Wednesday, June 7, 2017

LLM-Light: The Return of the Not-JDs



Hoo-boy.  From TFL:

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law now offers a Master of Science in Law aimed at non-lawyers.  The website states that the "degree [is] for professionals who want to know more about the intersection of law and regulation with the technical, scientific or administrative demands of their chosen fields."  The subject matter include Environmental Law, Health Care Law, and Patent Law... 

The MSL is a degree in law for professionals who do not wish to practice law, but have a job where a knowledge of the law is useful.  For example, there are quasi-legal positions such as Contracting Officer for the U.S. Government where a background in the cognizant statutes and regulations would be beneficial.  The same could be said for those in the securities industry...this could be a way to counter the decline in law school enrollment, which is currently flat.

A suggestion I have for UMD specifically is to consider offering an MSL in Dispute Resolution.  The Law School has a renowned Center for Dispute Resolution.  The field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)  often has non-legal professionals practicing in a legal environment...


Here we go again.  The desire to render degrees of the of the not-JD-variety continues to proliferate, for the above-mentioned reasons:  law school enrollment has declined and remains flat currently, and a multitude of whiz-bang LT FT JD-required jobs continues to not appear. 

So why fight it, reasons the Cartel.  Go with the flow.  The market has spoken, so respond in kind with an alternate product.

As I stated in my related post some three years ago, this "go to law school specifically for JD-Advantage reasons" is too little, too late for many who are already burdened with the smokin' bucketfull of awesome that is otherwise known as the Juris Doctor degree.  While the Law School Cartel keeps trying to say "no, really, the scambloggers don't know anything, Law School is still a really great idea," they are clearly hedging their bets by offering these "non-JD" degrees at the same time.  Interestingly, there is not a lot of evidence that these programs were in high-demand previously, when the higher-priced Cadillac JD degree was the only game in town.

Actions speak louder than words.

One advantage, to be fair, is cost: the UM MSL degree is 30 credit hours at around $800 per hour - a mere $24,000.00 investment, possibly something one could do while working in their day job in environmental, health care, or patent matters (whatever that would be).  For those looking for a credential, who are already working in regulated fields, perhaps an employer could be persuaded to pay for an employee's further education.

At the end of all, however, one still has to question the value, even at a reduced price.  There is no practicing law with these degrees, although perhaps that was a pipe-dream anyway for many so who cares.  Would employers rather have a MSL candidate over a JD candidate?  Possibly - the MSL does not appear to come with "Scarlett Letters," as we have often stated the JD does not offer the flexibility/transferability that the Cartel would have one believe.  Are that many employers in regulated industries really looking for an "LLM-Light," however?  That remains to be seen, yet it seems unlikely - many folks learn on the job, and there are whole industry-specific businesses that cater to, train and educate those who work in said fields, not unlike the CLE classes we all know and love.

On a personal note:  I am sick to death of ADR.  I, in my JD-Advantage capacity, have been to enough mediations, arbitrations, and trials to know one thing - give me my trial.  Most disputes where ADR comes into play involve money, plain and simple.  You are not going to get people to agree by splitting the baby (when it's no one's actual baby in the first instance), which is what happens 95% of the time.  ADR is not helping me, it hinders me and wastes my time, and prevents me from asserting the claims and defenses I want to assert in favor of someone else's "judicial efficiency."  So stop it with all the ADR concentration-MSL-LLM mamby-pamby crap, and let's get back down to the business of actually trying cases.  Thank you. 

One thing is for certain - whatever the Cartel tries to say, they are feeling the pinch of lack-of-demand.  JDs are not roaring back, schools are teetering, and another income stream is needed to help offset declining balance sheets.  The rise of the "MSL" indicates the decline of the JD, full stop.

The best bet for all concerned?  Avoid all this, in its entirety, unless someone else is paying for it.       


