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Politics and Law-Related News / Law School Dean Helps Students Get Jobs
« on: February 09, 2008, 04:33:50 PM »
Detroit Mercy has been going way-out to improve its cellar U.S. News & World Report's reputation. Also, in Summer '07 there was another article: "A first-time dean and Harvard Law grad, Mr. Gordon got his school on the radar of the top-tier firms by enlisting a stable of big-time private-practice lawyers to join an advisory board that's now some 60 members strong. His pitch: Help Detroit Mercy improve its third-year curriculum by creating a required set of courses that simulate real-life practice."  Read that article here:

Law School Dean Hits Road to Help Students Get Jobs
Posted by Dan Slater

Given all the cynicism surrounding career prospects for law students at so-called third- and fourth-tier schools, we were happy when, last May, we came across Mark Gordon, the dean of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. In a WSJ article, Law Blog colleague Amir Efrati detailed an initiative by Gordon, a Law Blog Moustache Society member, to help his students get jobs by assembling a team of big firm partners to advise the school on its third-year curriculum.

Now Gordon has turned his sights abroad, striking a deal with a Mexican law school to build a five-year joint-degree program. In 2008, Gordon will unveil a venture between his Detroit Mercy and Mexico’s El Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. The two schools will offer students a five-year program — three in the U.S., two in Mexico — that will qualify them to practice in the States and in Mexico.

“We think there’s a market for law firms wanting to hire students that have this kind of knowledge,” Gordon said of the program, which will require participants to take several classes in Spanish.

Curious as to whether such a program would help beef up a resume, we called up David Leinwand, the hiring partner at Cleary Gottlieb to ask what he thought.

“Clearly, it’s attractive,” said Leinwand. “Among the qualities we look for, given the foreign nature of our pratice, is language ability and experience outside the U.S. . . . It will certainly enhance a student’s candidacy.” That said, Leinwand wasn’t about to open Cleary’s doors to all of the program’s graduates. “The student still needs the other qualifications that we seek.”

Black Law Students / Add a Verse..
« on: January 27, 2008, 04:50:54 PM »
I need a life  :-*, but in the mean time I started a poem and need some help.  I'll start the first verse (or is it a stanza), oh well, and ask that each reply builds upon the previous.

So here goes:

I have a goal
that torments my soul
and robs me of my nights.

Minority Law School Enrollment Declining

New York Lawyer
January 22, 2008

By Leigh Jones
The National Law Journal

Subscribe to The National Law Journal
A web site recently established by an elite law school paints a dismal picture of enrollment among certain minority groups in law schools generally — a picture that may well become still bleaker.

Enrollment of blacks and Mexican-Americans has fallen by 8.6% in the past 15 years, according to a Web site created by Columbia Law School and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT).

The decline has occurred as applications to law schools among those two groups have remained constant and as law school enrollment overall has increased since 1992.

With law schools continuing to revere U.S. News & World Report rankings and with anti-affirmative action initiatives possibly being on the ballot in five states in November, it appears that the situation may only worsen.

"It's not a pipeline problem," said Conrad Johnson, clinical professor of law at Columbia. Johnson and two law students working with the school's Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic helped create the Web site, along with SALT. He said that the statistics, compiled from information provided by the Law School Admission Council, dispute the notion that the low enrollment numbers among blacks and Mexican-Americans are due to dwindling applications from those groups.

Eye on rankings

From 1992 to 2006, the number of blacks and Mexican-Americans enrolled in the nation's law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) fell from 3,937 to 3,595. During that same time period, the number of ABA accredited law schools grew from 176 to 195.

Johnson acknowledged an uptick in African-American enrollment in 2006, the biggest increase in 10 years, but he said that a combination of both groups showed a continuous decline during the 15-year period.

Vernellia Randall, a professor at University of Dayton School of Law and creator of the The Whitest Law School Report, published online, said that law schools, concerned about their U.S. News & World Report rankings, are requiring higher scores from applicants on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which has resulted in lower admission numbers among people from the two minority groups.

In the rankings, a school's median LSAT score is part of a larger score designed to measure a school's selectivity in choosing applicants who enter an incoming class. Selectivity accounts for 25% of a school's ranking.

