The "Pros" Drain Out of Justice

The forced removal of the "professional" class from the Justice Department is a dangerous trend that has been exacerbated, but was not created, by the disastrous tenure of Alberto R. Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States. The pendulum was moving in this direction-- in the dubious, short-sighted direction of filling the Department with middling political partisans instead of bright career attorneys-- before the Bush administration fired eight federal prosecutors last year for not being "loyal Bushes." But the scandal over the dismissal of the U.S. Attorneys, and Gonzales' hapless stewardship, has cast a new spotlight on the practice; a focus that perhaps will help slow or even stop the brain drain at Justice.

In an excellent piece well worth reading, the Boston Globe on Sunday framed the issue in terms of what reporter Charlie Savage called "the administration's hiring of officials educated at smaller, conservative schools with sometimes marginal academic reputations." One of these "officials" was Monica Goodling, who helped coordinate the firings of the prosecutors, left her position on Good Friday, and signed her resignation mash note to Gonzales by asking God to "bless him richly" as he continues to swirl down the tubes in Washington. Like many of her former colleagues at Justice, Savage reports, Goodling is a graduate of Regent University School of Law, an institution founded by Pat Robertson which was ranked years ago as the 136th-best law school in the country (and there aren't many more below it on the scale).

No matter. According to Savage: [I]n 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent's government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management -- essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni." And coming through those doors to the Justice Department, writes Savage, have been ideologically conservative attorneys who are willing and eager to change constitutional law to reflect what the dean of Regent told Savage were "eternal principles of justice." You get the idea. Read Savage piece if you want to comprehend the scope of the goal here by the White House and the Attorney General's office.

Savage's piece simply reinforces what many Washington legal insiders and historians have been telling me for the past few months. There is no longer a meritocracy in place at the Justice Department when it comes to hiring decisions. Where the Department once was staffed by some of the best and brightest lawyers in the nation, now it has become a repository for the Monica Goodlings of the world. If you were a dedicated federal prosecutor, a Bush appointee, would you want some younger lawyer from some fourth-rate law school determining your future? You wouldn't. And yet that's precisely what happened here to our Gang of Eight. They weren't judged by the best and the brightest and the most seasoned and respected attorneys in the nation; they were judged by Monica Goodling, a legal disciple of Pat Robertson.

Even if you take away the religious theme here, there is a problem. The demise of the professional class at Justice is a loss to us all regardless of the intelligence or political persuasion of the hacks who are taking their jobs. Nonpartisan federal attorneys are likely to make better, nonpartisan legal decisions that affect our lives--decisions that impact upon federal investigations, legal policy and even the language of our federal laws. Nonpartisan professionals at the Justice Department help create the appearance, if not the reality, of an unbiased judicial system that is free from fear or favor and beholden to no particular ideology except the Law. That is the way it ought to be. And we ought to expect our government, this government, to be trying to hire the best attorneys and not the ones who know best how to preach to the choir.

By Andrew Cohen |  April 8, 2007; 4:08 PM ET agag
Previous: The Department of Chaos | Next: Justice Department Robs Peter to Pay Paul

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Savage has been doing good work in this area of coverage for quite a while, thanks for giving him some visibility. Bush seems to be dumbing down the whole government to his own intellectual level.

Posted by: H5N1 | April 9, 2007 09:45 AM

Having worked with all of the five trial divisions during my thirty four years of service at the Treasury Dept., HUD, and FEMA, I know how often Executive Branch craziness was stopped by competent lawyering from the DOJ. It is time that a close analysis of career-reserved positions at the DOJ be conducted. If FEMA is an example, a recent OPM listing of Career Reserved positions in that subcabinent agency indicates that the number of career-reserved positions have dropped from 40 to 7 or less in the period from 2001 to the present. In reality, DOJ should just be returned to the litigation shop for the Executive Branch and its misadministration historically of other components housed in the Dept. should be left for others. The FBI has failed miserably in adjusting to the GWOT is this the fault of Director Meuller or the various AG's that technically supervise the Bureau.

Posted by: William R. Cumming | April 9, 2007 12:44 PM

My favorite was the comment at the end by the current Regent student, to the effect that Frankie Pantangeli -- uh, Monica Goodling, I'm sorry -- should be ashamed to be pleading the Fifth Amendment because if she had done right, she has nothing to hide.

Maybe I should donate my collection of 1950s "Dragnet" radio programs to the Regent law library and apply for the Joe Friday endowed chair of the con law and crim procedure department.