Friday, June 2, 2017

Requiem for a Hoosier toilet: Indiana Tech Law School RIP

Indiana Tech, which I have styled the glorious Harvard on the Wabash, has made good on last October's promise to shut up shop in June:

http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-techs-closing-of-law-school-leaves-unanswered-questions/PARAMS/article/43828

The Web site is gone; links to it are redirected to the university's home page, presumably for the benefit of those whose erstwhile interest in a JD might become transmogrified into a thirst for a BS in Fashion Marketing & Management or a PhD in Global Leadership. Not one word is said about the plight of the jilted first- and second-year students, who have seen their barristerial fantasies dashed to bits against the porcelain of a toilet given its final flush.

Fortunately, however, Marilyn Odendahl took the initiative for the above-cited article to check such regional juridical behemoths as Toledo, Indiana University (both outlets of the franchise), Notre Dame (Indiana's fourth-tier trap school), Valpo, and of course Cooley. It turns out that all of these illustrious institutions are magnanimously collecting the jetsam of Indiana Tech, although at least one of the Global Leaders, unusually for a transfer student, will have to start the three-year program from scratch. I only wish that Ms. Odendahl had reported the number of centurions transferring to Harvard or Yale, as well as the number receiving free tuition in respect of the godlike excellence that they acquired at Indiana Tech.

How did the university honor its last graduating class? Not in the slightest. They got their degrees like everyone else but no other recognition, not even a mention of their status as the law school's final alumni. Indeed, only 5 of the 21 graduates even attended the ceremony; most or all of the others boycotted it so as not to have to confront the university's retiring president on the daïs. Apparently they had drunk the administrative Kool-Aid and believed that a mean official killed off their thriving gem of a law school. Instead, these worthies held their own ceremony at the Allen County Public Library (which, incidentally, houses one of the finest collections of genealogical information—something worth knowing the next time you pass through beautiful metropolitan Fort Wayne), where they paid homage to dean Charles Cercone and associate dean Charles MacLean. The twin Chucks richly deserved that inspiring accolade.

What will happen to the building erected specially for the law school? The university has not yet decided. It has, however, already sent workers in to measure the classrooms, although an examination of the blueprints should suffice. The fate of the curated art collection and the endowments for scholarships also remains unknown. As for the library's inventory, anyone wanting to bid on it should perhaps call Indiana Tech. This may be a rare opportunity to acquire rare volumes on the subject of Law & Hip-Hop.

And whither the distinguished faculty? What shall become of such superstars as André Douglas "Dougie Fresh" Pond Cummings, whose "reputation goes far beyond ... the nation, and is heard in every corner of the globe, wrestling with legacies of legal thinking on one hand and popular culture on the other"; Adam Lamparello, tell-all autobiographer and all-purpose tramp; and Aretha Green, noted for her refined palate (fried bologna with mayonnaise being her favorite delicacy), her sophisticated hobbies (snooping in houses), and her disdain for books? At the time of publication, I had not been able to verify the abundant rumors of deanships at the Sorbonne and sable-carpeted corner offices in New York's white-shoe law firms.

I'd like to conclude this eulogy with a musical tribute, written to the tune of "Back Home Again in Indiana". Pity that it's too late to hire Hoosier pride and joy Jim Nabors to intone it at a ceremony in honor of those valiant legal centurions with freshly issued JDs.

Back home again in Indiana,
Where it seems that I just saw
The Wabash Cannonball
Go to the wall:
Fort Wayne's toilet school of law.
Discordant strains of hip-hop echo
From the remnants of the wreck.
No more Global Leadership along the Wabash;
Turn the lights out at Indiana Tech.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Arizona Summit must post $1.5M against possible closure

The licensing board in Arizona has just required Arizona Summit (Arizona Scum Pit) to post a $1.5M bond with which to reimburse the students in the event of the toilet school's closure.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2017/05/26/arizona-summit-law-school-ordered-create-surety-bond-in-case-closure/338048001/

Only 30% of Arizona Scum Pit's graduates who attempt the bar exam pass it on the first try. At 74%, the rate for the other two law schools in Arizona, both of which are Tier 4 institutions (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-seven-tiers-of-law-schools.html), is still disgraceful.

