lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Issue: Whether under Florida law an ex-wife who becomes a man is owed alimony

My these are interesting times to be in family law. CNN is running the following: Ex-wife becomes a man; ex-husband seeks end to alimony

Lawrence Roach agreed to pay alimony to the woman he divorced, not the man she became after a sex change, his lawyers argued in a Florida court Tuesday in an effort to end the payments.

….

The lawyers and Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold agreed the case delves into relatively uncharted legal territory. They found only a 2004 Ohio case that addressed whether or not a transsexual could still collect alimony after a sex change. “There is not a lot out there to help us,” St. Arnold said.

Can’t wait to see how this one comes out.

Average Law Student Loan Debt, Bill to Assist Prosecutors and Public Defenders

Legislators have introduced a bill – John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2007 – aimed at encouraging law students to consider careers in the prosecutors and public defenders offices by offering “up to $10,000 per year, to a maximum of $60,000, in exchange for a commitment of at least three years of qualifying service.” As the article notes, graduating law students who might otherwise be interested in becoming a prosecutor or public defender don’t feel they can consider it because of the debt load they’re carrying.

In introducing S.442, Sen. Richard Durbin noted that the bill would establish a student loan repayment program for qualified attorneys who agree to remain employed for at least three years in certain public sector employment. The ABA noted that the average private law school graduate in 2005 had incurred $79,000 in debt, while students at public institutions borrowed on average $51,000. According to the Department of Education, the average student carries $20,000 in undergraduate debt before pursuing a career in law.

The choice is a real one. Prosecutors in Harris County make approximately $52,000. A recent law grad with offers at a firm offering six figures would be hard-pressed to take less than half of what he could get if he or she is just when the loan payments are starting to come due.

ABA Journal: ABA urges financial assistance for prosecutors and public defenders

Unconfirmed: Law School Rankings Released, University of Houston Jumps 10 spots to #60

Via Marshall Preddy at Legalese, the University of Houston Law Center has jumped 10 spots to #60 in the 2008 U.S. World and News Report Rankings. The USWNR site still shows 2007, but Concurring Opinions has the scoop on 2008 law school rankings which were apparently released earlier to subscribers and posted on LawSchoolDiscussion.org.

I’ve made my feelings known on the matter in earlier posts, I wish I could say it doesn’t matter at all, but of course it does. Why? Not for any intrinsic matter, but because someone out there pays attention to these things and acts accordingly – those bright-eyed, terrifyingly insecure youngsters in the throes of acceptance/rejection letters trying to figure out where they’re going to spend the next three years. Orin Kerr makes this argument at Volokh; this comment nails it specifically.

In my opinion, and to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell, there are two schools of thought on the value imparted by an educational institution. Law Schools can be more like modeling agencies or more like the Marine Corp. Modeling agencies earn their reputations be selecting only the best. The Marine Corp is far less selective, but you can be damn sure it will turn whatever it gets into a soldier. Of course neither motive is completely true of all law schools, but for the average law student, you’re much better off at a school that sees itself as more marine corp than modeling agency.

UPDATE# 1: Houston’s former Dean Nancy Rapoport takes a look from a perspective only a Dean can bring – We’re number, uh, something?. The decision to promote Houston’s appearance on the Vault’s underrated law school list I thought was a bit like a company touting a depressed share price.

UPDATE# 2: Bill Henderson at the Empirical Legal Studies Blog, puts the modeling agency / marine corp dichotomy in terms of stronger students / better education –

Advice for Lawyers preparing Oral Arguments from Chief Judge Paul Michel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Chief Judge Paul Michel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC)

UVA: Michel Explains Role of Federal Circuit, Offers Advice to Students, via Bashman.

“Judges are going to ask a lot of questions, particularly appellate judges …and they actually expect answers, and they need answers, and they want answers, and lawyers who don’t answer the question, which is the large majority [of lawyers], lose points, because what it tells me is there is no good answer—your case is indefensible,” Michel said.

“What you need to do is come and deliver crisp, responsive, clear, coherent, candid answers to questions…that any good lawyer can anticipate will be asked by anyone who has to make a decision.”

Oral argument offers judges one last chance to learn before they have to render an opinion on the case.

“When we beat up on lawyers, seemingly, it’s not to give them a hard time or embarrass them, it’s because we are desperate to make sure that we don’t make a mistake, that we really understand the case, that we didn’t get some fact wrong or misunderstand some portion of an argument.”

List of Top 25 Underrated Law Schools

Yet another list for whatever it’s worth – Vault’s List of Top 25 Underrated Law Schools, Houston #19.

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