Saturday, May 25, 2019

Here's Your Feasibility Study, Shreveport

To make up for posting to the wrong blog yesterday, I'm now going to rip on the idea of a law school in a third-tier metro area, which is somehow an idea people are still discussing in 2019.

As Old Guy mentioned earlier this month, Shreveport, Louisiana, is actively exploring getting a new law school, or maybe a branch of Southern, whatever, who cares.  Earlier this week, the Louisiana House voted - 98-0 - for the Board of Regents to study the viability of a law school in Shreveport.

In other words, for now at least, they're seeking a feasibility study. Well, why can't we do that here and simply save the legislature some money?

As we know from the Indiana Tech experience, feasibility studies can be rigged by white collar salespeople desperate for a law school, leading well-meaning idiots down a path of disastrous idiocy.  Okay ideas go 50-48.  Atrocious ones, 98-0.

In contrast, consider this well-reasoned feasibility study for a potential law school in Alaska from 2004, which found that the entire state would only produce about 56 qualified law school applicants each year, not all of whom would necessarily want to attend law school in Alaska since Harvard is still in Massachusetts and people still want to go to places like USC.

Rounding up for convenience, Alaska has approximately 740,000 people.  At the 2000 census, it had 630,000, so it is gaining about 6k a year and the estimated population in 2004 would be around 654,000.  Using crude math, that means one qualified applicant for every 11,500 residents or so.  Nationwide, incidentally, there's currently about one admitted law student for every 8,000 or so people in the general population.  As we all know, however, there's too many darn people going to law school, so that number is probably high.

In any event, using the 75-student minimum number cited by the Alaska report, to support a law school, there would need to be an untapped population of 600,000 at an absolute minimum (this is approximately Wyoming's population, and it barely supports a law school dedicated to one single state) and more like 850,000 to a million.

Do we have that in Shreveport?  Nope.  The metro population for Shreveport, Louisiana, is around 450,000.  To get into the range of even minimum law school demand, you have to expand the population radius to include places like Longview, Texas (65 mi., 45k) or Texarkana (70 mi, 40k).

But neither of those places will really feed directly into a new 5th-tier school in Shreveport.  Longview residents can get in-state tuition at Texas public schools and Dallas (a two-hour drive away) fills most law school demand by itself with Southern Methodist, Texas A&M, and - now - UNT-Dallas (which was built in 2009, in part, to serve this area!). Texarkana is similar but on the Arkansas side it is just two hours to a state school that is more established and in a better location.

No one is moving from a nicer city to attend law school in freaking Shreveport and no one is fretting about driving two hours to law school instead of one.  It's not keeping a single person from going to law school currently, so building a law school in Shreveport would suck demand from schools like UNT-Dallas, UA-Little Rock, Southern U., Loyola-New Orleans, Mississippi COL, and similar places.

It's particularly egregious when you look at the in-state competition's admission scores.  In 2018, LSU's hypothetical 25th percentile student is at a 150 LSAT/3.16 GPA. Loyola's is at 148/2.89.  Southern's is at an offensive 142/2.55.  If there's anyone in Shreveport (or Monroe or Alexandria) with the chops for law school, they can currently get more than enough in scholarship money to make attending one of these places worthwhile and that's before we consider the Texas schools.  At a minimum, these paltry scores tell us there's no qualified in-state candidates being rejected or anything; that teat is milked..
 "If you look at points south between Baton Rouge and Shreveport and west between Dallas and Shreveport and north between Little Rock and Shreveport and east between Jackson and Shreveport we have one of the largest geographic regions in the country without a law school," Glover said.
Good God. Alaska (663 sq. mi.) has no law school.  There's no law school anywhere in eastern Montana or northern Wyoming.  There's no law school in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota.  There's no law school in Nevada outside of the very southern tip. A large swath of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas is completely devoid of any law school.  Western Texas has no law schoolat all.

Yet El Paso survives, same as Reno/Carson City, Mobile/Pensacola,  and - yes - Shreveport.  Colorado and Wisconsin - these are sizable states with more than 5 million people each, okay? - do just fine with two law schools. Arizona, at 7 million, should have only two.  Louisiana doesn't even have five million and it's already got four law schools, two of which objectively suck and a two of which are weak sisters to their southern peers.

Shreveport?  Shritttttt.  The city's not really growing and if it's made it this long 2019 is not the time to build.  If you come up with a feasibility study that says otherwise as to organic law school demand, the countdown to an Indiana Tech-like fate is on, because you're boarding a cruise speeding towards an iceberg even faster than the one boarded by the sophisticated consumers enrolling at Loyola or Southern with a 145 LSAT.