Posted by: ExAUSA | April 9, 2007 02:04 PM

Bush is an unworldly fellow of modest intellectual achievements. However, he is possessed of strongly held beliefs which are challenged and scorned by others but never by him and his followers. The consequence is that he has put right-thinking people into office. Now, the US government is in turmoil because it is characterised by incompetence and failed policies. Bush has goals that he wants to achieve but he does not plan. Planning requires analytical minds that look at the strengths and weaknesses of an objective and alternative objectives. This is why Bush is now being called the worst president of all time. Unfortunately, his political supporters will back him all the way to the gates of hell even if the US has to follow him there.

Posted by: Robert James | April 9, 2007 04:50 PM

We have had some strokes of really good and bad luck in presidents.

Just imagine if this administration was in power when Russia attempted to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Posted by: Richard Newton | April 9, 2007 06:06 PM

Why anyone reads this rant, when there are numerous good legal blogs as well as uninformed, politically emotional neighbors to listen to, is beyond me.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 06:50 PM

Why, by the way, is Goodling a disciple of Pat Robertson? Do you impute everyone's professional decisions to the founder of their alma mater? So, about two minutes later, and I come away from this post knowing nothing, aside from your uninformed opinion, more than I knew before. I say uninformed because many successful attorneys went to tier four schools. And you've simply raised the fact that Goodling did and that she worked at DOJ. You haven't connected the dots for me, though. And, from browsing through most of your posts, I wouldn't expect you to . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 07:00 PM

Mr. Cohen,

I don't know if you have a law degree or if you just sit around taking clear, conclusory positions on political issues that tengentially relate to the law. Either way, allow me explain something to you. Regent is ABA accredited. Fortunately, the ABA doesn't say, "Oh, well you graduated from this school. That school's founder took this position on this issue, so you can only work at this kind of a job." Goodling graduated from law school. And you and your back-patting commenters have no basis other than her ABA-accredited alma mater to suggest that she's unqualified to work at DOJ.

Do you not think about stuff like this before you post? Surely you don't expect your opinion to pass for an argument, do you?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 07:30 PM

COnnections to the evangelics on a continuous basis. Expressing law in terms of beliefs fails those with dissimilar belief systems. Therein lies the necessity of such a document as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Any of the three branch's that chooses to obviate the other two branches; or enters into agreement to commit fraud; should be removed via proper channels.

In this case we have both the enforcement and executive branchs in collussion with one another for s specific agenda; conservative law develolpment; and there appears to be noone speaking about this basic rule of law issue, instead lawyers argue about the legality of the hirings and firings instead of the apparant collussion of two branch's of government; executive and enforcement.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 08:20 PM

Andrew, as a Regent Law grad, I must take issue with some of the more ignorant remarks in your post. First, it is unfair to associate every Regent graduate with Pat Robertson. He founded the school, but, to my knowledge, he exercises no control over its day-to-day operations. He does not teach there, nor does he interfere with the academic independence of the faculty. Certainly, not every Regent graduate shares his views. By your reasoning, every Harvard Law grad must be "a legal disciple of Isaac Royall."

Second, "ranked as the 136th-best law school in the country"? Come on, Cohen. Regent is ranked in the 4th tier by US News, along with almost 50 other law schools. Many of those are good schools, like the University of Baltimore, which places graduates in some of the top law firms in Baltimore and Washington every year. The rankings are deceiving and are generally relied upon only by lazy people who do not care to conduct independent research into particular schools.

Finally, I disagree with the general tone of your post, which insinuates that Regent alumni are all agents for the right wing of the GOP. Most of us are in private practice just trying to provide the best representation for our clients.

Posted by: Regent Law Grad | April 9, 2007 08:52 PM

Oh, come on, you Regent grads (including the one who posted several times). Every law school, from Tier 1 on down, has a reputation, and that reputation defines your pedigree. As a recruiter I look at the law school, and grads of the Tier 4 schools will be qualified if their grades are good enough. On the other hand, there is a big difference between University of Baltimore and Regent. Regent is a recently founded institution that is far more closely associated with its founder, Robertson (and his brand of ideology), than, say, Harvard would be associated with its founder. (Harvard is associated with admitting the top students.)

Robertson is also a lightning rod. Why? Could it have something to do with Ariel Sharon getting a stroke as God's punishment for his policies toward the Palestinians? Maybe it was that comment about hurricanes and Disney's policies toward gays? Today's headline was that the man did not say something incredibly stupid (unless I missed it).

