FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Brush with the Law

Gonzaga University’s Law School, in Spokane, Washington, fell to the bottom [4th] tier in US News and World Report’s annual ranking of law schools, released this month. Despite the local SPOKESMAN-REVIEW featuring quotes from students and administrators saying the expected — “Gonzaga is the top private law school in the Northwest” — the institution nonetheless dropped from 138 to 177 in the annual rankings. That’s what happens when less than two-thirds of your students pass the Bar.

And, of course, I saw it coming. But a little too late. After I moved across the country to accept a scholarship from Gonzaga on the strength of its social conscience and self-presentation as a “law school on the rise”. That said, I probably should’ve been put off by the GU Law School website’s obsessively detailed description of the new facility. Depicted as “the building of the 21st century”, the structure was “completed with the precision of a well-planned military campaign.

And who says American architecture doesn’t shock and awe? Certainly not GU Law’s Webmaster, who holds forth at excruciating length about the building’s virtues. The walkway leading to the building, for example, is “lined with flowering trees”. “You enter the building” — picture yourself doing it! — “through a monumental arched entrance framed in granite.” The granite features “a geometric design” that “alternates between rough and smooth stone.”

According to the site, the law school is full of “sweeping” views. A “sweeping series of open staircases” connects the floors of the building. The third-floor student lounge boasts a terrace with a “sweeping view of the Spokane River”. All of this, according to unnamed students and faculty, at once “welcomes visitors”. “The building exudes a certain ‘wow’ factor.”

As does Gonzaga’s new law school ranking. Wow, prospective law students are undoubtedly saying to themselves, this school isn’t worth my time. 177th out of 185 schools in the nation? For a school charging over $21k per annum for tuition, it’s criminal to have a student-teacher ratio of 25:1. To put that number in perspective, Yale’s ratio is less than 8:1. Even among fourth-tier schools, GU’s ratio is the worst in the nation.

How is that possible, when the school boasts a structure as lavish as one of Saddam Hussein’s “presidential palaces”? Daniel Morrissey, Dean of Gonzaga’s Law School, claims “financial constraints imposed on us by the University’s Central Administration” have stopped the law school from hiring additional faculty, expanding the law library, and so on.

Looked at in that context, the question is begged: why did the Law School buy such an ambitious building if their funding was so tenuous? Who ultimately is responsible for the Law School’s decline in national prestige? Can Morrissey reasonably blame his higher-ups at the University? If so, why stop there? Why not blame the American Catholic Church itself? After all, if the Church weren’t so scandal-ridden, then there might be money for Gonzaga to meet US News’s criteria.

How compromised is the future of Gonzaga’s law school? Stung by reports that Gonzaga graduates — in contrast to its gaudy promotional literature — are having a hard time finding work, Morrissey is encouraging students to seek employment outside the Northwest. What better testament than that is there to the mismanagement of Gonzaga’s law school? The legal profession is rooted in locality; typically, attorneys study in the state where they hope to practice law, so that they can develop contacts and learn the idiosyncrasies of their state [or region’s] laws.

To convince students that the Gonzaga law experience is worth over $60k for tuition alone, then to tell them that their degrees may lack the tangible value promised, is nothing short of fraud. Such bait-and-switch tactics are not the hallmarks of an institution interested in justice, equity, and [as the marquee sign in front of the University itself flashes] “educating people the world needs the most.” Rather, they are mechanisms used to service an untenable institutional debt load, to sell students on the benefits of a Gonzaga Law Education, and then to tell them once committed that not all benefits can be delivered.

Dean Morrissey claims that “it won’t be hard for Gonzaga to bounce back into the third tier”. But just months ago, at Gonzaga Law’s Fall Orientation, the carefully-managed buzz was that Gonzaga was certain to become a second-tier school by the time the most recent class graduated. The US News ranking should be a terminal embarrassment for Morrissey, who recently got his job only to find that he’s poised to take the fall for what amounts to malfeasance by the school he heads.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI attended Gonzaga Law School for just over a term. This column originally appeared in the Spokane Spokesman-Review. He welcomes email at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

 

 

More articles by:

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail