Looks like Fudge to Me: Law School Employment Data
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

A recent Faculty Lounge post on the correlation between prestige and paying law students “fellowships” to help boost employment data shows some eye-popping numbers to say the least.  Call me naïve but in the first place, I had no idea that law schools were fudging their employment data by actually paying their students to work for them.  My guess is that schools are dishing out money for the “out of luck” students to be researchers which doesn’t really count as a “legal job” in the way I’d define it at least (you too, maybe?). These “not-what-we-came-into-law-school-to-do” jobs may provide students with a leg up in the job market, as one commentator on the Faculty Lounge suggests, as it lets the students put something (rather than nothing) down on their résumés and also (arguably) learn workable skills.  Further, perhaps some of those school-funded “employed” students after graduation might have a better chance at shooting for an academic position, though my guess is not so likely, unless they happened to be the rare tops-in-grades, disaster-in-interviews students. Most likely, they did not get a job because they weren’t at the top of their class (and, anyway, the top of the class are the ones most likely…

Big Girl Lawyer Uniforms
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

When I was an undergraduate student, I worked in jobs that required uniforms.  Uniforms that involved scratchy polo shirts and black GAP pants that made my hips look like Venus of Willendorf.  Uniforms that routinely were covered in French fry grease, bleach, and whatever hell-vomit came out of the toilet I was supposed to be unclogging that day.  I was, in short, a fast food service employee. There were many days when I was elbow-deep in a grease trap, fishing some chunk of meat product out of an oily abyss, that I daydreamed of being in Law School.  I was going to finish my bachelor’s degree and become a Lawyer.  I’d never have to do anything so demeaning again.  I’d never again wear these stupid, dirty, smelly uniforms.  Lawyers, after all, are respected professionals who get to wear flattering clothes that they’ve picked out for themselves. Now here I am.  I’m a third year student in this exalted Law School and I’ve found that not only is the work often as tedious as food service, I can’t even escape the dreaded unflattering uniform problem.  Lawyers have a uniform, too. I can tell when an employer is coming to campus for…

“A course on career paths”
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

Professor Paul Horwitz on PrawfsBlog posts a few promising ideas for improving law schools.  His suggestion for a “course on career paths” interests me most after having had recent conversations with friends in law school who do not wish to pursue law as a career.  Let’s read Horwitz first and schmooze later: “1)   A course on career paths, something Cassidy reports is frequently offered in MBA programs. This would serve two purposes, at least. The first is the one Cassidy suggests: to prepare students for increases in job mobility over the course of professional careers. The second would be more immediate: I often hear from students who are interested in pursuing particular professional paths but feel their school gives them too little information, and too late, about what to take, and/or that the course schedule is organized in a way that makes it difficult to pursue a targeted curriculum. I think students can and should change their minds about what they will do as lawyers even during law school, let alone having to deal with some mobility after law school, so too much microtargeting too early can be problematic. But we should at least make their choices and options clearer, and make sure…

The Rankings Trap: What can we do to break the vicious cycle?
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

Two posts by Professor Mark Osler on Law School Innovation have provided suggestions for how law schools can finally remove themselves from the iron, maniacal grip of the US News Rankings.  His proposals are provocative and pretty awesome: 1.  HE CALLS FOR YALE TO DROP OUT OF THE US NEWS RANKINGS He points out how Rankings create the wrong incentives and are poor indicators of what schools actually do.  His suggestion is to urge Yale to drop out of the Rankings.  A commentator on his post further recommends that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford should lead the way and drop out of the Rankings.  Like a domino effect, this could lead to all schools finally freeing themselves of the iron grip of the Rankings.  I believe this could work. However, the only problem would be that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford do not have any incentive to drop out because they lead the rankings and so (rightly or wrongly) feel they reap the rewards of being at the top. 2.  HE ASKS LAW SCHOOL LEADERS TO LEAD BY DROPPING OUT OF THE RANKINGS BASED ON A PLEA FOR ETHICAL LEADERSHIP “While in Washington last week for the AALS convention, I was able to hear…

Expanding the Role of the Student in Law School Reform
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

In a recent post on Legal Skills Prof Blog, Professor Scott Fruehwald offered a number of ways that law students could improve their law school experience.  His post has some excellent links, especially if you’re a law school reform effort geek/junky (definitely check out #1 and especially The Carnegie Report).  You ought to be able to find the report at your school’s library, and if you do a Lexis/Westlaw search with “Law School Reform,” you’ll come up with a lot of super neat articles referencing the report. The following lays out a few steps to consider as we continue to be Law Schooled: Step 1 – LEARN THE RULES OF THE GAME AND KEEP READING LAW SCHOOLED AS WE LEARN TO NAVIGATE THIS SYSTEM WITH YOU Since you have loads of spare time as a law student and may be searching for some light beach reading, 240 pages of The Carnegie Report doesn’t sound all that bad.  (Don’t worry, you can find summaries about it online).  But really now, go ask your favorite professor, career services office, or Dean questions like:  How do decisions about tuition get made?  Where does our tuition go?  What are your limitations in getting X done?  And, then follow…

