Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Breaking: Tipster reports that the ABA has denied provisional accreditation to recently-opened Concordia University School of Law.

In the fall of 2012, Concordia University, a smallish Oregon school associated with the Lutheran Church, opened a School of Law in Boise, Idaho. This project has flown under the proverbial radar of the scamblog movement-- perhaps because Concordia took a relatively low-key approach, and our attention was drawn instead to start-up Indiana Tech Law School, with its cast of outspoken eccentrics. [1] Or perhaps out of a misplaced feeling that maybe a small law school in Boise was not a completely scammy project given that it was only the second law school in all of Idaho. [2] 

However, there is big news out of Concordia. According to an OTLSS tipster, the ABA had denied provisional accreditation to Concordia. Yes, our ABA, which seemingly acts as though it would accredit any warehouse with a well-stocked law library and a large number of full-time faculty (paid for, of course, with student loan money). [3] But apparently the ABA has drawn the line at Concordia.

As well, the Concordia Law Charter Class (2012) consisted of 75 students. However, the school only recruited 44 members for its second class, the one that began in the Fall of 2013. So Concordia is not exactly making great strides towards its "expectation" of enrolling 250 law students when fully operational.

A quick review of Concordia Law's promotional material indicates that it puts great stock in training practice-ready lawyers, as well in its religiously-derived values. ("Concordia Law is dedicated to graduating the students we enroll with the skills necessary to be successful on the bar and in practice. Our core mission includes service to students and, through them, to a society in desperate need of affordable legal services.") But what if the ABA denies Concordia accreditation again next year? If that happens, Concordia will graduate a class of some 75 JDs who are ineligible to take the Idaho bar exam. I wonder whether Concordia will then invoke its vaunted “values,” to refund the students’ tuition money, and apologize for wasting three years of their time. 


[1]  In September, 2012, Third Tier Reality did a write-up of Concordia U.'s law school in appropriate recognition of its recent opening. 


[2] Whatever unmet need exists in Boise for new attorneys will be met when the accredited flagship University of Idaho launches a "full-fledged Boise branch" consisting of 250 of its 500 students.

Moreover, even a single law school is sufficient to more than satisfy the statewide demand for new lawyers. On June 27, 2011, the New York Times wrote up a study by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. comparing the number of people who passed the bar exam in each state with the estimate of annual job openings ("The Lawyer Surplus, State by State"). Idaho's single law school produced 157 newly-barred lawyers in 2009. However, the projected annual lawyer job openings (2010-2015) numbered only 128.  

[3]  Exaggeration for comic effect. But here are the recent ABA accreditations by year approved.


And here are the ABA accreditation standards and interpretations. Law schools must meet a "substantial compliance" standard to receive provisional accreditation.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The ABA Blawg 100

Not that this blog is a huge fan of the ABA or has any use for accolades, but I wanted to alert our readership that the ABA Journal is currently soliciting "amici briefs" for inclusion in the ABA Blawg 100.  Responses are due by 5:00 on August 8th.

What is the criteria for inclusion in the ABA Blawg 100?
There is no specific criteria that a blogger can meet to be guaranteed a spot on the Blawg 100....
• We're primarily interested in blogs in which the author is recognizable as someone working in a legal field or studying law in the vast majority of his or her posts.
• The blog should offer insights into the practice of law and be of interest to legal professionals or law students.
• The majority of the blog’s content should be unique to the blog and not cross-posted or cut and pasted from other publications.
• We are not interested in blogs that more or less exist to promote the author’s products and services.
I think we meet the criteria, don't you?  Last year, Law School Cafe made the list as "a hub for all those who are dissatisfied with the current state of legal ed and have ideas on how to change it."  This blog, however, missed the cut last year, presumably because it was not operating for the entire year.  Given that this blog has more posts, comments, and street cred with the target audience than Law School Cafe, I would think this blog is well worthy of inclusion.

But do we want inclusion in such an establishment list?  I think that's best left up to the discerning readership.

However, if you do happen to submit an "amicus brief" on behalf of this blog, please feel free to copy-post your "brief" as a comment to this post.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bar investigation closes.

