Velvet Underlinks–Pyromaniacs at ‘Wisconsin Lawyer’?

5 topics, behold:

(1) Martha Neil, “Another New Law School Is Proposed: U of Del. Wants to Open State’s First Public Option,” in The ABA Journal

Elie Mystal, “University of Delaware Starts the New Law School Process,” in Above the Law

Wade Malcolm, “Elite University of Delaware Law School in Works,” in Delaware Online

Elie Mystal covers the main points on the next new law school, particularly the university’s goals of more prestige for itself, which Malcolm echoes.  Delaware is well into the second standard deviation above the national average in law student saturation, yet it’s below average in lawyers per capita.  Perhaps they all live in Pennsylvania.

However, the Malcolm piece addresses the issues more accurately than elsewhere.  For example, Widener President Jim Harris actually questions whether a new law school is needed.  His claim was countered with those who questioned Widener’s existence when it was proposed in the mid-70s.  However, back then, student loans were fully dischargeable in bankruptcy and tuition was far lower, making law school a far more attractive investment.

Now could be an extremely challenging time to start a new law school. Law school applications decreased last year, and the recession has led to an excess of underemployed attorneys…

UD would enter a competitive market. Along from Widener in its home state, the new law school would be a short distance from several highly regarded institutions in the Philadelphia area, including the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova. Competition would make attracting quality faculty and students more expensive, experts said.

From Malcolm, we can also infer that there’s no intent to rein in costs:

“$50 million for a full-purpose law building would not shock the conscious at all,” he said. “With classroom and courtrooms and a library and faculty, it could easy be that much.” [Roger Dennis, dean of Drexel University’s law school]

$50 million?  In a state with an unemployment rate of 8.2%?  This is not the stimulus they’re looking for.

What irks me about this, on top of the standard counterarguments, is that the law school Delaware has in mind doesn’t innovate in any way.  It’s still the same 1950s-style model the ABA’s accreditation standards have in mind: big building, big library, and faculty with a low ratio of income per joule expended.  It would be nice to read about a proposed law school that planned on trying something new and bold.  Delaware will not.

(2) David Lat, “Kudos to Maryland Law School for Protecting Its Students from Tuition Increases,” in Above the Law

To cover an equivalent 4% tuition increase, Maryland is paying out of its short-term savings rather than raising tuition.  The stated reasons clearly address employment prospects for students, whose tuition accounts for 60% of the law school’s operating expenses.  Good for students but a temporary solution to the bubble as it affects the law school.

(3) Jon Chesto, “New UMass Law School Defies Naysayers,” in The Patriot Ledger

Really?  What, did it adopt Massachusetts School of Law’s business model?

You had the fiscal-watchdog types, wringing their hands over the potential financial drain that they said an unaccredited law school would cause to the state’s finances.

Then there were a few of the state’s private law schools, a politically-connected bunch who feared the competition that a publicly-funded law school could bring. They waged a fierce battle to discredit SNESL, unfairly depicting it as a luckless money pit off the beaten South Coast path, one undeserving of ever getting accredited by the industry’s largest trade group.

What about those who think that that Massachusetts is one of the most oversaturated states for lawyers?  Or those who think that when there are few jobs for law graduates that $23,500 per year in instate tuition is still too high?

Interestingly, UMass made the state money:

A UMass spokesman says the school will have sent a nearly $450,000 chunk – or about half of its “profit” so far – back to the state’s general fund by the end of the month.

Twice in recent months, state governments have pushed their law schools towards self-sufficiency, Minnesota and Arizona.  Here, the state law school is making the state money.  Maybe Delaware will do the same thing?

(4) Martha Neil, “Paralegal Job Can Make Career Sense, But Document Review Is Dubious, Experts Advise,” in The ABA Journal

The title speaks for itself.

(5) Timothy D. Edwards & Daniel P. McAlvanah, “Spoliation of Electronic Evidence,” in Wisconsin Lawyer

I haven’t read this article yet.  The only reason I bring it up is…the cover!  Oh my God!  I so totally hope the editors didn’t use a stock photo and instead told two of its interns to take pictures of keyboards they set on fire.  I can always dream.


One comment

  1. Good work, Matt. Why doesn’t Delaware State University open a new law school? Or Delaware Technical & Community College? Perhaps, Goldey-Beacom College or Wilmington University can get in on the game.

    After all, the state and region are in desperate need of more (unemployed and/or starving) lawyers, right?!?!

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