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Law School Updates--Tenure, Trading Up, and MBA Siren Calls

Vivia Chen

September 15, 2011


News and trends from the nation's law campuses:

1. Study Economics Now. What's far, far better than being a partner at a major firm? Getting tenure at a major law school. Think fabulous subsidized housing (and often subsidized private school tuition for your kids), working only nine months a year (part-time to boot), sabbaticals in Tuscany (NYU's villa in Florence pictured above), plus unlimited license to be pompous!

How to get to that lofty post? You don't even need a J.D., but having a Ph.D. is key these days--especially one in economics. "More than a quarter of the faculty at the top 26 law schools . . . hold a Ph.D.," reports The National Law Journal's Karen Sloan about research by two Vanderbilt University law professors. The study's authors found "a strong correlation between a law school’s prestige and the percentage of its faculty holding Ph.D.s in economics."

Graduated Order of the Coif but no Ph.D. in econ? Don't despair--there are ways around it. You can work on scholarly articles that look at the role that economics plays in the law, say the Vanderbilt profs.

2. Fordham Law Getting Cool and Uppity. The oft-overlooked stepchild among New York's major law schools (Columbia and NYU being the favored ones), Fordham seems to be stepping out of the shadows. First, it got itself glammed-up last year with the establishment of its Fashion Law Institute, and now it's even raiding NYU Law School for talent. Karen Greenberg, the founder of NYU's Center on Law and Security, is now launching Fordham's new Center on National Security, reports New York Law Journal.

Greenberg told the NYLJ: "I wanted a bigger venue, and Fordham was really hungry for the center and interested in helping me grow it into a larger enterprise." Hungry, indeed.

3. The Going Rate. How much do you have to shell out to get your name emblazoned on a law school? Try $20 million.

Hofstra University School of Law will now be known as "Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University in recognition of a wealthy retired pharmaceutical executive who enrolled in the school at age 50 and was the valedictorian in the class of 1981," reports New York Law Journal. That sum, says the NYLJ, will double Hofstra Law's endowment.

Hofstra Law is ranked 84 in U.S. News and World Report. So how much will it cost to get a top- ranking law school to change its name? Or are the super-elites not for sale?

4. Law School or Business School? If you're on the fence, you might as well go to B-School. (In case you need reminding, B-School is only two years, and there's no bar exam at the end of the torture.)

Maybe this will tip you over: Business school applications at even the top schools are down--substantially. "Applications for two-year, full-time MB. programs that start this fall dropped an average of 9.9 percent from a year earlier," reports The Wall Street Journal.


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Photo: Villa La Pietra, Wikipedia.com


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Compliance work seems to be the trend...law school with business school...there's the winning combination...oh yes, with an eye toward philanthropy...

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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: VChen@alm.com

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