Friday, July 25, 2014

WANTED - A Bigger Bandwagon

In 2006, my first law school book, Later in Life Lawyers, was published. In 2012, I wrote a lengthy epilogue/update to address specifically the negative effects of the economic downturn on the job prospects for law graduates. While by no means the first to point out the fact that the legal economy crashed and was not coming back, I was back then – and remain today – an ardent believer in the idea that the legal economy didn’t just collapse back in the mid 2000s, but rather changed forever.  And as such, attitudes towards legal education and legal careers should also change.

Attitudes didn't change though, despite the valiant efforts of many writers, bloggers, and other activists over the years who have done whatever they can to change the conversation about law school.  And so frustrating was the continued rosy outlook given by the usual sources inside academia, many of whom should have known better and were (and still are) engaging in deliberate deception or incompetent misleading of college students – and it’s one of the two, because while commentators are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts – that I wrote Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century with the great Thane Messinger, a book with the sole purpose of presenting a no-holds-barred, sugarless, utterly depressing portrait of the realities of law school and the legal business, because people were still just not getting it.

This isn’t a temporary blip in the legal economy; law school is not a place to wait out the tail end of the Great Recession and leap, upon graduation, into a job market unable to get its hands on enough qualified lawyers. The legal job market is never going to recover (at least not in any form similar to the job market of the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s.)  Technology has taken its toll, law firms have finally realized that the “associate” is all but obsolete – certainly too expensive – and clients, now having seen that they don’t have to spend a fortune on legal services anymore, will not be inclined to go back to the days where lawyers were calling the shots and raking in the billable hours. 

And this message is now, at last, being spread through established sources such as The Boston Globe. A recent article entitled Waning Ranks at Law Schools caught my eye, not necessarily for breaking any new ground, but for how similar its message is to that of the scambloggers and other law school critics many years ago.

In prior times, you’d have attributed quotes such as the following to a scamblogger:

“It’s a complete structural change, and it’s not going away.”

“The end result is fewer graduates, and fewer law schools.”


But you’d have been wrong. They are, in fact, the words Richard P. Campbell, lawyer and former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, who also is quoted, with no ridicule from law professors whatsoever, as saying, “The recession brought about a structural change.”  We’ve been pointing that out for years though.

Who might have said the following KrAzY scamblog nonsense in response to the fact that law school applications have plummeted, not recovered, and won’t recover because students are clearly on board with the idea that law no longer offers a golden ticket? “There’s a pretty broad consensus that this is something completely different.”

Broad consensus?  Completely different?  Because if you'd have listened to any law school insider a couple of years ago, there would be broad consensus only on the idea that nothing had changed whatsoever and law school was still the best way to a fine, stable, lucrative career.

Those were the words of Vincent D. Rougeau, dean of Boston College Law School, who clearly didn’t get the Establishment memo to all law school faculty members to parrot the message that the downturn is just a temporary blip and jobs-a-plenty await just around the corner.

“Nobody is acting as if there’s reason to believe there will suddenly be a large spike [in entry-level legal hiring].” The words of a lunatic scamblogger? Because if one had listened to the words of almost every law professor recently, things were about to rebound healthily and we'd all be back to normal next year. (No, next year. No, we meant the year after that.)  Nah, it's Jeremy Paul, dean of Northeastern University’s law school, who is also quoted as pointing out that, “Declines in entry-level hiring and flat funding for legal services programs have made jobs harder to come by, and law schools are not expecting enrollment to rebound quickly.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad for the help. I don’t care who jumps on board the bandwagon, because everyone is welcome. I don’t even particularly care if the guy or girl climbing aboard spent the past five years shouting that the scambloggers were just a bunch of disgruntled law students who were responsible for their own failure, or spent the past two decades sucking on one of the countless teats of the student loan pig. What matters now (to me, at least, and this is in no way implying that I speak for this blog or any other bloggers or critics) is that the message is being spread by anyone willing to spread it, because there’s still plenty of people out there who still aren’t getting it. Yes, applicants to Indiana Tech Law School, I’m looking at you.

But let’s not let our guard down or stop pushing the message. We’re right. They’re wrong. We’ve always been right, and as law grads and lawyers who have been through the system ourselves and seen the nightmarishly bad job market with our own eyes, we’re infinitely more qualified to speak on the subject than the vast majority of law professors whose livelihoods depend on recruiting as many students as possible, and who, safely tucked away in academia, can ignore the realities of the legal profession. Law schools are “fighting back”. As the article points out towards the end, the automation of the legal profession is an opportunity not to be wasted:

Andrew Perlman, a Suffolk law professor who directs the school’s Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation, said schools need to shift their focus to emerging areas, such as document automation and electronic discovery, which involves software that searches documents for relevant information. “It used to be a lawyer went page by page,” he said. “The real growth is not going to be in traditional settings.”

Suffolk created the institute, along with a new concentration in legal technology, to train students in the type of technology that has eliminated so many traditional jobs.

