By CHRISTINE PARKER Last Updated: 10:00 AM, March 11, 2012 Posted: 4:51 AM, March 11, 2012
Deciding on a law school is a numbers game: cost versus reward. The stick is $150,000+ for studies, but the carrot is a great-paying job. But maybe not, according to recent graduates from the city’s elite law schools, who relied on job placement after getting their sheepskins. Critics of local law schools say Columbia, NYU and Fordham overpromise the economic benefit of a degree, inflating the number of students who find employment after graduation — and how much those jobs pay.
“My life will be fairly uncomfortable for the next several decades,” said a third-year Columbia Law School student who borrowed $170,000 to attend and ended up with a job in which he will earn between $50,000 and $60,000.
Jena Cumbo Mounting student loan debt for very little oppertunity was a rallying cry at the Occupy Wall Street protests. This week, the New York Fed said that $85 billion or 10 percent student deby is delinquent.
“But when you look at how big a bite $170,000 takes out of you, even over 25 years, it’s really going to sting. . . . Was it worth it? The answer is no,” he said. The student estimated that roughly 35 percent of his class are in a similar position in terms of the salaries they are expecting — a disappointment compared to the glowing portrait of employment opportunity and affluence with which the school had presented them.
After an inquiry by The Post, Columbia Law School last week published a spate of new data detailing its employment rate, which dropped from a previously reported National Association for Law Placement’s 98.6 percent level to 96.5 percent.
The new data include information such as the number of jobs that require bar admission, the percentage of students reporting salary information, and the fact that all the jobs reported are full time, specifications that schools are now required to report to the American Bar Association, and which have become standard to share online. But the new numbers quickly raised questions among legal scholars. Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, pointed to discrepancies between the number of students reported by Columbia to have gotten big-law jobs — employment at a large firm with a salary of $150,000 a year on average — and those counted in a corresponding report by the National Law Journal (NLJ).
“According to Columbia, somewhere between 285 and 298 of its 2010 graduates were working for the top NLJ 250 firms. NLJ 250 firms reported only 239 2010 Columbia grads working for such firms. This is not, needless to say, a trivial discrepancy,” he posted on his blog. Campos approximated a similar difference in the case of NYU.
Noticeably missing from Columbia’s numbers is a breakdown of school-funded jobs — a red flag, as other schools have been called out for creating short-term jobs to temporarily boost the percentage of students employed for the ABA survey, which counts the employment figure nine months after graduation.
The son of Robert F. Kennedy has been charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly clashing with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his 2-day-old baby boy from a Westchester maternity unit, NBC New York has learned.
According to a Mount Kisco, N.Y. police report obtained by NBC New York, Douglas Kennedy, 44, took his baby from the newborn unit of Northern Westchester Hospital on Jan. 7, against the instructions of hospital staff who told him the infant needed to stay there. He faces misdemeanor charges.
Kennedy and his wife, Molly, who was in the hospital to recover from a cesarean section, disputed the accusations in a statement to NBC New York, saying “these allegations are absurd.”
The nurse in charge of the unit, Anna Margaret Lane, said in a deposition that Kennedy wanted to take the child “to get fresh air” that evening. As he tried to leave, he was accompanied by a doctor from the hospital’s emergency room, identified in court papers as “Dr. Haydock,” later determined to be Dr. Timothy Haydock, a longtime family friend.
While the nursing staff sought to get Kennedy to return the baby to his bassinet, Haydock reportedly encouraged Kennedy to walk with the baby by telling nurses that he was with him, according to Lane’s deposition.
Kennedy ignored the pleas of the nursing staff and carried the newborn — identified in court papers as “B.K.” — to the elevator, police said. As the nursing staff tried to calm him and dissuade him from leaving the hospital, Kennedy turned and walked toward a stairwell leading to the outside of the hospital.
Lane blocked the doorway, “placing both hands on the doorknob” to prevent Kennedy from leaving, police said. Kennedy grabbed the nurse by her left wrist and twisted it to that he could pass into the stairwell, police said.
The baby’s head “began to move from side to side, and in an attempt to stabilize the baby’s head, nurse Cari Maleman Luciano reached toward the infant’s head,” police said.
“Instinctively as a nurse, I raised both my arms toward the neck of the baby to steady the violent shaking of the baby’s head and neck,” Luciano told investigators in a deposition.
While holding the child in his right arm, Kennedy kicked Luciano in the pelvis with his right foot, knocking her backward onto the floor, police said.
As he did this, Kennedy fell onto the floor with the baby in his arms. Kennedy then got up and ran “down the stairs with the infant until he was stopped by security and escorted back to the infant’s room,” the police report said.
The police report did not say whether the infant was harmed but Kennedy’s lawyer told NBC New York the baby was not injured and slept during the altercation.
The statement to NBC New York from Kennedy and his wife said there was no crime committed.
“The nurse had no right to attempt to grab our child out of his father’s arms and I, Douglas, was shocked and appalled when she did so,” the statement said.
Haydock said in a statement to NBC New York that Kennedy, whom he has known for more than 40 years, was not putting his healthy baby at risk by seeking to take him for a walk outside.
“I witnessed the incident and I can state unequivocally that the nurses were the only aggressors,” he said. “To charge Mr. Kennedy with a crime is simply incomprehensible to me.”
Kennedy attorney Robert Gottlieb criticized the nurses’ handling of the case.
“What happened to that baby and any danger to that baby was the fault not of Douglas Kennedy but the nurses involved in this case,” Gottlieb said. “There is no question about it during the entire incident, Mr. Kennedy was acting very politely, calmly, politely.”
Elliot Taub, the two nurses’ attorney, said Lane and Luciano “called a ‘code pink,’ that is, it looks like its someone trying to abscond from the hospital with a newborn. That alerts the security staff and when it escalated, they hit what’s called a ‘code purple,’ which means there is someone who is acting inappropriately, highly offensive, is a danger in the hospital.”