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April 4, 2007

The Importance of Commencement

Though it is almost an afterthought in the academic calender, I think commencement ceremonies are an important way for law schools to define themselves and fulfill our primal need for ritual.  At smaller schools, especially, it is a bittersweet time as students we have come to know well go on to the next set of challenges. 

At many schools, commencement is like Kabuki theater-- ritualized motions are followed precisely time after time.  I wonder if this isn't an area prime for innovation, to make the ceremony better fulfill its roles of celebration, definition, and inspiration.

-- Mark Osler

April 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 3, 2007

Law students seeking to change the profession

Peter Lattman at the WSJ Law Blog has this report on an intriguing student effort to reform the legal profession.  Here are the basics:

Last night, Stanford Law’s Andrew Canter and Craig Holt Segall — along with roughly 125 students from the nation’s top law schools — emailed hiring partners and recruiting coordinators at the AmLaw 100 law firms.  Their new organization, Law Students Building a Better Legal Profession, wants the country’s biggest law firms to sign-on to principles espousing a saner work environment for lawyers.

“We are writing as a group of over 100 law students to propose a change in the way we all experience our profession,” the email begins. “We are working to ensuring that practicing law does not mean giving up a commitment to family, community, and dedicated service to clients.”

Here is the letter sent to law firms, the group’s principles, its findings of fact and its new Web site. The group’s principles revolve around four themes:

  1. Making concrete steps towards a transactional billing system;
  2. Reducing maximum billable hour expectations for partnership;
  3. Implementing balanced hours policies that work; and
  4. Making work expectations clear.

The group asks the firms to commit to the group’s principles.  Prior to the fall interviewing season, it will let law students know which law firms have and haven’t signed on. The group isn’t going so far as to blackball firms that don’t sign-on; rather, the principles are “an aspirational state we want the law firms to commit moving towards,” explains Segall.

To get its message out, the group has conducted presentations at Stanford, Boalt, NYU, and Yale. “We believe that law students have the market power to address key issues in the legal profession that associates no longer feel they can influence,” says Canter.

Here’s the kicker: The group wants less money. This is a labor movement asking for a smaller paycheck.  “We recognize that changes in work structures come with an economic cost, and we are willing to be paid less in exchange for a better working life,” the group says.

Does this effort seem comparable to the adventure of a snowball headed toward hell, or do you think this movement could have a chance of making an impact?

Posted by DAB

April 3, 2007 in Legal profession realities and developments | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

USN&WR Law School Diversity Index Fundamentally Flawed

While accounting for racial and ethnic diversity, the USN&W diversity index fails to account for law students with disabilities. Isn't it about time that we recognize that diversity includes our students with special needs? I plan of developing this idea and would appreciate hearing your opinion in comments to this post or at Law Librarian Blog. -- Joe Hodnicki

April 3, 2007 in Reform | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 2, 2007

How Do U.S. News Rankings Affect the Financial Resources of Public Colleges?

A recent study's findings suggest that "in addition to a consumer response, the publication of quality rankings may influence the provision of quality through a political channel." Details at Law Librarian Blog. -- Joe Hodnicki

April 2, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack