12 August 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Message from Ethan

Dear Readers/Supporters:

Today is the 8th day of my hunger strike. So far, I have lost 8 pounds – I am deteriorating at a rate of one pound per day. I am still in good physical shape and intend to continue my hunger strike until law school administrators, who are on notice of my hunger strike, respond to the two requests contained therein. I write this statement to reiterate a few messages that may have gotten lost in the series of coverage on this issue.

First, I do not “blame” my law school for my personal circumstances although I think they can do more to help the situation – from both inside and outside the legal community. I stand for the premise that, to prevent future harm to myself and the law students and recent law graduates that I represent, there are things that administrators can do in the immediate future to rectify those concerns. For example, individual law schools can increase the effectiveness of their career counseling programs through a simple audit of their current offerings (i.e., do they provide candidate assessments, training information for key practice areas, updated contact listings, 21st Century job searching techniques).

Second, to address the overall state of legal education and their influence on the legal community, law schools can cooperate with the Law School Transparency (LST) organization by providing requested employment information, which they already have. In essence, administrators do not have to combat unnecessary or burdensome milestones to gather this information; they merely need to deliver it to LST for their interpretation. Moreover, I do not know what they have to lose by doing so. If the American Bar Association, the organization charged with regulating legal education, has officially investigated the accuracy of other highly controversial and influential commercial rankings and deemed them somewhat unreliable, wouldn’t law schools want to figure out a new way to do things. It’s simple, you either have an accurate 99.9% employment placement of graduates (as touted on most law school websites) – in official legal positions that use their degree – or you don’t, despite which rubric is used the outcome should be the same.

LST has clearly laid out their rubric for assessing the employment statistical information and has even invited law school administrators to offer suggestions for revising the rubric. I believe in “transparency” in law schools and the positive effect that it will have on legal education. For starters, it can efficiently address the adverse effects mentioned in the ABA’s investigative Report. Far less students will suffer financially and professionally for their inability to crack the Tier 1 of law schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. If the ABA says they cannot combat the adverse effects of U.S. News’s rankings at this time, then another method should be used for taking their power away. A preferred method is an alternate system that ranks a crucial component of law schools’ “value” – their employment statistics. This method has already been established by LST.

Third, I am a member of the legal community with valid concerns, which have been widely expressed by my peers and ultimately ignored by law school administrators. I am a real law school graduate with my Juris Doctor degree hanging on my wall. In other words, this hunger strike is for real. To address the concerns of my legitimacy, I will be making an appearance in the very near future.

In conclusion, no schools have responded yet. I have not asked them to change their systems altogether, I merely ask them to agree to look into it. I intend to continue my hunger strike until law school administrators respond to my Notice, or until my body can no longer handle it, whichever comes first.  I am diligently working behind the scenes to make things happen.

“Being the change I want to see …”

Ethan Haines, Day 8

J.D. Class Representative

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