Casual Friday Takes On, Well, Everybody

With unemployment among lawyers already an epidemic, you’d think that maybe, perhaps, someone should tell people advising students to go to law school unless its a passion.

Clearly this isn’t happening. Some schools are actually taking great steps to expand their student bases. Thomas A. Cooley Law School has expanded from one to four locations in the state. I think it’s safe to assume the school isn’t opening new branches because of a lack of students. It’s also stepped up its advertising and recruiting efforts around the state.

It’s not just here, either. In Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts merged with the Southern New England School of Law (est. 1981!). In February, it found a 132 percent increase in applications from wicked smaaahhht students. And this is before it begins a “robust recruiting effort” later this spring.  UMass Law is hoping to double its annual enrollment by 2017. [Boston Herald]

The law program, which will be established at the Southern New England School of Law, has received 123 applications for the fall, compared to 53 who applied to Southern New England last year. The spike “is based solely on word-of-mouth communication and media coverage of the issue,” the university said.
A “robust recruitment effort” will begin in the next few weeks, the announcement said.

The UMass law school will initially enroll 278 students, slightly higher than its enrollment this year. Enrollment will grow slightly each year, reaching 559 students in fall 2017. UMass Dartmouth originally hoped for 400 applicants for the fall, but on the day the school was approved, Chancellor Jean MacCormack said she wouldn’t be surprised to receive 1,000.

Hope it all works out for these kids. For some, it may be the fulfillment of a life’s ambition to become a lawyer. But for many, they’re looking for options because they can’t find jobs with their undergraduate degrees, under the false assumptions that jobs are more plentiful with a law degree. Do law schools have a duty to temper the expectations of prospective students? No. And I’ve not seen an example of the advertising adding to inflated expectations. But is driving up enrollment for profit based on already inflated expectations, knowing full well the market is not what it used to be, just as bad?

I just hope they don’t wind up like this guy.

[HT: Above the Law].

And you thought your homeowners association was tough Living in a subdivision can be a pain, what with the ridiculous rules dictating what you can and can’t do with your own property (“You CANNOT have a fence to keep your kids/pets in your backyard unless it’s a white picket fence and even then it can only be three feet high with six inch gaps between the pickets so that we can see inside your yard at all times. We wouldn’t want you to be running a meth lab back there! ”) and the nosy neighbors enforcing them.

But if you think that’s bad, consider the case of Quan Ha of Orange, Cal. Orange has an ordinance requiring at least 40 percent of your lawn must be landscaped. From UPI:

Ha said he and his wife, Angelina, removed the lawn in 2008 to take their monthly water bill down from $180 every two months to $48 every two months. He said they put down wood chips and started installing drought-resistant plants after city officials warned them about the code, but officials said wood chips do not qualify as landscaping and took Ha to court.

The penalty? A $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Assistant City Attorney Wayne Winthers said he has seen pictures of the current state of the yard, which has received several plant donations since Ha’s story first appeared in the Register, and Code Enforcement officers will make a fresh visit to the property.

"We’ll have to see," Winthers said. "My hope is that it’s enough and we can resolve this."

Let’s just hope that, for Ha’s sake, “resolving this” doesn’t require a trip to the court restroom.

Parachutes People who get worked up about corporate CEOs that leave their decimated companies with golden parachutes, prepare yourselves! Jennifer Granholm will hit the unemployment market in January, but won’t be there long, according to The Detroit News.

How about Supreme Court Justice Granholm?

The former Michigan attorney general with a Harvard law degree has been vetted by the Obama administration, which likely will get at least one more vacancy. She has said the high court holds special appeal for her.

Or cabinet secretary Granholm?

President Barack Obama has shown an interest in putting chief executives of states into his Cabinet, which has former governors of Arizona, Iowa, Washington and Kansas.

What about ambassador Granholm?

Obama tapped Utah’s governor, Jon Huntsman, for one of the most important embassy posts — China.

Strange that she would be a hot commodity to the Obama Administration considering she was one of the people leading the charge to deliver the clusterbleep of a 2008 Michigan primary to Hillary Clinton.

Personally, I think Granholm should have to suffer three months of trying to get through to MARVIN between 2-3 pm every other Tuesday before she’s allowed to collect a full paycheck. No, it’s not all her fault, but you don’t blame the folks in steerage for sinking of the Titanic.

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In the ballpark

Say what you want, but Thomas M. Cooley Law School president Don LeDuc stands by the school’s decision to buy the naming rights to the minor league baseball stadium in Lansing, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.

When the announcement that the school had agreed to pay nearly $1.5 million so that what was Oldsmobile Park will for the next 11 years be called Cooley Law School Stadium, LeDuc heard the same criticism as every other newspaper reader. Perhaps it was an extravagance that a school which has, like every other college and university, has had tuition increases (and LeDuc has not promised in interviews with the media that there won’t be more of those).

But the school is getting great bang for its marketing buck, LeDuc says. The naming rights, he said, cost less than the school spends on billboard advertising, and makes up just 0.15 percent of its entire expenditures.

And it’s just darn unique.

“It comes out to about $135,000 per year,” LeDuc said. “And I don’t think any other law schools have done this.

“In Michigan we want to have an identity here in Lansing. The building is probably the third-best known in mid-Michigan.”

Aside from exposure in four directions, including visibility from the city’s main thoroughfares, Michigan Avenue, Larch and Cedar.Four directions of frontage, including visibility from the city’s main thoroughfares, Michigan Avenue, Larch and Cedar, the law school does get some ancillary benefits, which include a suite, executive box seats, and four or five events folded into the package.

“Some of the events we would have at another venue or on one of the campuses, we now can have at the stadium,” LeDuc said. And this summer, the school’s Cooley for Kids program will take some 500 kids to the ballpark.

The biggest user of the suite will be the students,” LeDuc said.

“We had to establish a committee to determine who gets to use it and when,” he said. “Our thought is each of our sanctioned student organizations would get to use it. And we’ll be reserving some seats for employers and the like, we will send students there to mingle, which is the same kind of thing we’ve been doing at Comerica Park.”

The reality, he added, is that the law school got an excellent deal on naming rights. Since the stadium has been open, more than 5 million visitors, and 350,000 tickets for events sold last year.

And competition to attract new students is fierce. Law school enrollment is flat nationwide, LeDuc said. Cooley has had modest 1-2 percent growth per year during the last four years, but during uncertain economies, it should have been higher.

“Usually in an off economy like we have now, it’s a boom time at professional universities and colleges,” LeDuc said. “But this recession is so deep that we’re just not experiencing that. Applications are fairly flat nationally, and so is enrollment.”

So LeDuc is taking the raised eyebrows in stride.

“When you do anything novel like this you’ll always hear some pushback,” he said. “But this is not a big part of our total expenses.”

Take me out to the law game

Cooley Law School StadiumThe Cooley Law School Stadium is the new home-field name for the Lansing Lugnuts, the capital’s Class “A” minor-league baseball affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The ubiquitous law school, the nation’s largest with 3,600 students on four campuses in Michigan, bought the naming rights for the ball park in an 11-year, $1,485,000 sponsorship deal announced yesterday.

Naming rights for the field, formerly known as Oldsmobile Park, went on the market when General Motors gave up its sponsorship during the automaker’s bankruptcy reorganization last year.

The ball club and the city of Lansing will evenly split the revenue from Cooley’s sponsorship.