Sunday, April 7, 2013

The best law school scam article you are likely to read

One thing that unites us all is our perverse enjoyment of reading law school scam articles.  You know what they are: article that provide the stats, quotes, and information that makes law school deans at marginal law schools toss and turn at night.

The best one I have read yet is this one:

It is an excerpt from Stephen J. Harper's upcoming book: The Lawyer Bubble.  I know, it's nothing that we aren't familiar with already, but the constant negative press about the state of legal education is a catalyst for positive change.  Harper has a blog located here: He doesn't post as often as LawProf did, but he has some very well-written posts.

The article I linked to is better than most because it goes more in depth with things that aren't usually handled in most law school scam articles. I won't spoil it for you here, but it connects Langdell's method to the current state of legal education in a way that you may not have thought of.

Do yourself a favor and check the article out, and forward it to anyone who might benefit from the information.


  1. Harper's book is out. I started reading it this morning.

    Chapter 2 is excellent (that is as far as I have read). Chapter 2 lays out very precisely the way that law schools scam-up their US News ranking by manipulating the component scores, and why the rankings are so destructive.

    A. Selectivity (25% of US News ranking):

    1. schools encourage applicants to take the LSAT multiple times because only the highest score is reported.

    2. schools use the "Lawless Calculator" (named after a Univ. of a IL Law Professor named Robert Lawless who somewhat cracked the code of the US News ranking, including figuring out that a 165 LSAT/3.8 GPA produces a higher ranking than a 167/ 3.6 GPA).

    3. Aggressive transfer student recruitment-keeps class sizes high (and tuition dollars flowing) but the transfers' lower LSAT/GPA don't count against the schools' average.

    4 (High risk): Outright lying. See University of Illinois and Villanova.

    5. Schools recruit high LSAT-scorers with merit scholarships that disappear after the first year for failing to obtain an (unexpectedly hard to get) 3.0 GPA.

    B. Placement (20% of US News ranking):

    1. Pre-2011: Totally bogus numbers that made no distinction between a job as a waiter and Big Law.

    2. Schools hire own graduates until after the nine-months-out reporting tabulation.

    3. Numbers still depend on law schools' self-reporting; no independent audit.

    C. Resources (15% of US News ranking) (the largest component of this score is "expenses per student).

    1. potential for mischief in that this stat is based on self-reporting by schools.

    2. schools have tried to use the fair market value of services provided (like Westlaw for every student) rather than the actual heavily discounted expenditure.

    3. Scamming aside, this is a bullshit component because it does not take into account how a school spends its "expenses per student." Actually, this factor is worse than bullshit because it contributes to the rise in tuition.

    D. Quality Assessment (40%)

    No real scamming in this category. But the category is total bullshit. It is based on a survey of top lawyers. The response rate of the survey is an abysmal 12-14%. Moreover, the survey does not ask those responding whether they know anything about the school whose reputation they are ranking. Law schools complain, justly for once, that when they actually do take measures to improve quality, it is not recognized or reported in the rankings.

  2. I listened to Stephen Harper's NPR interview and I was very impressed. He is a powerful and persuasive advocate for our cause. His genuine empathy for those of us caught in the scam was apparent from the interview.


  3. I write today to tell you about a recent article I read in the Omaha. ... Stephen Hawking could mathematically prove law school is a bad idea. .... out the Policy behind the Scam. sell policemen's pension payments

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  6. All college ranking is scam.

    science/tech/code is Universal...

    Ever seen gravity/electricity at work...?????

    1. Experiment. No one can scam an experiment.

    2. Code /code/code/code a computer. No one can scam a computer.

    3. STEM: science, tech. No one can scam science/tech ???