Law Essays Elite

Immigration reform is a serious issue in need of genuine policy discussion. But that’s usually used as an excuse for a bunch of jackasses to dress up like the douches they are and spout off about the master race under the veneer of political discourse. The Edmund Burke Society at the University of Chicago Law School, apparently a gaggle of students unsatisfied with the Federalist Society’s level of bloodlust, is planning a “debate” on immigration next Tuesday.

I’m sure they set a satisfactorily civil and serious tone in their promotional materials:

The RAISE Act solves our immigration woes: cut quotas, break immigration chains, and court only the best. Instead of being a porcelain receptacle for other nations’ wretched refuse, the United States should again put America first.

Pretty sure that is the opposite of what Emma Lazarus meant. This is, in fact, the first sentence of their promo — you can and should read the whole thing here — so they decided not to hide the ball on the race-baiting.

If the essence of a nation is its people, allowing foreign bodies to enter is inviting disease into the body politic.

Paging Dr. Hitler. At the risk of condoning these people, at least they’re being honest. Most right-leaning immigration discussions boil down to racial purity nonsense, but wrapped up in enough window dressing to sound halfway reasonable. Sometimes it’s worth it to bear witness to the unfiltered worldview driving policy.

Because “policy wonks” these guys are not:

Meanwhile, chain migration is only as strong as the weakest link; no engineer is worth the drag of a freeloading cousin.

That’s… not even how immigration works. As a general rule, immigrants can’t sponsor relations that extended for permanent residency to the country. But, again, that detail only matters if one is interested in a serious discussion about the law and not a white pride rally.

In defense of the event planners, they do intend this to be a debate, so someone will be standing up to the blood and soil rhetoric, right?

From Irish farmers fleeing potato blight, to Mexican workers seeking refuge from violent cartels, to Chinese entrepreneurs pursuing Fortune’s cookie…

Stereotypes and racist jokes are actually the closest they can get to defending immigrants.

For those seeking confirmation that there’s still good left in humanity, there’s been a pronounced outcry from the Chicago Law community, with students flooding the boards to lodge their concerns over the racist rhetoric and a forum to discuss the matter is planned for Monday. One commenter raised some very important questions about the Burke Society’s funding:

Dear LSA: Why did Burke receive $300 when they were on probationary status?

Why are student fees being used to subsidize an event for law students to drink while mocking immigrants, people of color, their fellow students and anyone who is marginalized?

Why are is Burke a registered student organization? Why are they still provided access to reserve Ida Noyes for their gatherings? Are they in compliance with the student handbook? Has anyone at LSA enforced these regulations?

Unfortunately, while the school should take action to stop indulging these racial-slur playdates, the present leadership of the Department of Justice will be right there to protect the Burke Society if Chicago takes any action. The DOJ has made abundantly clear that “free speech” isn’t about avoiding censorship as much as it requires campuses to nurture racist vitriol. The only threats to free speech, we’ve been told by Washington, are those who voice serious objections to such trollish behavior.

After today’s events and many conversations, a group of concerned students have decided to attend the Burke event on Tuesday, February 6th, to demonstrate solidarity with all those derided or affected by this message. We do not intend to disrupt this event. We will be bringing poster boards and markers to the law school tomorrow, Friday, and Monday for students to make posters to express their feelings. You can find these materials in the clinic​ (The Federal Criminal Justice Clinic)​. The intention is that these posters can be used to stand silently in the back of the Burke event. We hope that you join us.

I suppose pledging not to be disruptive is intended to avoid accusations of the dreaded “hecklers’ veto.” As if the DOJ would make that distinction. The Attorney General is afraid of talking to an unvetted audience, so critical placards would feel like the height of violent suppression to him.

Perhaps the most poignant comment on the board is this one:

When I was a 1L, I tried pretty hard to do the UChicago thing. I assumed that disagreement was in good faith and enjoyed talking to people thought differently. It’s not so hard when you think that people see you as a human being.

I suppose I was being naive. I don’t have those talks anymore.

But it’s not good faith. It’s children seeking self-worth through bullying minorities and playing dress up (because of course there’s a formal dress code for “gentlemen” and “ladies”). There’s no depth beyond shoring up their own fragility by reveling in privilege.

And, sadly, that puts them on a fast track to government office these days.


Joe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.

With the new school year comes the frenzy of another admissions season, as students rabidly compete to get into the nation’s top schools. As the admissions dean at Yale Law School, I love getting the dirt on how much money people spend to game the system. Lacy Crawford, a longtime “admissions tutor” whose new novel is based on her experiences helping the children of the wealthiest families get into college, charged $7,500 for help writing the college essay, a modest fee compared to the $40,000 parents pay to Michelle Hernandez, “America’s premier college consultant,” for guiding a child from ninth grade to Ivy League admission. I’m not sure what’s more shocking: the price tag for these services or the fact that they’re in demand. But while it’s tempting to heap blame on these admissions consultants or the tiger parents who hire them, some of the responsibility for creating such an atmosphere lies with the admissions officers themselves.

