Friday, August 08, 2008

CPC, CDO, Whatever

This is just too good to pass up. One of the reasons I stopped this blog is that I have long since moved on from thinking about the idiocy of so many things associated with the University of Miami School of Law. I'm a lawyer now. I'm a dad. I'm a homeowner. I have more important things to occupy my mind.

But this week we received this e-mail that's just priceless. I deleted the e-mail, but fortunately for me, the school posted the full text of it on their web site. This is what it said:

After careful consideration and to better reflect the services and resources we provide to our students and alumni, we are pleased to announce that the Career Planning Center is now called the Career Development Office (CDO). The role of law school career offices throughout the country, including our office, has considerably changed in the last decade. Career offices have expanded their role by giving students and alumni lifelong services that not only help the students and alumni identify and use the appropriate resources to obtain their first jobs but also help them assess and discover their ideal careers. We feel that the new name accurately represents this progressive change and ask you to join us in using the name and sharing it with others in our community. Also, please note our new website address:

So let me see if I have this straight? The Career Center, which was completely useless to 90 percent of students while in school, is now expanding so that it can be completely useless to alumni, too? That seems to be the gist of the name change.

By the way, I wonder how long it took to arrive at this new name. Were there consultants involved? How many meetings did they hold to discuss the new name? What were the rejected names? Was there a name-the-center contest? What did the winner receive? Who won?

I ranted about the Career Center plenty of times during my three years in law school. As all students know, it was great for facilitating OCI, which itself was great for about 10-15 percent of each class. If you went directly to law school from college and had never held a real job, the center was great at helping you write your resume. If you wanted to work for free during law school, there was no shortage of jobs. And let's not forget that for the maybe one or two students in each class whose goal was to work in a law school admissions, alumni, or career office, those people had it made. There were times when the majority of job postings on the center's online jobs board were for career center jobs in other law schools. I am not making this up. The center was terrific at cutting and pasting random newsletter and web site job postings - part-time, in-semester job with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office? Check. Full-time public interest job in Boulder, Colorado? Check. They were also great at posting jobs that were so far beneath law students that working at Subway would have been just as productive. (I don't mean to sound snooty but job postings for legal secretary positions are not helpful to people looking for part-time law jobs).

By the way, it should be said that the actual career counselors were fairly nice and friendly, despite being completely useless in helping you actually get a job. It's not their fault. It's the institution's fault. And the woman assigned to be my counselor couldn't have been more helpful on the rare occasions that I asked her for something. As for finding a job, I did it 100 percent on my own. I left that job after four months and found my next job completely on my own.

The Center's flaws are too numerous to list here. The single largest deficiency is that its mission was to sit around and pray that employers would contact them and post jobs. The useless - and now departed - dean of the school didn't even know the center existed. He was never visible in the community, failed to talk up UM graduates to prospective employers and did nothing to help students land jobs, preferring instead to repeat the same tired cliches about law school teaching you how to think and how to contribute to the community and blah blah blah. The center itself should have been more proactive. Its counselors should be required to actually go out into the community and convince local firms to interview UM graduates.

And don't get me started on the clerkship process. Yes, I know there are people who got clerkships, but for all the work that a certain counselor puts in to the clerkship application process, let's just be kind and say that the results aren't there.

So, with the change, do we dare dream that the school is finally getting it right? Will the career center no longer be the most useless office on campus (ranking slightly above the "help desk" at the bottom of the list)? Let's see if we can parse the wording of the announcement:

After careful consideration and to better reflect the services and resources we provide to our students and alumni, we are pleased to announce that the Career Planning Center is now called the Career Development Office (CDO).

OK, they changed the name. So far, it's not promising. You can call a carrot an orange, but the carrot is still a carrot

The role of law school career offices throughout the country, including our office, has considerably changed in the last decade.

If it's changed over the past decade, why did the University of Miami School of Law need the entire decade to figure out that its career center needed to change, as well? This would seem to be a positive, although somewhat pathetic, admission that the institution realizes how useless its career center is - and has been for the past 10 years.

Career offices have expanded their role by giving students and alumni lifelong services that not only help the students and alumni identify and use the appropriate resources to obtain their first jobs but also help them assess and discover their ideal careers.

This is not promising. Lifelong services? In theory, it would be great if a 45-year-old lawyer who has been practicing for 15-20 years could stop by the center and get actual career advice. But think about this - why would this lawyer actually do that? Why would he seek the advice of a bunch of people who stopped practicing law after about four years so they could work part-time in the career center and who do nothing other than sit around and hope employers contact them to post job openings? Is it because these counselors have excellent access to "the appropriate resources" to "assess and discover their ideal careers"? Twenty years ago, this might have made sense. But, see, we have this new invention, called the Internet. Sick of law firm life after 15-20 years? Sure, you can call the career center, but how about going on line and doing your own research about new careers? Hopefully you'll also talk to friends, family and others WHO CAN ACTUALLY HELP YOU get a job. Let's say you want to go in-house after being a litigator. Talk to people who work in house. Want to switch to public interest law? Do you really need the career center to give you the names of some UM alumni who work in the field? Get your ass down to the local non-profit legal aid center and talk to someone.

We feel that the new name accurately represents this progressive change

What does this even mean? Progressive change? Is there any other kind of change? Would you admit to regressive change? Progressive is a buzz word that means absolutely nothing.

and ask you to join us in using the name and sharing it with others in our community.

Is this a joke? You want me to share with others in "our community" that the Career Planning Center is now the Career Development Office? This last line left me speechless. I guess "our community" means alumni of Miami Law, but this isn't clear. Does it mean all lawyers in South Florida? Next time I see someone I recognize down at the courthouse or out to lunch downtown, I'll be sure to stop by and share this priceless piece of information with him. Yes, that's what I'll do.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

out to lunch

So my new office is downtown, unlike my old firm, which was a standalone building up north. It's nice to have options to get lunch. Unfortunately, one of the restaurants in the little area right by my building (across from the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, for those who care), is Subway. I'm on a three-year self-ban from Subway, so I have about two and a half years until I can get another six-inch sub.

Another is Dunkin' Donuts, and I don't really like to eat donuts for lunch. The other is called Daily Squeeze, which is good but charges ELEVEN FUCKING DOLLARS FOR A SANDWICH. It wins awards every year from one of the local papers, but I'll be damned if I'm paying that much for a sandwich at a deli. Hey, don't get me wrong, I have good taste in food and I love a sandwich on good bread with nice toppings beyond the usual lettuce and tomato and tasteless cheese. But $11? I don't think so. Once I got a smoothie from that place. They have one kind of smoothie and when you ask what's in it, they just say "everything." I've asked a few different times and get the same answer every time. I'm suspicious, although it's tasty. The problem is that it's $5 and doesn't fill me up.

The other restaurant is a salad place which seemed good a couple of times until I ate there and then became violently ill before taking the Southern District exam.

I realize there are about 25 more places within a 10-minute walk, but I'm just talking about the places adjacent to my building.

I know this post is utterly useless. This blog became irrelevant long ago. I have actually been doing a little writing on the side for a friend's web site and I have another blog (just pictures of my beautiful daughter!) so if anyone has any suggestions for what I should write about, let me know...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Nice shoes

Have you ever noticed the shoe shine guy in front of the courthouse door in Miami? Does it seem strange the guy is positioned almost directly in front of the door, so that anyone getting their shoes shined is basically saying, "hey, look at me, I'm paying someone to get my shoes shined?" I don't know. I'm not saying this is the most important thought I had all day but it made me wonder. I've probably gotten a shoe shine two or three times in my life, and only at the airport. I should probably do it more often seeing as how I hate shining my shoes and when those guys do it, they look 100 times better than when I do it. For some reason though, I doubt I'd do it if it meant sitting there in front of the courthouse for all the world to see...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

And then there were none

My wife is in a bookclub that formed at the beginning of my second year of law school. It consists of wives of law students. After the second year, two of the husbands graduated. They each had jobs lined up. They took the bar and started practicing. Within six months, both had quit and found new jobs. This year, there were five of us who graduated. Within two months, one quit his job. A month later, another quit and found a new job. A few weeks later, another person left his job. Now, it's my turn. I gave notice at my job yesterday. I found a new job that I'll be starting in about a week. It just wasn't a good fit for me, but I guess a lot of people feel that way about their first job out of law school. If you know my real name and happen to care, look me up on the bar website after next week because I'll change my contact information as soon as I'm no longer on the payroll at my current job.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Here's why I love my law firm

It's 2:30 p.m. on December 24th. More than half of the attorneys are gone and about 75 percent of the support staff aren't working today. Several hours ago, we got an e-mail that the office will close at 2 p.m. today for those of us who bothered to show up. The reception area is dark. The place is deserted. I can't wait to get home to my wife and baby. I'm getting in the elevator when I hear, from down the hall "hold the elevator." I hold it. In walks a certain partner in the firm.

The following conversation:

Him: Ready for your first Christmas as a family? (he knows about my new baby)
Me: No. I'm Jewish (a fact he knows given that we've discussed my going to Synagogue on the high Holy Days a few months ago)
Him: So? You guys don't get a tree?
Me: No. We don't celebrate Christmas.
Him: So why are you leaving early on Christmas Eve?
Me: [speechless, staring at him, looking for a sign of a smile, some indication that he's joking, and finding no such indication] Um, the office is closed
Him: So? You just said you don't celebrate Christmas
Me: [staring at him in wonder and silent the rest of the way down, then for the walk through the lobby, the walk to the parking garage and the walk to the elevators in the parking garage]

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The little princess!

Thursday November 29, 2007. 7 pounds, 14 ounces. 19 inches long. Beautiful!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

some things never change

So I was wasting time on line the other day and I happened to check the law school career services jobs database. I'm not dissatisfied with my job, but I just wanted to see what was out there. Approximately 90 percent of the jobs are for an organization called, which if you check its web site seems to be a public interest clearinghouse type place. It looks like a Craigslist type of site for non-profits. So maybe some things do change - maybe the career services office has actually gotten worse. At least before I graduated they weren't re-posting jobs from Craigslist...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

blah blah blah

I have little to say but I thought it was time for an update anyway, so here goes:

*I've been handling a startling amount of obscure issues at work that I thought I would never see again after the bar exam. I don't mean I'm handling cases all by myself but issues like random people giving other people mortgages and people not signing documents, those crazy torts like misappropriation, questions about who is the beneficiary of a trust that was executed before this and that and well, whatever. It's stuff I never thought I'd deal with after the bar exam.

*Work so far is fine. Just fine. Some days are excruciatingly boring. Some days aren't. Being the only new lawyer is starting to be a drag because although I'm doing slightly more sophisticated stuff (slightly...meaning not just research and writing) than I was doing two months ago, everything I do still needs to be checked by a partner before it goes out and the partners are busy. Anyway, the job is fine.

*I went to court in Miami-Dade last week. It was only the administrative judge. The other side didn't even show up but I had to go to get the order to transfer. I saw one person from my Sports Law class outside the courtroom. I didn't talk to her. I never talked to her in law school, either. I think I know her name. I saw one guy from the BarBri class who didn't go to UM for law school. He looked quite full of himself - you know the type, barking orders on his cell phone, staring straight ahead ignoring everyone around him.

*I decided against writing a post slamming my idiot LRW professor. It seems smarter just to let things go. Actually I long ago let it go but, well, I wanted the world to know that he's an idiot. Now it just seems like I have better things to do.

*So I'm not sure what I'll do with this blog now. Probably post occasionally when something strikes me.

*Baby is coming: four weeks maximum, but the reality is that she will be making her appearance any time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

yet another reason we're proud to be Hurricanes

Don't worry, I'm not late to the party. If you go to or went to UM and haven't seen this by now, shame on you. But for anyone who missed it, this is priceless:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

funny, sort of

Here's a funny story, although not so funny at the time for the person it happened to. Remember when bar results were posted and you looked at the web site and it said July results were now posted? And remember how when you clicked through, they weren't there?

Instead, those numbers were the February results. So a guy I know was taking it for the second time in July. So when he clicked on it in the morning, he saw his February results, which obviously was a failing grade.

He was crushed. He was furious. He was devastated. He had a couple of miserable days and nights. Then the letter from the bar came two days later. His girlfriend opened it. It said he passed. He felt great, obviously.

Funny, sort of...

Friday, October 12, 2007


I almost had a heart attack earlier this week. My boss told me I have to take two more bar exams. Turns out he was talking about the federal bar for the Southern and Northern Districts of Florida and it's nothing like the Florida bar or like any state bar exam. Each has a 50-question multiple choice exam. They give you 500 questions and pick 50 straight from that list of 500. I printed out the study guide, looked at five questions randomly chosen from the 50 I printed and got them all right. That doesn't mean I won't study or that I'll blow it off but it shouldn't be so bad. Strange that the Middle District doesn't have an exam, but apparently you just have to fill out paperwork to get in there. Here's the best part: it's on my birthday! Awesome.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

quality of the faculty

I was thinking recently about what I’d say if someone considering law school asked me about the quality of the faculty at the University of Miami School of Law. Mostly I’d say the faculty were mediocre. To be honest, I have little to compare it to. I went to a small liberal arts college as an undergrad and I know college professors have little in common with law school professors.

But it seems that even most of the good law professors – the ones who made class somewhat interesting while also teaching the law – had some deficiencies that made them unfit to do almost any other job, which is presumably why they became law professors. Remember back in elementary school and junior high when you filled out some survey and the computer spit out potential careers? I can just imagine the criteria for being a law professor: (1) be analytical enough to score in the 99th percentile on the LSAT so you can get into Harvard (2) be arrogant, smug and cocky, knowing you’re ALWAYS right and you know better than most judges and lawyers and certainly better than any student who dares to disagree with you (3) be unable to relate to students in or outside of class; have zero understanding of why law school can be stressful for students; do all you can not to make their lives miserable – like, say, if you have to cancel class, don’t send out an e-mail in advance; just post a sign on the door because students are always on campus awaiting your class; no students have lives and other things going on and none would benefit from knowing in advance that your class is canceled. (4) Likewise, keeping appointments with students is wholly optional; students hang on your every word so if you have an appointment and don’t show up, it’s no problem at all because no student ever has anything to do other than await your presence. Similarly, grading, which I’m sure is a miserable aspect of your job, can wait as long as you want. Students are never in a rush to get their grades because they don’t need to submit their GPAs to prospective employers – you want to take two months to grade exams? That’s fine! You’re a tenured law professor…Students have absolutely nothing to do other than wait for you; they don’t make plans or have a life. Oh, and be sure never to make eye contact with students even though, um, ya know, you wouldn't have a job if students didn't exist, so walk around campus (on the rare occasions that you actually do so because it's unavoidable; otherwise we know you have a side entrance, side staircase and even a side elevator that allows you to slip in and out of campus totally unnoticed) with your eyes straight ahead. Never, ever acknowledge people just because normal people in polite society who know each other nod to one another or say hello or exchange greetings; be defensive when challenged about your grading of a student's exam; use your class as a platform to preach either your political agenda or your worldview, regardless of how extreme that agenda is or how pessimistic you are about society.

As I said, I have nothing to compare it to because I never attended any other law schools. Two friends of mine, UM law graduates, who visited at other schools said they were stunned at how helpful, friendly and concerned the faculty seemed at those other schools compared with this one. These two friends don't know each other; they told me this separately. They were literally blown away by how accommodating the faculty were at these schools. But that’s hearsay (or anecdotal...whatever) so I can't swear to this. I know I’m not the first person to speculate that academia attracts those who can’t fit in elsewhere in the working world. What do you call it? The idiot savant theory? The Einstein theory?

Ultimately, I was disappointed in the quality of the faculty because I expected a little more than mediocrity. I knew I was attending a second-tier law school. I knew from reading their bios online that these people all went to Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Stanford and Chicago and Berkeley so I knew they were at one point considered among the smartest 1 or 2 percent of people in this country.

I knew that unlike in undergrad, professors wouldn’t seek out students and take an interest in their lives in and outside the classroom. That's fine. But I don't think my expectations were unrealistic; I did not expect to become pals with the faculty. But I think I expected more – specifically, I think the thing I expected the most was that the faculty would treat the students with respect (even just a tiny bit) and open-mindedness. I expected a little more interest in the actual teaching part of their job (even if only a little bit more). I didn't expect the intense disdain that most faculty emit toward students - ignoring them in public (several profs), walking around with their eyes locked in the forward position so as to avoid all eye contact (prof. torts), staring right through you when they see you at the gym (refers to a certain Prof who was a dean a couple of years ago, but NOT to a certain prof/dean often found walking his dog on campus, who is quite friendly). It seems as if so many of them had no concept of who their students are and no interest in finding out. Which is fine, but the disdain and arrogance gets to be too much when you face it ever day.

I should qualify this. There were some exceptions, of course. I came across a few (very few) who seemed like normal human beings with no obvious social deficiencies.

The thing about Froomkin's post is that although his reasons for what a prospective faculty member might consider before coming here is important, none of these factors directly impact students (except for Froomkin's No. 4, about students). I have little doubt that they indirectly impact students; if faculty didn't get research support and have other brilliant faculty around then the school wouldn't attract quality faculty.

I think a part of the problem is that, as with many institutions, there are conflicting goals. Kind like the way a pro sports team winning and making profit are dual goals that are accomplished in different ways, imparting knowledge onto students on the one hand and conducting scholarly research while contributing to the legal discourse, are conflicting goals. Can you do both? I don't have a clue. But just as I mentioned above, all these professors were once considered among the best and brightest Americans because they graduated from Ivy League or Ivy-equivalent colleges and law schools. And yet no one ever taught them how to teach or grade or relate to students as human beings (although I think the latter probably shouldn't need to be taught).

The other thing I heard over the three years that I was a law student is that relationships with faculty are about what you make of them. I get that. I didn't go out of my way to stop by professors' offices to have intellectual conversations and I didn't spend a lot of time trying to engage them. So in part, my perceptions are my own fault, right? Sure, but I think my experience was fairly typical in the sense that most people I know were like me in their relationships with faculty - occasional time in offices, occasional time talking after class, etc., but not a lot of people went far out of their way to develop relationships. If you're reading this post and you're one of those people who went out of their way, well, then you'll have a different opinion.