“Instead of fighting it, lawyers can participate in it,” he said.

Er, Andrew, no they can’t.

Charles Cooper is the author, along with Thane Messinger, of “Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession)”, in addition to being the moderator at Nontradlaw.net and the author of “Later in L ife Lawyers”.  He can be contacted at charlescooperauthor@gmail.com.

ABA Accreditation: Concordia Update.

A recent story on this blog reported that a tipster contacted OTLSS and informed us that recently-opened  Concordia University School of Law was denied provisional accreditation by the ABA.  Madeline Turnock, APR, Advisor to the President of Concordia University, informs us that that is incorrect (below).  Our prior post was based on the uncorroborated word of a single source, albeit one we had reason to believe was reliable.  In light of Ms. Turnock's statement, we have decided to take down the post. 

-------------------------------------------------------
Hi OTLSS Team,
I am writing with respect to your blog post at http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2014/07/breaking-tipster-reports-that-aba-has.html.  The blog incorrectly states that Concordia was denied provisional accreditation. This is inaccurate.  This week, Concordia filed a petition to the Idaho State Supreme Court requesting that 3L students be allowed to sit for the bar in fall ’15 and spring ’16.  Meanwhile Concordia continues to pursue ABA provisional accreditation and hopes to hear more by mid-August.  We would appreciate if the blog could be update to reflect these facts.  Please feel free to call or email me with any questions.
Thanks,
Madeline

Madeline Turnock, APR
Advisor to the President
Concordia University

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Current Law Student Decries the Law School Scam

As is stated at the top of this blog, we welcome commentary, opinions, and (most) anything else our readers want to contribute, even if it disagrees with our core message.  Increasingly we get mail from actual lawyers and even LawProfs(!), and this mail is largely more supportive of our position than not.  Birds of a feather flock together, to be sure, but at the same time we like sharing the testimony of others to demonstrate that we are not alone in our position, and that information is power when evaluating claims.
 
Without further introduction, we have the following from a current law student:
 
 
Hey there,

I just want to say that your blog is f**king heroic!  

I'm a law student (sadly).  I decided to go to law school on a bunch of factors.  Having the opportunity to hang up my own shingle and do what I want was actually a big factor.  A bit random, I know, but that's the main reason why I decided to take on the debt.  

I ended up at a TTT where I was getting a decent, albeit bait n switch scholarship.  As a result, sections were stacked, and I suffered because of it (health issues my first semester made things worse too).  Anyway, I finished strong in spring, and decided to transfer since I didn't like the area (too podunk), the school's curriculum, and some of my ass-backward (equally podunk and ultra conservative) classmates.  You know there's not a lot of diversity in politics and personal philosophies when your Property prof mentions, right in the middle of lecture, as to how there are, "oodles of Republicans" in your class.

For our spring semester, we were all forced to take this Philosophy 101-esque class.  It was horrible.  It was a way for certain professors, and certain douchebag students, to pontificate (and for said profs and admin to line their pockets).  Nevermind the fact that we badly need Con Law I by then. 

The more bizarre thing, however, was that none of my classmates wanted to voice their concerns to administration about it.  Everyone bitched behind closed doors.  When I tried to speak to a student--who I thought was a friend--about how classes like these help perpetuate the whole law school scam, she said, "is this real, or is this some silly perception of yours." 

Talk about ostriches with their heads in the sand!  The charge to try and have the class erased from the curriculum for future generations was headed by myself and one other student.  Everyone told us to give up since we weren't going to benefit from the class being dropped in the future, but I didn't care.  I guess I was one of the only students who was truly interested in justice at that school.  

End of story: I don't know what really happened to our efforts.  My transfer was successful by June, and I had actually got the hell out of dodge right after finals anyway.  Around that time, there were rumblings about how the law school was being kept afloat by the main campus because enrollment was so low.  Pathetic.  I'm currently at a 2nd tier dump, but in a town that is more familiar, surrounded by family and wonderful friends, and with other (non-law) possibilities open to me.  

Thanks for the blog, keep up the awesome work.  The struggle is really trying to convince the special ostrich-type snowflakes to see the reality.  Feel free to share my story with as many as possible.   
 
 
Personally, I don't know about "badly needing Con Law I", but I get your point.  Good luck, and we wish you the best.  Regardless of one's personal politics and interests, honesty is good for the soul, and we share these stories to demonstrate that we are not alone and our numbers our growing. 
 
In contrast, the Law School Cartel has no soul, which explains why they have been dishonest for some time now, have intentionally obfuscated the truth, and have let people believe that they are the only ones who feel the way they feel and believe they way they believe, because Federal Student Loan Dollars.  Shame and peer pressure are powerful motivators, until the curtain is pulled back, of course.
 
And that is why we scamblog.  If you don't want to take our word for it as (old) graduates with bar licenses, fine...but don't ignore the experience of a current law student in the trenches, right now.

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.