The Columbia Law School Web site notes that LSAT and grade-point average scores have increased among African-American and Mexican-American applicants. But more demanding requirements from law schools continue to outpace improvements in scores, Randall said.

"It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better," she said.

U.S. News & World Report does not include diversity as one of the factors in the rankings, but it does publish a separate ranking of law schools that have high minority enrollment numbers. Revamping the general law school rankings to include diversity as a factor would be difficult, said Robert Morse, director of data research at U.S. News & World Report.

Not only would the standard need to account for the difference in minority populations in various parts of the country, but the rankings would require a value judgment regarding which minority groups' enrollment "improved" a school, he said.

Part of the concern about the low numbers relates to efforts in five states to ban race- and gender-based preferences. Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma all have initiatives under way to place questions on November ballots that would end programs that increase minority and female numbers in education and in government. The effort is led by Ward Connerly, president of the American Civil Liberties Institute, which led successful efforts to ban such preferences in California, Michigan and Washington. "Preferences are morally wrong," said Connerly, who is black.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, that the University of Michigan Law School's race-preference admissions policy served a compelling interest in maintaining a diverse student body.

Marquette University Law School Dean Joseph Kearney said his school relies heavily on affirmative action to recruit minorities. Marquette was ranked No. 8 among Randall's latest ranking of the "Whitest Law Schools." Its student body is 89.5% white, with black enrollment equaling 2.7% and Mexican-Americans making up 0.7%, according to the 2007 ABA Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools.

Kearney, who challenges the validity of Randall's list, attributes his school's low numbers to competition from its state competitor, University of Wisconsin Law School, which has lower tuition and is aggressive on minority recruitment.

Black Law Students / Oprah - MLK Day Special
« on: January 21, 2008, 03:56:32 PM »
Oprah does it again.

Every year on January 21, America pauses to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential leaders in our nation's history. A Baptist minister by trade, Dr. King used the power of words to inspire a generation and change the course of history.

In 1963, Dr. King stood on the steps of Washington, D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial and delivered a powerful message to a crowd of more than 200,000 people. His speech, which is now taught in classrooms across the country, is best known for its powerful declaration, "I Have a Dream."

Dr. King's words raised the nation's awareness of the civil rights movement and helped him become the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Before his life was cut short by an assassin in 1968, the United States government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Now, 45 years after Dr. King shared his dream with the world, Oprah returns to the spot where he stood on that fateful day in 1963 to celebrate his legacy. "We honor his message of hope," she says.

Growing differences in male and female LSAT performance have troubling implications for gender diversity in law schools

Colleen Honigsberg

Imagine paying top dollar, sacrificing your personal life and compounding years of stress into mere months, all in pursuit of a goal you later decide to give up.

That's the situation many women face when applying to law school. After spending incredible amounts of time, money and effort to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), they receive scores they feel are too low to get into the schools they want.

LSAT scores are often the most important aspect of a law school application, but people seem oblivious to the fact that men receive significantly higher LSAT scores than women.

Numerous news articles have bemoaned the decline of the number of women enrolling in law school over the past five years, blaming the dwindling number of female attendees on a slew of factors. Most blame a corporate legal culture that restricts family and personal time.

Yet these articles discount one critical fact: the percentage of women taking the LSAT during this same period has remained roughly static, and is higher than the percentage of women in law school. In 2005-2006, 49.08 percent of people taking the LSAT were female, while this year, law school is only 46.9 percent female.

The issue is clearly not that women are disinterested in law school, but that some post-exam event leads women to reconsider their original goals.

For many women, that event might be the receipt of their LSAT score.

Since my father is a law professor at the University of San Francisco, I asked him for some LSAT test data that he received from the school's admissions office.

Upon analyzing the data from the Law School Admissions Council for 2001-2006, I found the percentage of women who score in the top percentile of test takers - the select students scoring 175 or above - is roughly a third of a percent.

Around three-fourths of a percent of males scored in the same category. Using this measure, women finally outpace men in scores below 150 - a score lower than at least 75 percent of those admitted to each Tier 1 and 2 school.

If there were no gender differences, we would expect to see the same percentage of men and women landing in each bracket.

