A History of Emory Law School’s Failing Administration (since 2007)

Emory Law School (Atlanta, GA) recently fell in the US News Graduate School Rankings. This should be no shock to anyone that has been a recent (Class of 2007-11) graduate of Emory Law School.

Emory’s problem is not with its faculty (stellar) or students (decent). Emory Law’s main problem is held at the top… the administration. The administration (absent a very small minority of staff that do care) continues to do nothing to improve the school. Employment numbers tank, career services does nothing, and the administration sits idle. Thanks to AboveTheLaw, we have a brief timeline of Emory Law’s downfall. 

Event 1 (ATL: http://abovethelaw.com/2007/11/whats-going-on-at-emory-law-school/)

In Fall 2007, the Dean of Career Services mysteriously quit her job at Emory Law. A group of students, led by law student Michael Phillips, attempted to find out more information about the Dean’s departure. After a legitimate inquiry, Michael Phillips jumped through the Student Bar Association and Student Government Association hoops. They blocked his request. During his attempt for the truth, he was beckoned into the Dean of Student Affairs Office. The Emory Wheel covered the events that followed in an October 2007 article.

The Emory Wheel discovered the following:

“[T]he law school dean of student affairs, asked Phillips to come to her office and remove his cell phone from his pocket, supposedly because he might use it to record the conversation. He was then asked to take down a Facebook page he had started in support of his cause to find out more information about the dean’s departure. More alarmingly, he was told he could be sued by the former dean if he failed to do so.”

The Emory Wheel article asks the important question…what are they hiding? To this day, the truth has not been discovered. Although ATL obtained an official response from Dean Partlett. With the veil of secrecy at Emory Law, the truth will likely never be discovered.

Here are two relevant quotes from the ATL article (notice a trend?):

“My opinion: [I think] the former dean was the most competent person in the office. The decision, however, was to keep a marginally competent staff over one competent person. While this understandable, the large portion of the current 3L population that doesn’t have a job is concerned with her dismissal.”

“[F]rankly, the story you just posted comes as no surprise whatsoever. For a moderately ranked school, affiliated with a fairly prestigious undergraduate institution, the Emory Law School administration was (and apparently continues to be) a joke.”

Event 2 (ATL: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/07/emory-law-student-lament-we-don’t-need-donuts-we-need-jobs/)

In Summer 2010, an email detailing the flaws of career services was distributed amongst the Emory Law School student body. The email focused on career services’ flaws, specifically its inability to get employers to interview on campus.

ATL posted the email in full on its website. The email:


To My Fellow Emory Law Students,

This has gotten absolutely ridiculous. When we first entered Emory Law School, jobs were plentiful and career services could sit around and do nothing. Things are much different now. In 2008, the market collapse stunned the legal job market. Those $160,000+ jobs went from plentiful to a rare commodity, yet our tuition continues to rise and our loans accrue.

What has career services done? Nothing. Remember this item on Abovethelaw from exactly a year ago? Apparently, they’ve been a little too calm in this storm. Nevertheless, they still operate under their prior m.o. (sit in the office, do nothing but play solitaire, and expect jobs to walk into their office). Whenever students complain about the lack of OCI jobs (that will be discussed in another paragraph below), their response always references the down economy. When we ask for advice, we are told “Network.” Upon further inquiry about networking tips, we are told, “Talk to people.” They haven’t even attempted the extremes at Duke or SMU Law; options exist, but they don’t want to do the work.

Our tuition finances this ridiculous office? We have a decent sized staff that I estimate to be 7-8 employees. What do they do to help? Nothing. Then becomes even clearer when you look to our past two OCI cycles:

Spring 2010:
* 4 Total Jobs
– 1 Military
– 1 Public Interest
– 1 Job in Georgia (yes, the entire state)
– 1 Job in Alabama

Fall 2010:
* 1 Total Job (not a misprint)

So let’s assume we have 8 full-time employees in career services. For Spring 2010, each employee brought ½ job to OCI. This Fall, they brought 1/8 a job a piece. In any other business setting, this department would be disbanded or purged from the payroll. Apparently at Emory Law School, this is business as usual. Nothing to see here folks, move along. If Professor Pratt (one person, not eight), can operate the entire field placement program (with at least 30 students a semester), I would expect a full-time staff to be able to replicate her output (at a minimum).

I think a student-run career service office could do better than this full-time staff. Maybe SBA should operate career services? Rather than pay a full-time staff, offer incentives for students to find jobs for fellow students? It would at a minimum be a much more efficient use of our money. Most people here got jobs from friends or friends of friends (maybe all the “networking” paid off; Thanks Career Services J).

Career services has no contact with mid or small firms in Atlanta (hell, they barely have contacts at BigLaw). Even our public interest jobs are lacking, and if it weren’t for EPIC, we would probably have no presence in this field.

It’s time for a change, we need to let our voices be heard. The pathetic thing is that they don’t even know our names. I’ve run into my career advisor in the hall, and when I say hi, she looks puzzled and asks me how I’m doing (while her brain tries to figure out who the hell I am). Who knows, it might be due to the rampant turnover they have each month. I don’t know how many career advisors we’ve had, but I know I get a ton of emails each time a new one is hired. Hmmm, could that be poor management from the top (*cough* “Dean” Hutchinson *cough*)?

They hide in their offices and appear once a semester with donuts. We don’t need donuts, we need jobs.

The Unemployed Legal Eagle”

The email generated an official response from Emory Law, but OCI in the spring was equally as terrible. There were no improvements, which leads to…

Event 3 (ATL: http://abovethelaw.com/2011/03/start-your-whining-schools-make-excuses-for-their-poor-u-s-news-rankings/)

When U.S. News announced its new rankings, Emory Law had fallen to number 30. In response, Dean Partlett sent an email to the student body. We covered it earlier, here. The ATL article is well written and includes student comments in response.

Dean Partlett (along with additional administrators) was gracious enough to address the student body in a scheduled public discussion in Tull Auditorium. When these discussions are complete, we will post a summary.


Where does Emory Law School stand today? That is a very good question. If they continue to twiddle their thumbs, it will only continue to deteriorate. This time next year, will Emory Law even be a Tier 1 law school?



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