Monday, April 23, 2018

It's Future Shock All Over Again


"A Nickel ain't worth a Dime anymore..."
 

The problem isn't the way the legal industry has been historically handled over decades...the problem is, apparently, that it is now 2018 and the legal industry has failed to innovate:

It is no secret that the legal profession is not serving a large portion of society. However, the delivery of legal services is evolving rapidly to try and meet this need. Technology is providing new ways of communicating, collaborating, and organizing our work to better serve clients, the profession, and ourselves. Nowadays, many people seek legal representation in other ways besides the typical in-person model. Alternatives are readily available, fueled in large part by advanced technology. In addition, those without JDs increasingly operate in the space that previously was the exclusive province of lawyers.  (emphasis added)
 
There is a new normal in our profession. To adapt and thrive, we need to think like true innovators. Many are in agreement that the more efficient delivery of legal services is a win-win for everyone – lawyers and clients alike. How we get there is the topic of this critical industry conference.
 
In other words, legal services are too expensive.  We have heard the clarion call from the Law School Cartel for years now, and it is finding its way into the private sector also - many are underserved, there is not enough pro bono, other kinds of non-JD degrees need to be offered, etc. etc. etc.
 
The answer?  Gig the legal economy.  TaskRabbit-ize the already-stretched army of underemployed attorneys trying to scrape out a living.  Because the unaffordability of legal services is clearly the Lawyer's Fault(tm).
 
And the reason lawyers can't work for peanuts, in most cases, is due to the extreme cost of law school and the attendant student loans.  PSLF and other semi-loan-forgiveness programs like IBR are increasingly in the crosshairs due to growing rates of default and use of these programs.  Because no one saw this coming, even though the Higher Education Act was originally passed in 1965.
 
Part of the reason legal services are "too expensive," of course, has to do with stagnant wages for decades.  True, legal services have probably never been cheap on a relative-percentage basis compared to middle-class incomes.  Then again, I must have grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, because the only experience I had with the legal industry was when my folks set up a Living Will.  Never had any cause to retain legal counsel prior, but then again we were hardly Magnates of Industry or Descendants of Aristocracy, so maybe that's why.
 
Regardless, the "new normal" of the legal services industry has arrived, and it involves clients paying less due to a buyer's market.  According to the Georgetown Law(!), the Legal Executive Institute, and Peer Monitor's 2018 report, the legal industry is stagnant, law firm profits are on the decline, and clients can demand and do obtain significant reductions in price.  Legal outsourcing and contract legal work is on the rise as a consequence.  The charts and graphs in the attached report are worth a look in and of themselves.
 
Into this declining market, the Law School Cartel continues to manufacture twice as many graduates as the market requires while continuing to blithely raise tuition.   And the brunt of that will fall on you, the mid-range law graduate.  In years prior, law graduates did not have jobs because they did not "network" enough.  Today, law graduates do not have jobs because they failed to "innovate."  In either case, the "fault" lies with the party least able to institute major change in a declining market.  An amazing coincidence, to be sure.
 
Don't go to law school kids, unless you have excellent backing and "immediate connector" status.  Otherwise, the failure of the legal industry in general, and your declining paycheck in particular, will be All Your Fault for some reason. 
 
 
 
 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Another Word of Warning from Someone Who Has Been Through the Gristmill

Look, I'm Just going to out-hustle my 100 other classmates at my 90th-ranked school, NBD.
 
 
Today we have a "guest post" that doesn't pull any punches.  OTLSS has laid this argument out on the line more than once concerning school rankings, but here is another poster from a year ago that puts it in no uncertain terms:
 
I go to a law school ranked 80-90 with about a 55% employment score. Do I think my quality of education is bad? No. However, I think the main difference between my school and a better school is the feel you have knowing that, out of any three students, one is going to get a good/decent job, one is getting a shitjob that won’t pay back their loans, and one isn’t get hired anywhere...everything matters because you know there’s way more falling bodies than trampolines to save them.
 
