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Monday, December 26, 2011

NLJ: The Top 10 Law School Stories of 2011

Top 10National Law Journal, The Year the Chickens Came Home to Roost:

Lots of news broke out about legal education during the past year. Unfortunately for law schools, much of it was bad. Here are the top 10 law school stories of 2011.

  1. Pants on Fire.  It is a truth universally acknowledged that law schools feel pressure to admit students with good grades and high scores on the LSAT, since those metrics count heavily toward their U.S. News & World Report ranking. That pressure got the better of some administrators at [Villanova, Illinois]. ...
  2. Sue Your School.  Instead of asking alumni for money, maybe law schools should ask graduates to pledge not to sue them. 2011 will go down as the year law students got litigious — at least against their alma maters [Thomas Cooley, Thomas Jefferson, New York Law School]. ...
  3. U.S. Senators Give the ABA the Stinkeye.  Forget the fight over the debt ceiling or high unemployment. A number of U.S. senators this year zeroed in on the ABA's oversight of law schools — or what they apparently see as a lack thereof [Barbara Boxer, Chuck Grassley, Tom Coburn]. ...
  4. Anybody Want to Go to Law School?  It was bound to happen. Applications to ABA-accredited law schools declined by 10% in 2011. ... The number of people taking the LSAT during the 2010-11 cycle also declined by 10%. ... NALP reported that the class of 2010 "faced the worst job market since the mid-1990s," noting that their 87.6% employment rate was the lowest since 1997. Even worse, only 68.4% of those recent graduates were in jobs that required bar passage. ...
  5. Show Me the Data!  The movement to improve law school consumer information started when the legal job market dried up several years ago, but really hit its stride during 2011. ... The ABA ... voted in December to beef up the graduate employment section of the annual questionnaire that law schools must fill out. ... 
  6. So Long, Thurd and Fourth Tiers.  The U.S. News & World Report law school rankings looked a little different when they came out in March. Gone were the third and fourth tiers that divided the bottom half of ABA-accredited law schools into two groups, listed alphabetically but unranked. Instead, U.S. News extended its numerical rankings to the top 143 schools, effectively eliminating what had been known as the third tier. The bottom 25% of schools continue to be unranked in what is now called the second tier. ...
  7. Unexpected Dean Departures.  Plenty of law deans quietly left their posts on schedule in 2011. Then there were a few who went out with — shall we say? — a bang [Phillip Closius (Baltimore), Larry Sager (Texas), Robert Ward (UMass)
  8. The Gray Lady Has Something to Say.  ... [A] series of front-page articles by David Segal of The New York Times brought long-standing critiques of legal education to a wider audience. ...
  9. No Tenure, No LSAT.  Slowly but surely, the ABA is changing its process for accrediting law schools. A review committee discussed proposals including elimination of what many see as a venerable requirement that law schools protect tenure — an idea that raised the ire of many a law professor but that would give schools more flexibility to offer low-cost education. The committee also is contemplating dropping the requirement that schools weigh LSAT in admissions decisions. ...
  10. Law School Goes to the Dogs.  [A number of law schools (Arizona, George Mason, Minnesota, Richmond, San Francisco, Stetson, Yale) use therapy dogs to calm stressed-out law students.]

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