Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Post by a Former Charlotte Law Prof, Part II: How Charlotte Law Treated its Students.




[This is the second of a two-post series on InfiLaw-owned Charlotte School of Law, written by a former law professor there. The first post concerned the treatment of faculty and staff. This post concerns the treatment of students.]

To increase student body size, the school has been dropping its admission standards even more. It is now possible for students who scored in the 10-20 percentile on the LSAT to get in. The school also expects its faculty to make marketing calls to accepted students in order to entice them. The staff prepares special key-point tip sheets for faculty to discuss during such calls. These tips are filled with exaggerations and lies (such as making students believe that they can obtain employment at reputable firms or international organizations). Most of the students who scored at the bottom of the admitted pool lack basic reading and writing skills, and so are required to take a pre-1L program to make them able to participate in actual classes.

I have taught several students with special needs and developmental disabilities. The school admits almost anyone, but special needs of such students are never acknowledged and they are not provided appropriate help.

The school goes out of its way to discourage and prevent students from transferring out. Not only does the new curriculum impede it, but faculty is also instructed to make the transfer process for students as hard as possible. Faculty is told explicitly to discourage transfers, and to instruct students interested in transferring to meet with school administrators before proceeding. Those meetings are designed to discourage the students from transferring, and to present them with more lies about why Charlotte Law is the best choice for their tuition money.

Some students who are admitted are not only academically challenged and have personality disorders, but are also dangerous. I know of three male students who had physically threatened several faculty members or made them so uncomfortable that the faculty members would refuse to meet with them alone in their offices. Several other students had acted inappropriately and violently in class. Yet not a single one was dismissed or suspended due to such behavior. At Charlotte Law, it is all about the tuition money coming in!

Although some faculty members are talented and care about their students, many are utterly incompetent, arrogant, and disrespectful, and some are even mentally unstable. Frequent faculty conversations reveal how many of them do not respect their students; some even feel contempt for them. Numerous faculty members do not know basic rules of citation (electing to cite at the end of each paragraph instead of after every single sentence, even if citing to the same source throughout the paragraph). 

Many overwhelm their students with powerpoints, handouts, and a constant flood of assignments instead of focusing on teaching core subjects. Also, all doctrinal classes must include midterm exams in addition to finals. This interferes with the ability to have a flow of teaching during the semester, and causes the students unnecessary stress. Many professors do not know how to write or spell properly, and many are teaching courses that have nothing to do with their experience or teaching interests. Hence, they simply regurgitate casebooks. Some are known to simply read aloud large portions of casebooks in class instead of actually teaching. Many lack basic common intelligence, as well as basic social skills. Even more astounding is the high level of emotional disturbance or mental problems among them: A faculty member has thrown her shoes, during lectures, at students who had displeased her.

From what I have heard, the situation is even worse at Florida Coastal and Phoenix, as well as at other for-profit schools InfiLaw is contemplating buying in the near future...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Guest Post by a Former Charlotte Law Prof, Part I: How Charlotte Law Treated Faculty and Staff.


What follows is an account of the goings-on at Charlotte School of Law by a former lawprof there. It will be published in two parts --today's post concerns the treatment of faculty and staff; the second and final post will concern the treatment of students. 

Charlotte Law, of course, occupies a special place within the law school scam as one of only six accredited law schools that are run on a for-profit basis, and one of three (soon to be four) owned by InfiLaw (aka "The InfiLaw System"). All InfiLaw schools, in the words of Paul Campos, "feature atrocious employment statistics, sky high tuition, enormous class sizes, and graduates with massive debt loads." Perhaps opposition to InfiLaw's astonishing version of legal education is an area of common ground for scambloggers and law professors. 

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I agreed to teach full-time at Charlotte Law, after having been lured with promises of great opportunities for faculty members who take initiative. This all proved to be a lie, as only faculty and staff members who are insiders with the InfiLaw power players can get ahead.  Excellent teaching evaluations and scholarship record are utterly irrelevant to the school administrators in their reviews. They seem only concerned with whether or not the school is the right "culture fit" for its faculty members.