Also, remember that the employment score is likely bolstered by people who I call “immediate connectors.” These are people with serious connections that guarantee a job, not just the typical dude who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy he can send his resume to. These people bolster the employment score, but aren’t actually an indicator of the school’s ability to place its graduates. Just to toss some anecdotal examples out there, there’s a person in my class who transferred in from Charlotte School of Law. Her third time in the actual building, she went through OCIs and got swiped up by the biggest firm there. Come to find out, her dad is a bigshot partner there. The fix was in the whole time. Another person’s uncle is a damn US Senator and has a job locked up for that person in DC after law school. I can name at least 8 more in my 100ish-person law school class...I don’t blame these people for their connections (hell, I wish I had more), but you should understand what they mean. They’re sucking up a job that you honestly don’t have a chance of getting. It doesn’t matter how well you outline for Seagull Torts and write on for the International Dogbite Law Journal, the firm is looking to fill one spot and you aren’t beating out the partner’s kid. That’s less trampolines catching those falling bodies.
 
It’s frustrating especially because there are no solid criteria for what gets you a job, so you never get the feeling that you’re safe until your offer is in hand. The number one kid in the class is set, but I know the number five (with LR and a ton of mock trial stuff) kid is looking and can’t find shit. Number 3 kid is working as a state court clerk making as much as a dental hygienist but with much more debt. At the same time, there are some lower ranked kids with good job offers because they hustled their ass off...but it’s a rough correlation and a bunch of people who deserve it get left out in the cold.
 
What’s also shockingly noticeable are the people who are just refusing reality and are not hustling to get jobs even though it is 3L spring and that student loan hammer is just WAITING to crush them. I saw one dude in our class (probably in the top 10%, mind you) who said he put off looking for jobs pretty much all of January/February because he is the head of our school’s trial association and his time has been preoccupied organizing the school’s in-house trial competition...[y]ou see shit like that out of 3Ls all the time at this level and, honestly, the psychology is fascinating. Just straight-up denial of trying to find a job. You can tell they’ve never been put in that position before, where putting your head down and mumbling “I don’t know” isn’t an acceptable answer. These are people who have been smart and capable their entire lives and just aren’t computing that the transition from law school-to-work isn’t as smooth as the transition from undergrad-to-law school. There’s no magic standardized test score they can reach that will end with someone handing a job to them on a silver platter like there is with a really high LSAT score. It’s like someone put Valium in the water or something.
 
If this seems depressing, well, it is...[i]t seems crazy on most forums because all but a few 1Ls just can’t grasp it while their busting out all the cannons of construction for International Shoe. Realizing that you can do everything right and still lose is shocking to some people.  I’m a 3L and things “worked out” for me...[h]owever, I am aware that one misstep, one bad bounce and I’m back to being a falling body with no certain trampoline. So, would I recommend a school of this caliber to someone who isn’t an immediate connector (for those of you that are, it doesn’t matter which school so at least pick a cheap one in a nice location)? No. Absolutely not. It just isn’t worth it. But if someone insisted, I’d tell them to prepare for a fight.

We've said it before, and we will say it again - don't take our word for it, take it from someone who is unaffiliated with OTLSS.  You have nothing to lose, and perhaps your whole life to regain.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Savannah Law Prof Marc Roark rages at the announced closing of his bottom-of-the-barrel law school and implores social media to #SaveSavannahLaw





On his twitter feed, Professor Marc Lane Roark of doomed Savannah Law School (which is a branch of equally scammy John Marshall Law School of Atlanta) introduces himself modestly as a "Law Professor, sometimes poet, sometimes fiction writer, academic on homelessness, urban affairs, identity, literature, and the south."

As a poet, albeit just sometimes, Professor Roark may be more naturally perceptive than the norm, and therefore able to perceive meaning and beauty where others see only a dismal and toxic pit of scam. And, of course, he has a poet's ability to communicate meaning and beauty in vivid and compelling language. So I was moved by Roark's simultaneous social media elegy for his soon to be ex-law school, and last-ditch plea for its survival. Even if I must evaluate his eloquent words in the  skeptical and evidence-focused manner of a mere sometimes scamblogger and actual practicing lawyer. 

