Saturday, October 26, 2013

MAPLA Conference in St. Louis Missouri


Conference of the 
Midwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors

This week, I've been attending the conference of the Midwest Association of Pre-law Advisors (MAPLA) held this year in my home town of St. Louis, Missouri.  I have continued to blog on this conference so check my postings in November.

Three things have really impressed me.

First, the pre-law advisors clearly express a strong desire to help their students make the best career choices possible.  I appreciate their professionalism, knowledge, and commitment to serve students.

Employment Trends Update

Second, the conference planners have offered top-notch conference programming. One speaker, the Executive Director of NALP, spoke about the legal employment market here and here. I've tracked the trends myself herehereherehereherehere, and here. I'll provide an update on that topic, based on this presentation, when I get back to Grundy.

One speaker predicted that the graduating class of 2016 will see a much-improved employment market. Available jobs should exceed new graduates that year, if current trends hold.

Conditional Scholarship Data

A second speaker discussed "conditional" (aka competitive) scholarships, identified which schools are
offering them to students, and disclosed how well students can retain them given the conditions of the scholarship.  This speaker provided a summary of his research.   Admissions experts and prospective law students have needed this data to assess accurately the cost of attending a law school.  The data is revealing.

As the speaker said, paraphrasing loosely:  "Some law schools make a decision that a prospective student will make a significant contribution to the learning environment.  Once the student joins that community, the student should not be over-stressed with worry about whether he or she can keep a conditional scholarship. This school will make sure the criteria for keeping the scholarship are liberal and favor the student."

Other schools may use conditional scholarships to attract students, but the retention criteria are so rigorous -- say staying in the top 1/3 of the class --that many students loose the scholarships.  Some people might argue that this policy unfairly favors the school. These law schools arguably use a bait and switch tactic in their admissions strategies.

I'll explore this rich topic in later postings.

I am happy to report that Appalachian School of Law has very liberal scholarship retention conditions.  A recent article in the online ABA Journal reported:  
These schools had retention rates at or above 90 percent and below 100 percent: University of Texas, George Washington, Washington and Lee, Georgia, William & Mary, University of Maryland, Ohio State, Baylor, Cardozo, Syracuse, CUNY, William Mitchell, Appalachian and Elon.  (Emphasis added.) 
We are one of two 4th-tier access schools included in this group.

Historical Trends in LSAT Test Administrations, ABA Applicants, and First-Year Law Students:

As promised, I am continuing to blog about the information provided at the conference.  For a discussion of the LSAC admissions data for 1968 to 2012-13, see here.  For LSAC information about the geographic distribution of applicants and applications for the 2012-13 admissions cycle, see here.

Compelling Presentation by Washington University School of Law Dean Kent Syverud

Dean Syverud gave a very compelling speech about the challenges the legal academy faces now that the "Golden Period" of legal education has passed.  I've covered it in other postings herehere, and here.

Location, Location, Location


Finally, St. Louis served as a wonderful host city.  The Cardinals played game three of the World Series last night.  People are exuberant and opinionated (especially about game one). The downtown fountains bubble with red water; vendors selling Cardinal baseball shirts and commemorative baseballs occupy corner stalls in the parks; and the new stadium stands about a block from the conference hotel.

Two nights ago, Mizzou (my LL.M. alma mater) hosted a wonderful event at the Anheuser-Busch brewery. We got free beer, a delicious dinner, door prizes, and a brief tour of the brewery, including the barn holding the Clydesdale draft horses.



Washington University (my J.D. alma mater) -- so very proud of its Collegiate Gothic law school building (funded and named after Anheuser-Busch) -- provided a location for conference programming and a tour of its campus.  I had forgotten just how beautiful the building is. I earned my degree when the law school occupied a badly designed, poured concrete building students called a "fall out shelter."




St. Louis University School of Law hosted conference programming, a tour, and then dinner and drinks on its 12th floor terrace. This terrace provided impressive views of downtown St. Louis, which were especially pretty last night as the sun set behind the urban landscape.

The school moved to its new high-rise urban location at the beginning of this school year.  It spent about $30 million rehabbing an old downtown office building into a sleek, modern, well-lit environment for students.  Students in clinical programs now have easy access to nearby courthouses.

Once I get off these open plains and back to the mountains, I will also pick up on my series profiling Appalachian's distinguished alumni who are working in public service jobs.  

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