Arizona Scum Pit and its fellow Tier 6 institutions Charlotte (Harlotte) and Florida Coastal (Horrida Coastal) make up the notorious InfiLaw scam-chain of profit-seeking law schools. All three are in trouble. Harlotte has lost access to federally guaranteed student loans, and Horrida Coastal may join it next year. Arizona Scum pit is on probation by the American Bar Association.

Arizona Scum Pit told the board "that the bond wasn’t necessary and would send a negative message to prospective students". Which negative message? That Arizona Scum Pit is at risk of closing before they complete their Mickey Mouse degrees? If lemmings present and prospective haven't noticed that by now, they won't catch on just because the toilet has to post a bond with the state. Nothing, evidently, would get their attention.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Blameless" Tone-Deaf Law Professors Ted Seto and Steve Diamond Whistle Past Grave Yards

What with the recent closures of Indiana Tech and Whittier, to say nothing of mergers and attempts by law schools to raise funds in order to keep operating, what do LawProfs have to say?  By chance, are they implicated in any way?  Let's get right to it:

Not clear that blaming senior faculty is constructive. Like Jack, I work hard. I’m currently on sabbatical, but for the preceding five years, I averaged 20 units of teaching per year, twice what our junior faculty members are asked to teach, while maintaining some of the best teaching evaluations at a school with excellent average evaluations. During that same period, I wrote a first and second edition of a casebook, with accompanying 500-page teacher’s manual, and published numerous articles. I also designed and implemented several new revenue-generating programs for the school, the net revenues of which pay for my salary many times over. When our school went on a faculty-slimming program with buy-out offers, no one offered me a buy-out. I wonder why. (I wouldn’t have accepted in any event; I love what I do.) Sorry to seem self-promoting, but we more experienced faculty members sometimes need to defend ourselves.
Posted by: Theodore Seto | Apr 25, 2017 12:06:16 AM


Well!  Let's count the Baby Boomer bromides: (1) I "work hard" notwithstanding sabbaticals, (2) everybody loves me, (3) I'm important because I'm published, (4) I pay for my cost by helping keep the gristmill going, and (5) I'm better that everyone else and those other (younger) lawprof louses should be fired instead.  Nothing about law school lax acceptance practices, outrageous tuition costs, the dissemination of false and misleading information, that too many law schools are pumping out too many graduates, or the non-recovery of the legal market.  Clearly, no one else works as hard as Seto and he deserves his position, so go looking elsewhere for your pound of flesh from the scam.  

Are things better for the class of 2016 as opposed to earlier?  There appears to be some minor improvement according to recent ABA numbers, but hardly what one would call a huge swing to the so-called "golden days" of legal education.  UPDATE:  For example, the percentage of students from, say, Loyola(LA), who obtained full-time, bar-passage required jobs went down 0.2% from a whopping 47% to 46.8% from 2015 to 2016.

http://witnesseth.typepad.com/blog/2012/12/bloated-is-better-for-law-school-rankings.html



MacK dismissed Seto's arguments in late 2013, and it appears that his predictions were more on point:

Seto's assessment - and for that matter Dan Filler's approving posting of it is remarkable in inherently admitting something that Dan and Seto had until now been desperately denying - that there was a substantial fall in the number of law school matriculations in progress - and that there is an oversupply of JDs.

At the same time, Seto makes a mess of things. The key hole in his analysis is the assumption that until recently supply (JDs awarded per year) was in fact in equilibrium with demand for new law graduates. As has now been relentlessly detailed by numerous careful studies (as well as the missing lawyer phenomenon) that has not been an accurate assessment since perhaps the 1990s. Only a small proportion of the demand-supply mismatch can be attributed to the recession. (The non-equilibrium in the JD supply is a function of the market distortion of a student loan system devoid of underwriting standards.)