Roark: "Our bar passage rate was decent."  

Savannah Law's bar passage rate was 54.5% for July, 2017 and 33.3% for February, 2017-- outcomes that were respectively a whopping 23.9% and 20.6% below the Georgia state average. Indeed, Savannah was on track to violate the ABA's Standard 316(a)(2), which requires that a school's annual first-time bar passage rate be is no more than 15 points below the jurisdiction's average first-time bar passage rates for three of the last five years. 

Roark: "Our job numbers were outstanding." 

In so saying, Roark does not cite Savannah Law's overall job placement numbers, but rather its placement results within a very specific subcategory of employment outcomes, namely federal clerkships, of which Savannah grads snagged four in the last three years. This is a very run-of-the-mill performance, even for a fourth tier school. However, Savannah's unusually small class size lifts its federal clerkship rate to to 2.8%, or a smidgen above the median. (See this chart, listing federal clerkship rate for the graduating classes of 2014-2016, by law school). 

Unfortunately, Savannah's overall legal placement rate is more accurately characterized as "outrageous" than as "outstanding." For the Class of 2016, only 15 out of 36 graduates (41.6%) got full-time bar-required non-solo jobs within 10 months of graduation. This places Savannah in the bottom 30 among law schools, i.e. the bottom 15%.  

Roark: "Our scholarship was innovative and bountiful." 

Professor Roark has innovated unto the world a bountiful law review article entitled "Reading Mohammed in Charleston: Assessing the U.S. Courts Approach to the Convergence, of Law, Language, and Norms," 4 Widener L. Rev. 205 (2007). 

In the article, Roark summarized seven appellate court decisions where application of Saudi or Afghan law was requested by a party in a commercial context. Now any lawyer could have summarized these cases and their rulings, but only a law professor could supply the show-offy literary references and pretentious verbiage meant to convey, with as much circumlocution and puffery as possible, the obvious point that interpreting texts from different cultures can lead to distorted or unintended results. See Reading Mohammed at 212 ("As Reading Lolita in Tehran is a memoir about reading cultural epigraphs in an environment that would seem to challenge the norms and practice of that reading, so this article is an anthology of seven distinct instances in which American courts attempt to read Islamic law through their own cultural interpretive lenses. Instead of Austen, Nabokov, and Fitzgerald, our six memoirists struggle with the cultural norms of the Prophet and his law"). [ed: Roark means seven "memoirists," aka courts, not six. Widener Law Review members, circa 2007 were not paying close enough attention to the article during the editing process, though I can hardly fault them]

An earlier draft of this article (available for download at bepress) was entitled Reading Mohammed in Charleston: Assessing the U.S. Courts Approach to the Convergence of Law, Religion, and Commerce," So Roark replaced two of his three title convergers, swapping "religion" and "commerce" for "language" and "norms"-- though with little substantive alteration in the text of the article. See e.g. Reading Mohammed, bepress draft, p. 11 ("Like Reading Lolita in Tehran is a memoir about reading cultural epigraphs in an environment that would seem to challenge the norms and practice of that reading; so too, Reading Mohammed in Brooklyn [sic] is an anthology of six distinct instances in which American Court’s [sic] attempt to read Islamic law through its [sic] own cultural interpretive lens. Instead of Austen, Nabokov, and Fitzgerald, our six memoirists struggle with the cultural norms of the Prophet and his law").  

I pose this question: Do serious scholars write whole articles about the convergence of certain forces, then determine that it was actually entirely different forces that were doing the converging, but still find no need for substantive changes to the article, only to the title? Because a more critical person might conclude that such a move might more commonly be expected from a poseur or a dilettante or worse. 

Roark: "Our faculty had the 35th most downloads for law schools in SSRN." 