The bar investigation instigated by the Professor from Ashley Madison has been closed. ("We have concluded our consideration of the above matter and have determined to proceed no further"). I am relieved and grateful that the First Amendment protects one's freedom to spoof a foolish law review article, or to describe that law review article as slop, or to refer to a law professor junket to Waikiki as a luau train. Or even to use the shocking word "comely" (outside the presence of children, of course).

Contrary to what the complainant apparently believes, it was never personal. It was and is about a horrible scam called American legal education in which a haughty and pampered elite of deans and professors enriches itself off the misplaced trust and likely future misery of bright but naive kids. Therefore, without regard to race, gender, or creed, I have criticized many law professors for callous or self-aggrandizing statements or activities and have mocked or satirized examples of pretentious silliness pretending to be legal scholarship. Thanks again to the First Amendment, the great leveler. And, yes, in the course of my blogging, I have made a few wisecracks that I regret making.

If my scamblogging has focused on self-styled progressives, it is mainly because I am progressive myself. I wince when righteous sentiments about economic and social justice are expressed by hypocrites and poseurs. In my view, the level of one's progressive commitment is measured primarily by advocacy for and service to the poor, not by how many times one uses the words "intersectionality" or "counternarrative" in the span of a CV-inflating non-peer reviewed journal article that nobody will ever read.

There is plenty I could say about the interesting events of the last six months. However, I think the more constructive approach is to announce the favorable outcome and move on. I intend to blog no more about this professor or her bar complaint, though others may. (This intention is not iron-clad. I will defend myself online if necessary).

The legal academics I have profiled or referenced on this blog and at JD Underground may not appreciate this distinction or believe it, but here goes: While I am not overflowing with respect for them, neither do I target individual law professors for criticism out of personal animosity. Rather, I call attention to law professors' writings, statements, and CVs in order to illustrate aspects of an intolerable system. It would defeat my purpose in scamblogging to get trapped in an interminable feud with any one professor. That is why I wrote, back on November, 24, 2013 (comment at 6:13 PM), and repeat now: "I have said everything I needed to say about this professor's qualifications and scholarship. It would be good judgment on her part, on both our parts, to allow this matter to conclude. My guess is that [we] have this in common: there are other things we would rather focus on."  

I will conclude with a few lines by A.A. Milne that charmed me when I was a small child, and that I still think are pretty cool as a middle-aged lawyer who has spent his career representing indigent clients: 

And sometimes when our fights begin,
I think I'll let the Dragons win
And then I think perhaps I won't,
Because they're Dragons, and I don't.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Indiana Tech Law School: Not going down without a fight

Indiana Tech Law School was a fool's errand from the beginning.  Anyone could see that.  With over 200 accredited law schools in the country, and four already in Indiana, Indiana Tech Law School was a transparent cash grab disguised by pledges to do "legal education differently."

Many of us were hoping that the central university would shut down the law school after one year in order to free the "charter class of 2016."  The school's ABA Required Disclosure page shows a pitiful 28 enrolled students, despite a goal of 100.  Its Dean recently resigned.  You can apply here.

Those 28 poor souls, however, are not to be so lucky.  In a thread at Top-Law-Schools that I recommend everyone read, Indiana Tech Law School is purportedly cold-calling in order to increase enrollment for the class of 2017.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

ABA Lets The Floodgates Open Ever So Slightly

In light of the precipitous drop in law school enrollment, the ABA is taking action. Are they putting caps on tuition? Nope. Are they instituting curricular requirements that make students are ready to actually practice law? No way. Are they proposing that law schools can admit up to ten percent of their students without requiring said students to take the LSAT? Ding ding ding!

Once again, we see that law schools simply don't get it. Like the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand, the ABA thinks making law an even less exclusive profession is the key to saving everyone's cushy jobs. And make no mistake about it: if the ABA cared even one iota about students, they would not be allowing students to enter law school without the bare minimum of an entry barrier that is the LSAT. Why try this now? To help goose LSAT scores and increase the law school's ranking in the US News, of course.

