Friday, April 26, 2013

The two faces of Whittier Law Dean Penelope Bryan.

              
(Whittier Law School Dean Penelope Bryan cuddling a puppy in a promotional video. And I always thought that supervillains stroked pet cats).
 
I found a couple of  quotes from Dean Penelope Bryan of the Whittier Law School that I think are instructive. But to fully appreciate the quotes, you must first know that even among other law schools, Whittier is at the scammy extreme. The average debt load (excluding undergrad debt) for a graduating Whittier JD is $143,536, the 11th highest among the 201 ABA accredited law schools. However, the percentage of Whittier law grads from the class of 2012 who obtained bar-required full-time, long-term, non-solo jobs within nine months of graduation (i.e. its Law School Transparency [LST] employment score) was 31.2%, which was the 11th worst outcome among the 201 ABA-approved law schools. [1] And even that is a significant improvement over 2011, when it ranked second from the bottom among the 201 schools, with an incredible 17.1% LST employment score. [2]
 
Oh, one other nifty data point: Whittier Law School paid Dean Bryan $410,524 for the fiscal year 2010. [3]
Good Dean Penelope Bryan: "We consider this [Whittier’s placement results] a problem. We have redesigned completely our career development and we expect to see some improvement, but in the meantime we’ve had to live with this transition."  [4]
Bad Dean Penelope Bryan: "Any student, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish or what you’re trying to become, is very well served by this law school." [5] 

Why did Penelope Bryan (somewhat) acknowledge the dire problem at her school in the first quote, whereas in the second quote she touched the Zen of Pure Scam? Well, the first quote appeared in a Wall Street Journal article entitled "Law Grads Face a Brutal Job Market," where the reporter specifically asked the deans of several law schools to comment on their schools' poor placement outcomes. A "no comment" would have sounded evasive, and hype would have sounded ridiculous. Moreover, the Journal article was unlikely to have been read by many prospective students-- indeed, it was probably behind a paywall when it came out. The second quote, however, is from a six-minute long promotional video prominently featured on Whittier Law's website. It is far more likely to be viewed by prospective students.

I know that some may not take particular offense at the second quote, deeming it to be good old-fashioned public relations and marketing, similar to any industry. As long as the legally required disclosures are made somewhere, must a salesperson alert prospective customers to the problems and drawbacks of the product? Caveat emptor.
 
In my view, our profession requires more. How many times, as a law student and since, have I heard law deans and professors yap about the "majesty of the law," the "highest ethical standards" expected of us as lawyers, our obligations to society and to the less fortunate, and other such high-minded phrases and concepts. Probably, many students roll their eyes at such talk; but I believed it, and still do. However, wealthy law school deans and professors ought not promote standards of ethics and professional responsibility to their debt-ridden students without imposing equal or greater obligations on themselves, lest they be accurately deemed filthy hypocrites.
 
Dean Penelope Bryan of bottom-of-the-barrel Whittier Law School, do you regard your students and prospective students as future colleagues, and young people whose trust you must strive to earn? Or do you look at them and see big ambulatory bags of money to be corralled and pillaged?
 
__________________________

Notes and links 

[1]  http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=other#  (2012)
(8th worst excluding the three law schools in Puerto Rico which, for some reason, all report employment scores of under 14%).
 

Scroll down to the section labeled "Part II: Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, and Highest Compensated Employees." This is found about 60% of the way through the document.
 
Dean Penelope Bryan's total take of $420,709 consisted of a base salary of $317,206, plus $65,046 in "other reportable compensation" plus $38,637 in nontaxable benefits.
 
I got the idea of checking the school's IRS Form 990 to determine levels of faculty compensation from Third Tier Reality [TTR].  Here is a link to TTR’s profile of Whittier:
http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/2011/02/rank-fourth-tier-scat-pile-whittier-law.html

[4] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304458604577486623469958142.html

[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsZD5i57Nks&list=UU3vtKmN-6evqnRsyXyh516A&index=1&feature=plcp&noredirect=1
(quote appears at 0:50-0:57)



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 comments:

  1. A return to sanity.

    You make an excellent point about the disconnect between faculty and students. They do not see us as future colleagues in the profession. We are walking sacks of money.

    Yesterday's lack of collegiality bleeds into every aspect if this "profession". Screw everyone else, get yours, and collegiality be damned if it brings in a buck.

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  3. http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/04/a-cleaner-ranking-of-schools-long-term-full-time-employment-minus-law-school-funded-jobs.html#more

    On April 10, 2013, Dan Filler posted a Faculty Lounge entry labeled “New Law School Rankings: Employment Data Cleaned Of School Funded Jobs.” Take a look at this preamble:

    “I've taken the same data that Gary Rosin used in this post (which ranked schools by percentage employed in full-time, long-term jobs requiring a JD) and cleaned the list...by excluding all such positions that were funded by the law school.”

    The placement figures are based on each diploma mill’s Class of 2012 ABA Employment Report. As the chart header notes, the jobs only include JD Required, Full-Time, Long Term Minus Law School Funded positions.

    Out of the 201 schools listed - including the three trash heaps in Puerto Rico - WhiTTTTier Law Sewer was ranked 188th "best" in job placement. According to the graph, only 34.12 percent of the commode’s Class of 2012 landed full-time, long term positions requiring a JD, not counting law school-funded jobs.

    What an amazing "institution of higher learning," huh?!?!

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  5. 7:26 and 7:29?

    A 1:1 troll to legitimate comment ratio already?

    So many trolls. These are your future colleagues and classmates. This is your day at work. Avoiding the trolling lawyers.

    Stay away from law school!

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    1. So far it's 0:1 legitimate. And your comment didn't improve anything.

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    2. Nor did yours.

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    3. ^ Haha, I can live with that.

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    4. ^ And I can live with that. Glad we're all being civil once again.

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  6. Ethics at my law school - three hours. Not credit hours. Three hours. Two of which were "go read the MPRE materials". It was treated like an inconvenience by the professor.

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  7. "Thirty-four colleges audited recently by the Internal Revenue Service underpaid their taxes on unrelated business income by nearly $90-million, and nearly 20 percent of the private colleges in the group violated rules for nonprofit organizations in determining the compensation of their chief executives, according to a final report issued on Thursday by the federal agency."

    http://chronicle.com/article/34-Colleges-Underpaid-Federal/138833/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

    Does anyone know if this includes law schools?

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  8. I love how much more the Deans are paid at total dumps like NESOL and Whittier compared to - say - the dean of a reputable, highly-regarded public school.

    It's a shame the ABA no longer uses overpaid faculty as an accreditation feature. It seems like a quickfire way to find out who's really in it for service to the profession and who's just in it for no. 1.

    It's not like these are CEOs of companies that have to follow strict securities law and gain investment and grow the hard way. Unlimited student loans have made any Holmes-quoting shyster a beacon of business worthy of a 400k salary. That's literally 10x what her graduates should expect to make.

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  10. Must be hard to "live with" those numbers on $411k per year.

    Poor Dean Bryan is "living with" those numbers, but it's 1005 certain that neither she nor any of her relatives will have to actually "live" those numbers, i.e. try to pay back $100,000 debt with no job.

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  11. Your numbers are incorrect. I work in HR at WLS - Dean Bryan's salary is nowhere near what you quoted. It is much less than $411K. Get your facts straight.

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