Sunday, July 29, 2018

Chicago Finally Has a Public Law School and It's a Damned Good One

Congratulations, America's perennial bronze medal city, you finally have a public law school (not counting the glorious one in Dekalb, which is more of a tourist attraction than a part of the city).  Better late than never, so to speak. 

The University of Illinois-Chicago and the highly ranked John Marshall Law School are merging, benefiting pretty much everyone.
  • Prices will drop precipitously to a spitball estimated $35k in addition to a low cost of living amount.  That's a bargain for lawyers who can expect to make $180k/year upon graduation.
  • UIC will expose John Marshall students to other areas "to give law students a better understanding of how law works with other disciplines," particularly those where UIC is world-renowned.
    Dickerson said she forsees [sic] the law school expanding offerings in three key areas that are strengths for UIC — intellectual property, health sciences and law and public policy.
  • The impeccable national reputation of UIC will dramatically boost the quality of JMLS applicants (“While we were not a financially distressed school; we were seeing reduced applications and credentials,” [JMLS Dean] Dickerson said. “UIC is on the rise and should help expand our application pool.”) just like other famous private-public mergers like WMU-Cooley, now the 2nd-best law school in America.
  • Illinois taxpayers will reap the pleasurable benefits of supporting a 4th public law school, joining residents of states like Ohio and Florida in providing public solutions to the unfortunate lawyer gap, which persists despite all objective evidence to the contrary.  Dire straits or not, kleptocracy or plutocracy aside, investing in legal education is a must.
Enjoy the spoils, you big shouldered steel-and-iron erectors.  While other locations face law school impotence (heya Phoenix, you torrid 6th-rate layover city), Illinois just installed a champagne hot tub on the weakest link in its rock-solid Million Dollar Express, which is thumpin' along, just as Carl Sandburg wrote in 1914 that Chicago was a "Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler."  Baby, in 2018, the city's carrying capital-B capital-J Big Justice on its intangible golden tracks.  May you be blessed enough to catch some of the sparky shrapnel upon your unworthy face.

Scam on.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tyranny in Vermont: Give us Tenure or Give us the White Shoe Firm Jobs We'd Otherwise Hold

Vermont wasn't a state yet when we broke free of the then (and now!) dreaded redcoats, but it's hard not to see the freedom vs. dictatorial fascism thing going on in bucolic Royalton right now.

"Tenure," it seems, has been rendered as meaningless as the flaccid rights of British subjects in 1776, capable of revocation solely because the coffers are low and the place might  go bankrupt if it keeps honoring all these debts.
Fourteen out of 19 members of the Vermont Law School faculty lost tenure on July 1 as part of a restructuring effort at the South Royalton institution.
[The walking condemned] were told they could choose to continue teaching another year under a new contract or they could opt for six month contracts with varying teaching requirements and salaries, or they could leave.

[The "lucky" survivors] were required to sign a non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement, prohibiting them from speaking to anyone except their spouses. The agreement prohibited faculty from making derogatory remarks about Vermont Law School and its administration.

The American Association of University Professors, based in Washington, D.C., says the school has “depart(ed) grossly” from standards set by the association.
I'd say so.  What's the point of a benefit that can be retracted solely because a going concern is going kaput?  We must protect our professors.  The ABA and other organizations in charge must enforce tenure promises to the fullest extent of their selfish interpretations of the law.  Otherwise, who would they find to teach law schools?  Real practitioners?

I love law schools as much as the next shameless apologist, but you have to protect your talent and guarantee that they get their share of the cookies even if it means fucking the little maggots or closing down the school.

What American needs now is a new Bill of Rights... for law professors.  These people sacrifice a chance at big-firm glory for the passive income stream of a sinecure.  They command our adoration, our respect, and our unwarranted legal guarantees.  I say given them each a contract that secures the right of tenure, not just in empty words that can be revoked by King George wannabe Chapter 11 trustees, but real rights, backed by a guaranty that the school will place them in a partnership position at a major urban law firm or pay the cash equivalent out of its future revenue stream.

All we have seen in the last 5 years is law schools contracting and removing or deterring talented faculty.  And all that's happened in response is that the juiciest young  cherries take their ripeness to business or medical school.  Maybe - just maybe! - there's a correlation.  We must not cut costs with the professorship, but instead view it as an investment.  Spend millions to make thousands, that sort of thing.

Regardless, this act by Vermont is intolerable.  Law professors aren't at will employees.  They're a national treasure. 

As the splendidly named Prof. Peter Teachout observes in the article:
I think there’s a sense that the steps that were taken are lawless.
Thirteen words where three or four would do.  You simply can't get that from some adjunct.

Protect tenure now.  Scam on.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Combating the Apathy and Enjoying the Express

Justice Kennedy - who *may* be an unrepentant intellectual hack - has announced his retirement and the President - who *may* also be a hack (though decidedly nonintellectual) only capable of being produced at this point in our thrillingly roller coaster history - is apparently announcing Kennedy's nominated replacement on the Supreme Court tomorrow.

As a prospective law student, actual law student, lawyer, or legal blog follower, you should care.  Really, really care.  Like the coral reef is dying care.

Tons is at stake, I tell you.  Tons.  Don't you read the headlines?  Roe is at issue.  So are Amendments 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.  Liberty itself, indeed.  Women's rights are imperiled generally speaking. Have you heard a Margaret Atwood quote lately?  When you sip your Sazerac and look out the window of the Million Dollar Express, what do you want to see?  The United States of America, Lady Liberty's tits flopping like batter nozzles at a pancake house?  Or Denmark, France, Russia, India, or Vietnam in all their poverty fiscal and moral?  C'mon, man, don't you want to argue about the fundamental right to take a shit in public and fly a camera drone over an all girls school as our vaunted Founders intended?

Sure, the superficial on-paper amount of pseudo-debt for the bright new lawyer may appear imposing.  Everyday concerns about how to best serve clients and make ends meet and meet one's personal needs, justifying the three years spent in academic safety fantasy land, may rise to the surface, bubbling like the champagne we all drink on a Friday night and at Sunday brunch.

Apathy is tempting.  It's so, so tempting, just to throw one's hands up and say the appointment to the creme de la creme of lawyer jobs being run by a moneyed gaggle of uneducated politicized jackwads is too much to provoke caring.  Just do one's job.  To not be bothered that quasi-qualified judges leapfrog their excellent peers on purple squirrel ideology.  To let them have their fun and just play other lucrative lawyer games, like winning slip 'n' falls or keeping gang-bangin' brokedicks out of jail.

But the Express requires commitment to civic virtue values morals things.  The ABA tells me so.  Pay attention.  Have an opinion.  The future's at stake!  Blah blah blah!  Read the ramblings of god-knows-how-many law professor blogs on Monday and Tuesday.  How are you expected to converse with other dull-faced, sad-suit lawyers at receptions?  What if you meet an impressionable young law student eager to talk shop on The Constitution?  On the road to our shared riches, we all have an obligation to argue passionately for important things and stay abreast of such essential news.  We can't let the relative shit on the windshield get in the way of our leaders' most sacred virtues.  Have you thought about informing the public via newsletter or bus station rant?

Do pro bono work, kids.  You'll feel better and meet your professional obligations, say your betters.  They charge $500/hour.  Heed their wisdom.

I am a little drunk but I love the law, really,, and I await with eager anticipation the next anointment to our circle of legal gods and high value red carpet law school speaking fees with the life apointment and ability to decide what The Constitution means.  But it is all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. I have won the victory over myself. I love the law.

Don't you?