Friday, August 3, 2012

International environmental sports law

 Updated below

A number of people have asked for a post about specialty programs.  Here's an e-mail on the subject:

Law Prof: You have probably noticed this phenomenon but I've not seen you write on it so I will pass along a few thoughts. It's not related to anything you have posted  recently so its really not appropriate as a comment on your blog.
Looking at the Penn State Law School website a few days ago I noticed that it highly touts its "Law and International Relations" program. Now I may not know the current legal job market very well (I retired from the profession and attended law school in the '70's) but I'm not stupid. I know that the chances a graduate of a mid-market state school in the hills of central PA making a career in "international relations law," if such a field exists, which I doubt, or any other kind of "international law" are approximately zero. According to LST one 2011 PSL  grad got a job outside the US and exactly four got jobs at firms of more than 250 lawyers -- i.e. firms that might conceivably have international clients. So what in the hell is going on?
The answer, I think, is that this program is bait to lure starry eyed 0L's nearly all of whom, in my experience, say they want to practice  "international law." Once they realize they have no chance of a career in the field -- i.e. on their first contact with the actual legal job market -- they are already hooked. Such a program also gives the faculty something more high toned to teach than, say, torts and adds a bit of prestige to what was until recently Exit 226 School of Law. Whatever the value of such programs at HYS or Georgetown, at  a mid ranked state school like PSL they are worse than useless. And whatever they dreamed of as undergrads, by graduation, most PSL grads will be happy to get a full time job processing bodily injury claims for an insurance company in Harleysville PA.
So I propose a rule of thumb for 0L's. If a non-elite school offers a program in "international   law" (or public interest law, sports law, entertainment law or any of the other fantasy careers so beloved of 0L's) you should take it as evidence that the school is more interested in separating you from your tuition dollars than in training you for an achievable career.
BTW: is this scam common in your experience?
 Hmmm . . . how common is this sort of thing? That's a very good question.

Here's the scientific methodology employed by the folks at US News to construct their specialty rankings, so widely cited by the schools who are listed in them:

Specialty rankings: These specialty rankings are based solely on votes by legal educators, who nominated up to 15 schools in each field. Legal educators chosen were a selection of those listed in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of Law Teachers 2009-2010 as currently teaching in that field. In the case of clinical and legal writing, the nominations were made by directors or members of the clinical and legal writing programs at each law school.

Those programs that received the most top 15 nominations appear and are numerically ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received as long as the school/program received seven or more nominations in that specialty area. This means that schools ranked at the bottom of each law specialty ranking have received seven nominations.
General observations:

(1) A lot of law schools have "areas of programmatic strength" where the ratio of faculty members in that area to graduates in a typical class who get a job in that area is greater than one to one.  Later this month law school faculties will have beginning of the year meetings which will feature arguments about what the appointments committee should be doing this year. Since the sensible answer -- nothing -- is probably still not going to be on the table at most schools, there will be the usual fights about what sort of people to hire, with arguments made for how we need to bolster our strength in X.

Question that never gets asked in this context: How many graduates of this school get a job working in X?  Answer to question that never gets asked: We don't actually know, but here are a couple of anecdotes confirming that there are real career opportunities in the field of international environmental sports law, with an emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples.

(2)  No one has specialty programs in what the vast majority of law school graduates do.  Is there a specialty program anywhere in insurance defense law?  How about The Law of Personal Injury Litigation?  For that matter, is there one clinic or journal or even a class among the 200 ABA-accredited law schools dedicated to exploring the considerable complexities of running a solo law practice?  Seriously, is there? Has anybody on the tenure track faculty of a law school ever been a solo? I'm sure there must be at least one person somewhere out there . . . Maybe at North Dakota? I bet he's a funny-looking guy . . . You betcha!

(3)  Speaking of PSU, this is from the morning paper:

According to the university, the number of applicants has dropped from a high of 5,326 in 2010 to 3,458 for the 2012 school year. Likewise, about 170 students are expected to start this fall, compared with about 185 in 2011.

Director of Communications Ellen Foreman said the school has been engaged in internal discussions about the best way to respond. That includes reducing class size “so that we continue to have students of superior credentials and so that our graduates have a greater probability of securing meaningful work upon graduation.”

“At the same time, we are enlarging the scope of our high quality educational programs other than (juris doctorate) legal education, such as our (master of laws) program and shorter term professional education programs for U.S. and foreign judges, lawyers and other professionals,” she said. “Exactly how we implement and achieve this reduction is an open question still under discussion.”
I bet.  Another topic worth discussing in more detail are the strategies schools are using to fill seats that won't be filled by increasingly "sophisticated consumers" of JD degrees.  But that's for another day.

Update:  At least one former law professor seems to have taught a course on the highly esoteric subject of practicing law.   Not surprisingly, the subject matter was considered inappropriate by many of his colleagues.

Read more here:


  1. FIRST COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Lawprof,

    Excellent post. This, along with yesterday's post, should be exhibits 1 and 2 in the law school RICO trial.

    Law schools don't teach law; they sell dreams. And at a high price. And to a gullible consumer. And with taxpayer guarantees.

    Frankly, from a scammer's perspective, it's the ideal scam. Lots of marks with lots of money who are too naive that you're screwing them.

    If law profs weren't so self-righteous do-gooders, I might actually have a kind of respect for them -- the same way I grudgingly respect Tony Soprano.

  3. How to use that law degree of yours to get experience in international law and foreign relations:

    1) Fly to Tokyo.

    2) Go on a bar-crawl in Roppongi.

    3) Tell all the chicks you meet that you're a foreign lawyer.

    4) Hey-presto, foreign relations!

  4. Professor Campos,

    I really don't want to be a lawyer, but I like the idea of being an International environmental sports lawyer. You know, a lawyer who does environmental sports law in foreign countries. I'm a little torn because I've really liked space my entire life, but I don't think I can be an astronaut because I get motion sickness. So I wanted to ask your advice -- should I go into international environmental sports law, or should I stick with Space law?

    Are there any law schools that have strong programs in both international environmental sports law AND space law? Can I double major? Is there a Sports law bar exam, or is it just tested on the multistate?


    - Britney.

  5. About the appointments committees: One of the top schools provides alumni with a spreadsheet about the upcoming meat market. This year it looks like hiring is way down, yet some schools are still expected to hire 2-3 people - such as Drexel.

  6. Oh, and Hastings says it's going to hire 5 people.

  7. Someguy:

    When crawling in Ropongi and especially in Kabukichō remember that the lady you go back to your hotel with may not be doing so out a sudden bout of affection. One middle aged partner visiting when I was in Tokyo headed for the airport without getting the point and leaving the relevant amount. Later that day the professional concerned made application at our office for payment - the managing partner paid her with substantial gratuity, explaining to me that it was "a debt of honor."

  8. "So what in the hell is going on?"

    The longest running and most elaborate three card monte game ever seen outside the pre-Disneyfied Times Square.

  9. Which school has the highest specialty ranking in Doing-whatever-comes-through-the-door-so-I-can-pay-my-1330-per-month-law-school-loans Law? I would tell whoever is reading this to transfer there immediately.

  10. How about Entertainment Law? As in: you too can yuk it up all those celebrities that will desperately need your help.

    But Elder Law is not so exciting. Especially when the clients will be the nasty and selfish and greedy boomers who are, after all, getting old.

    Funny how the boomers thought they would stay young and attractive forever.

    Isn't it laughable to see the hippiecrites try to fight the ravages of time with cosmetic surgery?

    I have an idea for a new product line: Depends Undergarments with Peace Signs on them :)

  11. I don't need no Goddamn specialty rankings to know that U. of Kentucky Law School has the number 1 Equine Law program in the nation. HYS can't touch Kentucky on Equine Law.

  12. And if a student can’t get into Dickinson, he or she can always study international law at Pace.

    International law is one of the fastest growing legal specialties nationwide and around the world. Pace University University’s comprehensive international law program will give you the knowlege and experience necessary to conduct business pursue justice in an increasingly globalized environmental. (0:00-0:20) The Pace international law program offers essential legal training and one-of-a-kind experiences in the international legal field. As students gain substantive knowledge they also develop the hands on skills they need to become highly effective practice-ready lawyers making a difference in the world. (2:17-2:28) You can get a placement with a war crimes tribunal (0:20-0:59, 1:20-1:43), or crafting environmental law for a small island nation (1:50-2:09). Or you can work with humanitarian aid groups and other nation-building projects for countries in need. (1:02-1:06)

    Sounds pretty awesome, but one a minor caveat. According to the Law School Transparency Program, the number of 2011 Pace graduates who got jobs abroad is zero. Zero out of a class of 222.