If Roark is going to brag about the total SSRN downloads of articles published by Savannah Law faculty, he ought to have fairly acknowledged that his championship team has lately been far off its game. In the last 12 months, Savannah Law has ranked 144th among U.S. law schools in new SSRN downloads with a total of 3,133, bested ever so slightly by top performer New York University School of Law, with 167,462 downloads.

But this elides the question: Why does Savannah Law's SSRN download stats deserve any more than negligible weight as to the issue of the school's moral right to exist? We are talking about law review articles, of which there is no shortage, and which rarely have any influence on actual legal practice or even on other academic disciplines. Roark, for instance, has posted 17 scholarly papers on SSSN, the vast majority of which are law review articles. These 17 articles have a cumulative citation total of one.

Roark's article "Reading Mohammed in Charleston: Assessing the U.S. Courts Approach to the Convergence of Law, Language, and Norms, discussed above,  has accumulated 121 SSRN downloads, or about 10 per year.  Its low total may suggest that genuine scholars of both Western and Islamic law are happily convergent in common allergy to pretentious bullshit. 

Roark: "Yet the owners of the law school decided that the real estate was too valuable for something like educating a group of radical, thoughtful, visionaries who would see (sic?) to do good in the world. . . . So today we learned they sold the building out from under the law school." 

I was touched by this heartfelt plaint. Not because I consider it valid, but because I had a strong sense that the aggrieved wording was a stand-in for the complainant's punctured ego. I mean, it has got to hurt when the interests who have been providing your comfortable livelihood make it clear that they believe the chair you are seated upon is objectively more valuable than that chair plus you. 

The LSAT score for the most recent entering class of Savannah Law was 144 at the 25th percentile and 147 at the median. Excluding the Puerto Rican law schools, only seven accredited law schools out of over 200 scored worse at the 25th percentile and only eight scored worse at the median. I hate to be unkind about this, but how likely is it that a group of persons who have earned the description of "radical thoughtful visionaries" have collectively scored close to rock bottom on a test that measures logic and reading comprehension? And if the students at Savannah Law do possess these sterling different drummer qualities, test results notwithstanding, is it not likely that they would contribute more to overall world goodness outside the frustrating constraints of the precedent-bound, procedure-bound, and credential-fixated realm of legal practice?

The capitalists in charge of this for-profit law school, subject now to Roark's public ire but not when he was anticipating uninterrupted salary checks, have asserted that "This hard decision resulted from Savannah Law School’s inability to attract a necessary applicant pool to ever achieve sustainable enrollment levels." Indeed, Savannah Law offered admission to 273 persons in 2017, but found only 38 enrollees among that number.  That is a pretty significant decline, both percentage and raw number -wise from 2015, when the school was able to secure 59 matriculates from 245 admittees. 

Perhaps Savannah Law's owners are not motivated by blind greed so much as by a sober assessment that their business plan had misfired in idealistically overestimating the pool of radical thoughtful visionaries. At least the special kind of visionary, whose imaginative wisdom leads him or her to pay $42,682 resident sticker per year to attend a school with job placement results and bar passage rates that are about as decent-to-outstanding as the cake that Marie Antoinette fed to famished French peasants. 

Roark: "At the end of the day, Savannah's legacy may simply be this: we never had a chance to show what we were capable of." 

These are poignant words indeed, until you actually think about them. 

First, Savannah did have a chance, in fact seven years' worth of chances since its establishment in 2011. Seven years in, and the school was only enrolling three or four dozen students per year, of whom a significant percentage were sub-145 LSAT scorers. I hate to side with the profit-hungry owners of the school but, again, were they not entitled to make some informed judgments about financial viability after seven years? 

