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August 8th, 2021 / By

I retired from full-time teaching at the end of July and have decided to reopen the Law School Cafe. No promises: retirement holds lots of tantalizing possibilities and I may not maintain posting. But for now, the cafe is open again. No masks or social distancing required. Make your own brew and pull up a chair.

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Blawg 100

December 7th, 2016 / By

We’re honored to appear once again in the ABA’s list of “Top 100 Blawgs.” Many thanks to our readers.

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The True Cost of the Georgia Bar Exam Error

September 8th, 2016 / By

To many, late October signals nothing more than fall in full swing, pumpkins, or costumes. In late May, we look forward to the Memorial Day holiday and long weekends. Yet, the last weekend of every October and May, Georgia bar takers anxiously await exam results. Some stalk the postman. Most spend the day refreshing a webpage, hoping and praying their name appears on the public pass list.

The stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are experienced by one who fails a state bar exam. Imagine discovering that a family member is alive after grieving their death for ten months. This week, 90 Georgia bar takers—45 from July 2015 and 45 from February 2016—were informed that the thing they grieved was, in fact, alive. Though their names failed to appear on that very public pass list, they indeed passed the Georgia bar exam.

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10K 1L Scholarship For One Lucky Student

February 1st, 2016 / By

For any readers out there who will begin law school this year — or who know someone else who will — I encourage you to check out a $10,000 scholarship contest. You can apply until April 15th, after which 20 finalists will be selected. One winner will be determined by votes via social media and will be announced on June 10th. The $10,000 will be paid directly to the student’s law school.

Law school is expensive and this will make law school slightly more affordable for someone. Scholarship application details can be found here.

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Harvard Transfers Don’t Spell Financial Trouble, But Several Law Schools’ Bond Ratings Do

January 29th, 2016 / By

This article was originally posted on Bloomberg.

Is the law school crisis affecting Harvard? Probably not. The school did choose to take 55 transfer students last year, the fourth largest transfer class in the country. In the prior four years the school took between 30 and 34 transfers each year. Its higher than usual acceptance of transfers has fueled speculation that it was compensating for an original applicant pool that wasn’t strong enough. Whether that’s so or not, several indicators that may show a school faces financial duress have each remained steady at HLS between 2011 and 2015.

  • First-year enrollment: enrollment ranged from 555 to 568 over the last five years. Applications were down 18 percent and yield declined from 66 percent to 60 percent, which indicates that several peer schools are making more competitive offers. Still, the school netted just one fewer first-year student this year compared to last and three more than in 2011.
  • Admissions credentials: the median LSAT score did not change from 173 (99th percentile) and the median undergraduate GPA declined just .03 from 3.89 to 3.86.
  • Tuition increased an average of 4.6 percent each year. Scholarship increases did not keep pace with tuition increases, indicating that the school took in more money each subsequent year.
  • There’s no talk about trouble with Harvard’s endowment, or any indication that Harvard Law has liquidity issues.


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An Influential Person

January 21st, 2016 / By

I’m proud to announce that my co-moderator, Kyle McEntee, has been named to the National Jurist‘s list of the twenty-five most influential people in legal education. Kyle has appeared on the list every year since the list debuted in 2012. He also remains the only person ever named to the list without holding a position as dean or professor at a law school. That’s quite a run!

Congratulations to Kyle, along with the others named to this list.

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Welcome to the new Law School Cafe!

January 10th, 2016 / By

This weekend, we decided a slight refresh of our site was in order. The new design is mobile and tablet friendly. It should also load even faster. Stay tuned for lots of new content in 2016!

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The Faculty Lounge

January 7th, 2016 / By

I was delighted to visit The Faculty Lounge for the month of December. I have posts there on professionalism, law school admissions, teaching law practice management, bar passage rates, responsible enforcement of ABA Standard 501(b), the bias in UPL regulations, the infamous trolley problem, requiring law professors to demonstrate knowledge of the rules of professional conduct, and the law of legal services. I hope you had a chance to follow these while I was in the “lounge” or that you’ll check back if you’re interested.

My posting authority at TFL ended before I had a chance to say “thank you and good bye,” so I’ll say that here: I’m grateful to the lounge hosts for inviting me to join them for a month, and I enjoyed the discussion with commenters there.

But, as Dorothy said, there’s no place like home. I look forward to posting much more here on the topics I explored at TFL–as well as about many other issues arising in legal education and the practice of law. Happy new year to all!

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Returning Soon!

December 24th, 2015 / By

It has been a busy semester, and I’m blogging this month at The Faculty Lounge. But I look forward to returning soon with more thoughts about legal education and the legal profession. Happy holidays to all!

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Our Job, Not Hers

March 20th, 2014 / By

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wants Justice Ginsburg to retire this summer, giving President Obama ample time to confirm her successor. Chemerinksy worries that a Republican will win the White House in 2016 and that Ginsburg’s health will not endure until the next Democratic administration. To avoid the risk of a Republican President replacing Ginsburg, Chemerinsky urges the Justice to resign soon.

In making this recommendation, Chemerinsky assumes that Ginsburg is responsible for preserving her liberal voice on the Court; she should plan her resignation in a way that maximizes prospects for a liberal replacement. But that’s not Ginsburg’s job–it’s a job for liberal voters.

I count myself as a liberal, and a long-time Ginsburg fan. I had the honor of learning constitutional law from then Professor Ginsburg at Columbia Law School, and of clerking for her on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. No one was happier than I was when President Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court.

If liberals want to repeat that experience, seeing more nominations by Democratic Presidents, then we need to elect a Democratic President in 2016. To ease the future President’s task, we should also elect a Democratic Senate majority. It’s just that simple.

In 2000, another few hundred Democratic votes would have given the Presidency to Gore. Bush won more decisively in 2004, but the election was still very close: President Bush secured the electoral college by a single state, Ohio. In the popular vote, he prevailed by a smaller margin than any incumbent reelected since 1828.

Obama, on the other hand, is the first President since Eisenhower to claim at least 51% of the popular vote in two different elections. Even in 2012’s “close” contest, Obama’s margin of victory was larger than Bush’s 2004 win over Kerry.

I don’t mean to suggest that the Democrats have an easy shot at the White House in 2016. On the contrary. Polls show that American voters divide closely between Republicans and Democrats, with a substantial number of citizens alienated from both parties. In that context, any national election is up for grabs.

This means that people who want a Democrat to fill any upcoming Supreme Court vacancies have to work for that goal. I’ve leafleted, poll watched, registered voters, or contributed dollars in most presidential elections. In 2008 and 2012, many of us in Ohio hosted out-of-state Obama campaigners in our homes. That’s what it takes to win elections.

I write from the perspective of a liberal, but the same advice holds for conservatives. Voters who want a Republican President to fill any upcoming Court vacancies can–and should–work hard to elect their nominee.

Public fretting about the timing of Ginsburg’s retirement is much less productive. It’s oddly professorial, in fact, to publicly admonish a Justice. Why not address the electorate instead? Tell them how important it will be to protect Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.

Justice Ginsburg has a weighty job, carrying out her duties at the Court. We, as voters and citizens, have an equally important job–electing the President and Senators who will carry out our wishes. Let’s let Justice Ginsburg do her job, while we do ours.

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About Law School Cafe

Cafe Manager & Co-Moderator
Deborah J. Merritt

Cafe Designer & Co-Moderator
Kyle McEntee

ABA Journal Blawg 100 HonoreeLaw School Cafe is a resource for anyone interested in changes in legal education and the legal profession.

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