With the ongoing free-fall in LSAT takers, perhaps we’ve reached the point when all law schools will need to do more to promote themselves to prospective students.
For example, the editor of noncuratlex.com has recently acquired the following draft script of an advertisement for his alma mater, Yale Law School, seeking applicants:
[Director’s Note: The commercial opens with three attractive twenty-somethings, two women and one men, sitting on an urban streetcorner. All look depressed. All wear scarves. Two are drinking "fair-trade" chai tea. At least one should look like Zooey Deschanel. For maximum exposure to likely applicants, the commercial should air during late-night ‘Storage Wars’ episodes.]
Twentysomething One: I am so sick of my Virginia Wolff dissertation. And, query: To what purpose, my degree?
[All three nod.]
Twentysomething Two: I just wish there was a place where we could continue to do as much, or as little, as we want, but be guaranteed lots and lots of money when we graduate.
[The scene should now transition to a head-and-torso shot of Yale Law School Dean Robert Post, dressed in a tweed suit and sitting on a leather chair in his office, legs crossed, reading a book, fireplace roaring in the background. Post looks up from the book and speaks, in an avuncular manner, to the camera.]
Post: Oh! [Smiles.] Hello there. [Shuts book.] I’m Robert Post. Yes, that’s right [nodding], the Robert Post.
Is your life stuck in an rut, like an English Ph.D. program? Are you pursuing any sort of “career” in philosophy? Does your principal skill involve figuring out seating patterns at dinner parties where the guests all have first names that begin with different letters, and must be positioned just so? Well, if you answered these questions with a “yes,” let me tell you about a place that can give your career just the boost it needs: Yale Law School. I’m its dean, and I’m proud to call it home.
[Post stands up, walks toward his office's door, opens it, and waves his hand, beckoning the viewer to follow him out the door, into the rest of the school.]
[Cut to Post, walking down the law school’s main hallway, and continuing to address the camera.]
Post: You never know who you’ll meet – or become – here at Yale Law School.
Future Supreme Court justices . . .
[Here, Post should walk past paintings of Justices Alito, Sotomayor, and Thomas that line the hallway. To make sure the audience knows who these people are, the words “SUPREME COURT JUSTICES!!!” should flash in bright letters at the bottom of the screen.]
“Survivor” contestants . . .
[Here, Post should walk past a painting of Yul Kwon. If there is no such painting, we will have one prepared for the ad.]
Or even Presidents of the United States . . .
[Here, Post will walk past paintings of Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Again, we need “PRESIDENTS!!!” flashing in bold font on the bottom of the screen. While Obama isn’t a Yale alumnus, applicants won’t know that.]
Post: You name ‘em, we’ve got ‘em. Who knows [turns to camera, points at screen, and smiles] – YOU just might be on this bland concrete wall some day.
[As Post continues to walk down the hall, a bearded man, also dressed in tweed, comes into view. The man is intently reading sheets of paper posted on a law-school wall, which bears the label, “The Wall.”]
Post: [Feigning surprise.] Why, it’s Yale Law School’s own Sterling Professor, constitutional law scholar, and famous author, Akhil Amar! Hello there, Professor Amar – or as our students all call you, ‘khil. What’re you doing?
Amar: [Turning around, and gesturing to The Wall.] Oh, I’m just reading these student posts on The Wall. Fascinating! All of them! I am definitely learning something here about the optimal methods of constitutional interpretation.
Post: [Solemnly.] Yes, we all have learned much from The Wall. Akhil, what makes Yale Law School such a terrific value for students?
Amar: Where to begin? I would start with me, for one thing. And then, there’s our U.S. News ranking – number one for, what is it now, twenty years in a row? That’s something like a dozen spots ahead of the University of Chicago Law School. Where, I might add, Richard Posner teaches. Infer what you will from the connection.
Post [Incredulous]: Chicago still has a law school? I did not know that.
Amar: [Chuckling.] If only I did have eleven Constitutions; there’d be one for each institution between Yale and Chicago in the rankings.
[Post nods, knowingly, and steals a glance at the camera to let the point sink in to the viewer before returning his gaze to Amar.]
[Amar turns toward, and then addresses the camera]
Amar: But don’t just take it from me – take it from Yale Law School Professors Amy Chua and John Langbein, together with famous celebrity Wesley Snipes.
[Scene shifts to an ultra-bright, comfortable living-room scene, where Professors Langbein and Chua are seated on a white sofa, along with Snipes. Langbein is dressed in a lime-green sweater vest, a blue, open-collared oxford shirt, and tan khakis.]
Langbein [smiling]: Thanks, Akhil. [Puts down his cup of coffee, and turns to Chua.] Amy, we all know that Yale Law School offers its students four-star dining — just thinking about our superb duck confit, my mouth starts to water — a money-back guarantee that all clinic participants will personally argue a case before the United States Supreme Court before they graduate, and three actual “get out of jail free” cards. But, even given all that, how does Yale Law offer any better a value proposition than, say, an air-conditioner repair trade school?
Chua: Great question, John. [Turns to camera, smiling.] I have a personal story to tell here. Just the other week, my youngest daughter, who is nine, threw a fit and told me that she didn’t want to go to Yale Law School. She said there were too many law students, but too few jobs! Well, let me tell you, that made this “tiger mother” let out quite the growl!
[Everyone laughs, including Snipes.]
Chua: After telling Jed to leave the room, I told her that if she didn’t go to Yale Law School, I would kill her. Seriously. Kill her. Knife across the neck. [Runs finger across throat.] To underscore the point, I pulled her goldfish out of its bowl, placed it on my daughter’s desk, and let it flop around, gasping for air, for just a few seconds. I think my little cub got the message. Hello, Yale Law School class of 2027! [Smiling; turns back to Langbein.]
[Langbein and Snipes stare at Chua, mouths agape and horrified.]
Langbein [soldiering on]: Wesley: How much would you pay for a Yale Law School degree?
Snipes: Today, or before my conviction for tax evasion?
Snipes [suddenly turning thoughtful]: No, but seriously. I think Yale Law offers a “Major League” experience to its students. I wish I had been “Passenger 57″ on this “Money Train”! So, let me guess. But before I do — you’re throwing in the Second Circuit clerkship for free, right?
Langbein: Of course! Though we can’t guarantee the judge. We only promise that no Yale Law student will ever, ever, ever have to clerk on the Third or [shudders] Sixth Circuits.
Snipes: OK. How about . . . $100,000 a year?
Langbein [smiling, slyly]: Keep guessing . . .
Snipes [skeptically]: $80,000?
Langbein: Nope . . .
Snipes: There is simply no way you could offer this education for less than $75,000 per year. There’s just no way!
Langbein: That’s where you’re wrong, Wesley. For a limited time, we are offering an “all-inclusive” tuition, fees, room, and board package for the low, low price of $69,999 per year!
[Director's note: At this point, the bold text "$69,999!!! OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY," and the number to call should flash at the bottom of the screen.]
[Director’s note: The remainder of the commercial remains to be written. It probably needs a jingle, too. And this is extremely important: If the camera inadvertently captures any scenes of New Haven, away from the law school campus, make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN to delete these clips in the editing process.]
OK, not really. For the record, I adore Dean Post and Professors Amar, Chua, and Langbein, none of whom would ever, ever appear in an ad like this or say these sorts of things.