  13. Has anyone received a fundraising call from their alma maters? I got one from NYU two days ago. They asked me for a minimum donation of $500 to fund scholarships. I told the caller that NYU doesn't need my money since next to the Catholic church and Columbia University, they are one of the largest land barrons of NYC. Can anyone tell me how these sonsofbitches got a hold of my private cell phone number? I swear these schools employ sleuths that could find missing people. Also, when is a school ever NOT in fundraising campaign mode?

  14. Michael Brown got his JD from Oklahoma City University School of Law. Can't top them for FEMA law.

  15. I conducted on campus interviews at my law school on behalf of my employer for quite some time. The school is the same one MacK attended, although I escaped a few years earlier than he did. Having done better than MacK, top one percent of the class, law review editor, etc., I was informed that I was supposed to employ my inflated credentials to identify the great talents at this school during the on campus interview process. In practice, it meant having the ability to ingest the school's then in place weird grade point system and divide the student's stated grade point by three, with any student who bore a resulting 3.3 number or greater worthy of consideration, provided they demonstrated some social skills and a work ethic.

    The number one greatest turn-off to me in the interview process, as in by far and away the most often occurring negative interview factor? The number of students who said that they wanted to practice "international law". When I pressed them as to what they meant, most had no idea as it was a fuzzy, romantic notion. When I told them what really passed for international law, i.e., working for major law firms with clients large and wealthy enough to engage in business which crosses borders, and that there was really no such thing as international law, well, they often argued with me about it! They had studied treaties in the like and law school and actually believed there existed plenty of work in this area. It struck me just how far the world of law school was away from the world of difficult clients with problems to solve and the world of practical client service, which, like it or not, is the linchpin of being a lawyer, an agent in service of someone else.

  16. I hope there's very little use for US lawyers on the international level, because I plan on leaving the country and I want to make damn sure no US lawyers will be knocking on my door with their demand letters on behalf of Sallie Mae!

    I want to go somewhere far, far away from the reaches of the US legal system. Keep your shitty US laws and US lawyers inside the US please!

  17. 7:09, great post, you nailed it.


  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. In California, environmental law is the fantasy practice of choice for 0L's. They seem to be unaware that the closest they'll get is lobbying for oil companies.

  21. Just for the record, LawProf, Brainerd is in Minnesota, not North Dakota.

    But, Brainerd would be the perfect place to offer a specialty program in, say, "The Law of Lakeshore Cabins," a/k/a 'Torts and Shorts,' or perhaps 'Crim/Swim'....


  23. Or Case-Western Reserve! It looks like quite the gravy train for international law honchos who visit, collect speaking honorarium, and dine with attractive students.

    “Last year, a national survey of law professors ranked Case’s international law program as one of the top in the country- tied with Stanford and Cornell. Our program attracts students from around the world, who graduate with international law jobs across the globe.” (0:31-0:45)

    -Professor Jacqueline Lipton, Associate Dean and Associate Director, Frederick K. Cox International Law Center.


  24. I hear Cardbozo is a rated no. 1 in Shiva Law.

  25. I just figured that those specialty rankings were a way for TTTs to try to be tops at something.

  26. Meanwhile, law professors continue to worry and obsess and count coup about their status rankings in somebody's idea of most influential law schools. Witness this morning's blogpost from Professor Leiter:

    "Sunstein Returning from Obama Administration to Harvard"

    "Although I haven't confirmed this with Professor Sisk, my guess is that had Sunstein been included in the recent scholarly impact survey for Harvard, Harvard would have been #1.

    (Thanks to Eric Freedman for the pointer.)"

  27. So specialty rankings are like the Special Olympics where everyone wins.

    I've also been waiting for the University of Chicago to open a specialty in Nietzsche law with our favorite professor, Brian "You're all worthless and weak" Leiter

  28. Brian Leiter is the Übermensch, 9:06. Have you medaled at the Aspie Olympics, Brian has, repeatedly. So shut your pie hole.

  29. Paul,

    Everyone would be better served if you simply turned off the ability for people to leave comments here.