Further evidence that the legal academy and the ABA have no imagination: this scheme was already attempted by OTLSS darling Paul Pless. What is different about this proposal and what Pless was doing at Illinois? The only difference I see is the absence of smug emails calling prospective students "bastards". While Pless was shooed away from his lucrative law school gig, the people at the ABA did not forget his visionary plan. This development allows Pless to join such luminaries as Galileo and Copernicus as a person whose ideas were initially ridiculed, but ultimately adopted as absolutely correct. 

The ABA is like the occupants on the second floor of a burning house who are refusing to admit anything's wrong below. This type of chicanery will not save law schools from the truth: the halcyon days of endlessly increasing tuition and plenty of people beating down the doors to pay it is over. The ABA can continue to apply band aids, but this will not stop most people from seeing that law school and the legal profession are terrible investments. The end is nigh and no one in the ivory towers wants to admit it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cooley Law School instituting a "Financial Management Plan"

Normally I do not like posting until a day or two after a previous post (and I haven't made a post in a while, as I am studying for the bar), but this is the time for an exception.

Everyone has theories on which bottom-feeding law school will be the first domino to fall.  Some have pointed to Indiana Tech.

This post isn't about that domino falling, unfortunately, but it could be bigger than the flop of Indiana Tech.  Without further ado, visit the following link at the Thomas M Cooley Law School web page:

Cooley Announcement

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

JD-Disadvantage, Part IV: Burk's "The Smokin' Bucketful of Awesome" Test

Damn, I just found another Unicorn/LawProf who "gets it," and it brightens my day.
Readers of this blog have heard me go on about this before, for example, but outside of a Campos or a Tamanaha, ScamDeans and LawProfs would often brush the concerns and complaints of working-class-JDs aside, even those who hold these allegedly gold-plated "JD Advantage" jobs, such as yours truly. Nope, instead of listening to the anecdotes of people "living the dream," it's better to opine about things one actually knows nothing about in reality and then proffer those speculations as valid evidence, somehow. Thus, the scambloggers were historically relegated to the dustbin, as is the usual fate for those who have the temerity to voice messages that are unpopular with the Establishment, because Federal Student Loan Dollars.
Remember folks, for those keeping score at home, "JD Advantage" jobs comprise approximately 15% of law school graduate outcomes in the aggregate, depending on how you fiddle the numbers. This is easily verifiable for those law schools who are willing to publish accurate employment statistics, or from those Heroes who study this sort of thing (nice chart below). Approximately one grad out of seven actually "gets" and/or "wants" these positions, meaning the other six have vastly different plans for their JD like, oh, I don't know, actual practice or something. The non-legal (or, hell, legal for that matter) marketplace doesn't seem to be wanting JDs as fast as the Law School Cartel seems to be producing them, but, hey, whatevs.
 Chart from The Law School Tuition Bubble - Note the so-called popularity of JD Advantage and Professional Positions over, say, Bar Passage Required Jobs over the last 13 years.

Professor Bernard Burk at UNC Law dives in:
I explained in my last post that there are essentially three ways to think about the relationship between a course of graduate or professional study and any employment the prospective student may obtain.....[o]ne way is to posit that...you are pursuing the course of study for its own sake without expectation of any practical benefit[.] This is perfectly valid, but highly personal and idiosyncratic, and not typical[.] The second way of thinking about the relationship [is that] there must be a relationship between the two such that the education is justified by the worldly benefits that it creates...this Practical Justification Test is met if either the postgraduate position requires the degree as a condition of employment, or the course of study provides dramatic and substantial advantages in obtaining or performing the job...[t]he third way of thinking about the relationship [is] that the course of study transforms you into such a Smokin’ Bucketful of Awesome [(tm) -Ed.] that the degree alone routinely opens doors to countless jobs unrelated to the course of study that would otherwise be closed to you[.]
Sounds pretty rational and reasonable. Typical ScamDeans and LawProfs love to harp on Number One, as if everyone has a trust fund and goes to school for pure funsies and "to avoiding working hard," to hear some Boomers tell it. Perhaps that was true for some ScamDeans and LawProfs, but most mere mortals have to work for a living, thanks. Number Two is the classic "Law School" explanation that doesn't rely solely on "defending liberty" and "pursuing justice" platitudes (again, insert trust fund here if you want to be a "do-gooder," sadly, but these are the times we live in). Number Three is our favorite oft-proffered "JD Advantage" claim - yessuh, serve me up some o' dat Smokin' Bucketful of Awesome! Who doesn't want an outcome that sounds like your favorite barbecued-ribs recipe?
But the Establishment has to get a word in edge-wise, because Federal Student Loan Dollars, so here we go:
In response[,] [an] admissions officer suggests..."a fourth way to think about the relationship between seeking an advanced degree and the employment a student may obtain afterward":

