UVA Law School

Yesterday we asked you to advise a prospective law student choosing between NYU Law School, at full sticker price, and UVA Law School, at half price. You overwhelmingly voted in favor of UVA. (Some of you suggested in the comments that he try to use his UVA scholarship to wrangle some scholarship money out of NYU; he did, but NYU said no.)

Today we bring you another 0L choosing between some excellent law schools. This individual has narrowed his decision down to three places: UVA, Northwestern, and Minnesota. For those of you who slavishly adhere to the U.S. News rankings, the three schools check in at #7, #12, and #19, respectively.

So what makes this choice more challenging? The differing scholarship amounts they’re offering this candidate….

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Is D.C. the capital of… crazy lawsuits?

People love to complain that D.C. is a dysfunctional city. That may be a bit harsh. Despite the partisan gridlock, sometimes deals can be reached in Congress — for example, the new gun control compromise measure in the Senate.

And the city itself is a much more appealing city to live in these days. The recent, taxpayer-financed boom in D.C. has led to improved restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and residential options. (I used to live in D.C., from 2006 to 2008, and I continue to visit frequently.)

But the lawsuits coming out of the nation’s capital — well, they’re still pretty crazy. Time for some quick updates on the insanity….

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Going to law school is a smart choice for many people. It’s not a smart choice for all people or probably even the majority of people who end up going, and it’s not a decision to be entered into lightly. But if you want to be a practicing lawyer, based on an informed view of what lawyers actually do, and if you’ve concluded that law school is right for you, after a rigorous process of psychological and financial self-examination, then by all means, matriculate.

(We are not uniformly anti-law-school here at Above the Law. I’ve written many times in defense of going to law school, provided you’ve done your research. See, e.g., here, here, here, and all of these law school success stories. And Elie’s on vacation this week, hahaha….)

The question then becomes where you should go to law school. It’s a timely topic, since now is the time of year when prospective law students or “0Ls” must decide where to put down their deposits. So help a brother out and offer some advice on the following situation….

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Here at Above the Law, we try to pay attention to every sector of legal employment. We often find ourselves skewed rather heavily toward Biglaw, but as we all know, not everyone wants to work in Biglaw — including some of the people who are ensconced in high-paying Biglaw jobs themselves.

Imagine a place where you won’t be shackled to the billable hour. Imagine a place where you’ll get all government holidays off without having to worry about showing up just for the sake of appearances. Imagine a place where your clients are people, not corporate entities. If that seems nice to you, it’s because it is.

Today, we’re going to open the floodgates for the members of our audience, prospective law students in particular, who aspire to some day work in government and public interest jobs. Which law schools should you be considering if you’d like to have the best odds of reaching your goal?

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When wearing a tie, don’t pop the collar.

Legal education is a hot-button topic these days. Elie Mystal and I have taken our debate on the future of legal education to UNLV and Cardozo Law, in appearances co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society, and our roadshow hit Georgetown Law earlier today. (If you’d like to invite us to your school, most likely for the fall semester at this point, drop us a line.)

Despite disagreements over proposed solutions, folks generally agree on what needs to be improved. In an ideal world, law school would be less expensive, and legal jobs would be more plentiful. In an ideal world, more than 55 percent of recent law school graduates would wind up with full-time, long-term legal jobs.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world, which is imperfect and messy and depressing. Law schools and their graduates have to make the best of a challenging situation.

Which takes me to the practice of law schools employing their own graduates. In an ideal world, law schools wouldn’t have to resort to this. But in the real world, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, at least when it’s done right.

So pop your collars in celebration. UVA, I’m looking at you….

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The new U.S. News law school rankings, which we’ve been covering extensively in these pages, contain all sorts of interesting tidbits about the ranked schools. For example, in each school profile there is an “employed at graduation” figure, which “represents the percentage of all graduates who had a full-time job lasting at least a year for which bar passage was required or a J.D. degree was an advantage.”

That seems like an important and useful piece of information to know if you’re going to pay or borrow a six-figure sum to attend law school. Comparing the employment rates of different schools would be an important part of one’s due diligence when selecting a school.

Among the top 14 or so-called “T14″ law schools, which one had the highest “employed at graduation” rate? The answer might surprise you….

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100% of kids who got into this box were in this box!

Earlier today, we talked about the brain drain as law schools have to compete for a dwindling pool of high-scoring applicants. In this market, hitting your targets for your entering class is a tricky business for deans of admission at our nation’s law schools.

It’s an issue of yield: law schools need to make offers to enough applicants to fill their seats, without becoming overwhelmed with matriculating students. If schools that are ranked higher than you start admitting applicants with slightly worse qualifications than usual, you end up with not enough students — and your yield rate (the percentage of students you make offers to that actually accept the offer) goes in the tank. Poor yield rates look bad, and make it harder to predict how many people you need to admit in the first place.

Man, if only there was a way you could know whether or not people would come to your school before you admitted them….

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Much credit has been given to the American Bar Association of late for its efforts to rein in law schools and their wily ways as far as employment statistics are concerned. Once upon a time, it was just fine for law schools to publish completely nonsensical data and herald it to the world as if it were true. Prospective (and extremely gullible) applicants were made to believe that it was possible for 98 percent of a class to be employed nine months after graduation during the height of the recession, and they applied in droves.

These days, now that word has gotten out that employment in the entry-level legal sector has run dry, law school applications are on pace to hit a 30-year low. You’d think that given the gravity of the situation — not to mention the ebb and flow of class action lawsuits having to do with job statistics — law schools do their best to comply with the ABA’s standards, but apparently even that’s too hard to do.

Perhaps the ABA’s reporting requirements are too tough in that they require not one, but Dear Lord, two charts to be published, along with consumer information that’s “complete, accurate, and not misleading.” That’s a pretty high bar to reach, amirite? Considering the state of the job market, providing accurate employment information about law schools must be really embarrassing rough for administrators to have to endure.

In fact, some law schools in the T14 can’t even bring themselves to adhere to these stringent requirements….

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Ah, UVA Law School. I’ll be the first to admit that we’re often a little harsh on this particular law school, but that’s only because it’s so damn easy to do. When we write about UVA Law, the jokes virtually write themselves.

Some of the very best scandals around have come from this law school — from alleged sodomizers to transcript thieves to racial raconteurs to Confederate celebrants, we’ve literally seen it all from UVA Law.

But let me tell you, it’s a rare day when we’re able to tell students from this school to pop their collars with pride, and we actually mean it without a hint of sarcasm. Today we’re going to congratulate a student from UVA for an accomplishment that everyone with student loan debt wishes they could achieve.

This young woman appeared on live television and was handed thousands of dollars to pay off her loans, just for being a decent human being. How much was she able to walk away with?

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Jump for joy if you landed a Biglaw job!

For the past few years, the National Law Journal has been publishing a list of the best law schools to go to if you want to work in Biglaw after graduation. But through the lens of this annual report, we can see some of the changes that have happened in a profession that’s been in transition ever since the Great Recession. From layoffs to law firm collapses, Biglaw has faced many difficulties, and these challenges have been passed on to would-be associates when it comes to hiring.

Take, for example, the hiring scene in 2008, when the law school that earned the highest honors on the NLJ’s report could brag about sending 70.5 percent of its graduates to top law firms. Although we’ve started paving the road to recovery after several sluggish years, the employment picture for law students hasn’t rebounded to those levels.

Slowly but surely, it’s been getting better. In fact, this year, the future for law students seeking Biglaw jobs looks “marginally brighter.” But how much better? Let’s find out….

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