So I'm looking forward to this feasibility report and its exorbitant price tag, because it's either going to take 30 pages to repeat the above or be an incredibly, stupendously expensive lie.  And you know, that's sorta fun either way.

Friday, May 17, 2019

ABA trivially raises standard for accreditation; toilet law schools wage war against bar exams

Overriding strident opposition from its scamster-dominated House of Delegates, the ABA has finally forced through a namby-pamby amendment to its Standard 316. The former standard provided various means by which a law school could retain accreditation, notoriously among them "having at least 70% of its graduates pass the bar at a rate within 15 percentage points of the average first-time bar pass rate for ABA-approved law school graduates in the same jurisdiction for three out of the five most recently completed calendar years". Under the revised standard, at least 75% of those of a law school's graduates who take a bar exam must pass within two years. A law school that fails this standard has two years in which to come into compliance.

The new standard takes effect immediately.

This weak change may perhaps drive a few schools to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel for students. But it has already sparked reactionary struggle. Yesterday, presumably in anticipation of today's revision of Standard 316, various high officials from the following 13 ABA-accredited law schools wrote to ask the ABA to "convene a task force to work toward an appropriate outcome standard to determine fitness for the practice of law" and to offer to serve on the task force themselves:

District of Columbia
North Carolina Central
Northern Kentucky
South Dakota
Southern University Law Center
Texas Southern University
Thomas Jefferson
Western New England

The list reads like a veritable Who's Who of toilets and über-toilets. What do these exalted scamsters propose? They assure us that they "express no consensus view on an appropriate standard or outcome". Yet they add the following:

The precipitous decline in bar pass rates of graduates of ABA-accredited law schools in almost every state in the last ten years signals that the exams, themselves, may be faulty, that scoring may be improperly designed, or that other methods of determining fitness for the practice of law should be studied. We think an examination of how best to determine fitness for the practice of law will be fittingly complemented by the work of the NCBE Testing Task Force that is looking at the bar exam itself to determine whether it is “keeping pace with the changing legal profession.” While decline in bar pass rates might be addressed through a modified bar exam, additional solutions can be identified through an ABA task force studying the broader issue of an appropriate standard to determine fitness for the practice of law.

And there we have it. They blame the bar exams themselves for that "precipitous decline", and they propose to identify "an appropriate standard"—apparently the modification or outright replacement of the bar exams. Never do they suggest that the law schools could be responsible for any part of the decline. Well, the bar exams haven't changed much over the past decade, but the quality of the students at many an über-toilet has indeed declined precipitously. Consider the following illustrative data, which show for each year the LSAT scores (at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles) and the rate of success on the state's bar exam for those graduates who took it in the year in question:

2010: 144/146/151; 84.5%
2017: 139/142/146; 58.8%

2010: 153/155/159; 79.3%
2017: 145/148/150; 46.9%

Thomas Jefferson
2010: 149/151/153; 55.9%
2017: 142/144/147; 26.5%

On the other extreme, we have the following very different results:

2010: 170/172/175; 97.7%
2017: 169/171/173; 97.7%

2010: 171/173/176; 98.0%
2017: 170/173/175; 100.0%

2010: 171/173/176; 97.1% (New York, not Connecticut)
2017: 170/173/175; 98.3%

These data, admittedly not exhaustive, suggest a correlation over time between a school's LSAT scores and its rates of success on the relevant bar exam. If it be objected that the two groups of schools represent different states and therefore different bar exams, I can happily substitute the U of Michigan (same state as Cooley), Duke (same state as Elon), and Stanford (same state as Thomas Jefferson): the results are similar. And they offer no support for the groundless allegation of "faulty" bar exams or "improperly designed" scoring.

Now, it is true that correlation does not imply causation. But the data above give at least grounds for suspicion. Any serious investigation would look at the cohorts themselves and ask whether the well-established decline in the quality of the students at many lousy law schools had anything to do with the plummeting of those cohorts' rates of success on the bar exams. Common sense suggests that it did, and the data back that up. But of course the scamsters who live large off toilet law schools won't do anything that might jeopardize their fancily paid sinecures. Instead, they want to abolish the exams that expose their schools' utter lousiness—all while purporting to act in the public interest.

Appointing a "task force" packed with a baker's dozen of toilet law schools would be tantamount to setting foxes to guard the henhouse. With at most three exceptions, those schools are utter disasters. Why the hell should they get to decide on "an appropriate standard"? They have no meaningful standards! They certainly should not be able to springboard themselves into compliance with Standard 316 by supplanting the bar exams with some low threshold that even their sub-marginal cohorts might be able to cross.