I think many students see the versatility of the law degree as a form of risk insurance. Their intent in attending law school may be to practice law and they'd be disappointed not to. But if they don't find "traditional" legal employment, they still might be able to make use of their law degree. It's common to run into law graduates who have ended up outside of traditional legal practice, but in a field for which the JD has some benefit. Is it wrong to point to such outcomes?...So while it may be overselling to say that a PhD is perfect for someone seeking to become a high school teacher, or a JD is perfect for someone looking to do compliance, I think it's fair to point out to prospective students that these degrees might be beneficial in ways that are not obvious.

BWAHAHAHA, yes, (sniffle) because (giggle) "law degree as risk-insurance" and "law degree as something that might be beneficial in ways that are not obvious" is CLEARLY the SAME THING! Yes, I would like my insurance policy that I paid good premium for to be beneficial, maybe, in some vague, ephemeral, and non-obvious ways, thanks. Because if my house catches on fire, I'm willing to roll the dice and "see where things go" instead of, say, getting real value from the policy.
Thankfully, Professor Burk doesn't let the ScamDeans of the world get away with such tripe:
Let’s apply this insight (assuming you can dignify it with that title) to the decision whether to buy a particular car...[t]he used-car salesman is touting the value and utility of the car, assuring you it has everything you need to take you where you want to go. You are understandably worried that the car may not live up to your needs. One thing that the used-car salesman does not say is, "No worries, pal. You should buy this car because, even if the engine implodes the minute you drive off the lot, the smoking pile of scrap that’s left will have measurable salvage value." We generally don’t buy cars for their salvage value[.]

If you have your wits about you, you consider whether to go to law school taking into account the likelihood that the degree will take you where you want to go—at the very least, a job that justifies that course of study under the Practical Justification Test[.] But what if the degree (car) blows up the minute you drive it off the lot (graduate)? And what if the car costs $150,000, and there’s a 50-50 chance (or worse) that’s it’s going to blow up as soon as you hit the open road? What’s the value of what’s left? Should you buy a law degree for its salvage value?
Ah, yes, the wonders of the "open road." But I digress.
Here is where the wish is all too often father to the thought. Law-school apologists assume very high salvage value for a law degree...[u]nfortunately, there is simply no empirical evidence that [these] assumed benefits exist for the typical person in any measure substantially greater than could be achieved by paths other than law school that require much less time and money[.] So does a law degree have any salvage value? Undoubtedly. Is that salvage value materially greater than what you could get (and the costs you could avoid) doing something else for three years instead of law school? There’s no evidence that it is for many if not most people...

In other words, touting the salvage value of a law degree as "a form of risk insurance" without offering a clear-eyed assessment of how likely it is that the risk insurance will be needed, what its coverage limits are, and how cheaply you could get the same benefit another way is inexcusably incomplete. It’s a failure to accept the difference between a Smokin’ Bucketful of Awesome and smoking pile of scrap.
Damn straight, Professor Burk, and thank you for being willing to express the truth. Friends, we've been saying this for some time now, but don't take it from the scambloggers, take it from a LawProf. Would that many, many others in the Establishment would pull back the curtain in so frank a manner. We all might actually get somewhere, then, rather than enticing the next crop of 0Ls to make pipe-dream decisions that are really not in their best interests, because Federal Student Loan Dollars.