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Law school and legal education news from JURIST's Paper Chase...

Friday, February 6

Bell headlines Pitt's Brown v. Board symposium
Adam Henry

In today's law school news, Professor Derrick Bell of the New York University School of Law gave the keynote speech at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Symposium [PDF], and JURIST's Paper Chase was on hand. Bell's speech, entitled "Silent Covenant: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform," echoed key points made by symposium panelists earlier in the day: namely, that the decision in Brown was the product of temporary black-white interest convergence, and that it has been rendered almost "legally irrelevant" in the face of persistent de facto segregation and judicial retrenchment. Indeed, the current era has been "marked by full retreat from desegregation," according to Professor Janet Schofield, and "gradual if covert resegregation," according to Professor Joe Feagin (emphasis added). Also speaking this morning were Professors Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Derrick A. Bell Professor and Scholar respectively at Pitt Law.
The symposium concludes with a late afternoon reception, and Pitt promises to feature video on its website shortly.

In other law school news, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy dedicated the Koret Law Center at the University of San Francisco School of Law on Thursday. The buildings it comprises were renamed and renovated at a cost of $12 million. Meanwhile, on the other coast, Governor John Rowland has dedicated $10 million in his proposed budget to correcting design problems with the law library facade at the University of Connecticut School of Law. AP reports that the state will likely pursue legal action against one of the parties to the construction.

Lastly, of general interest, a Colorado federal judge has ordered the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) to grant extra test time on the LSAT to a learning disabled senior at Syracuse University. Without the additional time, the judge ruled, the student's score "wouldn't reflect [her] true intellectual abilities and achievements." Rocky Mountain News offers the full story here.

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Thursday, February 5

Judge rules for Western State in accreditation battle
Adam Henry

Leading today's law school news is an update in Western State University College of Law's bid to retain its national accreditation. As reported for JURIST's Paper Chase in mid-January, "Western State filed suit against the ABA ... claiming discrimination against for-profit law schools in violation of a 1995 antitrust settlement between the ABA and the Department of Justice." Yesterday, Los Angeles Times reports, a federal judge tentatively enjoined the ABA from stripping Western State's accreditation and hinted that the case for a permanent injunction is likely to be successful. Judge Gary Taylor agreed with the school's attorney that the loss of accreditation would engender "irreparable harm": accreditation not only connotes educational quality, but also allows school graduates to take the bar exam anywhere in the country.

In other law school news, The Daily Texan reports that the trial of a San Antonio man accused of murdering his wife will be held in the Kraft W. Ediman Courtroom of the University of Texas School of Law. Trials are not new to the law school. In fact, one UT professor explains that the school "tries to get at least two fairly important trials on campus each year because they benefit students who can witness the justice system in action." Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, Harvard Law School's independent paper The Record carries several stories of interest in its Thursday issue. First, it reports that the school is working to expand its joint-degree offerings to include, among others, a joint program with the Graduate School of Design. Second, it notes that a record number of HLS students have been awarded prestigious Skadden Fellowships for two years of public service. As the Fellowship Foundation site explains, "Fellows provide legal services to the poor, elderly, homeless and disabled, as well as those deprived of their human rights or civil rights." Third and lastly, it reports that Dean Elena Kagan has given students a reason to brave the chilly temperatures in Cambridge: she has added an ice skating rink to the law school campus. The rink reportedly hosts the occasional recreational hockey game, while the varsity team is competing in the annual Beanpot Tournament. (Harvard wraps up its eleventh consecutive year without a title in a consolation contest Monday.)

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Wednesday, February 4

Michigan professor wins award for best book on environment
Adam Henry

In today's law school news, the University of Michigan Law School announces that Professor Edward A. Parson has won the International Studies Association's Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the year's best book on the environment. His book, Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy, offers the first comprehensive history of international efforts to protect the ozone layer.

Also out of Ann Arbor is an AP report about a new multimedia exhibit on display in the student union called "Views and Voices: U-M's Case for Diversity." The exhibit "examines U-M's controversial and complex role in national debate about diversity and the recent Supreme Court decisions [namely Grutter v. Bollinger (PDF) on Michigan Law admissions] upholding the principle of diversity in college admissions."

Elsewhere, around the law school horn, Harvard Law School reports on a brief filed by students in its Immigration and Refugee Clinic, asking the attorney general to grant asylum protection to a Guatemalan refugee facing deportation from the US. The University of Southern California reports on two second-year students at the USC Law School who have worked to revitalize the school's Street Law program. And the Georgia State University Signal Online reports on a symposium held by the GSU College of Law, at which academics explored alternatives to the bar exam ranging from national licensing to one-year apprenticeships following graduation.

Lastly, Legal Times reviews a new compilation called "Amicus Humoriae: An Anthology of Legal Humor," featuring the best in (yes) law review humor writing. "Many of the articles are clearly the product of the fevered brains of bored or restless law professors," the reviewer writes, and he follows dutifully with examples from the book. The titles of the essays, ranging from the simple "Id." to "Don't Cry Over Filled Milk: The Neglected Footnote Three to Carolene Products," can be reviewed in the book's table of contents here [PDF].

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Tuesday, February 3

CUNY criticized for below-average bar pass rate
Adam Henry

Leading today's law school news are twin pieces that first appeared in Monday's New York Post. In a news story and an accompanying editorial, the tabloid ripped the City University of New York School of Law for its 56% bar pass rate in 2003, placing the school some 20 percentage points below the New York state average. The Post notes, however, that CUNY has recently toughened its admission standards and its academic-standing policies. The new policies, which require students to maintain a C average in order to remain enrolled, "are now among the most rigorous of any law school in the country," says Dean Kristin Booth Glen.

And in news from across the pond that JURIST's Paper Chase has been following since November, the law schools of eight English universities have agreed to institute a national admissions test for applicants to their undergraduate law programs. Like the LSAT, the English LNat will consist of multiple choice and short essay components. Indeed, sample questions on offer in The Guardian might have been taken directly from the LSAT's Logical Reasoning sections. The University of Birmingham is chairing an inter-institutional LNat committee in advance of the test's first offering in November, and elaborates the benefits of the test to both applicants and institutions in a press release. And in a counterpart press release, the University of Cambridge identifies an even broader social benefit:
Since these are not tests of knowledge but of fundamental intellectual skills, no prior legal study will be necessary.... It is hoped that by eliminating the need for any extra study, the test will be fairer to all candidates and particularly those whose educational or social background may not provide equal opportunities for preparation. In this way, the test will help to widen participation in higher education.
The Guardian carries the full story here.

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Adam Henry is an anchor for JURIST's Paper Chase and a 2L at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He holds an AB in Politics from Princeton University.
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