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?
As you are all know, the University of Texas School of Law has moved into the “top 14″ in this year’s U.S. News law school rankings. It’s a bit of cheat for U.S. News: Texas is technically tied for 14th, which means that the magazine has actually managed to cram 15 schools into its top 14. I’d complain more, but I’m a fan of a Big (We Can’t Count To) Ten school.
While we all know that Texas is in the top 14, very few of you remember the significance of the top 14 in the first place. The top 14 isn’t as arbitrary as it sounds. Since U.S. News started publishing these law school rankings, no school that ranked in the inaugural top 14 has ever been ranked outside of the top 14, and no school that did not rank in the top 14 that first year has ever cracked that list. Until now.
The top 14 has been a way to distinguish elite institutions that are nearly interchangeable with one another from really good law schools that are just a cut below. When viewed that way, Texas’s inclusion was probably long overdue.
Let’s take a look at some of the other movement in this rarefied group of law schools….
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…
Texas exists so I don’t have to make up headlines like the one above. Khou.com reports:
Simkins Residence Hall is the last all-male dormitory at the University of Texas. Tucked into a quiet corner of campus along Waller Creek, it was the first men’s dorm with air conditioning.
It is notable for another reason as well: Simkins is named for a UT law professor who was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Yeah, no average Klan sympathizer can get his name on a dorm in Texas. You’ve got to be a Klan leader for that kind of recognition.
Administration officials claim they only recently became aware of the Simkins’s supremacist background. That’s probably true. But something tells me that 55 years ago, when the dorm opened, somebody at UT damn well knew that this law prof was a Klansman…
Subject: [lawopen] Fed Soc Lunch/ e. coli “episode”
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2010 19:39:35 -0400
To: [Unofficial Law Listserv]
Hi Law Open,
The Federalist Society would like to extend an apology to anyone who had to experience the wrath of uncooked Pancheros over the last few days. I am among the many victims, spending three days in agony in the bathroom…. (TMI?)
Hope you all feel better!
WOLVERINE WITH DIARRHEA (OF THE MOUTH)
Federalist Society Vice President
“TMI?” Yes. Yes, it is.
Another scatological tale from UT Law, after the jump. Someone truly thinks the place is a third tier “toilet”…
Let’s continue our march through the U.S. News law school rankings. Today we finish up the traditional top-14 — and we’ll throw in the schools tied for 15th, because we’re pretty sick of hearing UT and UCLA students whine. To refresh your memory, here’s the next group of schools:
All joking aside, dropping to #6 is really not that big of a deal. NYU Law students will be fine — check out how the kicked it on the basketball court just after the rankings came out…
The dean of the University of Texas Law School, Lawrence Sager, decided to weigh in on the mess created by three of his 1L students. He kind of had to. For over a week, the legal world has been questioning the worth of a UT Law degree.
But Sager is a man with a marvelous wit, so you just knew that when he decided to light up the 1Ls pissing on his school’s reputation, it was going to be good. Sager penned his response in the Daily Texan:
I am writing in response to the opinion piece written by three students which appeared in The Daily Texan on March 4 under the title, “Law students need a practical education.”
A little more than halfway through their first year of law school, the authors of this call for practicality have not yet confronted the law school’s extraordinary array of courses, ranging from Admiralty Law to Wind Power Law.
Ouch — laying down the black-letter smackdown. Dean Sager’s going to blow these 1Ls out of the water….
The reaction to three Texas 1Ls slamming the University of Texas Law School came in fast — so fast, in fact, that the Texas administration was on the defensive even before we published our post yesterday.
Over at Legal Writing Prof Blog, Professor Wayne Schiess, Director of the UT legal writing program, responded to the students’ criticism:
It is true that the University of Texas School of Law has a first-year legal-writing curriculum without brief writing. When the law school administration removed credits from the required course five years ago, brief writing was lost. Needless to say, the legal-writing faculty thought it was a mistake. So we’ve been teaching a brief-writing elective that only some 1Ls can get into. We’re optimistic that brief writing will return to the required first-year curriculum. Indeed, a proposal to do that comes before the faculty this week.
Wow, who knew that students and some faculty took the legal writing class so seriously? I thought that professional legal writing involved completely ignoring your legal writing course when a partner tells you to.
But legal writing isn’t the only problem the UT law faculty will try to address….
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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