    The vast majority of commenters 1) are the same twits who comment day after day after day, and 2) say nothing which furthers the cause of informing or offers any reasonable solutions.

    Also, most of your posts do not really warrant comments as they have become redundant in their theme.

  30. The point about international law is well taken. There is no such thing.

    The point about environmental law, not so much. There is some work there, and I have done a little bit of it, even though my interest in it is zilch. If you can hit it right there is money to be made.

    The main environmental law employers seem to be advocacy groups and polluters. Years ago I enter office space from an advocacy group. They have to do some litigation, and have litigators in order to continue to collect contributions.

    However, most of the work is with the polluters. Of course this may not be what law students have in mind. Also, big polluters are not going to hire a kid right out of law school. You have to find a firm that does this type of work.

    Most of the time, the polluters are interested in people who understand regulatory compliance. And more importantly how to skirt regulations. Sometimes they hire their own paralegals to do the work. (Big oil comes to mind here). But sometimes they really are trying to follow the rules. (eg. Public Utilities -- although most public utilities no longer generate their own power.). Sometimes it's pure necessity (eg, someone wants to sell land that used to house a gas station.)

    I used to poo poo the environmental law stuff, but there is a lot of money to be made there. A lot of people are willing to spend a lot of money to keep their noses clean.

    High Plains Lawyer

  31. There was a guy over at Prawfs a month ago who said that he wanted to take an "experiential sabbatical," which entailed working for the local DA's office on a major felony case. He anticipated trouble in getting this approved by his administration, even though a large number of his school's graduates were going to end up on one side of a criminal case or the other in the local area. The reason was that he wasn't really advancing the state of legal scholarship by taking this sabbatical, and the preferred use of sabbaticals is to generate a book or article or monograph on something that fewer than twenty people would read between now and the end of time.

    Hey, would-be reformers casually reading this blog: this situation is exactly what the fuck is wrong with law school.

  32. Having done a little bit of Space Law (transferring ownership of comm sats), I can tell you with some certainty that there's no other Space Law to be done for a while. I did literally all of it.

    As for international law, there's one version that's very relevant, and one that's not. Starting with the one that's not, this is what most people probably think of when you hear "international law," and that is nations with grievances against other nations. International copyright treaties, sanctions against rogue states, extradition, etc. Only a handful of people work in this field, and they're politicians, not lawyers.

    The other sort, dealing with laws of other nations and disputes between individuals of differing nations, there is quite a bit of work there (almost all at large firms). Most large corporate clients are international, and plenty of products bring in parts/labor from several nations and are sold on an international market. Understanding contract law in China or product liability in Canada could be useful.

  33. I agree with Professor Leiter, (I mean anonymous poster 9:13). We need more censorship and control asserted over this blog.

    It is increasingly difficult to ignore the scam bloggers. Receiving hundreds of comments might threaten our gravy train by showing the rubes (0Ls) that there is a nontrivial anti-scam movement out there. If you shut down comments, it is easier for us to dismiss you as a rogue nut rather than the spear's point.

    Please fix that.

  34. A caveat to my above comment: There are so many countries and so many areas of commerce that it makes little sense to learn more than a few basic principles in law school. The rest will necessarily have to be on-the-job training, and a sort of uber-specialized experience that will be completely non-transferable outside of the legal field, and probably not that useful even at another firm.

  35. @9:13AM

    Redundancy is necessary, and a good thing.

    BTW, and speaking of twits, you sound like a baby boomer. If not, much do you owe until the grave in student loan debt?

  36. Has anybody on the tenure track faculty of a law school ever been a solo? I'm sure there must be at least one person somewhere out there . . .

    At Harvard: Elizabeth Warren was once a solo. David Rosenberg was once the lead in a small office. (Laurence Tribe and Alan Dershowitz effectively have solo practices now, but that's a different sort of thing.)

    The solo-to-law-faculty transition is probably not all that uncommon. Solos may have more idiosyncratic practices that law faculties might find attractive, and their schedules might be flexible enough to allow transitioning to regular faculty via adjunct teaching. (That's not to say that this is the usual way in which law schools hire -- far from it -- but I think it does happen from time to time.)

    A related question: are there any former BigLaw partners on the faculties of Tier 1/Tier 2 schools?

