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Homage to Davey Jones of the Monkees

Trip down memory lane.  Enjoy!


Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs

The predicaments of the current legal economy has put pressures on our law students and therefore has required us to rise to the occasion with constructive, creative action to address this difficult situation.  Here is a memo which I sent to the law school community this morning:

To:       Northwestern Law Community

 From:   Dean Dan Rodriguez

 Re:       Assistant Dean of External Partnerships


I am pleased to make you aware of a new position we are creating to support and enhance our strategic initiatives in the areas of employment and external relations.  The new position’s title will be Assistant Dean of External Partnerships.

 Since the global financial crisis of 2008, the legal economy and employment landscape for our students and alumni have changed profoundly.  As I begin my deanship, I can scarcely think of a greater challenge facing our law school and, indeed, all law schools in the months and years ahead.

With this new position, the Law School will address this critical challenge by expanding and coordinating our efforts to forge strategic connections with employers and other important organizational constituents.  By strengthening our partnerships, we hope to foster employment outcomes for our students and graduates, to improve our stewardship with and recognition of key stakeholders and, thereby, to enhance our reputation among them.

The Assistant Dean of External Partnerships will devote significant time to meeting with current and potential employers of all types and in all regions of the country.  Working closely with the Career Strategy Center team, and others, she or he will seek to identify employment opportunities, work to solidify and strengthen our relationships with employers, and facilitate efforts to match students and recent graduates with openings that arise.  These initiatives will supplement the important and continuing career counseling, programming, and employer relations work that our Career Strategy Center team so ably performs.

Additionally, the Assistant Dean of External Partnerships will provide broad oversight of our professional and continuing legal education programs and serve as a key member of a formal external relations team which we will form.  This team likely will consist of individuals from marketing, alumni relations, development, career services, admissions, professional & continuing legal education, our Executive LLM programs, research centers, and the Bluhm Legal Clinic.

With the assistance of the external relations team, the Assistant Dean of External Partnerships will coordinate our school-wide outreach efforts and create a mechanism to track top organizational supporters along several categories, including student hiring, sponsorship and giving, CLE and professional education program attendance, and overall Northwestern Law alumni presence.  When I and others meet with representatives of these organizations, we will be armed with this important information so that we can better coach them on ways to partner with individuals, units, programs, and research centers throughout the Law School.  As a result, opportunities for engagement and community building will be enriched.

I am excited by the potential impact this new position can have and believe the activities I have described are imperative in this new economy as we strive to build our reputation in the legal community and the broader business, nonprofit, and government sectors both here and abroad.


Lecture at Rutgers

Filling out my duties as a Northwestern law professor, in addition to the sometimes demanding day job of dean, I am pleased to be at Rutgers-Camden Law School today giving the 24th annual State Constitutional Law Lecture.  The title is “The Political Question Doctrine in State Constitutional Law.”

Thanks to my Rutgers friends for the wonderful hospitality!


Northwestern is #2 “go-to” law school for large-firm legal practice

So says the National Law Journal in their annual ranking of law schools.  Tremendous achievement; well-deserved recognition.  Here is the memorandum I sent out to our law community this morning.

I am pleased to report that The National Law Journal (NLJ) has tabbed Northwestern Law School as the nation’s #2 “go-to” law school in its just released 2012 rankings.

This annual NLJ listing identifies the 50 law schools with the highest percentage of 2011 JD graduates hired by NLJ 250 law firms.  In total, 52.1% of our 2011 graduates accepted positions with NLJ 250 firms.  Last year, we held the 8th spot with 44.4% of our 2010 graduates going to these same firms.

With this most recent result, we have ranked in the top five on this measure for five of the past six years (and always in the top 10 during the same period).

The list of “go-to” law schools was compiled from recruiting information that law firms provided on The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s largest law firms.

Additionally, The National Law Journal “identified firm favorites – the schools where NLJ 250 firms recruited the most graduates.”  Northwestern Law is the favorite of 3 firms (Baker & McKenzie, Kirkland & Ellis, and McDermott Will & Emery) and we are exceeded only by Harvard on this listing.

While the difficult economy continues to present immediate challenges to students hitting the job market, our consistently high position in this ranking is a testament to our strong reputation.  This is the second time this year that we have placed very highly in an employment-based ranking.  In the fall, The Princeton Review designated Northwestern Law #1 for Best Career Prospects.

For your information, the top 15 law schools are (percent hired by NLJ 250 in parentheses):

1.   University of Pennsylvania (56.9%)
2.   Northwestern (52.1%)
3.   Columbia (51.7%)
4.   Harvard (48.9%)
5.   Stanford (48.1%)
6.   University of California – Berkeley (45.9%)
7.   University of Chicago (45.3%)
8.   Duke (40.6%)
9.   New York University (40.1%)
10. University of Virginia (39.8%)
11  Cornell (38.3%)
12. University of Southern California (32.9%)
13. University of Michigan (31.5%)
14. Georgetown (31.1%)
15. Yale (29.8%)


Failing law schools?