Where Seto may be accurate is in his prediction that on current numbers matriculations will be of the order of 39,900 - though it could easily be lower (the impact of law schools' desperate efforts to get applications in the current cycle (waiving application fees, chasing marginally interested applicants) will likely be a lower yield of matriculants from the number of applications, especially if the recovery continues to strengthen through the summer. What does this mean for law schools? Well one good prediction is that in any given metro area with multiple law schools, the bottom ranked law school will be in trouble as students shuffle up to the higher ranked school(s), or the lower ranked school needs to offer very heavy discounts to attract students. It may also lead to competition for transfers in senior class ranks (as schools like Phoenix law are discovering) and further efforts to prevent the losses of 2Ls and 3Ls and tuition dollars. Remember a fall of 8,000 law students means the equivalent of around 20-40 law schools' first year classes (assuming 200-400 per entering class.) The assumption of the pollyanna's is that the fall in matriculations will be evenly distributed across all law schools - but it seems more reasonable to think that those with the perceived worst value offering will take the biggest hit.

The next couple of years are going to be a wild ride for law schools - and September will be very interesting.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The seven tiers of law schools

Four years have passed since Law School Truth Center sorted the law schools into seven tiers (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2013/06/law-school-advisory-list-one-guys.html#more). I applaud the effort but disagree on some of the assignments: for example, I would not put Duke in with South Dakota.

For years I have said that only 13 or so law schools are worth attending even in principle (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2014/12/guest-post-by-old-guy-which-law-schools.html). I stand by that claim. But a more detailed breakdown, with descriptions of the categories, may help. Like Law School Truth Center, I have opted to use seven tiers, although I have numbered them from 0 to 6. I have considered only the law schools outside Puerto Rico that are at least provisionally accredited by the ABA, on the assumption that anyone literate enough to read these lines would never consider attending a state-accredited or wholly unaccredited law school. (If you wish, add an eighth tier for those schools that pick up Cooley's rejects.)



TIER 0: Definitely worth attending. Leap at the chance to enroll at one of these schools, even if you have to borrow the full cost.

*** NONE ***

Comments: Formerly occupied by a handful of schools, this tier has been vacant for years and is likely to remain that way until the second half of the century. Not for nothing is it named Tier 0.



TIER 1: Excellent choices for trust-fund babies. Others should seriously consider them while bearing in mind the very real risk of a bad outcome. You cannot, after all, eat prestige for breakfast.

Harvard
Yale

Comments: No, Stanford, your jive ass is not in the same league as Harvard and Yale. Petulant Californian demands for representation in Tier 1 don't sway me one bit.



TIER 2: Rich kids should feel free to attend these. Others should not enroll without a substantial discount and should weigh the risk of a bad outcome carefully.

Chicago
Columbia
NYU
Stanford

Comments: Formerly this category also included Michigan and Penn.



TIER 3: Rich kids are likely to consider these insufficiently prestigious. Others should not even apply without a fee waiver and should not enroll without a large discount, probably at least 50% off; even then, the risk of a bad outcome would loom large.

California—Berkeley
Cornell
Duke
Michigan
Northwestern
Penn
Virginia

Comments: This category, which has shrunk considerably since 2010 or so, is the end of the group that, as of the last time that I checked (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2014/12/guest-post-by-old-guy-which-law-schools.html), saw at least 50% of the graduating class get jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships. I advise against attending any school below Tier 3. Even Tier 1 is questionable nowadays.



TIER 4: Expect a disastrous outcome at these unless you get tuition waived, have local connections, and intend to build your career in the vicinity of the school (no farther away than, say, an adjacent state). As always, rich people can go here if they really want to.

Alabama
Arizona
Arizona State
Baylor
Boston College
Boston University
Brigham Young
California—Davis
California—Irvine
California—Los Angeles
California—Hastings
Cardozo
Case Western Reserve
Chicago—Kent
Cincinnati
Colorado
Connecticut
Denver
Drake
Emory
Florida
Florida State
Fordham
George Mason
Georgetown
George Washington
Georgia
Georgia State
Houston
Illinois
Indiana—Bloomington
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana State
Loyola Marymount
Minnesota
Nevada
New Mexico
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Rutgers
St. John's
Southern California
Southern Methodist
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
Texas Tech
Tulane
Vanderbilt
Wake Forest
Washington
Washington and Lee
Washington University in St. Louis
West Virginia
William and Mary
Wisconsin

Comments: Many of these are what Paul Campos has called trap schools. Others are toilets with employment figures that are better than those of typical toilets. All are best avoided, from the faux-prestigious outskirts of Tier 3 to the toilety outskirts of Tier 5.