  37. 9:03 again. Perhaps the typical law professor's status obsession helps account for the proliferation of specialty programs. If a school is only one of three "Law and Canine Behavior" progrms in the world it is bound to be listed somewhere as no worse than "3rd best Canine program".

  38. Like with most things related to law school, the problem is that utility isn't sexy enough. School specialities aren't necessarily a bad thing. Why shouldn't Nebraska focus on farm law, if there's a market for those lawyers?

    But that isn't fancy enough, so everybody's got to get on the international space law train. Schools aren't totally to blame, because realistic specialities don't put stars in kids' eyes.

  39. If the system were working correctly, an applicant whose personal statement disclosed a plan to go into international space law or whatever would be summarily rejected.

  40. Shark Sandwich hit the nail on the head. Students in law school need to be in the sexy field even when the job opportunities are so limited.

  41. Wesley,

    That's why it's a scam. Law students are insecure and dreamy, and have too much respect for institutions and authority. Law faculty prey on these innocents.

    I see nothing wrong with an elective class on "space law" or "media law" or "entertainment law" or "sports law." It might be a fun lark for students to take in the 3rd year if they have no interest in taking jurisprudence or American Legal History.

    But the marketing of such classes, or the advertising of such programs as the best in the world, or deluding students into thinking that this program will help you work in space law. That's a horse of a different color. Once you do that, you're baiting and scamming them.

  42. @9:32-- John Coates of HLS was an associate and then a partner at Wachtell doing M and A.

  43. Actually, there are tenured law professors who are concurrently partners in law firms.

  44. friend of mine is a reporter for NPR, looking for jobless 2010 or 2011 grad to talk today about the law school scam in a potentially nationally syndicated report. email me at lawschoolislivingdeath at gmail if you're interested. looking for person from the highest ranked school possible for maximum impact.

  45. As someone who was (I am embarrassed to admit) exceedingly proud of my specialization in "Marine and Environmental Law" on graduation from law school, I got a belly laugh out of this post. The trouble with this nonsense is that for the longest time I felt I was a 'failure' for not being able to 'find work in my specialization'. Naive students are led to believe these specalizations actually mean something. For the record, I am now working as legal counsel for a construction firm. Oddly enough, the topic of marine and environmental law never came up during my interview... :-P

  46. One middle aged partner visiting when I was in Tokyo headed for the airport without getting the point and leaving the relevant amount. Later that day the professional concerned made application at our office for payment - the managing partner paid her with substantial gratuity, explaining to me that it was "a debt of honor."

    Holy crap that's among the most embarrassing things I've ever heard.

  47. If a school is only one of three "Law and Canine Behavior" progrms in the world it is bound to be listed somewhere as no worse than "3rd best Canine program".

    There was brief period, about 10 years ago IIRC, when Widener was #1 in USNWR's health law ranking.

  48. @MacK - Actually Roppongi is played out, way too many ESL teachers trying to get laid, but Kabbukicho still gets love.

    @10.12 - Just one professional paying courtesy (and cash) to another for services rendered. At least this one didn't forget to send a reminder.

  49. Law Prof:
    For the 15 years preceding my retirement I taught the course in Law Practice Management and Technology. Here is the course description:
    This seminar will focus upon the development of lawyering skills, document production and management, computerization of law offices and courts and law office management. One or more papers will be required on various topics.
    Among the issues that will be discussed are:
    1. Using e-mail and the Internet effectively
    2. Cloud Computing and the practice of law
    3. Lifestyle issues of cyberlawyers
    4. Modern problems of billing and fee for service
    5. Forms of practice - solo to big firm
    6. Modern document management systems
    7. Gender and other discrimination in law firms
    8. Time management and calendaring - using office suites, and standalone applications
    9. Using your staff and paralegals
    10. Pro Bono work and commitment
    11. Document management, assembly and production
    12. Rainmaking and other development efforts
    13. Stress and substance abuse in the law practice
    14. Malpractice, insurance and risk management
    15. Dealing with clients
    16. Problem solving and dispute resolution techniques
    17. Solo practice and mentoring
    18. The business of law – staff issues, accounting, cash flow analysis, etc.
    19. Training young lawyers and billing in the first year

    For the last five years the class was divided into law firms of five students and their class project was to develop a business plan for their group. We focused tightly on the way that technology can be harnessed to dramatically reduce the cost of a small or solo practice.
    The course was quite well received by the students but abhorred by many of my faculty colleagues for its lack of "intellectual" content. And yes, I was a member of a three person law firm many years ago and Chair of the Trial Practice Section of the State Bar. Some years ago I was elected as a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. So, I did have some practical wisdom to impart, pedestrian thought it may have been.

