Law School

  • August 24, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Estelle H. Rogers, a recently retired public interest lawyer.

    There is a little known federal program, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which entirely forgives the indebtedness of a lawyer who elects to work in public service, rather than at a law firm or in-house at a corporation. Among public interest lawyers, however, it is a very well known program. It’s the only way many of these dedicated young lawyers can follow their hearts instead of their wallets when they embark upon a job search. The PSLF program, nevertheless, is under threat, facing severe cuts or elimination.

    Under PSLF, persons making 120 monthly payments on their student loans while employed full time in qualified public service jobs (ranging from government organizations at any level to nonprofits to AmeriCorps) are eligible to have their remaining balance forgiven at the end of the 10 years. (Under the federal income-driven loan repayment program, low-earning graduates would ordinarily take twice that long to pay off student loans.)

    The president proposed drastic cuts to PSLF in his budget message early this year, and the House Budget Committee recommended elimination of the program altogether. When Congress turns to reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this fall, PSLF is likely to be on the chopping block, though it has not been targeted by any of the bills introduced so far.

  • September 3, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    In Slate, Emily Bazelon reports on a significant pro-choice victory in Texas and the danger this ruling faces on appeal.

    Charles Epp and Steven Maynard-Moody argue in The Washington Post that the way to rebuild trust between African Americans and the police is to reduce investigatory stops. 

    The Brennan Center for Justice provides an overview of the Texas Voter ID trial and argues that the law is unconstitutional and violates the Voting Rights Act. 

    Ian Smith reports in The Daily Caller on how race-based IQ standards contributed to a man’s execution.

    At The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, Jacob Gershman reports on a forthcoming paper which argues that fear-based instruction is harmful for law students.  

  • December 8, 2011
    Practical Advice
    Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation
    A Context and Practice Casebook
    Sarah E. Ricks and Evelyn M. Tenenbaum

    By Sarah Ricks, a clinical professor of law at Rutgers School of Law and co-director of the Pro Bono Research Project.

    The New York Times recently declared, “American legal education is in crisis.” One cause, the editorial argued, is legal education’s traditional preference for theory over practice: “In 2007, a report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching explained that law schools have contributed heavily to this crisis by giving ‘only casual attention to teaching students how to use legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice.’” Widely publicized calls to reform legal education have come from Best Practices; its blog; and other blogs, e.g., "Room for Debate – The Case Against Law School."

    One challenge for law teachers who want to integrate practical skills into doctrinal teaching is finding appropriate teaching materials.

    Evelyn Tenenbaum and I collaborated on a casebook responding to the call for a more practical approach to teaching law. Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation: A Context and Practice Casebook focuses on practical materials to teach the constitutional and statutory doctrines necessary to litigate constitutional claims arising under the 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendments, under the 1st Amendment in the prison context, and the 11th Amendment defense.

  • May 2, 2011
    Practical Advice

    A New York Times report on law school scholarships reveals the real risk many law students may face in attending schools where their scholarships are tied to grade point average requirements.   

    As American law schools have “quietly gone on a giveaway binge in the last decade,” with more than one in four law students now receiving a scholarship, many students will inevitably lose those grants, because grading curves at some schools  make it mathematically impossible for all of those who receive scholarships to keep them, the article explains.

    At Golden Gate University School of Law, for example, more than 50 percent of students are given merit scholarships, but the curve typically allows only a third of students to achieve the 3.0 GPA required to keep the scholarships. 

     “By the middle of second semester of that first year, everyone saw the system for what it was,” said Alexandra Leumer, a law student at Golden Gate University School of Law who lost her scholarship. “We realized that statistically, because of the curve, there was no way for many of us to keep our scholarships. But at that point, you’re a year in. They’ve got you. You feel stuck.”

    University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Jerry Organ, one of the few scholars to study law school scholarships, attributed this trend of offering too many scholarships to the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which place significant weight in grading schools on students’ undergraduate grade point averages, LSAT scores and bar exam passage rates.

    Lower-ranked schools can attract students who have higher GPAs and LSAT scores by offering large numbers of scholarships, and thus boost their rank. And the rankings have a much greater influence on law school selection decisions because law schools, unlike undergraduate institutions, “share far more similarities than they do differences,” the article explains.

    Are law schools deceiving students to boost their rankings?

    One current student at Golden Gate who declined to be identified had this answer:

    I had a friend once who told me that hunting is a sport. I said, ‘Hunting is not a sport.’ He said: ‘Sure it’s a sport. It’s just that the animals don’t know they’re in a game.’ That’s what it feels like to be a law student these days. You have no idea you’re in a game.

    Read the full article here. And read reporter David Segal's replies to reader comments here.

  • April 27, 2010
    Education Policy

    If you think that law students are getting younger all the time, you may be right. New Hampshire legislators approved creation of a new, two-year college for students eager to attend law school.

    Pending approval from Gov. John Lynch, the American College of History and Legal Studies (ACHLS) would enroll students for two years and grant only one degree: a bachelor's in history and legal studies. Graduates of ACHLS with high grades would be guaranteed admission to the independent Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Those most anxious to put law school behind them could even combine their second and final year at ACHLS with their first year at law school, if their grades meet certain standards.

    The Concord Monitor reports:

    ACHLS describes itself as the only college in the United States to focus solely on history. [The dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover and founder of ACHLS Lawrence] Velvel had planned to establish it in Massachusetts but found state law did not allow a college that offers only junior and senior years. He found no such difficulties in New Hampshire, where the recent legislation would allow the college to grant degrees. The school plans to open in rented space in a Salem office building.