As much as it offended my feminist sensibilities, I stopped to consider whether men are better applicants than women and deserve higher scores. The LSAT is supposed to predict first-year grades in law school, so if the LSAT is an accurate predictor, we would see men obtaining higher GPAs than women in law school.

While I couldn't obtain law school GPAs, I could find undergraduate ones. When comparing test-takers' LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs, I found that women had higher GPAs for each of the past five years.

Interestingly, while male and female GPAs both increased over the past five years, LSAT scores did not. The mean male LSAT score increased from 152.7 to 154, while the mean female LSAT score only increased from 151.1 to 151.5, making the differences greater in recent years.

I don't believe the correlation between greater gender differences and decreasing female enrollment is pure coincidence. I recently took the LSAT, and if my score hadn't met my expectations, I wouldn't have applied to law school. And I don't think I'm unusual.

With the media ignoring gender differences in the LSAT, women assume their individual performance - and not the system - is the problem.

The problem does not end with women deciding not to apply to law school. Possibly due to lower LSAT scores, they are also being admitted in lower percentages.

In 2006, which showed a difference in mean LSAT scores of 2.5 points, the number of women admitted decreased by 1.7 percent, while the number of men increased by 1.1 percent. This year had the greatest disparity of the years I analyzed.

Gender differences alone may not account for the decline of women enrolling in law school, but it is a factor that needs studying.

Based on my limited knowledge of neurological differences between men and women, my guess is that the LSAT emphasizes skills where men tend to have a natural advantage, such as certain spatial tasks, and deemphasizes skills where women tend to have stronger ability, such as short-term memory.

However, not being any sort of an expert in this field, I leave these differences to the actual experts to investigate and correct.

Otherwise, the number of women in law school will likely continue to decline, thus harming the diversity that is believed by the academy to be necessary for a "fair and balanced" legal education.

Colleen Honigsberg is an economic consultant in Washington, D.C. and former editorial page editor of The Daily Bruin.

I have read many articles about proposed changes to the traditional law school curriculum.  Most state, law students are not prepared and suggest more practical real-time experience.  (I believe Drexel has a program that rotates between class and law offices.)  The article below wasn't written by a law student, just melodramatic law student hopeful. 

For those who are attending, what is your opinion about your experience thus far.  And for those who have finished and passed the bar, do you think your education has prepared you for practice, if not, what do you think should change? 

It is called law school, not lawyer school

By Evan Mintz | Thresher Editorial Staff

Last December, Stanford Law School held a gathering of deans from 10 law schools that are in the process of revamping their educational programs — one of many meetings springing up in attempts to revamp legal education. The apparent problem is that law school students do not graduate with the practical skills not necessary to be practicing lawyers. And as a second semester senior desperately — oh Jeebus desperately — applying to law school, I cannot help but stand athwart this plan, yelling “stop.”

Pardon me if I sound like that annoying guy at a cocktail party, but the last thing we need is more lawyers. Well, that is not entirely accurate. The last thing we need is law schools that view their charge as purely vocational. When people graduate from law school, they should not view themselves as merely lawyers, but people of law who understand the massive fabric that holds together our society.

Every single aspect of our lives, from the water we drink to the air we breathe to the coitus we make, is regulated to some degree by our laws. This is not just the result of some so-called nanny state gone amok. Rather, part of a civilized society is creating a system through which citizens can appeal any and every issue without having to resort to violence — though at times Antonin Scalia’s opinions are as subtle as a lead pipe to a skull.

Like it or not, we do not ride atop the social Leviathan, but live inside it, completely surrounded. And like a fish in water, people are barely aware of the ocean of legality in which we swim. Law school should teach people to navigate this ocean, not just as sailors who ride the currents to ferry clients, but as oceanographers who know the mystery of the depths, constantly striving to understand the why and how.

A successful Juris Doctor should turn an average citizen into a lawyerly Neo who can see the code of our societal matrix, understanding the true meaning of every obscure clause and, yes, being able to manipulate it as such.

Or, to use a metaphor I find much more appealing, law schools should be graduating judicial Jedi who can feel and use the law around us. After all, the law is my ally and a powerful ally it is. Society creates it, makes it grow. Its statutes surround us and bind us. Legal beings are we, not some sort of crude warriors. You must feel the law around you, everywhere.