Cogent preview of the much-anticipated book by Washington U. law prof.  There will be much to say about this book and I will look forward to contributing to this important debate in the coming weeks and months.

One quick observation:  The dichtomy drawn is between so-called research-oriented and practice-oriented law schools.  The basic claim is that specialization is the best solution for enhancing quality in legal education and curtailing costs.  But why is a rigorous focus on practice and creating competent lawyers at war with facilitating cutting-edge research about contemporary legal problems?  We think we can do both at Northwestern — and, indeed, we develop curricula, create programs, and hire faculty in order to further both aims.  And there are other very fine law schools which aspire likewise.

“Failing Law Schools” will helpfully illuminate these important issues.  And keep an eye on this blog for more commentary by yours truly and other interested (and interesting) folks.


Tom Geraghty on NASDAQ!!

The iconic NASDAQ Board in NYC had a surprise welcome for our beloved Clinic director, Tom Geraghty ’69.  Wow!

Thanks to Kelly Deere ’92 and her spouse Lee Shavel of NASDAQ who arranged this honor.


Northwestern Law adventures in New York City

We have been visiting with alumni in New York over the past few days and, on Thursday evening, hosted a reception for 100+ alumni and several admitted students at the St. Regis Hotel.  The energy of the NU Law-NYC alumni group has been incredible.  We have seen partners at major New York law firms, entrepreneurs who have made New York their home, a CEO of a steel company, and young alums doing extraordinary things in their careers and lives.

If anyone is searching for evidence of the national reach of Northwestern Law, they need only to look to the big apple!

We look forward getting our NU Law club in NYC up and running in the coming months.  To that end, if you have any suggestions and advice about how best to engage our New York alumni, please do contact our Alumni Relations office at the Law School.


Pre-March madness

For college basketball afficionados looking forward to March Madness, I note that Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology on the ESPN site lists Northwestern as one of the last teams to make it into the NCAA Tournament.  Dare to dream!


Guest post: Best of 2011 law-related movies

Dana Hill teaches Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern Law.  Following a stint writing movie reviews while attending Northwestern Law for Hoops, the student weekly, Dana has been sending out Academy Awards predictions since 2000.  Her friends assure her that they enjoying reading them.  

With the Academy Awards coming up on Sunday, February 26, it seems appropriate to highlight some of the best recent movies involving lawyers and legal issues.  While two movies on this list have received Oscar attention, a few have been overlooked and all are worth checking out.

The Descendants

This Best Picture nominee stars George Clooney as Matt King, an Oahu real estate lawyer, who is also the trustee for the last piece of privately-owned non-developed land on Kauai.  As descendants of one of the last members of Hawaii’s royalty, Matt and his extended family are required by the rule against perpetuities to dissolve the estate within the next seven years.   As trustee, Matt has the ultimate decision on which developer to sell to.  Take note property professors:  this story would make a great starting point for an exam question.  (Between this film and PBS’ “Downton Abbey”, land transference is having a pop culture moment.)

The land issues are background to the main story.  A workaholic, Matt has neglected his wife, an extreme sports enthusiast who suffers a traumatic head injury during a speedboat race.  While she’s in a coma, Matt must take charge of his two daughters, a precocious pre-teen and a misbehaving high schooler who has been shipped off to private school.   As Alex, the older daughter, Shailene Woodley is nominated for Best Supporting Actress and she carries a lot of the movie.  Along with her deeper-than-he-appears boyfriend, Alex helps Matt deal with his wife’s impending death and track down the man his wife was having an affair with prior to her accident.

Director Alexander Payne gets right the details of a lawyer’s lifestyle:  Matt works on a legal pad in his wife’s hospital room; his office is stacked with files; he wasn’t around much to spend time with his kids.  As in “Michael Clayton”, I bought Clooney as a lawyer – when he stops to think, you actually believe he’s thinking and he’s nearly always a few steps ahead of the other characters.

The Descendants is not the feel-good movie of the year, but is an excellent family drama about smart, decent, yet flawed people with a plot that takes some unexpected turns.  The Descendants is playing in theaters. Read more »


Of law clinics and legislatures

Unfortunate situation with law clinic and legislature at U. Maryland.  Just as the legislative hassling of the clinic seems to abate, another element of the controversy rears its ugly head.

It is important, IMHO,  for all those in the law school world who support clinical education and the good works they do, is to stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Maryland.  More generally, legal educators need to do better at communicating why these clinical programs further important public values — even where such clinics get cross ways with individuals and institutions in and around the legislature.