Friday, September 13, 2013

Who might benefit from an Indiana Tech law degree? Noone.

Who might benefit from an Indiana Tech law degree? Noone. Not no one, Noone.

If you click on the Indiana Tech Law School website, you will encounter the smiling face of one of four persons and a blurb from that person endorsing the "vision," "mission," or "focus" of the start-up law school. One is the Indiana Tech Law director of admissions Crystal Ridgley, whose endorsement is hardly a surprise. Two are local lawyers-- a county prosecutor and a director of a nonprofit called Neighborhood Christian Legal Services. Maybe these two lawyers will avail themselves of Indiana Tech’s pool of free law school interns, but it remains to be seen whether they will hire a grad from open enrollment Indiana Tech instead of one from highly selective schools like IU Bloomington or Notre Dame in the event that they have funds to hire an entry-level staff attorney.

The fourth smiling face, however, belongs to an actual student in the Charter Class, Kyle Noone, who is quoted as follows:  
"I chose Indiana Tech Law School because of its focus on us, the students, to be successful in the current legal world. An academic curriculum that includes relevant teachings to everyday legal practicing provides the preparation to be a successful attorney. The mentor program will provide me with invaluable local legal relationships that will prepare me for my future in law." 

Though unmentioned on Indiana Tech’s website, Noone is a judge on the City of Elwood Municipal Court. In Indiana, you do not need a JD to hold the position of municipal judge, though there is a bill pending, which is backed by the Indiana Judicial Conference, to change that and require judges to be lawyers in good standing. Noone has strongly opposed the proposal-- indeed, an article in the Indiana Economic Digest described him as taking "offense" at the notion that nonlawyers are less qualified than lawyers to serve as municipal judges. ("Noone. . .  is an outspoken critic of the bill and has been working with the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns to see that it does not get passed. He takes offense with any preconception that holds that nonattorney judges are less competent. As lay judges, we run professional courts. We take pride in maintaining the virtues of justice," Noone said"). [1]

Notwithstanding his opposition, it may eventually come to pass that His Honor needs a law license to remain on the bench. So, perhaps Judge Noone made the right choice in enrolling in Indiana Tech Law School. I wish him well, and am glad that at least one student out of the 33 who enrolled may beat the scam and recoup more than his investment and opportunity costs. But how many other law students or prospective law students are so unusually situated? How many can claim the following:
 
(1) he or she holds a JD-Advantage job without having a JD, negating the need to look for a job after graduation;    
(2) there serious proposals to turn that JD-Advantage job into a JD-required job, and so obtaining a law degree is a prudent move to protect his or her job;
(3) A spanking new law school has just opened up within driving distance of his or her hometown--a law school so desperate for students that pretty much any literate applicant can negotiate a hefty tuition discount;  
(4) said law school boasts of having a semester-in-practice program, so he or she might be able earn semester’s worth of credit just by going about his or her day job--in Judge Noone’s case, presiding over his own court.   
Even granting that he is a student at Indiana Tech Law, I think it is somewhat questionable for Judge Noone to tout the controversial school on its website without disclosing his special status, especially since the website functions so blatantly as a recruiting device. [2] 

Judge Noone may benefit from his Indiana Tech legal education and degree. It is hard to imagine who else might, even hypothetically. Perhaps a student who has a guaranteed job upon graduation in mom or dad’s local firm, has no career ambition in the law beyond working in mom or dad’s firm, chose Indiana Tech because it offered him or her the lowest discounted tuition, and is willing to gamble on Indiana Tech’s bid for accreditation.

That would at least be reasonable given the ABA's notorious promiscuity in granting its imprimatur to start-up law schools. However, even the hypothetical student described, and Judge Noone, might want to ponder whether the ABA will be so eager to risk its diminishing credibility by offering its imprimatur to a degree mill that could not even fill one-third of available seats.

Yes, Judge Noone and conceivably a couple of other students may benefit from their Indiana Tech law degree. However, no one else. For the vast majority of the students, an education from this joke school is likely to be a financial wipeout, a horrendous waste of time, and a permanent taint on their resumes.
 
-------------------------------
notes:
 
[1] However much it might "offend" Noone, judges probably ought to be lawyers. Check out this epic three-part New York Times expose from 2006 detailing the "long trail of judicial abuses and errors" in the New York State village courts where elected nonlawyer judges preside. ("The examination found overwhelming evidence that decade after decade and up to this day, people have often been denied fundamental legal rights. . . Others have been subjected to racial and sexual bigotry so explicit it seems to come from some other place and time"). No summary of mine could do justice to this expose, which I encourage everyone to read, but some of the abuses by these presiding troglodytes who proudly boast of their ignorance of law would be comical were it not for the, you know, lives that were ruined.
 
[2]  Ordinarily I wouldn’t criticize a law student. However, I think I can make an exception given that first, a 38-year old judge is not your run-of-the-mill naive 1L, and second, the criticism offered here is very mild.
 

13 comments:

  1. I doubt that a Municipal Court Judge in Indiana is a full-time job. If you click on the link, the newspaper article quotes another such judge who only makes 10K a year. That said, 10K a year is probably more than most Indiana Tech grads will ever make practicing law.

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  2. "Noone, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Anderson University, is an outspoken critic of the bill and has been working with the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns to see that it does not get passed. He takes offense with any preconception that holds that nonattorney judges are less competent.

    “As lay judges, we run professional courts. We take pride in maintaining the virtues of justice,” Noone said.

    Noone argues that since city and town courts often deal with issues that are not “complex criminal matters,” there is no need to restrict judgeships to attorneys only."

    Plus, the commode will take credit for "placing" this ass-wipe into a legal job.

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  3. Hilarious. Already holding an oh-so-coveted "JD-Advantage job" prior to law school, not because of the wonders of a conferred JD itself.

    To be fair, this is really the only reason as a non-trad to go to law school - your job requires it (and, ideally, your employer pays for it).

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  4. I looked at their faculty. The best law schools attended were Minnesota and Case Western. Everybody else was from a TTT. The blind leading the blind. The dog has returned to its vomit.

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    Replies
    1. Does anyone happen to know where Dean Peter got his JD?

      He seems to know the TTTT routine by heart.

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    2. I found it: Northeastern University.

      In addition, his areas of focus are crime and bankruptcy. Not a bad summary of his brief tenure at Indiana Tech.

      Delete
  5. Fascinating example of law faculty not being drawn from the Top 13.

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  6. Not surprising. Its fits their business model . . teaching students how to practice law. The workhorses of the legal profession come predominately from the second and third tiers I would guess.

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  7. Do smiling face always tell the truth?


    smiling faces, smiling faces.....
    sometimes....

    Beware of the...
    pat on the back...
    it just might....
    hold ya back!

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  8. Case Western is an elite, T-55 school. HYSCW.

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  9. The Angry Accountant is trying to offend Noone.September 13, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    My question is, why do we need non-attorney judges when we have so many bright lawyers who are unemployed? It is like we have no shortages of bar-admitted lawyers LOL.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. Why is a sitting judge engaged in the promotion of a commercial business?

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