Monday, July 6, 2015
In case you missed it (I did), New York recently announced that it will utilize a uniform bar examination that is in use in 15 states. A New York Times article about this change is available here.
I am not so sure that this is a good idea. One of the flaws in legal education today is that often times courses are just generalist type classes. Students may be reading cases from California in one lesson and reading New York cases in another. As a result, students graduate without having any grasp of the law in any particular state. Now, I recognize that there are exceptions-particularly with federal law, but even then the focus is rarely on the law of the circuit.
This is just rehashing the old debate of national vs. regional law schools. Most students want to go to "national law schools." I also understand that many students may not practice in the state where their law school is located. But, I never believed that this makes much sense.
There is no perfect solution. My view is that law schools should concentrate on the state law where most of their graduates practice. Therefore, it appears to follow that a bar examination based upon state law, at least in part, makes sense.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
In an LA Times editorial yesterday, Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of Cal-Irvine Law, urges California to adopt the standardized Uniform Bar Exam. New York has recently done the same.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
Job Figures Show Improvement for New York Law Schools is an interesting April 18, 2014 NYLJ article
Read more: http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/id=1202651533889/Job-Figures-Show-Improvement-for-New-York-Law-Schools#ixzz2zXIRFu6O
As the article explains:
Members of the Class of 2013 from New York's 15 law schools are faring slightly better than their predecessors in finding jobs, and also better than their counterparts nationwide, according to entry-level employment data released last week by the American Bar Association.
The small boost came even though the nation's law schools graduated their largest class ever.
For the 5,009 graduates of New York's schools, 62.9 percent had found full-time, permanent jobs requiring bar passage as of Feb. 15, roughly a 3 percentage-point increase over last year. Nationwide, the 57 percent who secured such jobs was not much higher than 2012's 56.2 percent.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Brian Clarke (Charlotte) has written an extremely important and ultimately courageous post, "Law Professors, Law Students and Depression . . . A Story of Coming Out (Part 1)" at The Faculty Lounge on depression and anxiety's alarming incidence among attorneys. Clarke relates some truly disturbing statistics on depression and suicide in the legal profession (emphasis in original):
Lawyers, as a group, are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than the average person. Of 104 occupations, lawyers were the most likely to suffer depression. (Both of these statistics are from a Johns Hopkins University study to which I cannot find a link).
Further, according to a two-year study completed in 1997, suicide accounted for 10.8% of all deaths among lawyers in the United States and Canada and was the third leading cause of death. Of more importance was the suicide rate among lawyers, which was 69.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 individuals, as compared to 10 to 14 suicide deaths per 100,000 individuals in the general population. In short, the rate of death by suicide for lawyers was nearly six times the suicide rate in the general population.
Clarke continues along this vein and introduces his own story fighting mental illness in this first in a three-part series on the subject.
Some states have added a mental health component to the continuing legal education requirements, and many state bar associations have established hotlines and resources for attorneys battling mental illness. The Texas Lawyers Assistance Program serves this latter function in Texas -- the Program's 24-hour hotline number is 1-800-343-8527.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Karen Sloan, National Law Journal, reports that Cleveland-Marshall will, "allow students who complete one year of studies but don't want to continue their l.egal educations to receive a master of legal studies degree." HT: Above the Law.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Source: New York State Department of Civil Service
Civil Service Commissioner Jerry Boone recently announced that New York State has hundreds of internships available, and reminded college students to apply for Fall semester internships before the application deadline on September 3, 2013.
New York State created a one-stop website athttp://nysinternships.com/nnyl/ that allows students to view and apply for internship opportunities across an array of state agencies both downstate and upstate.
The website is one component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’sNew New York Leaders initiative, which is focused on attracting new talent to state government through both a fellowship program and an internship program. With the internship website, applicants can view job descriptions, create profiles, specify interests, and upload resumes, writing samples and letters of recommendation. Students can apply for multiple internships at the same time.
“The internship program is designed to attract and mentor a new generation of talented leaders for New York State,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “I continue to encourage talented college students to consider devoting time to public service while acquiring valuable skills and marketable work experience.”
“New York State continues to offer a wide variety of opportunities across numerous professional occupations,” said Civil Service Commissioner Jerry Boone. “Governor Cuomo’s internship program offers opportunities for hands on experience in finance, engineering, public relations, information technology and health care, as well as a host of other professional disciplines.”
