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ABA forces NY schools to make up time lost to Sandy

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In light of the devastation to New York from sub-tropical swirling-mass-of-rain-and-terror Sandy, the American Bar Association decided to allow students at affected law schools to graduate by fulfilling the attendance requirements everyone else in the country is held to. That's right, the ABA did not waive the attendance requirement for students in New York City. Instead, schools will have to reschedule, possibly even holding class seven days a week to make up for the disruption in their schedule.

And New York Law School sure is pissed off about it. On NYLS's blog "Legal As She Is Spoke," 2L Ryan Morrison sounds off:

Some of those people with no homes are the law students, or their families, or friends. Over the past long and terrible week, many, many law students headed to the Rockaways, Staten Island, and Long Beach to volunteer and help however we could. And if you’ve seen the devastation in these areas, you know that help is needed, desperately.

I am the first to defend New York Law School as a great institution. Our new dean, Dean Crowell, is a good man who cares about his students. Our professors reached out to their students to make sure we were all okay while our facilities were closed (we are located in TriBeCa and our building had no power). While I don’t know any ranking members of the ABA, I doubt they have anything but our best interests at heart.

I just think the ABA’s decision was shortsighted, and a bit tone deaf to what’s happened.

Won't someone think of the law students!

The ABA's decision does seem somewhat heartless. That is, until Morrison undermines his own argument:

Law students are the future leaders of our nation, and those of us who live, or have friends or family who live, in the areas that were hit hardest should roll our sleeves up and help the people who need it  — now — and not be forced into a mind-numbing class schedule.

You see, students should be off the hook for their class requirement because they need to be out doing what law students are best at: disaster recovery!

Oh, wait, right. There are trained professionals handling that stuff, like the National Guard, Red Cross, and utility companies from all over (including several from Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, that have experience cleaning up the mess after Alabama's Night of 150 Tornadoes and 10 days without power following damage to a nuclear power plant).

Yet, we do have a strong tradition in America of the benefit of the weather going to the students, aka: Snow Days. It's a great policy. In grade school. This is law school though, and the students there are going to be the future leaaahhhwoahheynow. Okay, maybe not the future leaders of our nation, certainly not from NYLS. But, they will at least be the future lawyers of our nation.

Or, you know, some of them will become future lawyers of our nation. Only a third of NYLS's class of 2011 managed to find full time, permanent jobs practicing law. More students were un- or under-employed. [Law School Transparency] Still though, that third of the students who will go on to serve clients will need the rigorous training that two or so weeks of law school would have... er, wait.

Ugh. This isn't going as planned. We wanted to argue that instead of "Think of the students!" the message should be "Think of the clients!" and that by granting an exception to its education standards the ABA would be doing a disservice to the public. Clients won't accept substandard representation because your school lost power for a few days. But, we can't make that argument. Losing two weeks of school just isn't going to change the quality of graduates produced. And most of those kids were just going to be playing Words With Friends in class anyways.

Give the kids their freaking days off. They deserve it after all they've been through. These are NYLS kids we're talking about. They suffer through a disaster every time they go to class.


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