Plus, wouldn’t it be awesome if gavels made lightsaber noises? But I digress.

However, people are offering an alternative. In The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus and university professor at George Washington University Law School, commented he believes that law schools should create a less rigorous master’s degree that he jokingly called ABB: All but bar. This path would be for people who want to learn about the law but not necessarily become practicing lawyers. I must admit this idea leaves me somewhat distressed.

Trachtenberg’s plan would essentially split law education between legal scientists and engineers, but with the differences all the more obvious. Learning law without any direct experience is like learning chemistry without a lab. Law students, especially those who do not just want a vocational experience, need to understand law in all its aspects, from its philosophical underpinnings to its most contemporary applications.

In the end, our lives are ones of laws and the unexamined life is not worth living. If law schools become more vocational, the job of lawyer will become a job not worth attaining. Of course, there is another reason people go to law school. Take a $120,000 paycheck for a first year lawyer at Vinson and Elkins, please.

Evan Mintz is a Hanszen College senior and executive editor.


Also, check out her website:

Bar exam was the test of time
Orange woman tries for eight years to pass the bar exam.

ORANGE – Paulina Bandy couldn't fail the state bar exam again.

Not after she failed 13 times before.

Not after she had spent tens of thousands to attend law school. Not after she put her husband Jon Gomez through the ringer for so many years. Not after the debt she piled up forced her family to move into a 365-square-foot home.

Not after she spent the last eight years of her life studying to pass one stinking test.

Her 14th try came on a day in February. She did breathing exercises and self-hypnosis.

When the three long days of exams were finished, she walked out of the room and broke down and cried.

It was the only time she ever did.

• • •

Her journey began in 1994 at Western State University College of Law.

She had been a marine biologist, teaching at Science Adventures in Huntington Beach and at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.

She and Gomez, who married in 1992 after an 11-year courtship, lived in a three-bedroom home with a garage and yard in a Fullerton cul-de-sac. The couple traveled and shared a passion for sports. They loved to entertain guests at their home.

Life was good ... until the day Bandy decided to go into law.

Bandy, who grew up in Anaheim, always felt underestimated and thought law school could help her reach a sense of achievement.

She told her husband, "Don't worry, it won't affect your life at all."

She supported his decision to go back to college and pursue a teaching degree after a lucrative career in lumber sales.

The learning curve was steep for Bandy, who powered through night classes. But she made it through the first year, when most students are weeded out of law schools.

"Law school was so in-your-face smart," she said. "It was very prestigious."

She graduated in 1998 with a B average and a desire to teach business law. She didn't want a high-pressure job, but an exciting internship with the Orange County District Attorney's Office that summer stoked her interest.

With about $80,000 in unpaid school loans and a degree, Bandy prepared herself for the state bar exam. She felt confident.

• • •

Bandy did what every bar exam taker would do. She took bar review courses, consulted with experts, bought study aids and studied for hours a day. She had more work to do than the Ivy League graduates who were more prepared and apt to pass the exam.

"There was a secret out there to passing, and I wasn't in on it," she said.

Gomez kicked off a tradition of bringing flowers to his wife after she finished her exam in February 1999. But Bandy found out later that she failed. She was disheartened but vowed to do better the next year.

Her father died that same year, but Bandy had to immediately hunker down and get ready for another exam.

In 2000, Gomez graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a child/adolescent studies degree. He began teaching shortly after for a starting salary of $29,000. In the meantime, his wife studied 14 to 15 hours a day to prepare for a second stab at the state bar exam.

"I wanted my happy ending," she said. "I wanted the Disney movie. I just thought, 'I can pass the exam.' "

Her second try was unsuccessful. She had become a "repeater," and that's when the frustration, shame and desperation seeped in. Bandy began to isolate herself. She and her husband were struggling to eke out a living.

"I knew I could do it, but I didn't know what the formula was," she said.

• • •

Maybe she should've given up the dream.

By 2003, five years after she took her first exam, Bandy hadn't passed. On July 1 of that year, at age 39, Bandy gave birth to daughter Roxanne.

