U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is visiting Houston on Jan. 26 to answer law students’ questions about her life story and sit down with a law professor for a talk about the role of legal education.
Sotomayor’s visit to the University of Houston Law Center will put her face to face with law and pre-law students, who submitted advance questions and will listen as law dean Leonard Baynes moderates a discussion with the Justice about the students’ queries. As Sotomayor has done at past events, it’s likely she will walk among the students in the law classroom during her talk. Students will enjoy that personal touch, Baynes said.
PDF: Justice Sotomayor Visiting Houston to Discuss Legal Education _ Texas Lawyer
Enrollment in law school J.D. programs dipped a tad this year, but some unexpected good news provided a counterbalance.
While J.D. enrollment fell by 0.7 percent compared with last year, the numbers of non-J.D. students—studying for LL.M., masters or certificate degrees—grew by a whopping 20.5 percent, compared with last year, according to data from the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits U.S. law schools.
That means overall law school enrollment edged up by 1.6 percent to 126,638, which is 2,010 more students than last year. That total is made up of 110,156 J.D. students plus 16,482 non-J.D. students.
PDF: Law School Enrollment Edges Up, with Surprise Spike in Non-JD Programs _ Law
Just in time for the new year, law schools have cause to celebrate.
As of Dec. 1, the number of law school applicants was up by 12 percent to 16,784, compared with this time last year, while the number of applications was up by 15 percent to 93,932, according to the Law School Admission Council.
Granted, it might be too early in the application season to declare a definitive upward trend for the next academic year, since around this time last year, only 27 percent of the total applicants had submitted their applications.
PDF: Law School Applications on the Rise _ Law
The most intense stress of Ali Mosser’s life came during her first round of law school final exams.
Before exam day, Mosser, a second-year student at Baylor University School of Law, had a cloud over her head, and she feared that she would never complete everything on her long to-do list. Her anxiety kicked in just before tests, giving her clammy hands and “those nervous feelings” in her stomach, Mosser said.
“Those were my first grades I would have, so I felt I was about to enter in the season where my performance over four or five days would define me,” said Mosser. “Something I learned the hard way is never go out to lunch after a final and compare answers. I did that after my first final, and almost had a panic attack.”
As Texas law schools enter another final exam season in December, they know that students are stressed, and they’re trying to help. On the lighter side, they distract students with fun events—puppies on campus—or relax them with neck massages. On a serious note, schools present students with information about appropriate and inappropriate ways to cope with stress, and they provide free counseling services.
PDF: As Law Students Enter Finals, Schools Find Ways to Help With the Stress _ Texas Lawyer
The student leaders from 13 of the nation’s top law schools have pledged to broaden mental health initiatives on their campuses and to fight the stigma of seeking treatment.
The pledge comes at a time that law schools nationwide have launched initiatives to address students’ mental health struggles, in the wake of several eye-popping studies showing the levels of anxiety, depression and substance abuse among both law students and practicing lawyers are far surpassing the general population.
As more law schools accept a new admissions test from aspiring law students, debate about their motives and whether they’ll meet their goals of diversifying the applicant pool has swirled behind the scenes.
Law deans hope to recruit a new type of law student by accepting applications that use Graduate Record Examination scores, rather than the traditional Law School Admission Test. Law schools, eyeing the extremely large group of GRE test takers, have seen a potential to improve not only the gender, racial and ethnic mix of law students, but also broader metrics such as socioeconomic status, educational backgrounds and professional experience. Particularly, law schools, which have seen the number of applicants decline and LSAT scores fall, want students who have studied or had careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a cohort that statistically has been shown to perform well in legal education.
Meanwhile, critics of the GRE cast doubts about whether the test is capable of increasing diversity along racial and ethnic lines, and question whether schools are trying to fill seats while gaming the law school ranking system.
PDF: Can the GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools_ _ Law
As part of an emerging trend in legal education, South Texas College of Law Houston is the latest among a handful of law schools nationwide offering animal law clinics for would-be attorneys.
South Texas, the first law school in the Lone Star State to create an animal law clinic, joins Lewis & Clark Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law and Michigan State University College of Law in providing students the chance to learn animal law by representing real (human) clients.
PDF: Animal Law Clinics Become Pet Projects at Law Schools _ Texas Lawyer