Admit it, the guy is ridiculous. A complete joke. You chose to go to that law school, and you chose to associate yourself with him and his image. I'm very sorry, but if you applied here (fill-in-the-blank top-tier law firm), I would not even give your resume a second look. At any properly apolitical U.S. Attorney's office, you have no chance. I am entitled to consider why you chose that particular law school. Given its reputation and ideological bent, not to mention its low selectivity, I am also entitled to question why someone associated with that school becomes the gatekeeper to the jobs at Main Justice and why someone like Frankie Pantangeli occupied such an important position there. (And oh my gosh, look what happened! Heck of a job, Frankie!)

You are dreaming if you think those jobs traditionally did not go to the brightest people who are defined as the brightest, in part, because they were admitted to highly selective law schools that admit only the top applicants, based on grades, LSAT, extracurriculars, and everything else about the person. The Globe's insights into current practice at Justice are profoundly revealing.

If you didn't want to be associated with Pat Robertson, why did you choose to go to that law school, if you had a choice?

You did have a choice, didn't you?

Your righteous indignation at Andrew Cohen, or the Globe piece, has no justification whatsoever.

Posted by: ExAUSA | April 9, 2007 09:31 PM

Um, my impression is that people who have studied law have the ability to be even handed and separate a school from its founder and his positions. Why don't you have that ability? Your writing off Regent grads because they're Regent grads is, among other things, a hasty generalization.

Your obviously emotional about Robertson. But so what? As Regent Grad pointed out, he has nothing to do with the school, aside from founding it. Someone could have gone to the school because they actually did some independent research and took a graduates word for it that Robertson has little to do with the day-to-day operations, no? Please explain to me why this couldn't be another option besides the negative ones that you so emphatically mentioned. It's asinine that you can hear that from a graduate, yet allow politics to cloud your view of recruiting for legal positions. I would expect someone a little less sophomoric to be recruiting. But I guess applicants will have to work with what they get.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:19 PM

Basically, this is your argument: Pat Robertson's a lighting rod who started a law school. You chose to attend that law school. Therefore, your application doesn't deserve a second look.

I suggest you give anyone's application a second-look (potentially for your own job) if they can point out what's wrong with that syllogism.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:36 PM

"grads of the Tier 4 schools will be qualified if their grades are good enough." I wouldn't limit my consideration of a candidate to merely his or her grades, but fair enough.

If a recruiter considers the overall quality of a school and the overall picture of the graduate's qualifications, that's fair. If the DOJ departed from such reasonable considerations, it is rightfully being criticized for having done so. But it is outrageous for Cohen, the Globe, you, or any recruiter to impugn the qualifications of Regent grads as a whole based on the shady hiring practices of DOJ and/or the positions taken by the founder of Regent Law. Such small-mindedness has no justification whatsoever.

Posted by: Regent Law Grad | April 9, 2007 10:43 PM

This would more accurately reflect your argument: Anyone who attends a school founded by someone who routinely makes public gaffes doesn't deserve to have their resume given a second look. You went to such a school. Therefore, your resume doesn't deserve a second look.

So how do you respond to the fact that someone with personal experience has informed you that the founder has little to do with the day-to-day operations? And besides that, why would you assume that students agree with the founder? I know of precious few other schools saddled with that assumption.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 10:58 PM

Anon: 10:58 PM, I agree with the substance of your point, and it is conceivable to me that a Regent law student could rise on his or her own merits rather than through some perverse religiously based affirmative action program (as has happened under this administration).

There still is the issue of the ABA ratings--the raw data for 2007 shows Regent at 61% for the Virginia bar which is 13% points below the state average, and almost 30% below the average of a tier one school in UVA. Those raw totals give a broad measure of the program's quality relative to other law programs in the state and nationally.

I think it is unfair that Robertson's reputation cast such a long shadow--as does having the ignominious distinction of having one of the school's first accredited grads becoming the first high ranking DOJ official in U.S. history to state an intent to invoke the 5th. But this is the unfortunate reality of what happens when a trailblazer is promoted to a position without having paid the requisite dues.

Sampson, unfairly doesn't have this same baggage because of the established reputation of the University of Chicago. To his credit he also took the hard road and at least showed up and answered for his actions, and promptly resigned when the controversy broke rather than collecting additional paychecks while simultaneously dodging responsibility for his actions.