Cut the Bar in Half and Provide A Masters for Dropouts
Law School Reform , Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

Those pursuing lawsuits against New York Law School and other law schools have noted refund tuitions as part of their end goal.  However, tuition refunds instituted throughout all law schools may be an impossible dream, considering that a policy like this would undermine the law school business model. Instead, I would like to propose two reforms to the law school system that would necessarily require our support, the school’s support, and a change in ABA regulations.  These types of policies could help combat some of the problems students face from the front end instead of in retrospect with lawsuits and demands for tuition refunds.  Now then, let’s shake hands and attempt to make a deal here. 1. During 1L year, we generally learn a broad array of subjects tested on the Bar:  Contracts, Property, Constitutional Law, Torts, Criminal Law (aka 1L core courses) and writing courses (though for some schools skills/electives also may be included, and one or two of  the aforementioned courses may happen during 2L or 3L year instead of during the first year). Let’s imagine that all law schools and the ABA decide that the core courses (of Ks, Property, Torts, Crim and Con Law) were requirements for all first year law…

Milk the Law School Cash Cow or Go Moo?
Law School Reform , Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

I don’t even know what that title means, so let’s moo-ve on. Here’s the scoop in case you haven’t heard it yet.  Your law school may be a cash cow funding other parts of the university.  Large chunks of your tuition may be flowing out away from you and into other departments of the wider university that you have no interest in funding. So, what do you do?  Do you read this with indignation, sigh, and go read some more problems out of your Secured Transaction’s book?  No!  Here’s what you do. First, get data. If you’re at a public law school, you can access your school’s financial data including faculty salaries online.  (Don’t worry – we will discuss faculty salary bidding wars later).  So, go online and find the data with your newly-minted, razor-sharp legal research skills (that you likely learned over the summer during an internship or while doing pro bono work and not at school) and contact your Dean to request a meeting where he explains to you and other students how the financials go and flow in, out, and through, and off off and awaaaay. If you go to a private law school, you may have a…

Is it enough? Law tuition hikes stall to a 1% increase
Law School Reform , Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

A recent ABA Journal article reports that only 22,000 people took the LSAT in February, an all-time low since 2001.  Similarly, the total number of people who took the test in June, October, December, and February dropped by 16%.  The article further claims that the low LSAT numbers encouraged a stall in the rise of private law school tuition, but is it enough and will it last?  Many see this as a pop in the law school bubble. A few questions:  Is a 1% increase still too much?  Will law tuitions ever start dropping?  As a NYT article suggests, this change in tuition increases partly has been caused by a change in perception over the payout of going to law school. Further, the NYT article includes predictions from the University of Alabama that the schools at the bottom of the food chain will suffer most, but not for another few years when bar passage rates lower (as it correlates these rates with low LSAT scores, though perhaps the relationship here ignores a few other factors). Does this mean that current law students and recent graduates will have better job prospects and career paths?  Does it mean that established laws schools can stop worrying about new law schools…

Incentives to Teach not Publish
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

Maybe your school does it differently, and if so, I would love to hear about it, but in my limited experience, this is what a student can expect going into law school. Imagine this: A large lecture room filled with 80+ students.  You fear humiliation should you be called on unprepared and called out.  Or worse, you have prepared, but your answer to the question leads to another question, which has no answer.  Or perhaps, you already experienced the humiliation of saying something “wrong”, and in your mind, you think all of your classmates are thinking “thank God, that one won’t be at the top of the curve”.   And, everyday, you pray it’s not your turn. The class continues: If lucky, maybe you’ll get a midterm to see what you have “learned”, or more like, to see how much of the Professor’s words and thoughts you can mimic on the topics presented so far.  However, for the unlucky and for the most part, midterms are not provided, and you will be faced with one final. The final exam: Usually, one massive final exam will determine 100% of your grade and often reflect (1) your ability to tediously outline, (2) your…

Apathy and Ambivalence: What’s a “floater” to do?
Law Schooled Evolution / 27 de agosto de 2017

I am a terrible law student.  That’s not self-deprecation. That is my honest evaluation. I represent the small demographic of law students who enrolled in law school simply because they didn’t know what else to do. Oh yes, we are among you. We are the liberal arts majors who couldn’t find a decent job and longed to return to the comforting cocoon of higher education. Too practical to pursue a PHD, and too math-challenged to get an MBA, law school is our default “plan B.” Once enrolled, we are typically defined by our apathy and ambivalence. Everyone “hates” law school. It’s stressful and exhausting and overly competitive. But, underneath the layers of angst, most law students actually enjoy law. They like the challenge; they thrive on the stress; they enjoy the intellectual stimulation, or the potential to enact meaningful societal changes, or the thrill of the fight. I represent the 2-5% of law students who genuinely hate the experience. I am solidly middle-of-the-pack grade wise, but I’ve never been on a journal, never been on a trial team, never done pro-bono, and never had a law job.  Because, when push comes to shove, I hate law and I would rather perform my…