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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Higher Standard?

Recently a friend sent me a piece of mail that he received. It was your standard solicitation letter from AMSL signed by "Bernard Dobranski, President and Professor of Law." Of course, upon seeing it, my stomach turned. But I decided to read it anyway. It began with the standard boilerplate, "culture of death vs. culture of life" text that Catholics are used to reading in such solicitation letters. Where the letter became interesting, however, was in the recitation of achievements of AMSL. There were the paragraphs devoted to alumni attaining clerkships (45 in the federal courts; 13 in state courts) and what an impressive feat that is for a small and relatively new law school such as AMSL. Curiously Dobranski omitted the achievement of one of the faculty members attaining a federal clerkship as well. But I digress.

Then came this paragraph. I will reproduce it in full:

But that's not all. Three of our first four graduating classes also ranked number one of all Michigan law schools on the Bar Exam. One year, they achieved a 100%pass rate -- which has not happened in Michigan in over thirty years. [bold portion indicates what was underlined in original letter]

Hmmm...Is anyone else troubled by the wording here? Don't get me wrong, I am appreciative of Dobranski living off the capital of the first several classes who went to AMSL before it was hijacked by the Long John Silver of Catholic education. But look at the language..."ranked number one of all Michigan law schools on the Bar Exam?" What bar exam? All bar exams taken that year? Further, "one year they achieved a 100% pass rate..." On all bar exams taken by Michigan law school graduates? Don't get me wrong, stats on the state bar exam are something to be proud of, but for potential donors, this seems a bit misleading, at least it seems very Clintonian. (I am willing to admit that I am wrong if I am incorrect!)

The letter then extolls the Blackstone Fellowship awardees. And let's not forget our professors! Again the letter:
Of course, much credit is due our remarkable professors. Many are lauded as our nation's premier teachers and practitioners of law. Best of all -- they share a common love for Ave Maria. And they're bound together in a unique mission of training our dynamic leaders of tomorrow.
Sounds great! Let's examine a bit closer though. What professors are we talking about? Seems that the faculty composition bears very little resemblance to the original years (save Myers and Murphy and Sonne, who's simply on leave to pursue a great opportunity clerking for a federal judge--he'll be back!). Who on the faculty are "lauded" as "our nation's premier teachers and practitioners of law?" Names? Better, who is doing the lauding? "Sharing a common love for Ave Maria"--not to be nitpicky, but what faculty are we talking about--the faculty of the first several years or those that have since come on board? More fundamentally, what is Ave Maria? Finally, "unique mission" and "training our dynamic leaders of tomorrow," well, that's just Obamese. As the eminent William M. Gaines once remarked, "Blecch!"

I understand the nature of solicitation letters, but...Blecch!