Based on the Boston Globe article I had the sense that anecdotally some current Regent law school students do not seem to have an especially high opinion of Goodling's response to this issue. If these anecdotes are representative then these are perhaps promising signs for the future of Regent law grads. Personally, I would rather have highly qualified law grads in the civil service who recognize the difference between loyalty to an oath and loyalty to a man. The Goodling case may not be representative, but it is still very disturbing.

In reference to this Cohen piece, the statement concerning the deprofessionalization of the DOJ isn't so much a matter of opinion as fact. The sad reality is that there have been a large number of highly qualified career employees who have left under pressure from inexperienced political staff. The same is true of other areas of the civil service. I think most of the blame rests with Team Bush, and its loyalty based hiring standards, and not with Regent University.

Posted by: JP2 | April 10, 2007 12:05 AM

While I think the whole mess at DOJ reflects the unnecessary politization of the government--we need far fewer political appointees--I also sense a degree of prejudice against anyone who is not from one of the "good" law schools, of course since the Boston Globe article is quoted do we mean more graduates of Harvard!

Posted by: hjfjr | April 10, 2007 05:48 AM

The concept "elitism" comes to mind. Also, the concept "greater probability that one's met a high-quality high-achieving lawyer" also comes to mind. We've witnessed here some good points, but also some atrocious ones as well. How do we sort this out? Please check YOUR premises, one and all.

Some of the top-of-the-heap law schools have well-above-average sets of alumni, not so much due to the quality of the faculty and programs(in the LONG term,) but because there's a sorting process, in which the higher quality higher achieving students end up getting somewhat sorted into 'flocks' or peer groups. For better or worse, that's the way our universe is put together.

Also, it helps to work with probabilities, nearly always.

(As an aside, if ever in the future there were a study comparing voucher schools to public ones, this same process would bias the objective of discerning whether the schools-as-institutions-themselves were superior. Life is a b***h.)

Now, there definitely is a sorting process for faculty as well. How astute on my part.

Let's also factor in the two biasing elements, among homo sapiens sapiens, of fallibility and... ego. We have met the enemy and ....

Please, let each of us check one's own premises.

This too shall pass(tell that to European jews in 1944.) We witness much ado about not very much(within the realm of an exceedingly puny cohort of lawyers, no less.) Unfortunately, checks and balances work only in the long term. Then there are our angst-driven human minds, as well as a dynamic universe whether or not we acknowledge it.

Who woulda thunk it?

Posted by: LarryH | April 10, 2007 06:27 AM

If Regent was associated, fairly or unfairly, with the lunitic ravings of its founder, then it is now associated generally with the incompetence of Monica Goodling, and the stocking of the DOJ with inexperienced but "loyal Bushies" who are intent on transforming the Rule of Law into the Rule of God.

Again, this is now the perception of Regent. Whether it is fair or not is not for me to say. But it is now up to the other Regent grads out there to repair what is left of the school's reputation.

Posted by: Nellie | April 10, 2007 09:27 AM

It is for you to say. It's unfair and ridiculous, and I would expect the educated public to be a little more thoughtful about attaching labels to a place they know so little about. No serious person, from Regent or otherwise, is interested in turning the rule of law into the rule of God. And no honest person thinks the Bush Administration is interested in that. Like other politicians, they're interested in garnering power. To suggest otherwise is an unsupported misstatement and serves to muddle the debate.

I'm shocked that people act as if this is something new. Why do you think people seek political office? Because they're interested in fairness and justice?

Separately, all of this talk about Regent reminds me of something I learned about Evangelical fundamentalists a long time ago. They know very little about the Bible, Christianity, history, or philosophy, yet they're seemingly more sure of their beliefs than most everyone else. Oddly, critics of that type of intellectual laziness are guilty of the same thing all the time. The criticism of Regent bears this out. Most people's knowledge of the place is limited to knowing that Pat Robertson founded it. I suggest learning a little more about it before condemning it on those grounds alone. And by learning more about it, I mean taking an intellectually honest approach to learning more about it, rather than searching for anomalies about the school that will support your prior opinion about it. But that would actually take work. It might even take, buckle your seat belt, setting your emotions aside. I think the fundamentalists aren't the only ones guilty of intellectual laziness.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 10:34 AM

What is left of the school's reputation?

The AG of Virginia is a Regent grad. I don't think anyone needs to repair the school's reputation. Though from reading many of the politically charged comments and opinions, I'm not sure reason and argument will persuade most . . .

