U.S. News

Law deans from schools that did poorly in the U.S. News law school rankings can’t stop making excuses for their schools.

Most of the excuses are comical, but none of them bother me quite like the “diversity argument.” The diversity argument claims that a school’s low ranking is somehow because of the school’s commitment to diversity.

If it were a good argument, it would be an offensive one to make. People who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do shouldn’t go around begging for thanks and praise for doing the right thing. But suggesting that diversity is somehow antithetical to a strong U.S. News ranking isn’t even a good argument to begin with…

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I recently had dinner with the dean of a law school. To give you a sense of this person’s perspective, I’ll say that he (or she, but I’ll use the masculine) is responsible for a law school that U.S. News ranks somewhere between 50 and 100. His school has thus been hammered by the Great Recession and the decrease in applications to law school, but the school is not (yet) thinking of turning out the lights.

I didn’t actually pry into what was happening at his school. He simply volunteered that his life was far different now than it had been a very few years ago. I guess that’s no surprise, given the tumult of the times.

Anyway, what are law school deans doing these days?

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For the first time since 2010, the decline in LSAT test takers has abated, but as we noted previously, “deans shouldn’t start licking each other’s popsicles just yet” — it was only up by 1.1 percent for February takers. Law schools aren’t out of the woods yet, though, and they’re hungry for applicants. To that end, while many law schools are still desperate to fill their seats, they’re even more desperate to protect their coveted yield rate, the percentage of admitted students who actually choose to enroll.

U.S. News recently released a list of the schools with the highest yield rates in 2013. On average, more than half of accepted students ended up enrolling at these schools, but you may be surprised by some that made the list…

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* The NCAA’s president thinks Northwestern’s sports union will be the first case of its kind to be heard by the Supreme Court, and his brain hasn’t even been scrambled by concussions. [Bloomberg]

* “If I’d come up with it, I’d probably be proud of it.” If this Georgia lawyer had used the “my client is too handsome for rape” defense, perhaps there wouldn’t have been a conviction. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]

* A few weeks ago, we wrote about the best law schools for making money. Since then, the rankings were revised due to error. Where does your school stand now? We’ll chat about this today. [Forbes]

* “[L]awyers aren’t retiring or dying nearly fast enough for us to fill their spots.” Perhaps statements like this about the job market wouldn’t be so prevalent if U.S. News told pre-law applicants the truth. [NPR]

* Law students will call you out for your behavior, even if you’re a police officer This one is suing the NYPD for false arrest after questioning their food truck tactics. We’ll have more on this later. [New York Post]

Yesterday, we brought our readers some “startling” statistics about law student debt levels. It seems that average indebtedness for law graduates increased by more than $50,000 between 2004 and 2012, with a typical law student saddled by about $140,000 in loans.

In fairness, those statistics probably weren’t all that startling to our readers — many of them are heavily indebted themselves. In fact, we know that many of them are carrying debt loads that surpass even that six-figure number.

Which law school graduates have the most debt of all? U.S. News has a ranking for that…

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* Demand is down, but fees are up. The good news is that Am Law Second Hundred firms saw gains in billable hours purchased by corporate clients — and that’s about it for the good news. [Am Law Daily]

* OMG, Dewey want to see the unsealed case records against D&L’s ex-leaders. DA Cy Vance wants our prying eyes to see all but one document. Secret seven identities… incoming! [Bloomberg]

* It looks like that time Sheryl Sandberg refused to lean in is really paying off in court. Facebook is a witness, not a defendant, in an antitrust case about non-poaching agreements between tech giants. [Reuters]

* Gaming the rankings for dummies? Law school deans are now pushing the ABA to require that law schools post their transfer students’ LSAT and GPA credentials. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* The easy way to decide whether you should be working in law school is to determine what you like more: money or grades. One will help you get the other later in life. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Last week, the U.S. News Law School Rankings dropped. Prospective law students care about U.S. News more than prospective crack dealers care about baking soda. But for the third year in a row, law schools in California underperformed in the rankings.

Law deans in California want to do something about this. No, they don’t want to improve their schools so they produce lawyers who can better service the needs of California’s high-tech market. Don’t be ridiculous. Instead, they want U.S. News to tweak its methodology to mask the general weakness of the California employment market from prospective students.

I’m not joking, this is how deans think…

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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 schools that filled out the middle of the traditional first tier (ahh, the good old days when there were more than two). There were some rather significant moves worth noting in that group, like those of William & Mary and the University of Washington. Also worth noting are the schools that disappeared from that list, and now we’ll get to talk about them.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at the law schools at the bottom of the top 50, the schools that some would argue belong in the traditional “second tier” (no, not the dreaded “rank not published” or “RNP” tier).

These schools might not be at the top, but some of them charge like they’re the cream of the crop…

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* Valerie Ford Jacob, leader of Fried Frank since 2003, is stepping down from her post prior to her official 2015 departure date. At least she’s leaving on a high note, with the firm’s highest profits per partner ever. Yay. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Ralph Lerner, the ex-Sidley Austin partner who billed extra car charges to his clients, claims he went into work on weekends to do work for free to make up for it. Aww, how nice of him. [Am Law Daily]

* When we first covered this in January, it was just a rumor, but now it’s officially set in stone. The deed is done: Buchanan Ingersoll is picking up Tampa firm Fowler White Boggs. [Pittsburgh Business Times]

* Many New York law schools moved in the recent U.S. News rankings, but not necessarily in the right direction. Four out of 15 schools moved up; the rest stayed the same or slipped. [New York Law Journal]

* Would you like damages with that? McDonald’s corporate and its franchisees are facing lawsuits filed by employees over their allegedly “stolen wages.” Class actions have been filed in three states. [Bloomberg]

* Want to know what’s happening at Attorney@Blog today? Check out our Twitter feed! [Attorney@Blog]

Yesterday, we walked you through some of the emails from sad deans who got knocked around by U.S. News this week. But we’re still eager for more information from one of the biggest droppers.

Washington & Lee Law School dropped 17 spots. That’s doesn’t make them the biggest loser, but going from the relatively strong position of #26 all the way down to #43 has caused a lot of people to take notice.

To its credit, W&L hasn’t yet called a school-wide emergency meeting where administrators are purified by stone and fire. But they have reached out to admitted students to try to convince them that going to the #43 law school is just as good as going to the #26 law school.

It’s a tough sell….

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