September 2, 2019
People over Buildings! (Why is Above The Law So Mean?)
People love lists. As long as people love lists, other people will take it upon themselves to rank things and create lists. Admit it; people will rank almost anything. The listed may feel superior or "less than" based upon lists and rankings with methodologies that sometimes more closely resemble fairy dust instead of empirical data.
Over Labor Day weekend, Best Choice Schools (BCS) - a free website designed to help people choose schools by publishing a lot of lists - re-published its 2014 list of "The 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings in the World."
I personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings.
It seems obvious that BCS was engaging in the widely-accepted practice of repurposing content. BCS probably should have taken a closer look at the list because one of the top ten schools has since had to sell their beautiful building and is currently having accreditation issues. Only four people bothered to comment but, within hours of the BCS 50 Buildings list going up, Above the Law's Katy Rubino felt it necessary to "pen" an article entitled "The Surprising Law School at the Top of This Ranking. At least they're good at something..." Really? That is downright "mean girl" behavior. Her post was so mean-spirited that I am not going to include the link and send traffic to their website. It is clear to see why ATL is considered the tabloid of legal education publications.
Southwestern has been in ATL's cross-hairs more than once and has occasionally, but begrudgingly, we have engaged in social media judo with Rubino or one of ATL's other "journalists." Joe Patrice took an equally nasty swipe at us (Southwestern is fourth) when the list was first circulated. That little gem was called "Ranking the Most Impressive Law School Buildings. You don't have to be a terrible law school to have a beautiful building, but it helps."
This time, Rubino's sights were on the number three school, Thomas Jefferson, and her article feels particularly vicious.
Admittedly, ranking law school buildings is an odd practice, but can we all agree that the people inhabiting a structure speaks more to a school's prestige, character, and culture than even the most stunning architectural details?
Every law school, irrespective of its ranking or architectural splendor, is likely filled with students who are looking to better themselves and make the world a better place. Those students are usually taught by professors foregoing (or walking away from) big law salaries. Those professors are supported by administrators and staff who are committed to providing a safe and suitable environment for law study.
Let's judge law schools by their people and not buildings. Let's judge students and lawyers by their character, commitment, competence, grit, good deeds, and heart; not their pedigree.