TIER 5: Don't go near these unless you are independently wealthy, crave a little wind-up-toy law degree, and are too dumb to get into a school in a higher tier even after exploiting your rich connections.

Akron
Albany
American
Arkansas—Fayetteville
Arkansas—Little Rock
Baltimore
Belmont
Brooklyn
Campbell
Catholic
Chapman
Cleveland-Marshall
Creighton
CUNY
DePaul
Drexel
Duquesne
Florida International
Gonzaga
Hawaii
Hofstra
Howard
Idaho
Indiana—Indianapolis
Lewis and Clark
Liberty
Lincoln Memorial
Louisville
Loyola—Chicago
Maine
Marquette
Maryland
Memphis
Mercer
Miami
Michigan State
Mississippi
Missouri—Columbia
Missouri—Kansas City
Montana
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New York Law School
Northeastern
Oregon
Pace
Pacific
Pennsylvania State—Dickinson
Pennsylvania State—University Park
Pepperdine
Pittsburgh
Quinnipiac
Regent
Richmond
St. Louis
St. Thomas—Minneapolis
Samford
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Clara
Seattle
Seton Hall
South Carolina
South Texas
Southwestern
Stetson
Suffolk
SUNY Buffalo
Syracuse
Toledo
Tulsa
Vermont
Villanova
Washburn
Wayne State
Willamette
Wyoming

Comments: Many of these are only a hair's breadth from the bottom tier. Some are likely to close in the coming years. These schools typically feature a mediocre to lousy student body and dreadfully high unemployment and underemployment in the graduating classes of recent years. Unaccountably, a bit of prestige still attaches to a few of these schools. Don't believe the hype.



TIER 6: The survival of these into 2017 offers an argument against the existence of a just god. Anyone who enrolls at one of these should not be allowed to roam the streets unsupervised.

Appalachian
Arizona Summit
Ave Maria
Barry
California Western
Capital
Charleston
Charlotte
Concordia
Dayton
Detroit—Mercy
District of Columbia
Elon
Faulkner
Florida A&M
Florida Coastal
Golden Gate
Indiana Tech (soon to be closed)
John Marshall—Atlanta
John Marshall—Chicago
La Verne
Loyola—New Orleans
Massachusetts—Dartmouth
Mississippi College
Mitchell | Hamline
New England
North Carolina Central
North Dakota
Northern Illinois
Northern Kentucky
Nova Southeastern
Ohio Northern
Oklahoma City
Roger Williams
St. Mary's
St. Thomas—Florida
Savannah
South Dakota
Southern Illinois
Southern University
Texas Southern
Thomas Cooley
Thomas Jefferson
Touro
Valparaiso
Western New England
Western State
Whittier (soon to be closed)
Widener

Comments: These schools are mostly private. Several are unprofitable commercial ventures. All plumb the depths of the 140s, and even the 130s and perhaps the 120s, on the LSAT. The few people who pass the bar exams are unlikely to find real salaried work as lawyers. Fortunately, this tier is shrinking. Recent years have seen a couple of announced closures, some attempted and achieved mergers (effectively closures), an abandonment to the state, and a closure of a branch. Expansion will almost certainly come from above (Tier 5), not below (the unspeakable world of unaccredited upstarts).

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Getting plucked: Duquesne Law School offers course on the ukulele

How can a toilet school best serve its students? Should it streamline its curriculum? provide tutors? conduct bar-review courses?

