Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Open Thread: Sue Your Law School Edition!


Image from: Andrew F. Scott
I'm sorry that I'm late getting this Friday Open Thread up this week. I know you guys like to start your day off early with some good legal discussion, but I had a hearing to attend. Anyway, enough with my excuses.

I saw this article yesterday on Above the Law about law grads who decide to sue their schools because they can't get any legal jobs! Surprise! Who knew the legal market was so bad? One of our readers suggested that we do a post on this topic (although that reader suggested this article at MSNBC), probably so we can determine which of our law schools we can sue, right?

This whole fiasco started back when two former students decided to sue Cooley Law and New York Law Schools. Now there are somewhere between 14 and 17 schools being targeted for class action suits over allegedly deceptive employment data. Above the Law's numbers are a bit fuzzy as to how many schools are being targeted now. The title of the article says "Twelve More" law schools are slapped class action law suits, but then it states that "15 additional" schools are targeted on top of the original two, although plaintiffs have only been secured for 11 of the 15 targeted. Then they say again that twelve law suits are being filed, which will bring the total number to 15. I'm not sure how twelve plus the original two equals fifteen, but I didn't go to law school because I'm good at math! It's Friday and my brain hurts trying to sort this whole mess out so I'm not even going to try. All you need to know is that these guys mean business and they plan to file suits against "20-25 law schools every few months" so there's a chance these suits could hit closer to home.

Looking at the list of schools targeted so far, it appears that Cal Western (San Diego), and Southwestern Law School (L.A.) are the only schools with any geographic proximity to Las Vegas. The William S. Boyd School of Law is not on the list. I have (unfortunately) been employed since I graduated law school, so I won't be a member of this class action, but I do think that more transparency is needed in law school reporting of employment data. I'm of the opinion that schools should be required to report the type of work that 93% of their graduates are obtaining. I need to know my chances of getting that pizza delivery job after I graduate, dammit!

What do you think, should these law schools be held accountable if it's true they've been reporting deceptive employment data? Does Boyd have anything to be worried about? Is your law school being targeted? Are YOU going to sue your law school?

-JD

42 comments:

  1. https://www.facebook.com/nevadajustice

    there is a link for Bill Kapalka

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  2. Thomas Jefferson is geographically proximate and probably one of the worst offenders from what I've read.

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  3. Lower tier schools = lower tier standards = more students = more cash for schools = more less competent attorneys = less jobs opportunities for new lawyers both good and bad? Is that what's happening?

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  4. 1:03 pretty much sums it up.

    If you spent three of your prime earning years going to Cal Western instead of working and borrowed $150,000+ to do it, then you deserve what you get. You are not a victim.

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  5. I'm guessing the person who thought this bullshit up was a notorious gunner! They're a victim in their own mind. Let's see, can't get into anywhere good but can get in to somewhere marginal that's expensive. Ok, let's see what happens. Can't get a job now so I'm going to sue the school for failing to warn me that it might play out that way. Fucking idiots. Actully, I'm glad they can't get jobs or I might have to deal with their drool!

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  6. All the law schools getting sued suck.

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  7. Prior to Boyd, Las Vegas was the dumping ground for graduates of low-tier law schools. Now that Vegas has its very own low-tier law school, the Cal Westerns, et al. can no longer dispose of their garbage here.

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  8. I don't think that Boyd should be categorized anywhere near some of the garbage schools that have been sued. It is no TTT.

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  9. I don't think Boyd is a bad school. It does suffer from the stigma of being attached to UNLV. Even if you look at the ranking of Southwestern, Cal Western, Thomas Jefferson, whatever, grads from each of these schools will be able to get jobs in California and elsewhere. If you went to Boyd; where are you going to find a job outside of Nevada? I promise you ranking doesn't matter.

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  10. From solely a job prospects perspective, Boyd is actually worse than the schools being sued. At the very least, the schools being sued have track records which go back more than just a decade. That means more alumni. It also means that more people have actually heard of the schools. I regularly talk to lawyers in major markets across the country who are unaware that Las Vegas even has a law school. As 11:51 points out, Boyd essentially glues its graduates to Nevada. Perhaps there are a few exceptions; but they are rare.

