It's annoying on a certain level to watch clips (d/l'd from CrooksandLiars.com) of Bill Maher slamming tier-4 law schools when talking about Regent University, and Jon Stewart talking about Regent University and "Jiffy Law" (that was a damn funny clip, though), because I attend a tier-4 law school. Maher, in particular, recently painted with a broad, and entirely unfair, brush.
Do I approve of an administration that values loyalty over skill, talent, or diligent service? No. (Does this mean every grad of Regent is a bad lawyer, b/c 150 of them are employed by the Bush Administration? Well, I don't actually *know* that, do I?)
There are nearly 200 law schools split up into these pesky 'tiers'. Tier 1&2 comprise the 'top 100' ABA-accredited schools in nation. (Do I know what the criteria are for a tier? No. This whole thing started thanks to Consumer Reports, or US News and World Report, or some other competitive idiot, however many years ago.) That's not counting the non-ABA-accredited law schools in the country.
That's not counting the rest of the law schools in the country.
Looking at the list, which I don't deign to link to, I see that I was offered a seat at a tier-2 law school, and multiple tier-3 and tier-4 law schools. I chose my school for various reasons, being completely oblivious to this tier business, thankfully. (I was more or less ready to leave California, I liked the strong commitment to public service of this school, the mix of interest areas -- international law and environmental law -- available here, and they offered me a full-tuition scholarship, as opposed to the rest, which only offered me half-tuition scholarships.)
I firmly believe that I attend one of the best law schools in the nation. Any of you reading this who've attended a big university -- you already know the difference between the researcher stuck teaching a class b/c he has to teach one class a year or some such, and doesn't give a damn about you, and the "real teachers". Just about every member of the faculty at my school is the real thing. They come to *teach*. These people are *dedicated*.
I can learn anything, anytime, anywhere. What matters isn't if you're -- and now it's my turn to paint with a broad brush -- a legacy student at Harvard or Yale, what matters is what you do with your education after you walk out the door.
So, Maher was not terribly amusing[*], essentially saying that all tier-4 schools suck. They don't. Pat Robertson founding what seems to be a Dominionist university, with a law school, and those graduates possibly getting preferential treatment b/c of their religion, and presumed perceptions regarding their loyalty to Bush, and worse, if those preconceptions are actually accurate? Very, very, bad. But not the same thing.
[*] Stewart kept it much more on RU.