Second, let us assume that Roark and his colleagues were hindered in their noble and ambitious goals by administrative incompetence and neglect and other circumstances beyond their control. Doesn't that simply put them in the category of nearly everybody? "I never had a chance to show what I was capable of" is something that could be fairly said by anybody whose talents and abilities were not given unlimited scope, funding, and encouragement. Welcome back to the real world, Savannah law professors, or shall I say soon-to-be-ex-law-professors, an often disappointing and frightening place where you do not typically get six figure salaries for a worklife of maximum autonomy, pampered ease, undue authority and respect, and the opportunity to show what you are capable of.

Roark: "Innovation centers have certain things in common -- one thing is-- they have law schools. Law schools bring smart people in contact with each other to create new synergies. If Savannah wants to be an innovation hub it needs a law school." 

But for the magnetic draw and adhesive quality of law schools, smart people rarely make contact, and certainly never join together to make beautiful synergies that bring enrichment to all. With no law school in the vicinity to draw then out of their shells, local smart people behave like autistic savants, each trapped inside of his or her own idiosyncratic and uncommunicative mentations. 

OK. To be less snide, I would like to note a somewhat boosterish, but still interesting recent article about how Pittsburgh became an "innovation hub." (Roark's exact phrase). The article is about the revival of the city's tech sector, with special focus on local developments in robotics. The article identifies Carnegie Mellon University as hub's hub, the place that drew funding for robotics projects, brought together scientists from various fields, and rapidly produced research that could be commercialized and productivized into the larger economy. 

Now, Carnegie Mellon does not even have a law school, but it still somehow managed to bring very smart people into contact with each other in a way that produced concrete innovation. Pittsburgh does have two middling law schools, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne, but the article did not deign to mention either, let alone give them a starring role in innovation. (Not quite fairly as to Duquesne, which did innovate to the extent of offering law students quality ukulele lessons to compensate for a less than first-rate legal education). 

Perhaps true innovation involves creations more substantive than "synergies," a word whose primary usage these days is to try to create vaguely upbeat impressions about interactions and convergences. 

Actually, my sense is that the word "synergy" has been so overused by scammers that it tends to unintentionally alert sophisticated readers or listeners that the declarant is an obnoxious flack. So maybe we can recognize the new usage of the word "synergy" by applying it to the collective behavior of most law professors in producing puffed-up scholarshit, in reinforcing one another's unearned sense of accomplishment and entitlement, and in their striking aversion to responsibility. Hey law profs, you have ruined a lot of lives with your contemptible synergies. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

LSAT Scores Don't Predict Bar Passage Rates...

...in fact, they appear to over-predict them!
 
What do you mean, I hear people say?  Well, the ABA just published first-time bar passage rates across all law schools in one handy document (for the first time, it appears).  For those of us that like to use data to make our arguments (e.g. scamblogs) instead of feel-good platitudes to make our arguments (*cough* *cough* Law School Cartel), it's certainly useful.
 
Recently highlighted were the 2017 first-time bar passage rates for the following schools:  University of DC, Florida Coastal, Whittier, TJSL, and Arizona Summit.  One can also go to the ABA to find the median LSAT scores for 2014 for these same schools - the class that approximately represents the 2017 bar passage data.  Also, we recently complied 600 data points correlating median LSAT scores with first-time bar passage rates from the 2010-2012 timeframe.
 
Comparing the results:
 

 
1st-time bar pass
Median LSAT
Prediction
 
2017
2014
2010-2012
University of DC
40.0%
148
66%
Florida Coastal
39.5%
143
59%
Whittier
35.3%
146
63%
TJSL
29.2%
145
62%
AZ Summit
26.5%
144
61%
 
Overall, these schools did worse BY HALF than one would expect from the prediction.  Some items that could affect this outcome:  (1) by including "all" the bar-passage data to make a prediction, the prediction may skew high overall, (2)  the data used to make the prediction is approximately eight years old as of this date, so the prediction requires updating, (3) the prediction is too broad across all ABA-accredited law schools, and should be analyzed by groupings/rank/tier/something, (4) gremlins. 
 
