Law students (maybe not really) await their mascot auditions (not really) in a new video from UC-Hastings College of Law.

Law students (maybe not really) await their mascot auditions (not really) in a new video from UC-Hastings College of Law.

There are a lot of things that might stir pride in your alma mater, even including your law school (OK, that’s a stretch.) But I’m not sure what emotion is stirred by a recent humorous announcement that Hastings Law is trying … mascots.

Before you get too deep into law school irritation (yes, it’s a thing), take a deep breath and realize: It’s a joke.

Yes, the University of California–Hastings College of Law did put out a video of a faux mascot competition. But they only did it to drive home the message that they are wholly focused on law, and not those many other things schools of general knowledge spend time on.

uc-hastings-logo-2

Here’s the video, which I rather enjoyed.

But then I started thinking: Maybe a mascot wouldn’t be so bad. Ever so briefly, it might take your mind off tax law, and damages, and civil procedure, and all those horrible things we discovered in torts that a vacuum could do. I mean, what if law schools around the nation lent their imaginations to the effort to select mascots that befit their mission and their clientele? What would they come up with?

And what would you come up with? I really wanna know. Send me a note (arizona.attorney@azbar.org) indicating your best law school mascot idea, which I may share, depending on the absence of obscenities.

Just so you know, sharks or shark-related ideas will be declined by me as the decider. Not because they’re not funny. But just because they’re altogether too easy.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. Enjoy your weekend—and always keep swimming.

ASU President Michael Crow

“Sustainability” gets a lot of play these days, and it’s even one of ASU’s stool legs, or pillars (or something else cylindrical). A news story on Tuesday added a new wrinkle to that mission statement.

Apparently, according to an Arizona Republic story, a move is afoot to make the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law “self-sustaining.” What does that mean?

The story is here.

Well, it would remain a part of the state university, but be independent of its budget. Not quite private, not quite public. That would necessarily mean that tuition would climb (probably quite significantly for out-of-state students).

But ASU President Michael Crow and Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman speak admiringly of the idea. Not everyone in the news story does.

ASU Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman

Law schools nationwide are going through a bit of an identity crisis lately. You can’t throw a hornbook without hitting a heady conference on “the role of the law school.” In fact, ASU has one slated for next February.

My own law school, UC-Hastings College of the Law, the oldest law school west of the Rockies, is similarly a public university that is also divested of the state’s budget process (and largesse). That may insulate it from Sacramento’s cyclical madness. But it also means that many of its graduates have a pretty large loan debt to pay off. Tuition has ramped up steeply in recent years. And I get relentless calls from the school asking me to “honor” my graduate status by providing a hefty donation (Hey, I think I am getting another call right now looking for some of that “private-side funding” we hear so much about.)

We’ll cover the evolving business model of law schools more later. But for now, I have to say that I enjoyed reading some of the comments that followed this Arizona Republic story.

There were hundreds of them. About a law school.

I generally do not advise reading article comments. Because they are anonymous, they are often venomous and more filled with rage than insight. In that regard, these comments may not be much different. But for those of us who want to hear what people feel—really feel—about lawyers, anonymous comments may be just the ticket.

One of the comments, I’m happy to say, even cited Arizona Attorney Magazine’s September story on the Economic Report done by the State Bar. Every time that happens, I blush a bit (and a lawyer somewhere gets a briefcase).

Keep reading to get an earful.

(more…)

The oldest law school west of the Rockies has been in the news a lot lately, legally speaking. In fact, they got to go to the big show—as a defendant at the United States Supreme Court (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 08-1371).

UC Hastings in flattering evening light

University of California, Hastings College of the Law is not only one of the longer names of a law school; it also is a party to a suit in which the Christian Legal Society says it should be deemed an official campus organization. They insist that the school’s refusal—because the Society will not agree to abide by the school’s nondiscrimination policy—is a constitutional violation.

The argument was this morning. You can read about it here.

The legal issues are fascinating. The Court must decide (as the New York Times reports) “whether a law school can deny recognition to a Christian student group because it won’t let gays join. [It is] a case that could determine whether college nondiscrimination policies trump the rights of private organizations to determine who can—and cannot—belong to their ranks.”

What’s of even more interest to me—as an alum of that esteemed law school—is hearing the Justices talk about the “campus” of Hastings.

Guffaw.

UC Hastings, The Dark Tower, in unflattering 1950s-era light

The two—OK, three—buildings that comprise the “campus” are at the butt end of what San Franciscans call the “Tenderloin.”

And sure, it’s possible that law students skipping class could engage in a little hacky-sack or Frisbee (do students still play hacky-sack or Frisbee anymore? I wouldn’t know, being such old caselaw myself). The place they would do that is termed, hilariously, “the beach,” a strip of concrete mounded with concrete benches and concrete planters. Sounds very garden-spot, doesn’t it?

Despite its sad-sack location, I and many of my fellows came to enjoy the surroundings. It wasn’t just the easy access to pool halls and watering holes we liked. It also had amazing Vietnamese food close by, the great public library was down the street, and access to courthouses (federal and state) that other law school denizens can only dream about.

Eating a Vietnamese sandwich as you walk to the Ninth Circuit to watch oral arguments? It’s hard to get a better law school experience than that.

And when we tired of proletariat surroundings, we would ride Muni (SF public transit) out to the UC Medical School, where we would commandeer conference tables in its beautiful library. Even then, we learned, doctors know how to live.

So good luck to the Justices in determining what’s acceptable among school clubs. For the rest of us, think about a visit to San Francisco’s lesser-visited neighborhoods, like the Tenderloin. To get you started on Tenderloin tourism, read this New York Times article, from a reporter who did just that.