Hungry for change… and a job

The ABA’s Special Committee on the U.S. News and World Report Rankings issued its findings last month. The committee, which included University of Maryland School of Law Dean Phoebe Haddon, stated the following:

We believe that, for better or worse, U.S. News rankings will continue for the foreseeable future to dominate public perceptions of how law schools compare, and that there is relatively little that leaders in legal education can do to change that in the short term.

A 2009 law school graduate named “Ethan Haines” (more on the quotation marks in a bit) disagrees. Haines is the founder of and says he represents fellow graduates and law school students “who have been disillusioned by law school employment statistics, commercial school rankings, and antiquated career counseling programs.”

If the law schools can’t break free of the ranking system, he argues, then it’s the students who need to start pushing them in that direction. Haines is making his point by going on a hunger strike that started Aug. 5 and will continue until 10 law schools “that stand to gain the most from the rankings structure” agree to greater transparency and better career counseling.

Haines’ story has garnered some media attention (he conveniently provides a list of outlets on his site) and told the Huffington Post he plans to fast as long as his body can handle it. But he also has refused to say if “Ethan Haines” is his real name or where he went to law school.

In the meantime, you can support Haines and buy a t-shirt from his website, proceeds of which will go to an unidentified non-profit that provides career counseling for law students and graduates.

I don’t remember Gandhi selling merchandise during his hunger strike. Then again, he probably didn’t have to worry about paying off student loans.

5 thoughts on “Hungry for change… and a job

  1. I’m not clear on why the rankings system is responsible for unemployment amongst graduates of lower-ranked schools. No one is going to confuse the New England School of Law with Harvard whether US News ranks them or not. If the rankings start to have some measurable market effect on the lower ranked schools by lowering application rates and tuition, they might actually be worthwhile. The ABA’s time would be better spent evaluating those issues, but since reality rarely forces its way into the ABA’s consciousness, I ceased paying dues a long time ago.

  2. Haines’ stunt is one of the dumbest responses to being unemployed one can find in the blogosphere, no small accomplishment since the blogosphere is defined by dumbness. Somehow I’m not surprised Haines is unemployed. He’ll probably screw up the hunger strike the way he did law school. Too bad.

  3. just out of curiosity isolde, where did you come up with the New England School of Law?

  4. I was actually thinking of Southern New England School of Law, which was non-ABA accredited and which sold its assets to UMass a year ago.

    While I apologize for the error and any offense it may have caused to graduates of non-Southern New England School of Law, the mistake proves my point. How many law schools do we need, and when are academics going to admit that the bubble has burst on legal employment? If your response to that is to allow the market to define itself, fine; but that means lifting the restrictions on discharging student loans in bankruptcy. Or make the schools contribute to the student loans of unemployed or underemployed graduates. THEN we’ll have some fun with law and economics.

  5. Isolde: No offense taken here (I graduated from UB Law). And, I couldn’t agree more.

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