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 10:55 AM

I agree that fundamentalists aren't the only ones guilty of intellectual laziness. I think you could find many examples of this problem daily on the MSM whose pundits seem to only quote each other and rarely bother to do any other kind of reporting or analyzing. However to dismiss the far right's goal of making this a nation under their God is a mistake. I remember thirty years ago as a young teacher for the state schools in Missouri, recieving religious dogma in the form of memos from the then Sec. Of Education in Missouri, John Ashcroft, written on official state stationary. It was well known at that time that to get anywhere in the State Department of Education you had to be a bible -toting sort. People where known to leave them on the dashboards of their cars so they could be seen.I was offended at the time but thought it was a backwards Missouri thing. When Ashcroft was appointed AG and embarrassed the country by draping the statue of justice I worried that something like this would happen. This country needs more than prayer it needs deliverance in the form of push back from those who know what is happening. 2008 cannot come soon enough!

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 11:12 AM

Mentioning the AG of Virginia as another graduate might support the view of the column rather than the reverse. He has tended to come down on the side of the religious right view on a number of occasions.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 02:15 PM

Hey, if I had a JD from Regent, I'd be beating the "Oooh, it's so unfair. We're a great school, honest" drum, too. The Regent web site says right up front that it's mission is to place people into position of influence in the government so that religion and govenrment can be melded. And they've been effective -- the web site boasts of over 150 Regent Law grads in government positions. Ashcroft opened this can of worms and Gonzales fiddled while Rome burned.

If Regent had a locally good reputation -- which is unlikely given the low bar pass rate -- then it is significantly worse now. Think of all those people who never even heard of Regent whose only association with it now is of true believers who are in way over their heads.

Law grads from the lower tier schools have a hard enough time getting the attention of employers without having this baggage to contend with. All I can say is good luck.

Posted by: Nellie | April 10, 2007 02:28 PM

Who cares what side the AG of VA incidentally comes down on? If the school was as radical as many are making it out to be, why would the people of VA elect him?

Nellie, because you would be beating that drum if you went to Regent doesn't necessarily mean that Regent grads are wrong to defend the school. And, btw, I happen to know that Regent has a locally good reputation. The Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, a Harvard grad, speaks there all the time and consistently hires clerks from there. Besides that, all of this publicity will only help the school. Most attorneys will recognize that Regent is independently recognized, i.e., ABA-accredited; most of its graduates are normal attorneys rather than political ideologues; and the school's continually improving, as Savage points out in his article.

So, just because you're upset with the DOJ doesn't validate your criticisms of the school.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 02:50 PM

*Who cares what side the AG of VA incidentally comes down on? If the school was as radical as many are making it out to be, why would the people of VA elect him?* Incindentally had nothing to do with it. He is a water carrier in Virginia for the Republican base and religious right. No few well established main line legal experts panned his view that nothing in the language of the recently passed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage would effect existing agreements on arrangements for such things as hospital visitation. In fact, that amemdment was very likely a social issue drum to beat out the radical religious right base in the election. Using him as an example proves rather than weakens the point of the column to anyone really familiar with Virginia politics.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 03:29 PM

I think I'm missing your point. How does the fact that he's conservative prove anyone's point? Conservatives graduate from schools across the country. Surely the indictment on Regent is something other than that some conservatives graduate from there, right? I thought it was that they get hooked up at DOJ and then screw up, so the other grads need to revive the school's name? I brought up McDonnell because, aside from your opinion of his politics, he's doing just fine. The school's reputation doesn't need revived anymore than anyone's school needs revived when one of its graduates is involved in a scandal. I don't care whether you agree with McDonnell's politics.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 04:37 PM

Gonzales will be history soon, but PAUL MCNULTY better be history too. And while they are cleaning house, please, can someone explain why Chertoff's protege, ALICE FISHER, is still in the job, astonishingly, as the Assistant AG for Criminal? Was this someone's idea of a joke? Her ONLY qualification is that Chertoff is her mentor, which is why she's in her job in the first place (and of course, Chertoff is certainly not known for his stellar hiring practices!)

The only thing Alice Fisher knows about criminal law is what she is told by others in her on the job training. It is absolutely scandalous that a lawyer who has NEVER tried a case, let alone been a prosecutor, should be at the helm of some of the nation's biggest, most complex criminal prosecutions-absolutely scandalous.

