While President of the Hennepin County Bar Association in 2015 and 2016, Kim blogged regularly with random thoughts about her random thoughts. These blogs are being “republished” here in the order they appeared during Kim’s bar presidency. Going forward more Deep (or Random Thoughts) by Kim Lowe may or may not be forthcoming. It all depends on what thoughts pop into Kim’s head (or under her high school hair) during the course of the day.
Law Schools and Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
|Posted By HCBA President Kimberly A. Lowe, Monday, August 10, 2015
Is there anything more to say than “Zombies?”
By way of full disclosure, I am an avid reader outside of my job as a lawyer. And I LOVE dystopian or apocalyptic fiction. While I’ve read everything from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, my favorite apocalyptic instigators are either zombies or vampires (a zompire). I am eagerly awaiting Justin Cronin’s City of Mirrors (the 3rd book in The Passage series). Can there be a more powerful symbol than an insatiable monster that either sucks your blood or eats your brains and in the process creates another monster that sucks blood or eats brains? In zombie or vampire fiction there are clear good guys and bad guys and the moral frame of “blame” is removed from the discussion. While my taste in fiction must be fascinating, zompire apocalyptic fiction is really just an allegory framework to examine social order and survival after a devastating event.
Law schools (as well as the legal profession) are arguably in the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse. A force as insatiable as a zombie horde has decimated the legal hiring machine, leaving a multitude of law grads economically strapped with mighty debt loads [http://www.hcba.org/?page=NewLawyersDebt] at the same time killing many would-be law students or turning would-be law students into a completely different species (law students who are demanding a different outcome for their tuition dollars) [http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-19/law-school-applications-will-hit-their-lowest-point-in-15-years]. Well, this might be taking the metaphor too far.
Regardless, law schools across the country are faced with a new “world order” and our law schools have not been immune from this apocalypse. And those of us “established” in the legal profession do not have the luxury of ignoring this apocalypse. The legal profession is multidimensional and layered, so none of us can just look at our own practice or firm or personal balance sheet and say “Thank goodness the Zombie Apocalypse missed my house.”
Even if you have not been directly impacted by this apocalypse, we are all to be witnesses as to how law schools are creatively surviving and rebuilding with the combined Mitchell Hamline School of Law. If you are a graduate of either of these constituent schools, I can appreciate your grief at the loss of Your Law School. You, too, have been a partial victim of a Zombie Apocalypse. But truly, the members of our legal community who need our consideration are the current and incoming classes of the two schools. Since the ABA was not able to approve the combination in time for fall classes, the first year classes will start separately while upper level students will shuttle between the two schools until the ABA approves the combination. Regardless of preparation, there is no way this year is going to be easy for any professor, administrator or student involved.
No matter your role in our legal community, it is incumbent on all of us to do our part to support the combined school and its students. Let’s help them survive and prosper after a Zombie Apocalypse.