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News Roundup--More Magical Thinking, Turf Wars, Labor Pains, and Making Do

Vivia Chen

August 5, 2011

1. Repeat after me: A law degree is not a magic wand that will lead you out of your rut and open doors to life's possibilities.

TexasTechLaw Continuing the fairy tale that law school is more than just a trade school (click here for post about New York Law School dean), Darby Dickerson, dean at Texas Tech University School of Law, tells Texas Lawyer: "The J.D. degree is a versatile one. It trains individuals how to think clearly, to develop logical, reasoned positions, and to write clearly and concisely. Skills gained during law school can thus be applied in many positions."

2. First, no one cared; now they're fighting over it. There's now a turf war between NALP and the American Bar Association about which organization should keep tabs on law schools about their employment data, reports The National Law Journal.

We find this a bit ironic, because neither was paying that much attention to the issue until those pesky Vanderbilt Law School students started the Law School Transparency Project, hounding law schools to provide reliable employment data. We are agnostic as to who should take on this endeavor, though one of our favorite law professors, William Henderson of Indiana University, argues in the NLJ that NALP should do the job. Henderson claims, among other things, that the ABA's legal education and bar admission section "has a long track record of releasing mountains of data in a format that makes it very difficult to analyze the industry or make meaningful school-to-school comparisons."

Coming from an academic, who's probably used to unreadable gibberish, that sounds truly ominous.

3. You know you've got the right stuff for Big Law when you tough out the bar exam during labor. Elana Nightingale Dawson, a recent graduate of Northwestern University Law, finished her bar exam, then gave birth two hours later, reports the ABA Blog. 

Dawson, who will be joining Kirkland & Ellis after completing two federal clerkships, told ABA, "The hardest part was going through a contraction and not moving." She added, "There's something to be said for determination." No kidding.

4. Not having choices is good for you, says Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, reports Forbes. The research "shows that reversible, keep-your-options-open decisions reliably lead to lower levels of satisfaction than irreversible ones," reports Forbes. "In other words, we are significantly less happy with our choices when we can back out of them."

Words of wisdom to keep in mind as interview seasons rolls around. So maybe it's a blessing if the only job offer you get is from that firm in Cleveland.

Correction: The photo has been changed. Originally, the post had a photo of Texas A&M. We regret the error.

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The commentators from Texas are absolutely correct--I did confuse Texas Tech with Texas A&M. Blame it on my Houston provincialism. I will correct photo.

i'm confused by your unsupported assertion that law school is nothing more than a trade school.... it can be that if all you want to do is work as a lawyer, but many people actually do many other things with their degrees. in fact, you yourself are an example. so is the president. so am i for that matter....

What's up with the A&M sign? Lubbock is 500 miles from College Station. Not to mention the two schools hate each other . . .

Dear Vivia,

Given that you're originally from Texas, I thought you would know better than to post of photo of the Texas A&M campus ("Welcome to Aggieland") next to a story about Texas Tech. They are two different schools.

I think you're overdue for a visit back home.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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