And Paul McNulty? I'm going to ask again-why is this REPREHENSIBLE man who has NO prosecutorial experience whatsoever (please-don't tell me he was US Atty. for EDVA-he came from the Hill) who would LIE to Congress, as he did recently, CONCEAL information, as he did recently, and then, blame this 33 year old aide for providing him with "inaccurate" information??? PLEASE! The buck stops with you, McNulty, not your 33 year old aide-what you did shows exactly what kind of integrity you really have-which is exactly zero. Reprehensible is too kind a word for you.

I thought I would never in a million years be saying this: but I actually AGREE with Newt Gingrich-sweep house at DOJ, and get this triumvirate of hapless, deceitful, no-knowing-about-what-they-are-doing ideologues OUT OF THERE!!

Posted by: spaceexplorer | April 10, 2007 06:34 PM

With all due respect to the defenders of Regent Law School's academic credentials, I can't credit the school's success in placing graduates in government to anything other than religious bias.

I go to a top-twenty-five law school, which also happens to be run by Catholics. I had excellent LSAT scores and I have a GPA in the top 25th percentile. Sorry, but no government recruiter or A-USA would prefer a Regent graduate over myself or one of my classmates, unless perhaps that graduate was the best in his class. And I don't even go to a school that would be considered elite.

It's true that a low percentage of us goes into public service, largely because of the huge loans we have to repay, so willing graduates of less highly-ranked schools may more easily find jobs in government. But that would apply as readily to any graduate of any second-tier law school or below, meaning that almost a hundred schools would have their students in line before Regent.

It's not hard to draw the connection between a very conservative and openly religious executive branch and a very conservative and openly religious law school, when the school places such a large number of attorneys in government. If in fact a desire for religiously conservative lawyers is driving the hiring, the damage to DOJ is immense and difficult to quantify. Each hire of a Regent graduate placed a less-qualified lawyer likely dedicated to commingling religion and government in a spot that could have gone to a better, brighter, non-partisan attorney.

If this was the first instance of cronyism and disregard for basic constitutional principles exhibited by the Bush administration, I might call it a coincidence. Under the circumstances, however, religious bias is the only credible explanation for the sudden success of a school whose graduates wouldn't otherwise have a prayer.

Posted by: JD 2008 | April 10, 2007 06:51 PM

Let's just see how many Regent grads get jobs in the DOJ when the current cabal are finally out of office. When the jobs are based on actual merit rather than ideology and loyalty to a man (and not the Constitution) we will see if Regent is still the "cream" that rises to the top, of if it is just the dregs stuck on the bottom. I know which one my money will be on.

Posted by: Nellie | April 10, 2007 08:50 PM

You're kidding yourself if you think recruiters sit there with resumes in one hand and the U.S. News and World Report rankings in the other hand. Sure, graduates from your school will get more opportunities because of name recognition alone. But lots of things go into the hiring process. If someone from even your school interned at DOJ and clearly could not or did not keep up with the work load, while an intern from a lower-ranked school did, that intern might get hired over someone from your school. Or if Regent grads establish themselves after school, they may get hired over a recent graduate with no experience from your school. To draw these black-and-white distinctions based on rankings is a tad naive.

I also take issue with your assuming someone from another school would be non partisan, not to mention a better or brighter attorney. LSAT scores and law-school rankings do not dictate who ends up a better or brighter attorney. And, yes, even at your school, students are partisan. So, Regent grads certainly have to work to get jobs, but that's not always a bad thing, and it's certainly more than, um, not having a prayer . . .

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 08:51 PM

Nellie:

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I'm baffled by how much faith you place in your hunches.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 08:53 PM

To piggyback on one of those last comments, a recruiter or attorney could have had a good experience with someone from a lower-ranked school in the past and be more open to hiring from that school, or more open minded about hiring from lower-ranked schools in general in the future. Or they may not place much faith in the ranking system and decide to give a graduate from a lower-ranked school a chance. Someone from a lower-ranked school may have a be a better writer or come across as more competent in an interview than their competition for a particular job who went to higher-ranked schools.

I mean, let's be realistic here. We're not talking about people with learning disabilities competing with geniuses. We're talking about graduates from law school. The gap between the higher-ranked schools and the lower-ranked schools is not what it might be in other fields.