By then, Bandy had taken the test seven times and was spiraling into more debt. Her law school debt ballooned into $128,000, and Bandy had to defer the loan. The couple spent at least $1,000 on registration fees and hotel rooms each time she took the test.

Gomez refused to let his wife give up. She had come too close on many occasions – passing some portions of the exam but failing one – to stop trying. He drove her to the test sites in Pomona, San Diego, Ontario, Long Beach, Pasadena and stayed with her during the three-day trips.

"To me, it wasn't a big fight," he said. "It was easier to say, 'Go in there. You can do it.' "

The fight continued for years. She tried twice in 2004, the year the family left Fullerton to move into a 365-square-foot home in the back yard of Bandy's mother's house in Orange. They sold the majority of their possessions – furniture, sporting equipment, wedding champagne glasses – at garage sales and squeezed what they could into their one-bedroom home.

One couch, a television set, a bed. No closet space, a tiny kitchen and a study area. No vacations, eating out or new clothes. Bandy took odd jobs to help pay for expenses such as Roxanne's childcare and a $500 monthly rent.

She took the exam twice in 2005 and twice in 2006. She failed both years.

"She's been so dedicated, and it's been hard on me seeing her hit against the wall," said her mother, Caroline Bandy.

• • •

The exam in February of this year was Bandy's 14th. A few months before, her father-in-law yelled at her for being a "pretend lawyer" and ruining his son's life. She also got into a bad accident in January and totaled her car.

On May 25, the day the results of the exam were to be posted online, Bandy came home to a message on the answering machine.

"I screamed," Bandy said. "I'll never forget it. I was doubled over like being punched in the stomach. In a good way."

She had passed the exam, said the voice in the message. She sobbed uncontrollably. Her mother and husband were in the front yard, shocked.

"I passed, I passed!" Bandy yelled while running to the driveway.

Eight years of sacrifice had paid off. The family celebrated at a nearby Rubio's.

After all that ordeal, Bandy might not even become a lawyer.

Because of her own experiences, she has an urge to help other repeaters pass the exam. Passing her 14th test in February and being sworn into the bar association in December is proof to other repeaters that if Bandy can do it, so can they.

She's decided to devote her time to helping them full time. She launched a Web site, www.cabarexamrepeatersresourc, and got a business license to help others find a formula to find pass the bar exam.

She'll also be teaching night classes to adults at the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. She hopes to tell her story to others and help them through their own struggles.

"To me, it's been such a big goal," Bandy said. "This is the journey. It's the end."

Politics and Law-Related News / Porn Star Goes to Law School
« on: May 23, 2007, 08:41:05 AM »
Porn Star Goes to Law School
by: Kriti Sood

Article Highlights:

* A graduating senior at CSUN and veteran of the adult entertainment industry, Traci, who goes by the alias Anita Cannibal, accepted to The University of West Los Angeles School of Law.
* Traci has been in the porn industry since 1994.
* Licensed as a legal prostitute in Nevada.
* Made thirty grand in Brothel after working twenty-something days.
* A business, finance and real estate major planning to provide online tutoring in which models wear a bra and underwear.
* She said the decision to expose will rest with the members; they could choose from sitting naked to simply flashing their feet or talking about sex.

4 Page Article, Only Page 1 is posted...  To access entire article, see link at bottom.

Porn Star Goes to Law School is the tag line of Traci's, aka Anita Cannibal's, MySpace profile page. These few words describe her excitement these days as she recently got accepted to The University of West Los Angeles School of Law.

A graduating senior at CSUN, Traci has been in the porn industry since 1994. Her list of movies goes up to about 129 in number and range from small feature films to big-budget movies.

Some of the recent movies that Traci has done include "Mature Women with Young Girls 16" (2006), "Barnyard Babes" (2005), "Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy" (2001) and "White Lightning" (2000).

According to Traci, her choice of profession was not something sudden, but a childhood interest.

"I was always in to it even as a little girl," she said. "I was born an exhibitionist. You know how some people are born gay. I guess the glitter and glam from the movies in seventies, when I was growing up, impacted me."

Although Traci has been primarily involved with the porn movies, she speaks of making a good amount of money from dancing.

"I danced on Burbank Street, on Broadway across from David Letterman Show," she said.

