Alas, the only information we had at the time was about the overall pass rate — 55.3 percent. The pass rate was 68 percent for all first-time takers.

We also knew about the overall pass rates for first-time takers who attended ABA-accredited law schools, both in-state (77 percent) and out-of-state (64 percent). But now, just a little more than a month later, we know all of the individual California bar exam pass rates for law schools nationwide.

Last year, we praised USC Law for its top performance on the exam. But this year, we’ve got a different victor. Which law school took home the glory this time around?

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Rob Kardashian

Earlier today, we mentioned that Rob Kardashian would be attending law school this fall. In fact, he implied via his own Twitter feed that he would be attending the USC Gould School of Law.

Yes, we know: no one cares about the Kardashians — any of them (except for when they’re spreading their legs on sex tapes). But we’ve got to start caring when we find out that this reality TV character isn’t attending the law school that he claimed he would be.

Let’s take a look at what Kardashian’s purported law school had to say about this hot mess….

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Here at Above the Law, we’ve written several times about “celebrity” law students. From Lindsay Lohan’s former Mean Girls colleague to a beauty queen from Texas, we’ve seen just about every species of luminary law student. But we’ve not yet had the pleasure of dealing with law students from the most “famous” family of all — the Kardashians.

That’s right, a member of the Kardashian klan is planning to attend law school this fall. Before this family made its claim to reality TV fame for having a slutty celebutante daughter, the late Robert Kardashian was actually famous for being a lawyer. He was a member of O.J. Simpson’s murder defense team, alongside Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Barry Scheck, and Robert Shapiro, in what was once referred to as the “trial of the century.”

But which of Kardashian’s children will be the one to start learning the law? If it’s Khloe, we fear that we’ll have to start writing about stolen lunches again. Perhaps it will be Kourtney, who will fight to institute law school day care centers. Or maybe it’s the sexiest one of them all, Kim, whose 72-day sham marriage may have inspired her to practice family law.

Let’s find out which Kardashian sibling will be attending law school this fall, and where….

Please note the multiple UPDATES added after the jump. The school in question denies that a Kardashian is coming its way….

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The picturesque Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, home of the Ninth Circuit.

California has released some macro-level results from the July 2011 administration of the bar exam. The California bar is notoriously difficult, and every year we like to take a look at which schools prepared their students well for the exam, and which schools did not.

Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools in California passed at a 76.2% clip.

But you might be surprised at which California law school had the best passage rate on the California bar. Hint: it’s not Stanford, or Boalt Hall, or UCLA….

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Last week, we covered the apparent epidemic of snitching happening at USC Gould School of Law.

(Yes, at the law school. If this snitching took place at the college, people would be dropping bodies instead of emails to Above the Law.)

As we first heard the story, somebody allegedly ratted out a popular law professor to the administration for his unorthodox teaching techniques. While many students wanted to find the “snitch,” a person who sympathized with the snitch wrote a sarcastic email making fun of those who were outraged by the tattletale:

TO THE PERSON WHO BETRAYED THE SANCTITY OF OUR CLASSROOM: HAVE YOU NO SHAME? I HONESTLY HOPE THAT YOU ARE CAPTURED BY TERRORISTS AND THAT THE RANSOM VIDEO IS LOST IN THE MAIL! AND NOBODY EVER FINDS YOU! I HOPE THAT WHEN YOU GO ON YOUR NEXT JOB INTERVIEW, AN AIDS-INFESTED BABOON TAKES A S**T ON YOUR CHEST!

And he was just warming up. Read on for updates, amusement, and enlightenment….

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