    Two events ruined the Nevada legal job market. The first was the graduation of the first class from Boyd. The second was the addition of the February bar exam.

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  11. So by your logic, you think a graduate of some TTT (or worse) would have a better shot of getting hired in this community than a Boyd grad?

    Wow. Just, wow.

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  12. 1:17 - I think 11:51 and 11:48 were both making the point that Boyd grads have an advantage in THIS market, and this one only. In any other market, a grad from low ranked school that's been around for a while has a better shot than a Boyd grad. Boyd is young school that nobody outside of Nevada has heard of, and hasn't been around long enough to develop an established alumni presence outside of this state.

    Bottom line - if you chose to spend your cash on Boyd, you have limited your employment options to NV.

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  13. I don't think it's as clear cut as that. I graduated from Boyd a few years ago and many of my classmates went to California, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, etc. Your chances of getting a job in Nevada are MUCH greater, but I wouldn't say you are limited to Nevada. However, I can't say I know anybody from my class who ended up practicing back east.

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  14. I think the truth here lies somewhere in the middle. Historically I have found that schools ranked somewhere in the middle, roughly speaking the 2nd tier, may not be the rock star schools, but many have what I call the home team advantage, and in their local markets, these graduates can reasonably compete with 1st tier grads. Examples besides Boyd would be USD and USF. One of the key distinguishing factors of being a 1st tier grad is that the degree is far more geographically portable.

    For a relatively new school Boyd has done well and particularly in providing a local school for our own state. What I do object to, and very strongly, is Boyd's refusal to scale back admissions in a challenging economy. Four years ago, they should have slashed the size of new classes to the minimum necessary to keep the full time faculty working. They haven't, and by stubbornly ignoring market forces (which I suspect much of Boyd's faculty objects to the very existence of) they have artificially impacted the legal market with a surplus of new attorney's it cannot absorb. This is poor public policy, a denial of basic economic science and bad for the reputation of the school.

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  15. Without having insider knowledge of Boyd's budgetary situation, it seems to me that a school that was forced to double (and then add some more) its tuition over 3 years, as part of a university that has been slashing entire schools, would have a tough time cutting back on the one source of income that they have complete control over.

    While that may be bad for the job market in the short run, I think the prospect of losing the school entirely would be far worse.

    By the way, in some places (like Nevada), a local degree is better than a prestigious East-coast degree most of the time. I did my undergrad at top-10 (Ivy) school, and it didn't do jack for me when I was looking for work (pre-law school).

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  16. @5:26,

    So what you're saying is that tuition increases weren't for the betterment of Boyd, but for an increased revenue stream? Gasp! Say it ain't so!

    And that, the whole time Dean White was going on about how the budget decreases would affect their ability to attract good faculty, and go they needed to raise tuition to "peer school" rates, the law school, rather than taking budget funds from the school, just kept shoveling those student loan funds into the gaping maw of UNLV? Nooooo! It isn't true!

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  17. The Shark Pimp is dead on. The hubris of legal academia, and in particular Boyd, never ceases to amaze. Our legal job market simply can no longer absorb Boyd's annual pile of diarrhea.

    Next, one can only assume that 1:17 is a Boyd grad. Who else could so completely and obviously miss the point of several prior contributors?

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  18. "Boyd's annual pile of diarrhea"

    Priceless

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  19. 5:50 to have such vitriol suggests that you are a marginal attorney who feels threatened by competition. I'm not happy about Boyd continuing to churn out more lawyers every year, but statements like yours are dopey

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  20. neither boyd, nor the schools being sued, land more than a handful at a "biglaw" firm, "regional biglaw" firm, or prestigious government job in any given year. As far as jobs in insurance defense, personal injury, employment, immigration, criminal defense, etc., do those employers really care at all? (I actually don’t know). I don’t see why any employer in those fields would see the bottom 95% at boyd any worse than they see the bottom 95% at Thomas Jefferson or Cal Western.