"I made a lot of money from dancing. I made like a million bucks when I was hot. Now, I am starving like any other student. I don't dance anymore, I don't feature."

Traci might not be featuring in the same amount of movies like before, however, the 36-year-old says that she still does some and will be doing one this week.

Movies and dancing has helped Traci make a fortune, but what she enjoys most is going to the brothels in Nevada.

"Going to brothels and getting license as a legal prostitute was the coolest thing," she said. "As a student, I had no social life, no contact with sexuality. I made thirty grand in twenty-one days last winter at brothels.

It was the best time ever. Guys that go there are the sweetest. You do a movie, you get off the set, it feels like you have been beaten up.

How Obscure Law School
Places Grads at Top Firms
May 23, 2007; Page B1
Wall Street Journal

Law students starting summer jobs at the New York office of a prominent national law firm come largely from the usual places: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, New York University and some local schools. Then there's Keith Marlowe of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Last fall, Mr. Marlowe applied for summer work at 110 U.S. firms and got no offers. But the Calgary, Alberta, native had an ace in the hole: private interviews, arranged by his law school, with some of the country's biggest firms, including Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, which offered the 25-year-old a job paying about $3,000 a week.

In the stratified world of law, educational pedigree largely dictates where students will get a look. Firms want to signal to clients and colleagues that they only hire the best. As firms have grown and competition for junior lawyers has intensified, some firms have dipped below the Ivies and their equivalents. Nonetheless, a student from a school like Detroit Mercy -- firmly in the cellar of U.S. News & World Report's rankings of 184 accredited law schools -- hasn't stood a chance at the fancy firms.

But thanks to some masterful marketing by Detroit Mercy's dean, Mark C. Gordon, top students at the school are now gaining entree to the big leagues. In the last two years, a half-dozen students have been hired for summer or full-time jobs at firms like Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw LLP. Firms such as Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP now include Detroit Mercy in their select on-campus interview circuit.

A first-time dean and Harvard Law grad, Mr. Gordon got his school on the radar of the top-tier firms by enlisting a stable of big-time private-practice lawyers to join an advisory board that's now some 60 members strong. His pitch: Help Detroit Mercy improve its third-year curriculum by creating a required set of courses that simulate real-life practice.

Attorneys quickly suited up for the cause. When they arrived in Detroit for twice-a-year meetings, starting in 2005, Mr. Gordon made sure they not only helped remake the school's coursework but also inspected his top second-year students during private interviews, as well as others who were trotted out to give presentations on everything from trial advocacy to interpreting statutes. After last month's meeting, about 40 first-year students, handpicked by professors, were allowed to mingle with the board.

The idea of focusing the curriculum on practice resonated with the lawyers. In fact, many have long complained that law school devotes too much attention to theory and leaves students unprepared to practice, even as the market demands that firms pay new hires high salaries from day one. Many students are also no fans of the third year of school, feeling it's a repeat of the same kind of work analyzing cases that they did in the first two years.

Students "arrive and they don't know where they fit in, how to draft an escrow, a merger agreement," says Jonathan J. Lerner, a corporate partner at Skadden Arps who is on the Detroit Mercy board.

While some schools, like Columbia Law School, have coursework oriented to law-firm practice, it's generally not required. Stanford Law School offers a few elective "deals"-type courses, but the school is emphasizing new joint J.D.-master's degrees in which a law student, for example, would also study bioengineering. Transaction-simulation classes are an "inefficient way to learn content" says Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer, who recommends students take no more than one or two of them.

From Mr. Gordon's vantage point, if the practical coursework and advisory board help his students get a top job, it's fine with him.

"It's one thing to come out of Harvard, Yale, Stanford and be going to some of these firms, and it's another to come out of a school that doesn't have that pedigree," says Allan B. Moore, a partner at Covington & Burling who recently joined the Detroit Mercy board. "Mark is taking the ivory tower out of it."

Founded in 1912 and located in a three-story building across from General Motors headquarters, Detroit Mercy has an entering class of 265 students and is sponsored by two Roman Catholic groups, the Society of Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Most graduates go into private practice primarily in the greater Detroit area.

