« April 5, 2009 - April 11, 2009 | Main | April 19, 2009 - April 25, 2009 »

April 15, 2009

Rankings and institutional identity

Brian Leiter has suggested, with good reason, that bloggers not post the US News law school rankings when they come out.  

That's not to say, though, that they should not be discussed, vigorously.  I doubt that Brian would disagree, since he often does exactly that.  We can and should critique the rankings, because (among other harms) they are a force against diversity of purpose within legal education.

The rankings have come to shape the way we value ourselves, and that is something we should try to control more directly.  Self-definition by individual institutions is crucial to ideological diversity, and one weakness of the rankings is that a uniform, centralized set of defining criteria are put in a numerical order, taking that task of self-definition out of our hands.  Chicago is not Appalachian is not Notre Dame is not Northeastern, and that is as it should be.  When they become more alike, something important to students and society is lost.

-- Mark Osler

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 13, 2009

Is a bad economy good for encouraging innovative career paths for lawyers?

This New York Times article reports that Skadden, Arps is offering "all of its associates — about 1,300 worldwide — the option of accepting a third of their base pay to not show up for work for a year ... [and] is helping associates find pro bono work, and is encouraging them to do so."  In addition to thinking Skadden has come up with an innovative way to try to weather the downturn, I cannot help but wonder if a bad economy may be helping some lawyers, especially those feeling trapped by golden handcuffs, find innovative paths to professional and personal success.  

Over at my sentencing blog, a North Carolina lawyer reports here that he is "working with a Skadden Arps associate in the pro bono program on a significant criminal sentencing project in North Carolina."  I am hoping that others are likewise using the rough economic times to discover that there are engaging and important legal opportunities that do not flow through the offices of massive law firms.

Relatedly, I am finding that it is a bit easier to convince my students to explore seriously clerkships and other government and public-sector positions before assuming that life in the private sector is the only sensible and lucrative way to get a law career started.  (Then again, I suspect that most everyone will conveniently and perhaps blissfully) forget all the hard lessons usefully learned during these lean times as soon as the next lawyer-friendly boom starts heating up.)

Posted by DAB

April 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack