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Vermont Law School Cutting Tenured Faculty

It seems the financial problems continue for Vermont Law. O hairypalms06/26/18
this must be every free loader's nightmare. oh no. i have whiteguyinchina06/26/18
I never understood how a school can be ranked #133 overall b thirdtierlaw06/26/18
"I never understood how a school can be ranked #133 overall massivemissive06/26/18
Definitely. Those sub rankings are meaningless - except as a 6figuremistake06/26/18
Getting a BS in environmental engineering would probably get heythere06/26/18
TITCR (6fig) (also through in ID or the 40k family/crim/solo esquirewalletsmatter06/26/18
I don't disagree at all. I was not suggesting that everyone thirdtierlaw06/26/18
Yeah, sorry - I meant to amplify your comment not criticize 6figuremistake06/27/18
VT probably has the least need for a law school of any state flharfh06/26/18
I’ve actually driven by this school and the scenery is jus doublefriedchicken06/26/18
It is pretty, but I think the majority of people would get b hairypalms06/26/18
NY law schools have been having their own problems for years david6198306/26/18
A better explanation here: https://goo.gl/bXgv3y "Rest kaneloa06/26/18
Whenever a law school professor gets financially hurt, an an wearyattorney06/26/18
"I never understood how a school can be ranked #133 overall wolfman06/26/18
I’ve met 2 VT law grads. One is a small town solo taking ibrslave06/26/18
The most successful VT law grads are at EPA in Washington. somefed06/26/18
I thought I'd seen it all. Went on to VLS' website. Some o hairypalms06/26/18
Oh, yeah? Well, I heard that the reception these students wutwutwut06/26/18
I used to work with a VLS grad. We were working at a pharma hairypalms06/26/18
Well, what if they need someone immediately who is well vers thirdtierlaw06/26/18
I seem to recall VT's population is about 600,000. Either w hairypalms06/26/18
All those profs will effortlessly land in those million-a-ye passportfan306/26/18
Lmao...the path of your average professor at a top school. irishlaw06/27/18

hairypalms (Jun 26, 2018 - 7:38 am)

It seems the financial problems continue for Vermont Law. One of my relatives went to this school, but was only able to land a paralegal position after graduation and is now out of the legal profession. It's pretty in VT, but not a lot to do in this one horse town. Looking forward to the school closing down.

http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Vermont-Law-School-cutting-tenured-positions-486450821.html

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whiteguyinchina (Jun 26, 2018 - 7:49 am)

this must be every free loader's nightmare.

oh no. i have to get a real job. like 8-6, M-Sat, 2 weeks off, real work product and deadlines, kind of job.

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 26, 2018 - 8:21 am)

I never understood how a school can be ranked #133 overall by US news but be #1 in environmental law. It just illustrates how absurd the rankings really are.

I knew two women that had attended there, they both got jobs at the EPA, so maybe there is something I'm missing, but that must have been close to 6 or 7 years ago now.

I have to wonder if cutting tenured facility will help or hurt their ranking. If you had a bunch of tenured faculty who aren't producing anything, I can see getting a bunch of new HYS grads to teach and start churning out a bunch of articles their first few years. Maybe 5 years from now they'll get up to the low 100s.

Oh well, good riddance, they should just shut the school down.

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massivemissive (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:29 am)

"I never understood how a school can be ranked #133 overall by US news but be #1 in environmental law. It just illustrates how absurd the rankings really are."

Spot on.

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6figuremistake (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:44 am)

Definitely. Those sub rankings are meaningless - except as advertising tools for lousy schools to pretend they have some niche value.

Obviously, I don't know anything about your friends, but I imagine they were good students and perhaps having faculty with strong connections in the environmental law community gave them a leg up in landing solid federal government roles.

The faculty can't do that for everyone, so your typical middling student likely doesn't have any advantage in finding such a role over the average student from other non-elite schools.

The formula for getting a desirable job out of law school is either perform respectably at an elite school or have excellent grades from a lesser institution. Otherwise, you're scrounging for PI work or finding a new career like everyone else - regardless of your school's "specialization".

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heythere (Jun 26, 2018 - 9:42 pm)

Getting a BS in environmental engineering would probably get you a job at the EPA four years sooner and $150,000 cheaper. Just saying.

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esquirewalletsmatter (Jun 26, 2018 - 9:49 pm)

TITCR (6fig) (also through in ID or the 40k family/crim/solo)



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thirdtierlaw (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:33 pm)

I don't disagree at all. I was not suggesting that everyone from there gets an EPA job, or really a job at all. I have no idea where they'd have graduated in their class, I only hung out with that 1 girl a few times and we had run into her other friend.

I'm sure the professors there have some connections with the EPA. So if they have a favorite or top student that they are close with, I could see them making a few calls and if the timing is right, then one or two of them getting an offer.

But even so, I'd much prefer to be coming from a T-10 school applying to the EPA vs. a school ranked 133.

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6figuremistake (Jun 27, 2018 - 8:25 am)

Yeah, sorry - I meant to amplify your comment not criticize it.

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flharfh (Jun 26, 2018 - 8:47 am)

VT probably has the least need for a law school of any state in the nation. It's the second smallest state (by population) in the country and neighboring Mass and NY have more law schools of their own than their populations can support.

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doublefriedchicken (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:42 am)

I’ve actually driven by this school and the scenery is just beautiful.

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hairypalms (Jun 26, 2018 - 3:43 pm)

It is pretty, but I think the majority of people would get bored very easily. I went to my relative's VT law graduation and had a nice time, but 3 years up there would have driven me nuts. I think there is only 1 or 2 stoplights in the entire "town." I could be wrong, possibly there are no stoplights - it's been a while...

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david61983 (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:48 am)

NY law schools have been having their own problems for years.

https://youtu.be/rdW4DKQ_9Ho

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kaneloa (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:56 am)

A better explanation here:

https://goo.gl/bXgv3y

"Restructuring Tenure Away"

Vermont Law School plans to cut professors' tenure to deal with budgetary concerns. Skeptics wonder if it will hurt the institution more than it helps.

By Colleen Flaherty
June 26, 2018

Vermont Law School
Barring bad behavior or documented underperformance, tenure means a permanent position. But Vermont Law School, an independent, freestanding institution known for environmental law, plans to shift some tenured professors to untenured posts as it deals with ongoing financial troubles.

“It is no secret that [Vermont], like many institutions of higher education (and particularly law schools), has been facing considerable financial pressures for most of this decade,” President Thomas McHenry wrote in a recent all-campus email about those challenges and related changes.

With the “unanimous support and guidance of our Board of Trustees,” he said, “we are currently undergoing a process of programmatic restructuring: one that focuses our faculty and staff resources on our core educational goals and most essential and useful programs.”

While the environmental program will remain a “core, integral” part of the institution, McHenry said, the restructuring process “has also raised some difficult decisions and conversations,” particularly with regard to faculty and staff members.

The law school says it doesn’t yet know exactly how many of its 20 tenured professors will lose tenure. But the VT Digger reported that two unnamed senior faculty members say more than a dozen professors’ tenure protections will be lost. Those who stay on will work on contracts, similar to how many full-time, non-tenure-track professors are currently employed.

Vermont Law School is negotiating employment terms with faculty members this week, before the fiscal year ends on Friday. Final numbers will be available next week, according to information from the institution.

Colleen Connor, chair of the school’s Board of Trustees and counsel at GE Power, said in a separate statement, "Recognizing that the future of law schools in the U.S. is changing, we have put our energies into working with the administration to design a model for the future of Vermont Law School that adapts to the changing market while continuing to deliver on our mission."

The school believes “the best path forward is through restructuring our instructional model,” she said. “As difficult as this process is, we feel confident in the end, Vermont Law School will be a stronger, more vibrant institution that is sustainable in the long term and that continues to meet our mission of an exceptional legal education, producing leaders and being a pre-eminent environmental law school.”

While the school has struggled with debt and fewer students enrolling within the past decade, enrollment is on the rise again, to about 180 expected first-year students this fall. The law school has a waiting list for the first time in years.

Professors who already have reached agreements with the institution were asked to sign nondisclosure papers preventing them from speaking out, the VT Digger reported.

McHenry was not immediately available for comment, so it’s unclear exactly how the institution expects to save money by stripping away professors’ tenure. In general, critics of tenure say that getting rid of it offers colleges and universities more instructional and financial flexibility, since it is much easier to terminate professors without tenure than those who have it.

Still, the American Association of University Professors says that all professors who have worked full-time for an institution for seven years deserve the same due-process protections that their tenured counterparts enjoy.

Referring to Connor’s statement, Greg Scholtz, director of academic freedom and tenure at AAUP, said Monday that by “this process,” Connor appears to mean “eviscerating tenure at the institution.” In that case, he said, continuing to quote her, it’s the association’s view that “tenure and its protection of academic freedom are essential for a higher education institution to be ‘stronger,’ ‘more vibrant’ and capable of ‘pre-eminence’ and producing ‘exceptional education.’”

Scholtz also said he wondered how the new structure would square with American Bar Association accreditation standards on academic freedom and tenure.

Current ABA standards say a law school "shall afford to full-time clinical faculty members a form of security of position reasonably similar to tenure, and non-compensatory perquisites reasonably similar to those provided other full-time faculty members." The standards also say that law schools shall have an "established and announced policy with respect to academic freedom and tenure."

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wearyattorney (Jun 26, 2018 - 1:16 pm)

Whenever a law school professor gets financially hurt, an angel is born.

I wish these cretins nothing but pain and suffering. If it wasn’t illegal, I’d even physically harm a few of them.