In any event, the actual results are not positive, at least where the students are concerned.  Whether the Cartel likes it or not, some sort of gate-keeping mechanism is necessary for the protection of both the profession and the individual.  Unless one merely views students as a resource to be consumed, of course.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Another one bites the dust: Savannah Law School closing soon

Savannah Law School, a branch of John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, will close at the end of the semester.

The students, if I may so flatter them, of this ├╝ber-toilet were informed two days ago. Already the building had been sold—apparently with possession to take place before the end of the semester, as the students will "be relocated to an unannounced location". I'm sure that the students appreciate this very late notice, scant weeks before their exams.

Savannah Law School now has to produce a "teach-out" plan to enable its current students to finish their Mickey Mouse JDs. Funny, I don't recall seeing any such plan from Indiana Tech or Whittier or Charlotte. Certainly none of those venerable institutions stayed open for two more years for the sake of the currently enrolled students. And Savannah Law School apparently has no such intentions either, since it has already sold its building. The "plan" may well be to have everyone transfer to the main campus in Atlanta, hours away.

In the meantime, Valparaiso is not admitting students, Cooley is in hot water with the ABA, and the two remaining InfiLaw toilets (Arizona Summit and Florida Coastal) have shrunk to a small fraction of their size at the heyday of the law-school scam. Expect more closures this year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The AALS (Association of American Law Schools) publicizes a dubious claim that 3Ls contributed at least 81.8 million dollars worth of free legal services in 2017



On January 3, 2018, The Association of American Law Schools issued a press release crowing that 3L law students of the Class of 2017 provided 81.8 million dollars worth of pro bono legal services, or actually considerably more. 
"In November 2017, 94 law schools reported that 18,411 law students in the class of 2017 contributed more than 3.39 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 184 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.14 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students' time. . . is estimated to be in excess of $81.8 million. . . Many schools indicated that some hours go uncounted or are difficult to track so actual contributions were probably higher. . . Law students contributed hours through a variety of efforts, including externships at legal aid and community organizations, law school clinics, and law student organization led projects . . . .Students received practical experience in law and communities received critical legal services."
AALS also posted a video of its Executive Director Judith Areen announcing this finding at the outfit's recent annual shindig in San Diego, to a round of spontaneous applause from the law profs in attendance. (Video at 11:10-12:16) Here, after all, was ego-bolstering evidence that law faculty are facilitators of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars worth of "critical legal services." You know, as opposed to facilitators of a debt trap premised on scam, as many of their victims have cruelly asserted.  

The website Law.com published a story based on the AALS press release, as did the publication National Jurist, and both stories were arguably even more laudatory than the original press release. AALS then tweeted a link to the Law.com story. This tweet got a retweet from Barry Currier, ABA Managing Director of Accreditation & Legal Education. (above) I may be oversensitive here, but isn't it slightly disconcerting when a chief regulator retweets self-congratulatory public relations from a trade and lobbying group representing the very institutions that he is supposed to be policing? 

Due respect (or disrespect) to AALS and its flack-in-chief Judith Areen (who drew compensation of $518,859 for fiscal 2015, while refusing to pay her full-time law student intern a plug nickel), but I am dubious about her claim that 3L volunteer student labor equates to 81.8 million dollars worth of  legal services.

AALS's calculation is, as it notes, based on an estimate by Independent Sector ["IS"] that the value of an hour of nonspecialist volunteer time is $24.14 per hour. However, this estimate problematically derives from the average wage of non-management non-agricultural workers and is essentially propagandistic in nature.

IS is a nonprofit organization that exists to advocate for public policies on behalf of the charitable sector. IS acknowledges that the purpose of its estimate is to "show the immense value volunteers provide to an organization." Indeed, IS hopes that charitable organizations themselves "use the value of volunteer time for recognition events or communications to show the amount of community support an organization receives from its volunteers." 

What is more, IS acknowledges that the estimate generally cannot be used on financial statements.("The general rule to follow when determining if contributed services meet the [accounting] criteria for financial forms is to determine whether the organization would have purchased the services if they had not been donated.")  Thus, IS's $24.14/hr. estimate of the value of volunteer time is more suitable for self-congratulatory social media posts and tweets than for budgets and balance sheets. 

