Friday, September 15, 2017

Pay No Attention to the Correlations Behind the Curtain

 
Dean Allard Prepares to Formulate an Explanation Regarding Bar Passage Rates, One that Does Not Require Increasing Standards...


UPDATE:  David Frakt just weighed in on Florida Coastal SOL, here, with similar conclusions.


Every so often, the debate comes up as to whether the bar exam is "too hard."  The obvious concern being that being too strict will lower the number of lawyers available to engage the need for low-cost, effective services, and it has nothing at all to do with, say, the financial viability of law schools themselves.  It was almost a year ago that we discussed that topic, and I'm sure it won't be the last time.
 
However, an interesting data point has occurred recently regarding Bar Exam results in North Carolina
 
This year, the results of most recent North Carolina bar exam were not only obtained and published by state law schools humbling bragging about their graduates’ success rates, but they were also obtained and published by the Triangle Business Journal. The data has revealed that the state’s overall passage rate is the highest that it’s been in the past three years.   
 
One has to ask what the change was!  Better-qualified students?  Practice-ready teaching?  Anomalous statistics?  Easier bar exams?  The intersectionality of Law and Nietzschean Philosophy?

-more below the break-

Monday, September 11, 2017

The future's so bright, but the legal industry refuses to wear shades

The law's fierce resistance to change and technological advances are soon going to collide. Over the past two years, there have been advances made in natural language processing and machine learning that could take drudge work like doc review out of the purview of human workers. Companies that normally subsidized the training of BigLaw associates and the doc review industry are turning to other avenues. This is not good news for the thousands of law graduates kicked out into the real world every year.

Read more...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Toilets Я Us: The InfiLaw chain of scam-schools

As long-standing readers of Outside the Law School Scam will know, the privately owned "InfiLaw System" operates law schools for profit. InfiLaw claims that its "schools have a demonstrated ability to achieve superior outcomes that are a function of admission processes (which probe beyond traditional quality indicators and factor otherwise overlooked predictors of success) and programmatic innovation, academic support processes, and faculty focus on student success". Let's evaluate this "demonstrated ability".

InfiLaw's three schools are (or were) the following:

Charlotte School of Law: Defunct since August 2017, when the state yanked its license. The LSAT scores of the last entering class were 141, 144, and 148 (at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles, respectively). In November 2016, the ABA put Charlotte on probation for failure to meet even the ABA's dreadfully low standards of admission. One student "there was no application process" and that the school would call "two and three times a day" to badger prospective students with "aggressive predatory sales tactics". A federal criminal investigation of Charlotte has been under way for more than a year. Forty percent of last year's graduates are unemployed, and only one-third of last year's graduates have long-term, full-time jobs.

Arizona Summit Law School: On probation since March 2017 for falling short of the ABA's abysmally low academic and admissions standards. LSAT scores: 140, 143, 148. More than 20% of last year's graduates were unemployed, and more than a third of that class did not find long-term, full-time work. Only a quarter of first-time candidates passed the Arizona bar exam in July 2016.

Florida Coastal School of Law: At risk of losing eligibility for federally guaranteed student loans. LSAT scores: 141, 144, 149. Only a third of those taking the bar exam last year passed. Forty percent of last year's graduates are unemployed, and less than half of that class found long-term, full-time jobs. Not a single graduate got a federal clerkship or a job in Big Law.

InfiLaw also made an unsuccessful bid to buy the for-profit Charleston School of Law (LSAT scores 141, 145, 149), the only other school that currently fails the "gainful employment" standard of eligibility for student loans.

Where have the InfiLaw schools "achieve[d] superior outcomes"? Not in the department of employment for their graduates. The unemployment rates listed above are reminiscent of the Great Depression. And even the most happily employed InfiLaw graduates can hardly be called smashing successes, concentrated as they overwhelmingly are in tiny firms, "government", and "business". Of the many adjectives with which one might describe those outcomes, inferior would be an understatement; superior, a whopping lie.

How about "admission processes"? The disaffected student reported above suggests that her toilet had no meaningful admissions process, just an aggressive telemarketing campaign. How exactly does an InfiLaw toilet, with "no application process", ferret out "otherwise overlooked predictors of success"?

In the running of scam schools, however, InfiLaw has "demonstrated ability" in spades. All three InfiLaw toilets rank in the top third by cost of attendance. Until recently, they ranked among the top few in enrollment, with four-figure student bodies: as recently as 2012, Charlotte alone enrolled 626 first-year students. Roughly a third of InfiLaw's students pay full fare, and only 2% or so get free tuition. While it lasts, therefore, InfiLaw milks about a hundred million dollars per year out of the public—thanks largely to the arbitrage scheme known as federally guaranteed student loans. Small wonder that InfiLaw "probe[s] beyond traditional quality indicators" to take in just about anyone who can arrange payment of InfiLaw's obscene fees.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Will Valparaiso be the next to close?