With soaring enrollment, sub-par and steadily decreasing bar pass rate (near the 60% mark right now), and poor career placement rate, Charlotte Law feeds on students who were not accepted into any other law schools and who are foolish enough to pay (or take loans) to cover the high tuition fees. Making money for the top administrators of the school, as well as for its investors (in InfiLaw), is the only thing that matters. Many faculty members had admitted to me that what the school is doing is not ethical, but have not left due to the abysmal academic market right now.

Faculty is not treated well. The school does not hire tenure-track faculty anymore. Instead, faculty must choose a teaching track (which entails teaching about 8-9 credits per semester), or an alternative track (which entails teaching the traditional 2+2 classes, at about 2/3 of the normal salary). Most faculty chooses the teaching track, which can be overwhelming at times, especially given how much harder that student population is to teach. This increased teaching load results in overworked faculty, who are not able to attend to the students as much as they should. Furthermore, the school just changed its curriculum, infusing it with tons of required skills-oriented courses. The courses are repetitive and offered before students have the substantive background to be able to tackle them. Furthermore, faculty has no experience preparing or teaching the new courses.

The reason for this curriculum change has been tacitly acknowledged as a method to make it harder for students to transfer out. Even core courses have been renamed, and students do not complete all the typical core courses until their 2L year because the 1L curriculum is peppered with practice-oriented classes that take away from their ability to actually focus on learning core legal concepts. Furthermore, the new curriculum prevents students from taking any electives until the end of their 2L year or their 3L year.

All new faculty and staff members are required to attend 4 full days of Emotional Quotient training. Instead of focusing on their students or scholarship,  faculty is forced to share their personal issues and bond superficially.  I have heard participants mock what others had shared behind their backs. Notices about these training sessions are always last-minute, and typically scheduled during religious holidays or vacation breaks. Those who are unable to attend are threatened with termination.

Faculty is given very little opportunity to voice their opinions. Voting on faculty appointments is not anonymous. Frequent faculty handbook changes are likewise voted on publicly. The administration had even put forward proposals for IT to have access to faculty's personal smart phones if they also contained Charlotte Law email accounts, and the ability to wipe out ALL the data on them. Weekly faculty meetings are mandatory (an attendance sheet used to be passed around), and there remains huge pressure to conform and attend them all, no matter how much that interferes with teaching preparation or scholarly pursuits. Most faculty meetings do not seem to have a purpose, aside from reciting the three mission pillars, brainwashing the faculty, bemoaning low applicant numbers, and putting a rosy spin on falling bar passage rates. 

Scholarship is ignored or even actively discouraged. The library does not even have any secondary sources. Thus, all books faculty uses for research need to be requested via interlibrary loans. At least some of the librarians make it clear how helping faculty is at the bottom of their list of priorities.

The school has been continuously creating new assistant dean positions that are unnecessary. It has several InfiLaw insiders in dean positions that are superfluous. No one seems to know what it is that they do. The new administrative posts are all filled with people who support InfiLaw’s ideology, even though most of the could not have even gotten adjunct jobs at decent law schools (as indicated by the schools they attended, lack of scholarship, and no law teaching experience).

The whole institution is like a cult, always reciting their three mission pillars (skills preparation; being student-centered; serving the community) before the beginning of any faculty meeting. Unfortunately, these ideas are paid lip service only; the only mission of the school is increasing the student pool to make bigger profits for its administrators and investors.






Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What if the Chaff Remains?

I addressed this article from the Connecticut Law Tribute on my own blog, but whereas there I focused on the "unfortunate" side of a decline in law school enrollments, here I would like to address the "good" side of law school enrollment decline:
Is this drop in law school enrollment a good or bad thing? One part is arguably good: many young people applied to law school because they had good grades and board scores and wanted to keep their options open, rather than truly thinking through that a legal career was right for them. Now, in contrast, anyone applying to law school has likely given serious thought to the decision.
We have seen this type of argument repeatedly over the last few years.  "With applications declining, the good thing is that the wheat is being separated from the chaff!" or some such argument coming from the law dean and law school-sympathetic news outlets.  Today's law students are more sure they want to be lawyers, not like yesterday's vagrant liberal artist!

Here's my question:  How the hell do you know this?

Here's another:  Even if you're right, are these really the type of people we want going to law schools?

Here's a third:  Have you considered that you might be wrong?

Monday, September 8, 2014

The After-Scam Market

One of the oft-repeated claims of the Law School Cartel is that if you don't want to be a practicing attorney, you don't have to.

Let that sink in a minute.  You go to a very specialized form of multi-year schooling, that is regulated by state agencies, by spending roughly $200k for the express purpose of becoming licensed by the state of your choice.  But hey!  If you change your mind, you can just scrap it all!  A JD is THAT valuable, you know.

Great.  So what do you do, then, once the silver has tarnished?  Why, you talk to the after-marketeers. The folks that help you transition from the lucrative practice of law to one of the many, many exciting, interesting, and transformative careers where the JD is a springboard to career-gold.

One of my favorite take-downs of the "after-scam" market was done by the immortal L4L, back in late 2009/early 2010, concerning "Solo Practice University."  (The "Practice of Law" School!)  Granted, this was for people who wanted to still be practicing attorneys, but the point gets across.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne's finest unaccredited law school, offers a Global Law & Leadership Concentration.


(Pondering whether to obtain an Indiana Tech JD with a concentration in Global Law & Leadership)

What did you major in in law school? This question is preposterous to lawyers above a certain age, but maybe not to more recent graduates. Concentrations, specialties, certificate programs-- you know, majors-- are among the well-meaning, but almost certainly useless, reforms that law schools are adopting in response to the crisis in legal education.

Recently-opened Indiana Tech Law School has embraced this reform, consistent with its announced focus on real-world training. Accordingly, the school offers its students their choice of four concentrations: transactional law, international property/technology law, advocacy/dispute resolution, and global law and leadership.

Wait. Global Law and Leadership? 

Yes. If you aspire to world leadership, whether you are a megalomaniac cartoon lab rat or, far less promisingly, a kid with a 143 LSAT score, you definitely should consider obtaining a JD at Indiana Tech in your quest for primacy. As the Indiana Tech Law view book explains, "Enrollment in this concentration will expose you to a wide variety of courses that will prepare you to assume leadership roles in areas such as human rights, international trade, and international litigation."

Here is how to prepare to take your rightful place as a global leader via the innovative training that is only available at Fort Wayne's finest unaccredited law school. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Widener Law Prof. Ben Barros sounds the alarm: A shortage of law grads is on the horizon, along with a shortage of sand in the Sahara.

Prof. Ben Barros, who teaches at poorly regarded Widener University School of Law (median LSAT score 150), has published several provocative posts at the Faculty Lounge arguing that the job outlook for recently graduated lawyers is not as bad as people believe or as the nine-month-out survey data indicates. In fact, according to his latest post “The Coming Lawyer Shortage,” the slight contraction in overall law school enrollment means that the good times will shortly roll. In this post, Barros asserts that “in a relatively short time, we will have gone from an environment where employers received hundreds of resumes for every open position to one where employers might not receive any resumes at all.”

Barros dismisses the far more pessimistic projection as to anticipated lawyer job openings over the next decade made by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The BLS is merely composed of unbiased expert statisticians and economists, and so can hardly match the credibility and reliability of a self-interested law professor whose cushy job rides on the decision of young people to borrow many tens of thousands of dollars to attend his bottom-of-the-barros school. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Strict Scrutiny: Michael I. Krauss Tries To Hustle People Into Attending Law School

It's been a while, my friends. Things have been busy at my non-law job and quite frankly, there wasn't a lot coming across the radar that I was moved to write about or that the other excellent authors on this site hadn't tackled yet. Then, Michael I. Krauss dropped this gem of subtle scammery. As you read this, it appears that Krauss is empathetic and could be an agent of change. But we should all know better. This valiant attempt deserves some Strict Scrutiny. As usual, his words are in italics and mine are normal.