  50. @LOC -- Sounds like a great course. Needless to say, offering useful instruction like that presupposes that a law school has any faculty member with the relevant knowledge and the willingness to "lower" himself.

    One of the most useful courses I had in law school was an experimental course called something like "Lawyering 101," with small sections taught by mid-level BigLaw associates who were trying to transition into academia.

  51. The counterculture paved the way for souless, nihlistic and socialistic liberal academic types to take over the universities, wipe out the Humanities and do away with the Great Books, and then aid in the establishment of government sanctioned usury so they could get wealthy from big government handout student loan money.

    The only generation the boomers ever cared about was their own.

    Liberals, true to their value relativism and the Communist tradition, want to enslave people, and the academic liberals are the worst offenders.

    I'll bet Glenn Beck would agree.

  52. LOC your experience is not universal. I mean it is not the case that all faculties are hostile to courses that focus on practice.

  53. Speaking of PSU, ...

    They have the makings of an awesome program in Corporate Compliance and Risk Management. But they'll probably let slip through their fingers the opportunity to capitalize of the unparalleled wealth of raw material they have now.

  54. I don't think it is accurate to say there is no such thing as "international law," but it is foolish to think that you can get into this very limited field through law school courses.

    Most international law is really private law in an international context - there is a limited amount of private international law around ICSID which is very specialised and another chunk around some other treaty regimes. There is also European Community law, but whether that is international law as such is a tricky question - and there are some international aspects to international arbitration, though much of it is essentially domestic law (procedural and substantive.) There is also international tax, dumping and CVD, but there are really about how domestic law treats international obligations (and dumping and CVD is slash your wrists tedious.)

    Public international law does exist, but it is practiced almost entirely by government lawyers - that would be cases before the WTO and other international bodies, as well as the more diplomatic areas. However, you do not get into this field because you studied international law in law school - rather you get into it usually through being someone in the State Department or a Foreign Ministry with a law degree. I suppose there is also some around international organisations like the World Bank, etc.

    International criminal law, i.e., the Hague, is an area largely populated by very senior domestic criminal lawyers - prosecutors and defence counsel - you do not get there by studying the subject in law school, but by being very good as a domestic lawyer.

    However, the big issue is that very few lawyers practice these types of "international law" and they did not get there by taking a particular course. In fact the number of practitioners is so low that a lot of BigLaw partners will wander around saying there is no such thing as international law - because they certainly don't practice it. There jsut is very little demand for this type of legal specialist.

  55. 10:12

    My understanding was that he had met her in an upmarket hostess bar, and after hours in which she had looked raptly at him, and giggled at his jokes - and everyone else was gone, she went back to the hotel with him. He failed to understand that custom was that he made her a gift of some monetary value.

    Not all hostess bars in Tokyo are like that - in as far as I can tell most in Ginza and Roppongi this type of activity does not take place, although some of the women may have multiple - I suppose the term is sugar daddies - i.e., they a few are mistresses of habitués of the club, others hostess bars are more flexible and some are pretty skanky.


    Ole Miss has a fine space law department. Couldn't find out when NASA is coming to OCI, but I'm sure it is in there somewhere.

    Oh, and a quick review of the space law literature revealed nothing of aliens.

    I need to know if an alien lands behind my trailer if I can shoot it my shotgun. I don't want to experimented on like my Uncle Buck.

  57. @11:15--
    You are correct. My faculty had many courses that focused on practice in a particular area such as immigration law, Indian law and so forth. Those were wonderful and important courses. However they were usually taught by nontenured track professors or adjuncts. I think that an academic course that focuses on the actual mechanics of law practice is relatively rare at the T-1 level.

  58. you do not get into this field because you studied international law in law school

    As the young lady said in that priceless "So You Want to Go to Law School" animation: "It must be so exciting to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court!"

  59. Maybe rare, but not non-existent. I suspect most T-1 level schools, faculty, think that time in clinics or working in firms ( I had classmates who did that during the school year) added to the mix of legal education.