The 46-year-old Mr. Gordon, raised in White Plains, N.Y., never expected to be a dean. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1990, he worked at New York law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and later at the Department of Housing and Urban Development before teaching public affairs for six years at Columbia University.

In late 2000, on a flight to Maine to visit his grandmother, Mr. Gordon started talking with the director of a public-policy institute at the University of Southern Maine who was seated next to him. By the end of the flight she had encouraged him to apply to be dean of the university's public-policy school. He didn't get the job, but the idea intrigued him. He applied to a handful of public-policy and law schools that had openings, and, in 2001, he got a callback from Detroit Mercy.

The idea of going to work at a low-ranked school "was a positive factor," he says. "It's the schools that are not as well known that are most open to change."

Mr. Gordon and his wife, a structural engineer, bought a red-brick Colonial-style home two blocks past the Detroit city line, in Grosse Pointe, and moved there with their two young sons in 2002.

The new dean wanted to "integrate the realities of law practice in the classroom" and developed the idea further with faculty. He also called more than 100 alumni and practicing Detroit lawyers to ask their opinions about what the school should be doing. Through in-house lawyers at auto maker DaimlerChrysler and auto-parts company Delphi, Mr. Gordon contacted partners at prominent national firms -- most of whom had never heard of the school -- and reached out to a handful of Harvard Law School classmates to set up his board.

After receiving an unexpected call from Mr. Gordon last year, Thomas E. Kruger, a partner at Paul Hastings, agreed to meet the dean for breakfast near his law office in midtown Manhattan, convinced he would say "no" to whatever Mr. Gordon was asking for. Instead, a half-hour meeting turned into an hour and a half, and the partner signed on to the advisory board.

Mr. Kruger is now in charge of providing documents from actual cases (redacted) for use in the new curriculum, known as the Law Firm program, which lets students handle a complex case or transaction as if they were part of a large law firm. Each course focuses on a different department in a typical corporate firm, such as real estate, intellectual property, white-collar crime or antitrust law. After a pilot program this past semester, all third-year students will be required to take at least two courses in the program.

Prior to joining the board, Mr. Kruger had personally recruited only at Harvard, his alma mater; now he has added Detroit Mercy as a second stop. Having nine top national firms conduct on-campus interviews at Detroit Mercy is a coup for the school and a critical step toward building an institutional pipeline into the firms.

So far Detroit Mercy's successes haven't raised its stock in the U.S. News rankings, which weigh such factors as percentage of graduates employed after graduation, scores on the Law School Admission Test and the bar-exam passage rate. The Michigan bar-exam passage rate for Detroit Mercy students was below the state average for the 2005 summer exam, but last summer it rose to the average for the state.

"We were in the fourth tier before I was hired, and that's where we've remained," Mr. Gordon says. He adds that he's more concerned about the students' education and job prospects.

Placing students at high-paying jobs in the top firms can do more than add prestige to a school like Detroit Mercy. Later in life, successful graduates may be able to afford to give back. Says Ken Hemler, a 25-year-old Detroit Mercy law student from Warren, Mich., who got a job starting in the fall at Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York: "I plan on being on the hall-of-fame-donors list... if they have one."

Black Law Students / Baby or Scholarship
« on: May 13, 2007, 03:21:18 PM »
A college student lost her track scholarship after becoming pregnant.  According to the school's policy, scholarship eligibility is lost if you have a child.  Yet, male students who father children while holding scholarships are treated differently.  Should the male students be held to the same standard?

The article slightly touches on the dilemma of abortion.  The student is forced to make a decision between the scholarship that s/he earned or the life of the unborn child.  What do you think????

Becoming a mother a dilemma and victory
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Geoff Calkins

She took the test on an October day during her sophomore year, in her boyfriend's apartment, confused and terrified and unwilling to believe.

The first strip turned blue. She was pregnant.

"There must be something wrong with the strip," she said.

She took the test again. The strip turned blue again.

"I immediately thought about my scholarship," she said.

Cassandra Harding had a full scholarship to run track at the University of Memphis. She also had a full understanding of what would happen if she told the coaches she was expecting a child.

"I'd lose the scholarship," she said. "That was understood by everyone on the team. So then I had to choose, 'Do I keep the baby or do I keep my scholarship?'"