Posted by: | April 10, 2007 09:06 PM

Let's also note its only been ABA accredited since 1996. It's not just about graduating from Regent, it's about getting accepted there in the first place:

"Strong academic credentials are crucial, but Regent Law also places significant importance on the personal statement and letters of recommendation. THE PERSONAL STATEMENT GIVES THE ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE INSIGHT INTO THE STUDENTS MOTIVATION FOR STUDYING LAW AND REVEALS HIS OR HER DESIRE TO RECIEVE A LEGAL EDUCATION INTEGRATED WITH CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES. Regent Law seeks men and women who are dedicated to becoming Christian leaders who will change the world for Christ.

Why choose Regent? If you are academically qualified and you desire to integrate your faith with your pursuit of a legal education and ultimately the practice of law, we invite you to apply to Regent University School of Law." (Emphasis Mine)

http://www.regent.edu/acad/schlaw/admissions/home.cfm

So, I suppose if I give a statement ranting about the liberal assault on Christian America and the sham that is the separation of church and state, I'd probably get accepted despite a 140 on the LSAT and a 2.5 college GPA (none of the three of which would apply to me, just for clarification)

Let's look at their mission:

"Regent University School of Law's mission is distinctive among accredited law schools and provides an attractive option for students pursuing the study of law from a Christian perspective. The mission of Regent Law School is to bring to bear the will of our Creator, Almighty God, upon legal education and the legal profession. In particular, this mission includes:

The education and training of students to become excellent lawyers within the standards of the legal profession.

The grounding of students in biblical foundations of law, legal institutions, and processes of conflict resolution; recognition of questions of righteousness in the operation of law; and pursuit of true justice through professional legal service.

The nurturing and encouragement of students to become mature Christians who exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit and display the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their personal and professional lives.

The nurture and encouragement of other law students, practicing lawyers, judges, legislators, government officials, educators and others to recognize and seek the biblical foundations of law, to recognize questions of righteousness in the operation of law; and to pursue true justice."
http://www.regent.edu/acad/schlaw/admissions/abouthome.cfm

Scary, scary stuff. Anyone who graduates this institution will have no idea about the history or basis of the law, which is exactly the kind of experience you need to pull off the stupid actions of this administration. Hopefully this whole debacle will knock the institution down a few more levels in terms of placing graduates in the future.

Posted by: Michael | April 10, 2007 09:19 PM

Wow, what a provocateur I turned out to be. Sorry.

My response to all you Regent grads and students is that I live and practice in the real world. Our clients pay us to deliver the best and we can't afford to come up short. So I bring many biases to recruiting. Based on all that is in the record about your school, I am just not going to take a chance and pick one of you over a qualified candidate with strong grades from a top law school. Maybe if someone I trust referred you, and you were at the top of the class, and if a few other things happened, then you might get considered. But probably not.

Elitist? You are darn tootin'. Don't think for a second that the top U.S. Attorneys' offices are not elitist places either. Main Justice has been elitist in the past. These institutions are elitist because they have to be. Frankie Pantangeli is a pretty stark example of what can happen when we start reaching down. The United States is the most important client of all. And in Frankie's case, the client got screwed.

Posted by: ExAUSA | April 10, 2007 09:58 PM

When I came out of law school, back in the Clinton Era, anyone looking to get into the DOJ needed about 5 years of BigLaw experience or 5 years in a prosecutor's office to make the first cut. These were among the most competitive jobs out there and you needed the pedigree (combination of top school, law review, grades, and judicial clerkship) and a proven track record to get them.

That isn't the case with this administration. Only "Loyal Bushies" need apply.

Let me sum up the Regent Alumni Association comments on this board (not to mention the current attitude of the DOJ):

"Experience? We're Regent Law Grads. We don't need no stinkin' experience!"

I'm with the headhunter on this one. Face it, life is like an amusement park, and you have to have tickets to go on the rides. Graduating from Regent gets you far fewer tickets than many of the other law schools. Of course, it always helps to have one of your insider buddies open the back gate and let you in for free, but that doesn't mean you earned it.

Posted by: Nellie | April 11, 2007 08:35 AM

ExUSA,

I applaud your admirable willingness to think outside of the box.

Posted by: | April 11, 2007 03:37 PM

While I have my differences with the Administration, I don't buy - and in fact, I categorically reject - the notion that things were better when the only people who could get an interview at DOJ were the lucky few who managed to get into and excel at an Ivy League law school. If you think that those folks don't have political agendas of their own, you're dreaming. Their agendas may be more in line with yours, but they are agendas just the same.

Posted by: Stewart | April 12, 2007 10:17 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company