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wolfman (Jun 26, 2018 - 1:57 pm)

"I never understood how a school can be ranked #133 overall by US news but be #1 in environmental law. It just illustrates how absurd the rankings really are."

Let me explain it; TLDR version - it's even more absurd than you might think.

You know the old regular overall USNWR rankings, the ones that are notoriously fluid and subject to gaming by law schools? They have a blended methodology, however flawed, and take into account reputational rankings (basically a survey of law profs, judges, and a select few lawyers on which schools are the best) as well as things like bar passage, employment rates and LSAT/GPA numbers.

Gues what? The specialty rankings like environmental law have no methodology whatsoever; they are based purely on a reputational survey sent to law faculty who teach in the field (it says so right there in the magazine if you read the fine print).

So, when you see "#1 in environmental law" it literally means a bunch of law profs who teach environmental law like the profs who teach environmental law in that school the best - and NOTHING else. You could be ranked #1 and not have one single student ever get a job in that field - and that would not affect the ranking (I mean, that doesn't usually happen - well-known profs often have some connections, and can maybe help a few people get jobs - but only a few).

Of course, if you see a school like Columbia ranked #1 in "international law", that is a different matter - but that's only because it's Columbia, not because of the specialty ranking at all.

So - specialty ranking are an even bigger lie than the already suspect "regular" USNWR rankings (which at least have some correlation with overall prestige, credentials, employment, and bar passage). And yes, the law schools market the crap out of them - except for the ones that don't have to. Thanks for playing, that will be 200K in non-dischargeable debt.

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ibrslave (Jun 26, 2018 - 2:00 pm)

I’ve met 2 VT law grads. One is a small town solo taking whatever she can get. I think she said she makes upper $30s. The other has bounced around some nonprofits and even volunteered for a while when no paying jobs were available. I’m sure there are some success stories out there regarding VT law but I haven’t seen any.

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somefed (Jun 26, 2018 - 2:14 pm)

The most successful VT law grads are at EPA in Washington. I have met a handful during my time in DC. These folks all went to Vermont solely with the goal of an EPA position and never trained for anything else. This might not be an option for future grads, as the EPA is cutting jobs now.

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hairypalms (Jun 26, 2018 - 3:55 pm)

I thought I'd seen it all. Went on to VLS' website. Some of these professors are claiming to be experts in "Arctic Law." I'm sure there's only a handful of employers in the US that would actually have such a need and they're probably not hiring from Vermont Law School.

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wutwutwut (Jun 26, 2018 - 4:26 pm)

Oh, yeah?

Well, I heard that the reception these students get is indeed quite Arctic.

So there!

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hairypalms (Jun 26, 2018 - 4:03 pm)

I used to work with a VLS grad. We were working at a pharma company in NJ; she was in compliance and I was a measly contractor at the time. The company was acquired by another pharma company, the VLS grad lost her job and ended up moving back to VT for some low rate organization. VLS is so far removed from the major legal centers that it just can't compete effectively. Why would a firm in Boston hire a patchouli-laden VLS grad as opposed to just hiring someone from Harvard/BU/BC, etc.?

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 26, 2018 - 4:34 pm)

Well, what if they need someone immediately who is well versed in Arctic Law!? I bet those Harvard/BU/BC grads never even knew that subspeciality existed! I'm not sure Vermont even needs a law school, I personally love Vermont, but there is like 100 people total that live in the State. I can't imagine there is a large enough legal market that it can't easily be filled by out of state students.

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hairypalms (Jun 26, 2018 - 10:29 pm)

I seem to recall VT's population is about 600,000. Either way, there are too many lawyers being pumped out of VLS to support such a small population. When the graduates need to look for employment outside of VT, they're up against name recognition and the fact that all the major legal centers already have many law schools from which to choose from and they know the quality of the student they are getting. The same can't be said for VLS. Like I said, it's very hard for VLS grads to compete. VLS isn't even in the state capital for crying out loud; it's in a podumk hamlet. I woudln't be surprised if the town had a population of 200 people excluding students. North Royalton is literally a one horse town or perhaps a one traffic light town.

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passportfan3 (Jun 26, 2018 - 6:11 pm)

All those profs will effortlessly land in those million-a-year partnerships they have so nobly been rejecting all these years.

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irishlaw (Jun 27, 2018 - 1:42 am)

Lmao...the path of your average professor at a top school.

H/S/Y-->Biglaw SA-->Fed. Ct. Clerkship-->S. Ct. Clerkship-->Two years back at their law firm-->professor track.

Most professors have no clue how biglaw works past second or third year.

I think I had one professor who could go back to biglaw. He was a Columbia grad who worked at S&C and apparently billed 3,000 a year. He was a M&A type guy and only left because he hated the poison pill so much he needed to find time (and still get paid) to write about it.

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