Law School Admissions News Roundup

  • Which Law School Can Offer the Best Value?- The National Jurist has published its list of the top 60 “Best Value Law Schools.” While graduates of these law schools may not score the highest salaries, they “have an excellent chance of passing the bar and getting a job, without taking on a ton of debt.” The rankings methodology considered a number of factors, including bar passage rates, percentage of grads with employment nine months after graduation, average student debt, and in-state tuition. Georgia State University College of Law holds the top spot, followed by Brigham Young University Law School and Florida State University College of Law. Interestingly, the top schools ranked by U.S. News didn’t even make it into the top 60 here.
  • Some Federal Honors Programs Cut- Some of the federal government’s honors programs for law grads are being reduced. According to the National Jurist, the U.S. Justice Department has cut down its hiring to about 70–80 honors attorneys next year, versus 165 this year. In the same vein, the honors program at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is on hold, and the I.R.S. is “scaling back its program.” Some departments are still holding strong, however—following a three-year hiatus, the FCC is reinstating its program, and the Department of Energy and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will also be hiring honors lawyers.
  • Unsure About Your Character and Fitness?- If you’re struggling with the Character and Fitness questions on your applications, Most Strongly Supported can help you out. It’s always safer to disclose than withhold information, “even those crimes that were expunged from your record.” Most likely, your disclosure won’t affect your application. Law schools just want to ensure that you can pass the Character and Fitness part of the bar. They also want to make sure that your pre-law school behavior doesn’t “call your character into question,” especially if a pattern emerges. One speeding ticket is harmless; twenty, however, is another story. The best way to lessen the impact of your infractions is if significant time has passed since then. You can also “volunteer in a capacity that demonstrates remorse.” And, of course, write an addendum to your application that reveals all pertinent information, including any results from court proceedings, and conveys your repentance.
  • New Joint J.D. and M.A. in Mental Disability Law- New York Law School, in conjunction with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will now offer a joint degree in law and a master’s in mental disability law studies, the National Jurist reports. The joint degree can be completed in four years instead of five, and some classes will be taught online. Those taking the course, starting at about 20 students per year, will be trained to represent a range of people with mental disabilities, such as those committed to institutions, sexually violent predators, and the homeless.
  • Which Law Schools Produce the Most Big Firm Partners?- In an exclusive study, the National Jurist reports that almost 50 percent of partners at the country’s largest law firms graduated from 20 law schools, and 75 percent come from 50 schools. The article lists 148 law schools that have at least one graduate as a partner. Harvard tops the list, with 946 partners, followed by Georgetown, NYU, Virginia, and Columbia.
  • Are Law Schools in Crisis?- The National Law Journal’s Law School Review, an online forum, asked a panel of experts if law schools are in crisis. Many responses and topics were broached, a number of which called for a change in legal education. While most would agree that experiential learning needs to be more strongly emphasized, some were skeptical that this move would really transpire, since clinical education “is much more expensive than traditional classroom instruction” and not in the tenured faculty’s best interests. In a similar vein, respondents would like to better ensure graduates’ career success, whether by preparing them for law firm work or entrepreneurship opportunities. Brian Tamanaha, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, dealt directly with the question at hand: “Law schools are not in ­crisis. The real crisis is suffered by our recent graduates, who find themselves burdened by mountainous debt, with limited employment opportunities.” For more of the panel, read the article or check out the blog for the entire transcript.

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