NYLS: NY’s Pariah School of Law

Posted in * by a1icey on July 25, 2011

I’ve felt a little irritated by Matasar’s bland responses to the New York Times article. And plus, he’s defending himself, not the school. And I am sick and tired of being New York’s favorite school to criticize. I’m pretty used to being part of a group with a bad public image (hola, libertarians).  So I want to clarify a few things.

1) There are a lot worse schools out there, but they don’t compete in the same market as T1 so T1 doesn’t bother trashing them. We’re criticized because we are in the picture. So let’s start with that: NYLS, in some way, is important to these people – important enough to devote a lot of energy to heckling us.

2) This article did not criticize the school over any other. It used us as an example, but the article maintained that every other school was just like us. The most damning part of the article was the percentage that goes to the universities’ general pot. We don’t have an affiliated university. Which brings me to…

3) Without a large university behind us, we do not have a lot of leverage in the world of journalism. NYLS is just a law school, and our PR department is no doubt much smaller than the one NYU Law shares with the larger university. We are producing one product, a law degree, instead of the whole range of degrees (if you went to Tisch, and NYU Law was continually trashed by the New York Times during your time there, would you give an interview when you are rich and famous? Hell no.) Lawyers don’t get famous, they don’t get to choose their clients, and they are not trained to have subjective opinions, even about newspapers.

4) I was never under any misapprehension about going here. And you know what? “$150,000 in debt [back to this later], three years of drudgery, and the anxiety of passing a bar exam” is not my experience. I have passionately enjoyed every moment, every class, and every person I have met since I matriculated. Bar our graded, mandatory legal writing class which is the bane of every 1L’s existence, it’s hard to imagine a friendlier, happier law school. And all the people from my posh high school, or my posh university, who have toddled off to to their designer T1? They are seething with hatred about their experience. What does that tell you?

5) It is this precise toxic mixture of sour, empty-achievement mainstream professionals, NYLS’s apparent relevance to their lives, and our lack of PR defenses that lead to our ranking of 135. That ranking is based on a poll of what people think of schools. This gives professors, who have a market interest in protecting their version of Tier One, the ability to drop NYLS as low down the ranking as they want.

6) I will grant the media one thing: this is the real scandal here. Yes, law schools are like Ponzi schemes. If you can’t hack it, you lose a huge amount of money with nothing to show for it. But, that’s a risk I relished in coming here. Business school is a orientation session for the country club. Law school is for competitive, driven people. I’m sort of at a loss as to why that’s so bad.

7) You’d be surprised how people manage to skirt the loans issue. From continuing to work in the evenings and on the weekend (even as a full time student), working construction in the summer, ensuring you have a safety net from a spouse or a benevolent parent if things go south, scholarships, and other things, no one is saying this but a lot of people have been able to keep their costs down. Say what you will about NYLS students being blind to reality, a lot of the students here are graduates of the school of hard knocks. What 20-something needs 160,000 a year, even with NYC taxes and rent? It’s a ludicrous figure. Matasar got something right: if you are in law school for the immediate benefits, you have got it all wrong.

8 ) It all comes down to one thing: everyone at NYLS wants to be here. Or at least, they want to be in law school. That’s evident from the massive risks involved. Some of us didn’t get the opportunity to go to a T1 school, but life without legal training just doesn’t make sense. I know that’s the case for me, and I for one am grateful that there is a school out there willing to provide the service.

And PS: Above the Law? Trying to milk our carpenter’s union dispute for further drama was pretty disgusting.


One Response

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  1. Anonymous said, on July 26, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I love this: “Business school is a orientation session for the country club. Law school is for competitive, driven people. I’m sort of at a loss as to why that’s so bad.”

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