The program is open to resident graduate and undergraduate students as well as students who attend schools in other states, but reside in New York. Opportunities include both paid and unpaid positions. Internships may include academic credit depending on the policy of the educational institution.
To apply, visit http://nysinternships.com/nnyl/ .
Reprinted with permission New York Public Personnel Law
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Congratulations to Texas Tech law students Reagan Marble, Ashirvad Parikh and Suzanne Taylor for claiming the prestigious Amercian Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition law week. Tech bettered my alma mater, South Texas College of Law, in the championship round, which was held in Chicago. The competition, which began with regional matches, included 225 teams from 129 schools in the U.S.A.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
For readers who do not know, St. John's Law School has a very comprehensive labor and employment law program. The program is run by Professor David Gregory. The faculty and the program are outstanding. The program is student centered and the focus is on learning practical skills. The students have formed a blog which focuses on labor and employment law and it is quite good. I recommend that you check it out, here.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
This is a tough time to be a law school dean. Consider Vermont Law School dean Marc Mihaly, who only four months into the job, is now facing a $3.3 million budget deficit. With a 14% projected revenue decline on the horizon, Mihaly has announced a voluntary buyout for VLS staff which he says could be extended to faculty if there are not enough takers. He also announced that VLS will increase its LL.M program and certificate offerings to make up for the revenue loss. Taja-Nia Henderson at Concurring Opinions, has some interesting comments on the problems and risks associated with law school faculty buyout programs.
Meanwhile, Penn State Law dean Philip McConnaughay, facing declining enrollment at the dual-campus school, has proposed to "spin off" the Carlisle campus into a separate, autonomous entity beginning in 2015. This proposal came after state and local officials rejected his proposal to consolidatete the 1L program into the University Park campus. Interestingly, Penn State acquired the Carlisle campus in only 12 years ago.
Ten new law schools that are either ABA accredited or seeking accreditation have opened the doors in the last ten years with new schools in Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas planning to open. With enrollment declining and legal jobs paying enough to reasonably retire law school debt harder to find, it seems obvious that some industry restructuring, including possible consolidation or school closure, will occur. We can expect more stories such as the ones coming out of Vermont and Pennsylvania as this process unwinds.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
In an important free speech case yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court held that tattooing is protected free speech under the First Amendment and Arizona's state constitution. The case is Coleman v. City of Mesa, No. CV-11-0351 (September 7, 2012).
Plaintiffs in the case sued the City after being denied a permit to open a tattoo parlor. The city's controlling ordinance effectively bans certain specified uses, including tattoo parlors, unless the city council grants a permit for the use. The Supreme Court, after finding tattooing to be constitutionally protected expression, held the city's permitting scheme vested unbridled discretion in city officials and failed the First Amendment's time, place and manner test. The Court reversed the trial court's dismissal for failure to state a claim and returned the case to that court for further proceedings.
The Arizona Court considered three approaches to the issue: (1) tattooing is purely expressive activity fully protected by the First Amendment; (2) tattooing is non-expressive activity not First Amendment protected; and (3) categorization on a case-by-case basis. Notably, the Court cited a student comment, Ryan J. Walsh, Comment, Painting on a Canvass of Skin: Tattooing and the First Amendment, 78 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1063 (2011), for the third approach.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I just came across Becoming A Lawyer, a blog by law school publisher Wolters Kluwer-one of the giants in law school publishing. It provides helpful information to prospective law students. For example, the article I just read is about being a law student and a parent at the same time. If your a college student thinking about law school and even if your a 1 L, you may want to check this blog out.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Monday, July 23, 2012
MacDonald, Jr. v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, ____F.Supp.2d____(W.D. Mich. July 20, 2012), is the second case where a court has dimissed a fraud type of suit brought by former law students against a law school. The other case is Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, No. 65226/11 (NY Sup. Ct. Mar. 21, 2012), which we previously reported on.