Valparaiso, which unaccountably prefers the ugly name Valpo, will have only 28 students in this year's entering class. As recently as four years ago, it had 208.

The good news, from the Valponian scamsters' perspective, is that the quality of the class has gone up significantly: "Students just starting their legal studies this semester have a median LSAT of 151 and a median GPA of 3.23." Last year's median score was 147, so Valpo has risen from the 33d percentile to the 48th. It's still drawing the bulk of its class from the bottom half of people taking the LSAT.

Scam-dean Andrea Lyon "feel[s] optimistic about the school", which appears to have changed its approach to admissions in response to last year's censure from the ABA. She could hardly be expected to say anything else. But the university's administration cannot feel optimistic about a micro-sized toilet school that, after the closure of Indiana Tech, has earned a reputation as the biggest laughing-stock in the region.

With only 28 new students, the law school must be draining money from the university, even while it tarnishes the university's image. If the new students all paid full fare (primarily with federally guaranteed student loans), they would bring in scarcely a million dollars. But Valpo must have had to slash its fancy tuition in order to attract students of substantially higher (albeit still dreadful) quality. Who with a score above 150 would pay full price at risible sixth-tier Valpo, slapped last year with a censure and exposed in The New York Times for its graduates' failure to find proper jobs, when any number of fifth-tier institutions and even some fourth-tier institutions would offer a discount?

Valpo, therefore, is beginning to look like Indiana Tech redux. It cannot have taken in much money from the entering class, nor is it likely to see meaningful growth in the coming years. The parent university will not want to go on subsidizing the failed law school forever. I estimate that Valpo will announce its closure within a year or two.

But Valpo is only one toilet among many. To see just how far legal "education" in the US has fallen, consider a hypothetical requirement that at least three-quarters of the class at each ABA-accredited law school score in the top half on the LSAT. Many people might deem that a modest requirement for access to an influential profession that claims to uphold a standard of excellence. It would entail a minimum LSAT score of 152 at the 25th percentile for each school's entering class. How many schools today fall short of that level? Wait for it: 107. That's the majority of ABA-accredited law schools.

In less than a year we have seen three law schools close. Valpo may well be next, although Appalachian, Florida Coastal, Arizona Summit, and various others seem to be competing for that honor. It will be interesting to see how far the wave of closures progresses. I don't think that it will swallow up 107 law schools, although that would be a good start.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlotte School of Law has quietly closed

UPDATE: The Charlotte School of Law has indeed closed down, without so much as an announcement. See the comments for details.


The Charlotte School of Law, known as Harlotte by those who call a spade a spade, may have followed Indiana Tech and Whittier into educational-scam hell.

Now the ABA has rejected Harlotte's "teach-out" plan for enabling the remaining students to finish their Mickey Mouse degrees while the toilet school shuts up shop. In addition, Harlotte has lost its license from the state of North Carolina. By Harlotte's own admission, it is not eligible to ride the federal student-loan gravy train. A visit to www.charlottelaw.edu results in a logo and "Website Unavailable".

To their credit, most of Harlotte's lemmings had the damn sense not to come back for more abuse from the scamsters who screwed them last winter. A hundred or so, however, remained loyal to their InfiLaw overlords. Some people will never learn.

But what can they do, now that their precious toilet school seems to have shut up shop? Lee Robinson, head of the alumni association (yes, there actually is an alumni association), suggests that "these students’ only option is to transfer to a different school, and in the process, likely lose thousands of dollars and years of their lives". Transferring in the middle of August, just a couple of weeks before they had expected to start classes at Harlotte, would not be easy: even if another school took them at this late date (probably several dozen would), they would have to move in a great hurry and suffer substantial financial and other losses. That's unrealistic for many people, and undesirable for all.

Are the richly paid bureaucrats of Harlotte rushing to the students' aid? Probably not, since the very Web site has been taken down. Back in January, Harlotte locked the students out of the administrative offices and stopped answering the telephone. I shouldn't expect courtesies to the faithful now that the operating license is gone and even the ABA is denying its rubber stamp of approval. Maybe the other two outlets of the InfiLaw chain will reach out to the stranded students and, more importantly, the proceeds of their student loans. But Harlotte itself appears to be dead.