While they scheme to neutralize requirements for maintaining accreditation, the über-toilets have almost three years to bring their graduates' rates of passing up to the 75% mark. Some of them might succeed by imposing a minimum LSAT score of 150 or more. That, however, would entail reducing enrollment to a small fraction of the current level, and many über-toilets could not survive so drastic a reduction. I therefore anticipate open warfare against bar exams, the LSAT, and other objective standards that lay bare the irremediable shittiness of many dozens of toilet law schools.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Louisiana and Texas may each be getting another unneeded über-toilet law school

During the past three years, eight law schools have announced their closure: Indiana Tech, Whittier, Charlotte, a campus of Cooley, Savannah, Hamline, Arizona Summit, and Valpo. Three more closures appear to be imminent: those of Western State (no longer receiving money from student loans; embroiled in trouble over the disappearance of millions of dollars in federal funds; barely escaped sudden closure in the middle of the semester that just ended), Thomas Jefferson (only 59 first-year students enrolled last year; did not admit students this spring; big financial problems; operating in reportedly non-functional office space), and Florida Coastal (only 60 first-year students; out of its building; the last of the InfiLaw chain of über-toilets). Many others, from Appalachian to Concordia, may be standing on the brink of the grave.

The states of Louisiana and Texas are not deterred. Just this week they announced plans to consider a new branch of Southern University Law Center to be built in Shreveport and a law school for the Río Grande Valley.

Louisiana already has four law schools, none of them worthy of the name. Southern University Law Center, located in Baton Rouge, is one of the foulest über-toilets, second only to Cooley in the department of low LSAT scores (though admittedly Appalachian, Texas Southern, and others are not far behind). If another law school were needed in Louisiana, Southern University Law Center would be totally unfit to operate it.

The proposed law school for the Río Grande Valley is supposedly justified because the region "has been neglected for decades when it comes to educational opportunities", according to Rep. Armando Martínez, who appears to be the project's chief proponent. The state would require a "feasibility study". Perhaps the scamsters behind this dumb proposal should dust off the one for Indiana Tech and recycle it mutatis mutandis. In the meantime, they have already estimated a few of the costs of opening their über-toilet, including more than $50 million for a building and $800k for a dean and three support workers in the first year. All that for a school that, in their pie-in-the-sky dreams, would attract a hundred students in its first year. Indiana Tech too thought that it would get that many, but only about thirty enrolled.

At least the state of Tennessee had the sense to reject a proposal to let Middle Tennessee State University acquire Valpo: even the price tag of $0 was correctly deemed too high. Let's hope that similar sanity will nip in the bud the patently foolish proposals to create law schools in Louisiana and Texas.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Analysis of 2018 Bar Passage Rates

H/t to David Frakt:

While there is a tendency to assume that law schools with bad bar pass rates are "bad law schools" in the sense of having bad teachers, or having an insufficiently rigorous curriculum, or having inadequate academic support and bar preparation programs, this is not necessarily the case.  Rather, the primary factor is the school's admissions policies, not the quality of legal education offered by the school.  As you can see on the table, with the exception of four California law schools, University of San Francisco, Southwestern, McGeorge and Cal Western, every law school on the bottom 25 list had very high risk admissions policies in place for their fall entering class of 2015 (when most of the 2018 first-time bar takers matriculated into law school).  By very high risk, I mean that at least 25% of the students that matriculated were at very high risk of failure, and at least 50% were at high risk of failure, based on the LSAT Risk Bands table I first published in 2014, and which has been repeatedly validates since.  I have argued that admitting any significant percentage of extremely high and very high risk students is unethical, irresponsible and violates ABA Standard 501.  At the very least, it is a recipe for disastrous bar passage rates.  Perhaps not surprisingly, as the chart also depicts, many of the schools on the list have either gone out of business, been placed on probation, or been sanctioned or had some form of remedial measures imposed upon them by the ABA at some point since 2015 (although some schools were later found back in compliance).  

This pretty much says it all, although there is a nice summary chart below the fold.  Is it any wonder that Whitter, Valpo, and Arizona Summit are closed/closing?  That Appalachian, Golden Gate, Cooley (sorry, Western Michigan) and Texas Southern have been sanctioned?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Does it run in the Lamparello family?

Regular readers of OTLSS may recall Adam Lamparello, whose "snotty poor-little-me memoir about his disillusionment with practicing law, hookers, cocaine, his church, his frat, his girlfriends, and his alleged eating disorder" was featured here six years ago. He was one of the most, er, renowned professors at the late and unlamented Indiana Tech Law School. What he is doing now I cannot say, though I have information on two of his former colleagues, for anyone who cares to know: Peter Alexander is now "Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Visiting Professor of Law" at the notorious über-toilet law school of the University of North Texas, and André Douglas "Dougie Fresh" Pond Cummings—now with capital letters!—has a new position at private über-toilet St Thomas University.

The name Lamparello was recently in the news: just days after the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, a Marc Lamparello was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted arson, second-degree reckless endangerment, and trespassing for going into midtown Manhattan's famous St Patrick's Cathedral with two jerry cans of gasoline, two bottles of charcoal-lighting fluid, and two long-handled butane lighters. It turns out that he was also about to leave for Rome on a "one-way ticket" that had cost him $2800. Unless he was in first class, he paid an awful lot. Probably he bought the ticket at the last minute. Since the items that he was carrying upon arrest are not allowed on airplanes, presumably he planned to stop at a Roman gas station on his way from the airport to St Peter's Basilica.

It seems that Marc Lamparello and Adam Lamparello are brothers. Adam made typically asinine statements to the press about this incident, and both Adam and Marc live in the small town of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. But they have more in common: both of them have a theoretical claim to being professors. Marc is listed on a book as "a Boston College-educated philosophy professor", though he has no PhD (that's in the works at CUNY). Apparently the "philosophy professor" has merely taught a couple of courses as an adjunct at a few institutions in the general vicinity of New York City.

Also, the brothers Lamparello share a penchant for self-promotional scribbling. Marc may not yet have discovered the advantages of tell-all vulgar memoirs but "is currently working on two other book-length projects, including a witty dialogue on arguments for and against the existence of God, and a series of essays on the epistemology of practical motivation". The "witty dialogue" reminds me of the sickening "Rodrigo chronicles" that come out of the ass of hackademic poseur Richard Delgado. As for "practical motivation", I don't even know what it is. Is it contrasted with impractical motivation?

Marc Lamparello has published a book, Reason and Counterpoint. "Presented in the form of aphorisms and paragraph-length insights"—prime vehicles for serious philosophical discourse—the book asks "What is the nature of the a priori?". (That it is a priori.) Also, "Can we really rely on our own cognitive architecture in distilling the nature of moral-practical motivation?" (If we can't rely on our own cognitive architecture, then on what, exactly, shall we rely? Coin tosses?)

In any event, Daddy is awfully proud of dear Marc: "His writings — other professors can’t even understand his writings." That's because they're shite, idiot. What's the use of incomprehensible writing?

Marc and Adam also share a certain self-image that might remind one of Narcissus. The article reports that Marc "Lamparello is a frequent poster on the Reddit community 'AmIUgly,' where users ask for their appearance to be rated. In recent years, Lamparello has replied to dozens of women with critiques." What sort of person would frequent a Web site for people who are concerned about being perceived as ugly? and send dozens of women critiques of their appearance? Last August he wrote "I’m going through a phase. After not giving a shit about my appearance for 20 years, I’ve swung in the opposite direction. Now, I’m very vain and appearance-obsessed." I don't ordinarily think ill of other people's appearance, but after reading that I had to look at his pictures again. For someone who is "very vain" (nice that he admits it) "and appearance-obsessed", he certainly has far to go. That bushy beard only accentuates the receded hairline. Decent clothes, instead of those tatty-ass T-shirts, would also help.

Apparently with no success at all, Marc has been "going for in-shape women who are a little attractive, and have a few nice features". Assessing people as "attractive" or "nice" solely by their appearance is terribly shallow—not what one would expect of a brilliant philosopher. Pathetically, Marc seeks the solution to his problems in plastic surgery: he is saving his pennies for procedures that will take him "from a 4/10 to a 7.2-7.3/10". He'd do better to keep his money and address his wretched personality. He published the following: "All I know is, if the French dislike us for something, we must be doing something right. They think they’re so much more sophisticated and culturally alluring than us. But secretly, they’re jealous of us and want to be us. Never forget that, fellow Americans." Yes, that's straight from the pen of sophisticated, culturally alluring Marc Lamparello.

Back to the scene of the crime. When Marc was caught in flagrante delicto (I couldn't resist the pun), he had parked his minivan in front of Saks Fifth Avenue. I'm not aware of any legal parking along Fifth Avenue at that busy location. The vehicle would have been towed quickly enough, but apparently Marc didn't intend to stay long. Anyway, in statements to the police (didn't his brother Adam, allegedly a great lawyer, advise him against making a statement?), Marc claimed that the vehicle had run out of gas and that he was merely cutting through the cathedral in order to get to Madison Avenue. Now, how much sense does that make? His vehicle was found not to be out of gas after all. He had taken two jerry cans of gasoline out of his vehicle and was taking them elsewhere. Why didn't he pour the gasoline into the tank, if that was the issue? Why was he going to Madison Avenue? Not to get gas: there is no gas station on the island of Manhattan within dozens of blocks. Is it even possible for the general public to cut through the cathedral in order to go between Fifth and Madison? Who the hell would do that rather than walking, say, along 50th Street? Especially with hands full of inflammable materials, just days after a fire at another cathedral. And why was he carrying fuel inside a vehicle? Not smart.

The police have nonetheless reported that "[i]t's hard to say what exactly his intentions were". Oh, come on! In the wake of that fire at Notre-Dame, he walked into a cathedral heavily laden with jerry cans of gasoline, bottles of charcoal-lighter fluid, and long-handled lighters (two of each—maybe he was playing Noah's Ark). What could his intentions have been, if not to burn the building down? To replenish the church's generator and then grill some hot dogs on the altar? Without wishing to convict him on the strength of the story given here, I find it hard to see a source of reasonable doubt about attempted arson.

Perhaps the police meant that they could not immediately tell whether Marc Lamparello was driven by malevolence or psychosis. I certainly cannot comment on that. One thing is clear, though: the Lamparellos of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, never fail to surprise.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Brief Update: Applicants up 1.4% Compared to Last Year

Well, what began as a strong start for the Cartel, near 2012 levels of applicants, quickly morphed back to near-repeat of 2018.  While it is good news that we are still nowhere near 2012 levels of applicants, there has been a slow, steady march upwards from 2015 ever since.  For the friends of the scamblogs, this is a disturbing trend.  

2019 Projected, with Past Data

It appears that we will be clocking in around 62,000 applicants for the 2019 cycle given current projections.  Hopefully a significant number of these will be encouraged to move on to something else, as sometimes rejection only looks good in hindsight - ask some of the commentators here who realized after the fact they dodged a bullet.  Here's hoping that those who do remain have good prospects on the other side, though we here at OTLSS won't be holding our collective breath for that - with the Cartel stroking egos and selling snowflake-dreams, it is a siren-call difficult to dismiss.    

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

JD-Disadvantage, Part X - The Truth Comes Full Circle

I've been writing about the illusion of "JD-Advantage" in particular for some time now.  The reasons why are essentially two-fold: (1) JD-Advantage is indeed farcical and plain-old bunk at an objective level, and (2) I have first-hand experience in the same, so that makes me somewhat of a subject-matter expert.  I've included a handy summary of posts on the subject over the years at the bottom should anyone need a cure for insomnia or delusions of grandeur, either one.

As we all know, a data set of one is not a data set.  So before everyone starts chiming in saying "but your experience is relative and not representative, because you are just one person, and forget about your dumb posts, anyway," here is some additional information in support of the Truth(tm):

There are a number of problems with the JD Advantage category as defined.  One is (or perhaps two are) its breadth and pliability.  They almost certainly cause some outcomes to be reported as JD Advantage that it would make no sense ex ante to attend law school to obtain (because there are much cheaper and easier ways to achieve the same result), and thus should not be considered placement successes (in my terminology, Law Jobs).  Worse, the definitional flexibility may inspire some administrators to stretch the category beyond any reasonable scope, rationalizing some “demonstrable advantage in either obtaining or performing the duties of the position,” in order to report an outcome they can claim as successful, especially in hard times. 

Bam. Yessir, and a voice from the academy, no less.  But wait, there's more:

For example, is paralegal or law clerk (not for a judge, but as an unlicensed assistant for other lawyers) a JD Advantage position?  To be clear, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these jobs; they are valuable, honest work, and skilled besides.  But you sure wouldn’t plan to spend 3 years and $150,000 in law school in order to get these jobs—in fact, you can get a paralegal certification in one year at many inexpensive community colleges, and you don’t even need that to get an entry-level job as a paralegal.  And yet the ABA’s 2019 Employment Protocols for the Class of 2019 provide that both paralegal and law clerk are presumed to be JD Advantage placements by dint of job title alone.  (See here at pp. 26, 67.)  In the same publication, the ABA says legal secretaries are presumed to hold a “Professional” rather than a JD Advantage position (here at p. 68), though (in my experience, at least) their work in many if not most cases is as highly skilled and law-related as paralegal work, especially at smaller firms. 

Ah, the good ol' ABA, looking out for the little person.  Anyway:

(more below the fold):