The claim was that the 2010 Employment Report and Salary Survey was fraudlent. In granting a motion to dismiss, the court explained:
This Court agrees with Judge Schwietzer, a judge for the New York Supreme Court in a nearly identical case, for some of the reasons he discusses as to why reliance upon the two statistics would be unreasonable. See Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law Sch., Index No.652226/11, Seq. No. 002, Decision and Order (N.Y.S.Ct. Mar. 21, 2012) (Def.’s Supplemental Br. Ex. 1). This Court does not necessarily agree that college graduates The State of New York’s trial court. Case 1:11-cv-00831-GJQ Doc #54 Filed 07/20/12 are particularly sophisticated in making career or business decisions. Sometimes hope and dreams triumph over experience and common sense. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable for Plaintiffs to rely on two bare-bones statistics in deciding to attend a bottom-tier law school with the lowest admission standards in the country. In addition, “[i]t is widely accepted that American law schools,
Cooley included, employ all sorts of legerdemain to boost employment rates in a contracting legal market” (Pls.’ Resp. at 5); once again, Plaintiffs state that they had other reasons to not rely upon the Employment Reports. Furthermore, whether before or during Plaintiffs’ attendance at Cooley,it would have been unreasonable to continue to rely on the Employment Reports because of theeconomy’s massive downfall, which hit the legal business as hard as any.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Hat Tip: TaxProf Blog
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
From the South Texas College of Law website:
June 27, 2012 - For the first time in the history of the prestigious American Society of Legal Writers’ Scribes competition, one school took first, second, and third place: South Texas College of Law. The Scribes award is given to authors of the best written legal brief submitted in a national moot court advocacy competition this past academic year. South Texas students authored eight of the 68 briefs entered in the competition. This is the 5th time South Texas has won first place in the competition—no other law school in the U.S. has won it more than once. “The Scribes Award is recognized by all academics as the gold standard for legal writing,” says Associate Dean and Director of Advocacy T. Gerald Treece. “These briefs are judged anonymously and three of ours were the best of best from across the country.”
Formal presentation will be made on August 3 at the Scribes' annual luncheon during the ABA Annual Meetings in Chicago. Congratulations to winning authors and to Dean Treece and the South Texas advocacy program for this impressive sweep.
Friday, June 8, 2012
The headline in a June 8, 2012 article published by Inside Higher Education says it all. "Brutal" Job Market For New Law Grads. It reports on a National Association of Law Placement or NALPA study which shows that 85.6% of law school graduates are employed 9 months after graduation. But get this, only 64.4% are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. The NALAP press release is here. A copy of NALPA's selected findings, which provides much more detail is available here. The full report will not be released until August 2012. Note, the ABA maintains a statistical data on placement stats at each law school, but the 2011 data is not yet included.
This is disgraceful. This is coming at a time when the median law school tuition is $39,496 at private schools, $35,765 for non-residents at public schools and $19,788 for resident students at public schools, here.
These students are being taught by full-time faculty who are, for the most part, incompetent to practice law. The situation is particularly accute with recent law school full time faculty hiring. Most full-time faculty members never practiced law for any substanial period of time. They may have a post-JD degree and an appellate clerkship, but very few have practiced law or represented a client for more than 5 years. This is because law schools are concerned with academic credentials as opposed to practical experience.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Gomez-Jimenez et al v. New York Law School, ___Misc. 3d____, 2012 NY Slip Op (N.Y. Co. March 21, 2012), is a case that every, and I mean every, law school adminstrator must read. In fact, prospective law students, as well as law professors in general, should review this decision as well.
The case was brought by nine former law students. Interestingly, they did not challenge the quality of the education they received. Instead, they alleged that New York Law School engage in unfair and fraudlent practices, fraudulent misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation.
In a scholarly opinion, full of cites to articles and an exhaustive review of case law, the court in a thirty-page decision dismisses each claim one by one and grants New York Law School's motion to dismiss.
Plaintiffs' theory was that New York Law School published misleading employment statistics which plaintiffs' relied upon. In rejecting this claim, the court viewed the plaintiffs as educated consumers and pointed to the poor job market for lawyers as reflected in their papers.
Apparently, plaintiffs believe that New York Law School statistics were misleading because it included all employment whether or not someone was working in a legally related job and whether the person was working full-time, temporary or part-time. Their claim is a bit hard to determine from a bare reading of the decision. In any event, the court concluded that New York Law School did not make any misrepresentation because they did not state in their published statistics that these statistics only represented full-time employment.
Frankly, I believe that is quiet a stretch. It is entirely reasonable for a law student to assume that statistics published on a school web site refer to full-time employment. Most law students do not go to law school in order to seek part-time employment when they graduate.