Is a law student intern or volunteer really contributing $24.14 per hour worth of labor? I mean, that sums to close to a $1,000 per week contribution for a full-time volunteer. Many public defenders do not earn $1,000 per week, despite being licensed to practice law, tasked with huge caseloads, and trained and experienced in trial and motion practice. So how is it possible that the work of a coffee-fetching or make-work-doing intern at that same public defender's office is valued more highly than the work of the public defender him or herself?

What is pro bono law student labor really worth to the lucky public interest organizations that receive this contribution? University of Georgia Law Professor Alex Scherr, a man with genuinely impressive credentials in experiential legal education,  did not mince words:
"You asked what the common consensus was among externship programs and field supervisors. I can't count the number of times I've heard externship supervisors say, "These students don't give me much. In fact, they are more trouble than they're worth if I'm thinking about it exclusively in terms of economic value. But I do it because I want to teach and I do it because I want to mentor."
(ABA Section on Legal Education, Public Hearing Re: Amendments to Standards, April 25, 2014, Transcript, p. 31)  
To pursue Scherr's logic, those 3.39 million donated law student hours do not represent an economic contribution to legal services organizations by law students. Rather, they represent a contribution by legal services organizations to the educational experience of law students-- a contribution that may even be deleterious to those organizations' core function of providing legal assistance to worthy individuals or causes.

I note that IS's $24.14/hr. estimate does not vary according to the educational achievements or specialized skill of the volunteer. Thus, by IS's measure, a law student doing volunteer work at a public interest law office is contributing no more to legal services than if the same work were to be done by a retiree, an undergraduate, or a high school student. Granted that 3.39 million hours is a lot, but theoretically you could get the same number of volunteer hours, and thus the same alleged 89.2 million dollar value, from the general population. Which means that law schools do not have to trap tens of thousands of kids per year in long-term debt slavery in order for legal aid organizations to receive the full benefits of volunteer labor.

Legal services organizations could also get an 89.2 million dollar boost if some vain member of the ultra-rich were persuaded to donate that amount in lieu of using the money to acquire naming rights to a law school. (Got that, Mr. Pritzker?) Something tells me that an 89.2 million cash donation would be considerably more welcome to legal services organizations and their clients than would 3.39 million hours of law student volunteer work. 

But let's say that all of the above is incorrect, and that law school student volunteers have made a massive, valuable, and irreplaceable contribution to legal services organizations. If so, then congratulations to law schools. However, if there is to be a calculation of the collateral economic benefits to society of law school attendance (e.g. those 3.39 million hours of uncompensated student labor on behalf of legal services) should there not be a counterbalancing calculation of the collateral costs to society of law school attendance?  

How much money is spent for health care, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, that is attributable, at least in in part, to the stress of staggering law school debt loads and stagnating opportunities in an oversatuturated profession? What is the loss to overall social stability when hundreds of thousands of law grads must tap their meager savings every month to cover near-extortionist interest rates on student loans rather than, say, using that money provide for their families, save for retirement, start businesses, or even make charitable donations to worthy legal services organization?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Finally, a minimum LSAT score—of sorts

North Carolina Central University may be the first institution to impose a minimum LSAT score for admissions. Aspirants to this toilet school will now have to score 142 or better. In other words, the bottom 18% of the pool of test-takers just isn't good enough for North Carolina Central.

This departure from the institution's "holistic approach to admissions", according to scam-dean Phyliss Craig-Taylor, results from a "communication from the ABA" about violations of various standards. Faced with loss of accreditation, North Carolina Central had to adopt "new strategies and approaches … to be achieve [sic] student success".

Any minimum is better than none, but 142 is so dreadfully low as to lose its significance. If the threshold were set at a reasonable level, such as 160, North Carolina Central and most other law schools would cease to exist.