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Monday, February 2, 2015
Law School Standards Slipping? Part One
Let me start by saying that my title is a bit misleading. In fact, it's become a familiar hook-line for half the internet blogs about the "state of affairs" in law school admission over the past few years.
A few things are actual facts: 1) the legal job market is tough right now, 2) the number of law school applicants is down, 3) some law schools have been making cutbacks. Cue the speculation about what this means for the future of the profession.
This isn't surprising, given the vice-grip within which law students hold the importance of ranking. More than most professions, this is one where pedigree matters a lot. There are well-known tiers of law schools. The bottom doesn't mingle with the top. Federal clerkships don't go to students at mid or low-tier schools. LSAT scores matter more than intelligence.
Am I speaking broadly? A bit, perhaps. But score a 170 or higher on your LSAT and you can pretty much count on an acceptance from a top-20 school. This is law school, of course, so we actually have the Top 14 (which also have their own moniker- "T14"), so named because their graduates are the crop from whom most of the "big" firms harvest their wet-eared associates.
Somewhere in all of this hierarchy, there is possibly space for intellect, innovative thought, perseverance, and good will. You won't find it on internet comment threads. Now more than ever, the law crowd seeks to protect the veneer of its prestige. Blogs hand-wring about the decline in quality of candidates why the profession is in trouble.
The truth-as it usually is-probably lies somewhere in the middle. Is the "profession" struggling? In some ways, yes. Are the top schools suffering? Probably not. Is the legal system likely to come crumbling down? No. But speculation makes for meaty-blogging.
More next week.
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