Friday, April 27, 2012

Do I really expect some law schools to close in the next few years? Yes. Yes, I do.

In this cross-post on our Law School Survival Manual blog, I attempt to clarify that--although the ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy is bleak--it's not quite as bad as I glibly said it was on the Bloomberg Law podcastBut it is bad, and something has to give.  As I indicated in my most recent essay about legal education (here), some schools aren't going to be able to justify their continued existence.  Even some very good schools are tightening their belts (see here).

And the job market for most lawyers is shrinking, not expanding.  Check out this Dealbook Q&A (here) with Michael Trotter.  His predictions are sobering.

When you combine the trends in law jobs with the increasing cost of attending law school (check out one of my favorite blogs, The Legal Whiteboard)--and you combine those two things with the fact that most student loans are non-dischargeable--you get a lot of law deans who are facing a lot of sleepless nights.  Law professors should also be nervous, because tenure won't protect them from being laid off when their law schools close. 

It's time to rethink what we mean when we talk about legal education.  That's a complex subject, but it's crucial that law professors have honest, non-turfy, non-pointy-headed-academic discussions about what we're doing and what we should be doing.

Oh, and my Buck Rogers reference in the interview?  That's from one of my favorite movies, The Right Stuff.  Here's the quote (from the imdb.com site):
Gordon Cooper: You boys know what makes this bird go up? FUNDING makes this bird go up.
Gus Grissom: He's right. No bucks, no Buck Rogers. 
Yep.  No tuition, no school.  No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Titanic.

It will be 100 years ago this coming weekend, and there are so many news stories about Titanic that I hardly know where to begin.  But we can start here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

R.I.P. Gary Hartman

I just heard about Gary Hartman's passing (here) and my heart goes out to Susan and the rest of his family and friends. 

Gary was one of the first people I met at UHLC, and what I loved most about him was his ability to tell me the truth, even when he knew I wasn't going to like hearing it.  He cared passionately about the school and his colleagues. 

He was especially good during emergencies.  In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison, when Houston was hard-hit and our law school was among the hardest-hit, he was there, on the ground, making sure that things were working and solving the problems that come with every natural disaster.  But for the work of Gary and a few others, not only would we not have had a physical site for the school but we would also not have had a way of communicating with each other.  Many people might have been discouraged to the point of giving up, but Gary used his creativity and his wicked sense of humor (the obituary says that better than I ever could) to keep up morale and give us perspective.

Deans have very few people whom they can trust, and few in whom they can confide.  Gary was a trusted confidante.  For those who knew him, their lives were the better for it.  R.I.P., Gary.