Let that be a lesson to other lemmings. You're just a dollar sign to the law-school scamsters. That's doubly true of unabashedly commercial ventures such as InfiLaw.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlotte School of Law misses deadline for license

Imagine that you were ass enough to enroll at Charlotte School of Law ("Harlotte") within the past two years. Imagine further that you doubled down on your bad bet by staying at Harlotte even after the school screwed you over in December and January and also lost the right to enroll a new class of lemmings. Two or three weeks from the start of classes, Harlotte's license from the state of North Carolina remained in doubt. To get the license renewed, Harlotte had to present by August 10 a feasible plan for shepherding its remaining students through to graduation. Harlotte all along has been claiming to have the best interests of its students at heart. Question: Did Harlotte meet the deadline?

Answer: Of course not.

Harlotte is now seeking an extension of time in order to produce its plan. It proposes to have the remaining lemmings transfer to one of the other two InfiLaw scam schools—in Florida and Arizona. For that it needs extra time and also access to millions of dollars from federally guaranteed student loans. Those funds, incidentally, are predicated upon reinstatement of Harlotte's license to operate in North Carolina.

So here you are, lemming, not knowing whether you will be attending classes in Charlotte a couple of weeks from now, but knowing that your toilet school intends to have you pull up stakes in a hurry and move to a distant state in order to remain within the InfiLaw chain of scam-schools. What do you do now?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The ABA again Demonstrates Whose Side it is Really On



And the ABA wonders why membership among young attorneys is down...

 
Per TFL, TaxProf, and others:
 
 
At a meeting in June,...the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar approved a proposal that begins a process, as Jerry puts it, “to completely eviscerate the steps [the Section] approved in 2015 to assure greater transparency in reporting law-school-funded positions,” and to undo the disclosure of other potentially valuable and important employment-outcome information...:
  1. [T]he proposal apparently seeks to eliminate disclosure of the number of students graduating from a law school each year...thus making it difficult or impossible to determine what percentage of the graduating class got what kind of job, or any job at all. This is an incredibly easy number to determine and disclose...[and] it has been disclosed for decades.
  2. The proposal also makes it more difficult to determine how many postgraduate positions a law school itself has funded, and makes it impossible to differentiate any school-funded position that is long-term, full-time and pays more than $40,000 annually in its first year from any other LTFT Bar-Passage Required or JD-Advantaged job.
  3. In the guise of “simplification,” the proposal seeks to eliminate a number of different employment outcome categories that have been reported for years and in some cases decades, namely:
                    Collapsing [non-JD required jobs]...into a single category entitled “Employment Other”;
                    Collapsing five size-based categories of private firms into...“Firm 10-100” and“Firm 100-500”;    
                    Collapsing ["other"]...into a single category entitled “Unemployed or Status Unknown”; and
                    Collapsing [clerkships] into a single category.
 
The process by which these proposals were adopted was utterly unworthy of any responsible system of representative policy-making.  According to Prof. Organ, the justifications offered for these changes were factually inaccurate in some instances, and apparently many of the changes were not even discussed before being voted on.  Even more disturbingly, the proposal was offered to the Council just two days before its meeting, with no public notice or opportunity for comment. 
 
 
While this shocks absolutely no-one among those of the cynical, wizened readership of this and other scamblogs, who are often the debt-ridden products of the above-referenced, bait-and-switch system, it is nice to hear some LawProfs actually call this out for what it is.  Given how some LawProfs have virtually made a side-career of dismissing and even mocking the plight of the loan conduits students and alumni from whom they have benefited, one would think that the entire academy was in on the whole sick joke of it all, and couldn't possibly care less so long as the checks clear.
 
Granted, that does describe the vast majority of the academy, but hey, at least it's not 100%.
 
Potential 1Ls, this is your national accreditation body playing hide the ball.  These are the law schools who are suffering from low enrollment, complicity wanting the ABA to obscure the truth.  These are the "ethicists" and "justice-seekers" who are desperate for you, the "sophisticated consumer," to sign on the line that is dotted such that the gravy-train keeps on rolling.  They do not want you to know the truth, because, well, the truth hurts, and that impacts them adversely.  While I applaud those who are willing to speak up, as that no doubt subjects one to some slings and arrows from one's so-called compatriots, notice the deafening, resounding silence from all the other interested parties.
 
What meaningful and permissible purpose is there for the ABA to recommend a course AWAY from transparency?  How can this possibly help you, as the future student?  Consider this before taking the plunge.  For most of you, that means walking away, now.  For those who choose to remain, know what game you are getting yourself involved in, eyes wide open, and make sure you have ample backing if you do.