  60. @11:39
    Absolutely. My faculty's policy is very much in favor of expanding clinical experiences. Indeed I suspect we have one of the broadest clinical programs in the country. But my point is not about clinical practice but the practice of law as an academic subject in an academic course.

  61. I am conceding you are right that it is rare. I just do not see that it is a major problem. There should be more courses like that. But I could think of others.

  62. If law school has to be three years, learning how to bring in business, get your bills paid, etc., would be a better use of time than sitting through yet another doctrinal course.

  63. 11:48 here. Both can be done. When I was in law school I talked to the people I worked with about that--billing and client development (getting business).

  64. The EPA and other blue ribbon federal agencies hire new associates through the Presidential Management Fellows Program ( The PMF only interviews HYS students and could give a rat's ass about Vermont Law's #1 ranking in environmental law. Since environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Green Peace only hire EPA alums, students outside of HYS who specialize in environmental law are SOL.

  65. If only I had taken Law Office Computing's course 25 years ago when I opened my little shop. I wonder how many costly mistakes I would have avoided. As for the lack of intellectual heft, do idiot law professors have any idea how intellectually challenging it is to run a law office? During any single week I have to make marketing decisions, perform task analysis and scheduling, enter into negotiations, study the latest medical texts regarding a client's injury, write an appellate brief on some narrow civil procedure or evidence exception, manage personnel, budget for and finance operations and cases, etc. I would love to see any one of my law school professors try it for six months, just to see how many bar complaints he or she garnered. Jerks.

  66. Biker @ 12:31,

    Your information about the PMF program is simply not true. Agencies bring on a surprisingly diverse group of JD grads via PMF - even the EPA.

    My wife works at EPA. Her office has hired several PMFs with JDs over the past few years. The schools represented by these hires (that I remember) were William and Mary, Syracuse, Hofstra and Lewis & Clark.

    HYS grads so not have a lock on PMF. In fact, until a few years ago it was very uncommon for HYS JD grads to even consider the PMF program. Not surprisingly, more have applied over the past few years.

    I hope this sets the record straight.

  67. I took a course entitled "Sports Law" while in law school. Hey, I needed an elective with less than a week before the semester began after something else got cancelled (good times). Turns out it was more of a review of the first year core classes; a professional athlete's employment contract in dispute, is there a state actor type cases, torts in sports, gender issues, anti-trust etc. I think a few of my classmates thought there was work in the field. Of course, I also met a few kids (at least three) who said, I'm not kidding, they were looking to do entertainment law upon graduation.

  68. 1:02,
    That was my experience as an '09 grad as well. The one person I know that applied for a PMF had horrendous grades and struck out completely at OCI. I'm sure some elite grads are applying for those positions but they're not a top option

  69. The thing that sucks about being a lawyer is that the art students got into debt knowing they would never have money but would at least be happy. I think it is all the work with busted expectations that is pissing everybody off.

  70. @Voodoo94

    You write that the PMF accepts students from "William and Mary, Syracuse, Hofstra and Lewis & Clark". All these are first/second tier schools. Moreover, a student must place in the top 20% of such schools and have journal experience to have a shot at the PMF.

    You also write: "In fact, until a few years ago it was very uncommon for HYS JD grads to even consider the PMF program. Not surprisingly, more have applied over the past few years."

    As BigLaw sheds T14 students, they will seek jobs in the government and public interest, squeezing out applicants from lower ranked schools.

    1. Those jobs are nonexistent unless you have connections. Unless you know where your job is before you even apply, you shouldn't apply.

  71. @2:12 I think the sheer size of the debt law students have is a much bigger source of misery than dashed expectations.

  72. Biker,
    If I recall correctly PMF isn't for attorney jobs, they're just regular government jobs so it's unlikely a lot of T-14 students will go for them.

  73. "Paralegals and legal assistants are in demand: Many law school grads struggle for jobs"

    Clearly the solution is for some law schools to close and more paralegal schools should open.

  74. It would be a gift to all concerned if the LSAT included a series of questions that require the calculation of debt that will attach once one graduates from law school, the per month payment required to service that debt, the growth of that debt both during and post-law school.

    Then they could have a few questions on the chances of getting a job upon graduation, typical salary level, etc.

    Might as well get some "education" in while the lemmings are heading for the cliff.