• •

Why would we want anyone to have to make that choice?

Keep the baby and lose your scholarship.

Lose the baby and keep your scholarship.

"It's crazy," said Donna Lopiano, CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation. "I don't think it's right or legal."

But according to Harding -- who will tell her story to the country this morning on a Mother's Day edition of ESPN's "Outside the Lines" -- that's exactly the choice she was left with under a policy implemented by the Memphis track team.

"We had to sign a contract," Harding said. "It said that we'd lose our scholarship if we fought, or if we got in a verbal conflict with a coach, or if we got pregnant. I didn't think twice about it. I said, 'That's not going to be me.'"

Harding, from Killeen, Texas, was determined to get her college degree. For as long as she could recall, she had been told she could go to college if she could earn a scholarship.

"That's why I got A's and B's in high school," she said. "Nothing was going to stop me."

And then, the home pregnancy test strip turned blue. And so did the second one. A trip to the doctor confirmed everything.

"My boyfriend wanted me to keep the baby the whole time," she said. "But I wasn't going to lose my scholarship. I kept going back and forth, putting it off. When I finally went for the abortion they told me it was too late, that I'd have to go to a place in Little Rock. When that happened, I said, 'You know, I guess this isn't the thing I'm supposed to do. I'm going to keep the baby.'"

Even then, Harding didn't tell her coaches until she was six months pregnant. She competed in her specialty, the triple jump, throughout the indoor season.

"I finally told coach (Kevin) Robinson," she said. "He was my jumping coach at the time. They let me stay through the end of the semester, then they took the scholarship away."

Harding went home to Texas and delivered the baby in July. That fall, she returned for her junior season and walked on to the team, but did not compete.

"For me, being from out of state, it was expensive," she said. "If my brother hadn't signed a $10,000 loan for me, I wouldn't have been able to do it."

After a year, Harding's scholarship was restored. Saturday, in Houston, she participated in the Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"How do I feel about wearing Memphis colors?" she said. "I don't hold a grudge on my shoulders. But, no, I don't think I should have lost my scholarship because I got pregnant."

Legally, she might be wrong about this. Athletes lose their scholarships all the time for medical reasons unrelated to athletics.

"But if she lost her scholarship solely as a result of being pregnant, it would be a violation of Title 9," said Jocelyn Benson, who teaches a class on Sports and Inequality at Wayne State Law School. "There have been cases on that exact point."

Lopiano, of the Women's Sports Foundation, said "our position paper on pregnancy has to do with possible restrictions on playing. It never even occurred to us to include any retribution, i.e., the withdrawal of a scholarship."

Memphis officials weren't saying much about the case. Athletic director R.C. Johnson said, "We don't think we did anything wrong." Beyond that, Johnson referred to a prepared statement that said "The University of Memphis does not believe it is in violation of any federal law."

Unfortunately, neither Johnson nor anybody else at Memphis was willing to expand on the university's position. Maybe the school has a different version of the facts. Let's hope that's the case.

Otherwise, why were Darius Washington and DeAngelo Williams able to keep their scholarships after having children while a woman athlete could not? Isn't that the essence of discrimination?

And how about the practical effect of the policy? Why would a university support a policy that even inadvertently encourages female athletes who get pregnant to have abortions? Whatever your personal position on abortion, can't we all agree that the decision as to whether to terminate a pregnancy is difficult enough without being complicated by the potential loss of a scholarship?

Asked about this, Johnson said, "That's far-fetched. That's taking it a bit too far."

But is it? Really? Student-athletes sacrifice their entire lives to earn scholarships. Think they wouldn't consider other sacrifices?

"I know a couple people on the team who had abortions for that reason," Harding said. "They're not on the team now, but since I've been there. This isn't an uncommon thing. This is something women athletes are faced with that men aren't faced with."

Somehow, it all ended happily for Harding. She had her baby. She named her Assiah. She's left her back in Texas, under the care of her mother, until she finishes up her degree in December.

So the hard times are days like these, a Mother's Day, as she flies back to her life and work in Memphis, her baby girl far away.

"She's awesome," Harding said. "She's sooooo awesome. I can't believe I almost didn't have her."

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