The admissions process at elite schools has long been shrouded in mystery. Before the electronic age, the admissions black hole made sense—admissions officers had no real way of communicating with students, apart from generic paper application materials. But in an age of instantaneous information, the black box is anachronistic and counterproductive. Students know immediately, through Facebook and online discussion forums, when and where their peers have been accepted. They share essays at the click of a mouse and two minutes later feel that their own versions fall short. They believe everyone else is on an inside track that they don’t know about, or has some critical piece of confidential information that they need. It’s no surprise that so-called admissions consultants—who often have no actual knowledge of the admissions process at any school and whose only “credential” is that they happened to attend an elite school themselves—are willing to fill this void and make a buck doing it.

Admissions officers can provide real insider tips and level the playing field for the people who most need it. First, we can require students to disclose whether they received any assistance in preparing their applications. You might think that students would just lie, but applicants’ neuroses about jeopardizing their chances of admissions are as effective as sodium pentothal: In the six years I’ve been asking this question on my school’s application, I’ve received confessionals detailing everything from proofreading help from Uncle Bob to writing assistance provided by fellow students, college counselors, and consultants. And if they do lie? Well, I don’t want to give away my methods and sources, but the Internet is quite helpful when it comes to verifying applicant information. (It helps that I’m also a former FBI agent.)

Getting outside help isn’t automatic grounds for rejection (unless the student lies about it), just as not getting help isn’t an automatic in. But knowing the kind of assistance an applicant received provides an additional data point about that person and context for weighing other parts of an application, like a recommender’s assessment of the applicant’s writing ability, or how well the student performed in writing-intensive courses. (Fortunately for me, the LSAT includes a timed writing sample, so in cases of serious doubt I can compare the essay to the writing sample.) In the end, asking students to be candid about what went into their application lets me compare apples to apples, which in my job is the only way to accurately pick the best students.

Next thing admissions officers can do: With so many free and public interactive platforms, like blogs and Twitter, we should offer a peek into what we’re really looking for. Most admissions officials would scoff at this idea, saying that admissions is so holistic that there’s no specific advice to give applicants other than to just “be themselves.” I sympathize with not being able to offer detailed advice, since admissions at elite schools is typically highly subjective and case-specific. But even if most of us can’t give applicants a checklist on what to do, we surely have advice on what not to do. As I tell applicants on my admissions blog, the admissions process is a lot like playing blackjack: There’s plenty of luck involved, and the odds are on the house, but there are a few rules you can follow to increase your chances.

For example, make sure your application is entirely, 100 percent free of typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect punctuation. (You think this is obvious? Then you haven’t spent much time reading personal essays.) Remember that “standing out” is admissions code for “crazy”: Don’t write your essay on cringe-worthy topics like naked yoga (true story), or in “clever” formats like rap and iambic pentameter. And don’t stalk me or the admissions office; don’t send food, gifts, or money. That’s the basic stuff, but I’ve offered more specific guidance on my blog based on my experience reading almost 25,000 admissions files. For instance, “I Love to Argue” is not a particularly sophisticated (or original) theme for an essay to law school. Also, you should know the difference between an obstacle (like being a political refugee, or having faced a serious illness) and a disappointment (like not making a sports team)—and you might be better off not writing about either. Other essay topics to avoid include comparisons between Yale and Star Trek, imaginary conversations with Socrates, and pickup lines addressed to the reader, which leave me wondering whether I should reject the applicant or call my Title IX coordinator.

I’ve found that providing candid advice in my own voice goes a very long way in reassuring students and their parents that there is an actual and mostly reasonable human being on the other side of the admissions black hole. It democratizes the process by making sure that everyone has access to equal information and encourages students who otherwise might not have bothered to apply to throw their hats in the ring. Most importantly, it provides students who don’t have connections—like first-generation college students—with some confidence that they know what’s going on, they’re on the right track, and they’ll be given a fair shake.

Admissions at elite schools is widely believed to be rigged in favor of the privileged and wealthy, and to a certain extent, it is. By closing themselves off behind a wall of secrecy, admissions officers are complicit in creating a market that allows students who are already ahead of the game to get an even greater competitive edge in the process. Without transparency going both ways, the admissions process won’t truly be fair. Admissions officers should lift the veil, give a real voice to the process, and make admissions what it should be: a meritocracy.

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