    1. Brilliant idea. Best idea in the entire discourse

  75. I have wondered for years why there are not law schools that try to sell themsevles as producting great prosecutors and or public defenders.

    You'd have to charge less tuition, but you'd corner the market very soon, and soon you'd have a steady stream of applicants, because

    1. There have always been and will always be applicants who want to practice in these fields, many who have grown up wanting to do so, and

    2. These positions actually exist and these offices actually employ people.

    Of course, it would be hard to find professors to teach there, but if you could, and you charged a reasonable rate, I think you'd have students from all over the country and likely employers from all over the country seeking out your students.

  76. McGeorge is known for being a pipeline to DA offices, I think.

  77. 10:20 writes, "There was brief period, about 10 years ago IIRC, when Widener was #1 in USNWR's health law ranking."

    Here now. My LS had/still has a highly ranked health law programme. I took the concentration, a result of which I now know exactly all the ways one can sue a doc, nurse, hospital, or HMO; or defend same.

    Not that my practice includes any of the above, either defense or offense....

  78. 8/3 3:07PM


    With the outrageous debt one can never cut one's losses and move on in life.

    Without the debt the scamblogs might have never even been created.

  79. I went to a small, 4th Tier State School, the University of Montana. It was practice oriented before practice oriented was cool.

    When I went solo after five years with a firm, I sort of knew what to do. My law school, plus an accounting degree, prepared me to run my business. I can't quote Plato worth sh*t, but then again, I rarely need to. I do, however, win cases and make money.

  80. Just as a further note my alma mater did offer a class on how to become a solo practitioner. I believe for the last 6 years it has been taught by the same local attorney.

    Then again I went to law school in a flyover state with a low population base.

  81. @Gregg Smith

    Good to see another UM grad out making a living.

  82. On the other hand, it really does not matter what courses one takes in law school. They are all equally worthless. You might as well take international space law, if it interests you. You are just marking time and burning money so you can sit for the bar exam. The bar review course will teach you what you need to know, in one month.

  83. Didn't st. johns or some other NY TTT recently start a program in INTERNATIONAL SPORTS law? I mean, they combined international law with sports law. It read like an Onion story but it was real!


  85. Why do schools ha e specialty rankings when lawyers can't advertise as a specialist in most areas?

  86. I am pretty sure that the student at Penn State who got an international job was from overseas to begin with. They get a few J.D. candidates each year from places like China. They study in the US, improve their English, and are more marketable when they go home (assuming that they cannot get a job in the US, and it's a tough job market for everyone, even if you do speak Urdu or Mandarin fluently). Of course, they generally have to be from extremely wealthy backgrounds in their home country to afford three years of living and tuition in the US.

    If you want to focus on a different twist on the scam, focus on how US law schools are recruiting foreign students to fill seats as LL.Ms. and J.D.s now that domestic applications have fallen off. They lead these kids to think that they will pass the bar and get US jobs. At a much higher rate, I believe, they fail the bar, and few get stateside jobs. It's usually a very bad deal for the student unless they come from a money is no object background.

    It's a great deal for law schools, however. It's a full fare ticket, and they just get dumped into regular classes, notwithstanding language and cultural issues. If they can bring them in as LL.M. students they do not dilute the grades or SATs you show for US News rankings. You will find many of the most exploitative schools - e.g., New England Law | Boston - pursuing this strategy.

  87. One point on Penn State - the Dean there (who is the guy pushing the international stuff) actually practiced law in international settings at a high level before becoming an academic. He ran MoFo's office in Tokyo and then opened their office in Hong Kong (you can count him as one AmLaw 50 partner alum in Tier 1 academia). His practice was in high dollar international arbitration, which I would consider within the core scope of international law practice. His law degree, incidentally, is from Illinois, another state school in flyover country. He may be wrong to think Penn State graduates have a chance of breaking in to private international law, but he does not fall into the clueless twit category.

    I'm not sure what they really have in mind with the International Relations program. They have started a Ph.D. program in International Relations in the law school building in University Park, using some of the same faculty, and with a similar focus to Tufts or Harvard. Some of it seems to relate to national security issues, and Penn State does have some tradition and relevance there given a long time relationship with the war college in Carlisle. I remain skeptical, but not because it's bad or clueless people running the show.

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  92. McGeorge is known for being a pipeline to DA offices, I think.


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