    Regarding class sizes, it could be much worse. Many low-tier schools have class sizes much larger than boyd’s. (e.g., Thomas Jefferson, Cooley).

    I think the real problem with boyd is the high tuition. In 2005, it was a bargain to go to school there. I recall a grad telling me they paid less than 10K per year. Debt service on a 30K law degree is easy, even if you’re only making 60K/year. An 80K law degree is a different scenario.

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  21. @5:26 - I'm sorry, but I do not believe that a Boyd grad in any market can compete with a Harvard Law grad. It's just too important to shareholders who want their firms to have the proper resume to land big clients.

    With your ivy league undergrad degree I can see it being of less help as Las Vegas has a unique, mostly blue collar workforce (or at least it did).

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  22. @9:50 - I can't picture a Boyd grad and Harvard grad even applying for the same position.

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  23. Hey February 7, 2012 12:58 PM--

    Never underestimate the ambition of a Boyd grad!

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  24. Or the desperation of a Harvard grad who can't find a job.

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  25. 12:58: Take a look at the attorney bios (including partners) from some of the top NV firms-you will find a variety of law schools represented from Harvard and other top tiers to Boyd, Cal Western, McGeorge, etc. Boyd numbers appear to be quickly rising in the majority of firms with a presence in NV including the long standing top NV law firms as well as Big Law.

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  26. 2:19 - If you went to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, or DC and looked at the top firms' rosters, you would not see Boyd, Cal Western, or anything comparable.

    Vegas Biglaw is not Real Biglaw.

    It is not impossible to make it into real Real Biglaw with a degree from Boyd; but it is extremely difficult, especially in the current economy.

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  27. @ 1:20 - You mean a unicorn?

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  28. I didn't go to Boyd. But while I went to what you would call top tier schools, I think the school ranking matters less than class standing and, after a few years out, quality of lawyering skills. Boyd has produced some superb lawyers who are doing very well both in this market, in academia and in the business community. Of course it takes time to build an alumni base. But the meanness of some of the above comments says more about the writer than the subject.

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  29. Above comments reference former boyders that went on to biglaw. How did they get there? Did they know someone? Did they do awesome in school? Both?

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  30. February 7, 2012 4:58 PM: Class rank versus school rank - it's a sliding scale, but I will qualify this by saying, for those firms who whom this matters. Once you're talking 5 plus years out, it becomes less important. But for younger associates and for larger law firms, I am usually told they want a higher class ranking, the lower the school ranking is. So, for example, while the client may take anyone from the top third of a Top 20 school, by the time you're down to the 3rd tier, they want the top 10% of the class.

    February 6, 2012 5:50 PM; Thank you for your kind comment.

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  31. So if everyone is anti-Boyd, how is everyone going to feel about their Boyd SA's this year, or next year?

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  32. What Boyd summer associates?!?

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  33. What summer associates, period? Are there any Nevada firms that haven't given their summer associate program the axe?

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  34. I think they were being hypothetical...

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  35. No Boyd Summer Associates

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  36. I'm fairly certain that at least a few Boyd 2Ls landed SA gigs this summer. I personally know of one.

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  37. @1:12, can you share what firm, out of curiosity?

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  38. I have no knowledge of this, so it's just speculation, but I'd imagine that some of the larger regional firms would still be taking on summer associates, right? Snell & Wilmer, Lewis & Roca, Greenburg Traurig, etc.? It's been 4 years since the economy tanked, somebody has to start hiring.

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  39. Lawdawg, you want to reach out to Layke at Boyd, and see if she has any successful placement stories she's willing to give?

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  40. Dear 1:17, this is 1:12. 2:16 is damn close with respect to the one SA I have personal knowledge of. I'd geuss at least 1/3 of the mentioned firms (and similar firms) have SAs, boyd 2Ls or not.

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  41. Justice is what is established; and thus all our established laws will necessarily be regarded as just without examination, since they are established.

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  42. Why is everyone saying Boyd is a lower tiered school? It has been ranking 74-78 which makes it a tier one school.

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