Or should it offer a few lessons on the ukulele?

http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/12243286-74/duquesne-law-students-learn-the-ukulele-to-relieve-stress

Unique among lemmings, Duquesne's students get the opportunity to play this noblest of instruments while they pretend to learn about torts and civil procedure. From the video provided at the link above, it appears that ambition so far greatly exceeds skill, as one might expect from Duquesne generally. I have unfortunately missed the students' unprepossessing performance of "Margaritaville", but I know it's my own damn fault.

When the trend of "diversity" reaches Duquesne, the family of lutes on offer will no doubt be extended to the sitar, the oud, and the balalaika. Regrettably the imminent shuttering of Indiana Tech forecloses the possibility of a collaborative effort for four-string faux-Hawaiian hip-hop.

The American Bar Association—or is that Barre Association?—has contributed $750 to this juridical ascent of Parnassus. Yet again we have proof of the ABA's commitment to sound expenditures in support of legal education. The pioneer of Duquesne's unique program hopes to expand it with a lending library of ukuleles. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I doubt whether many students would be willing to share a G-string.

In any event, Old Guy will happily support Duquesne's worthy effort with a composition, complete with chords for anyone who may be strumming along. (If you're from Duquesne, you probably can't manage more than three chords, so change C7 to C.) Perhaps it will be performed at a future luau for law professors in Waikiki.


ALL HAIL DUQUESNE
Air: "Aloha 'Oe"

– | C – F – | C – – – |
Pittsburgh has a toilet law school that's just nifty:

G7 – – – | – – – – |
I got in there with a score below one-fifty.

C – F – | C – – – |
And one special feature I endorse most gaily:

F – G7 – | C – C7 – |
Others study law; we play the ukulele.


Refrain:

F – – – | C – – – |
All hail Duquesne! Though I've no brain,

G7 – – – | C – C7 – |
And I owe two hundred grand for my tuition,

F – – – | C – – – |
And jobs are few, one thing is true:

G7 – – – | C – – ||
I can pluck the strings and act like a musician.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Writing was on the Wall at Whittier

Given the conflagration that has occurred now that Whittier has voted to close its law school, I'm reminded of earlier discussions in late 2015 where a defense was proffered for the existence of the school.  Given the lofty-pedestal that selfless, sacrificing non-profit schools have occupied, it was especially telling to read the recent TRO that was filed in defense of the law school, whose arguments for non-closure were all about how profitable the law school was to the parent university, and how much money had been made in the selling of land the law school stood upon.  
 
Frankly, I'm not posting here to get into that (although Professor Frakt did pointedly chime in), as we all had our opinions then and years prior, Whittier or no Whittier.  What I remember more are the following comments from (former) Law Professors:
 
 
Several years ago I had the misfortune of being a professor at a TTT/TTTT law school, and let me assure you that it was predatory.
 
To the point where I quit working there after only one year rather than continue to be associated with it and also reported its shenanigans to the ABA.
 
Which did nothing, of course. Which is a big part of the problem.
Sheldon,
 
You are obviously bright and accomplished. Like you, I taught at a low-ranked law school. I made all the arguments you make. You have to make those arguments to convince yourself that you are not part of the problem. I understand. It was a wonderful, rewarding, flexible job, and I did not want to leave.
 
At the end of the day, however, most of your students, like most of mine, are worse off after graduating from your law school. You can deceive yourself by keeping in tough with the handful of graduates that, by luck, connections, or brilliance, land lucrative or fulfilling legal jobs, but if you are honest, most of your students will never get a reasonable return on their investment. The vast majority of your students at Whittier are not given opportunity by their JD, but rather are given a financial burden that will crush them.
 
Again, you are smart. You can poke holes in LST's work. Congratulations. You have a PHD and a JD from elite schools; you should be able to do that, even with work from much more sophisticated people. But you should be seeking the truth. And do you actually think that the vast majority of your students are better off after obtaining their law degree from your school? Have you surveyed your graduates? Have you kept in touch with the ones who failed the bar multiple times? Again, you have a wonderful job, but at some point you may realize that most low ranked law schools create more burdens than opportunities.