The court also gives significant weight to U.S. News Law School rankings and assumes that they are accurate. The court explains that because New York Law School does not rank high, plaintiffs could have evaluated this when deciding whether or not to chose New York Law School. The court states:
"One would think that reasonable consumers, armed with publicly available information from U.S. News that plaintiffs cite, thus would avail themselves of plaintiffs' own logic as stated in their complaint when it comes to evaluating their chances of obtaining the full-time legal job of their choice within nine months post-graduation."
What!! Even assuming that U.S. News is the bible, and it surely isn't even close, the U.S. News rankings is based upon several criteria. The U.S. News is not a placement bulletin. Also, the court is assuming that higher ranked schools have better placement rates. That may be true, but courts should not be in the business of making assumptions.
The court also errs, in my view, by stating that "before 2008 there was a seeming abundance of opportunities for lawyers at all points of entry into the profession, regardless of the law school one attended. . . " The court does not cite any authority for this proposition. I have been a lawyer for quite some time and the market has been quite difficult for lawyers as well as law students for quite some time-both before and after 2008.
The court's most significant error is that because of the changing nature of legal practice "[m]andatory retirement ages are coming down." Excuse me, but mandatory retirement has been per se unlawful under the ADEA for years.
To be fair, the also court makes some vaild points about the Great Recession of 2008 which is when most plaintiffs were in school. The decision is also well written. Plaintiffs also had a high bar to cross given the elements of each cause of action they had to prove.
I do not express any opinion about whether or not any of these mistakes are material enough to warrant an appeal. I have been an adjunct faculty member at New York Law School for about 7 years and I do not know any of the players involved in this case-at least I don't think so. I can honestly say that everyone I ever met at New York Law School, including faculty and students, always appeared sincere and honest. I do not believe for one minute that New York Law School would intentionally or negligent mislead any student.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School Press Release, here
New York Law Journal Article, here (registration required)
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Bazadier v. McAlary, ___F.3d___(2d Cir. Feb. 16, 2012), is an important case which has gotten little press. The 2d Circuit upheld New York's bar admission rules which effectively bar graduates of law school correspondence and online schools from sitting for the New York bar examination. The case was brought by a California attorney who was fully licensed.
The decision is unreported and not particularly well written. One would have thought that a decision involving this important issue would have generated more attention by the court. The plaintiff challenged the court rules on Equal Protection and First Amendment grounds. In rejecting those arguments, the court stated:
First, the district court properly concluded that, because Bazadier’s claims do notimplicate a fundamental right or a suspect class, they should be analyzed under rational basisreview. See Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 169-70 (2d Cir. 2010). The challenged Rules,Sections 520.3 and 520.5(a) of Title 22 of the New York Compilation of Rules and Regulations,which effectively bar a graduate of a correspondence law school from taking the New York barexamination, are not based upon the content of the instruction provided by a law school and donot favor or disfavor any form of speech on the ideas or views expressed. Rather, the Rules areoccupational regulations that express a preference for one form of legal pedagogy over another.Second, the district court properly concluded that, based on the State’s argument thatcorrespondence-based study offers less assurance that a graduate has received a legal educationthat is adequate for membership to the bar, the Rules had a rational relation to the State’slegitimate interest in protecting the public from an incompetent bar. See In re Griffiths, 413 U.S.717, 725 (1973) (“[A] State [has] a substantial interest in the qualifications of those admitted tothe practice of law . . . .”); see also People v. Alfani, 227 N.Y. 334, 339 (1919) (“The reason whypreparatory study, educational qualifications, experience, examination and license by the courtsare required, is not to protect the bar . . . but to protect the public.”). Bazadier failed to “negativeevery conceivable basis” upon which the Rules could be upheld. Lewis v. Thompson, 252 F.3d567, 582 (2d Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, the district courtproperly dismissed Bazadier’s equal protection claim based on his First Amendment right offreedom of speech.Finally, we concluded that the district court properly found that Bazadier had failed tostate a claim based on an infringement of his First Amendment right of freedom of associationfor the reasons stated in its decision and order. Accordingly, because Bazadier’s complaint failed to state a claim for relief, the district court properly dismissed it without first grantingleave to amend.
What I have always found interesting about New York's rules is that you do not even have to be a law school graduate to sit for the bar. As I understand it, you have to only go to one year of law school and then work as an apprentice for a lawyer. I actually know someone who has done this and he is a first rate lawyer. Therefore, I fail to understand the rationale for not allowing correspondence or online classes. If the student can pass the bar, that is what should count in my mind.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein