Friday, September 12, 2014

Guest Post by a Former Charlotte Law Prof, Part I: How Charlotte Law Treated Faculty and Staff.


What follows is an account of the goings-on at Charlotte School of Law by a former lawprof there. It will be published in two parts --today's post concerns the treatment of faculty and staff; the second and final post will concern the treatment of students. 

Charlotte Law, of course, occupies a special place within the law school scam as one of only six accredited law schools that are run on a for-profit basis, and one of three (soon to be four) owned by InfiLaw (aka "The InfiLaw System"). All InfiLaw schools, in the words of Paul Campos, "feature atrocious employment statistics, sky high tuition, enormous class sizes, and graduates with massive debt loads." Perhaps opposition to InfiLaw's astonishing version of legal education is an area of common ground for scambloggers and law professors. 

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I agreed to teach full-time at Charlotte Law, after having been lured with promises of great opportunities for faculty members who take initiative. This all proved to be a lie, as only faculty and staff members who are insiders with the InfiLaw power players can get ahead.  Excellent teaching evaluations and scholarship record are utterly irrelevant to the school administrators in their reviews. They seem only concerned with whether or not the school is the right "culture fit" for its faculty members.

With soaring enrollment, sub-par and steadily decreasing bar pass rate (near the 60% mark right now), and poor career placement rate, Charlotte Law feeds on students who were not accepted into any other law schools and who are foolish enough to pay (or take loans) to cover the high tuition fees. Making money for the top administrators of the school, as well as for its investors (in InfiLaw), is the only thing that matters. Many faculty members had admitted to me that what the school is doing is not ethical, but have not left due to the abysmal academic market right now.

Faculty is not treated well. The school does not hire tenure-track faculty anymore. Instead, faculty must choose a teaching track (which entails teaching about 8-9 credits per semester), or an alternative track (which entails teaching the traditional 2+2 classes, at about 2/3 of the normal salary). Most faculty chooses the teaching track, which can be overwhelming at times, especially given how much harder that student population is to teach. This increased teaching load results in overworked faculty, who are not able to attend to the students as much as they should. Furthermore, the school just changed its curriculum, infusing it with tons of required skills-oriented courses. The courses are repetitive and offered before students have the substantive background to be able to tackle them. Furthermore, faculty has no experience preparing or teaching the new courses.

The reason for this curriculum change has been tacitly acknowledged as a method to make it harder for students to transfer out. Even core courses have been renamed, and students do not complete all the typical core courses until their 2L year because the 1L curriculum is peppered with practice-oriented classes that take away from their ability to actually focus on learning core legal concepts. Furthermore, the new curriculum prevents students from taking any electives until the end of their 2L year or their 3L year.

All new faculty and staff members are required to attend 4 full days of Emotional Quotient training. Instead of focusing on their students or scholarship,  faculty is forced to share their personal issues and bond superficially.  I have heard participants mock what others had shared behind their backs. Notices about these training sessions are always last-minute, and typically scheduled during religious holidays or vacation breaks. Those who are unable to attend are threatened with termination.

Faculty is given very little opportunity to voice their opinions. Voting on faculty appointments is not anonymous. Frequent faculty handbook changes are likewise voted on publicly. The administration had even put forward proposals for IT to have access to faculty's personal smart phones if they also contained Charlotte Law email accounts, and the ability to wipe out ALL the data on them. Weekly faculty meetings are mandatory (an attendance sheet used to be passed around), and there remains huge pressure to conform and attend them all, no matter how much that interferes with teaching preparation or scholarly pursuits. Most faculty meetings do not seem to have a purpose, aside from reciting the three mission pillars, brainwashing the faculty, bemoaning low applicant numbers, and putting a rosy spin on falling bar passage rates. 

Scholarship is ignored or even actively discouraged. The library does not even have any secondary sources. Thus, all books faculty uses for research need to be requested via interlibrary loans. At least some of the librarians make it clear how helping faculty is at the bottom of their list of priorities.

The school has been continuously creating new assistant dean positions that are unnecessary. It has several InfiLaw insiders in dean positions that are superfluous. No one seems to know what it is that they do. The new administrative posts are all filled with people who support InfiLaw’s ideology, even though most of the could not have even gotten adjunct jobs at decent law schools (as indicated by the schools they attended, lack of scholarship, and no law teaching experience).

The whole institution is like a cult, always reciting their three mission pillars (skills preparation; being student-centered; serving the community) before the beginning of any faculty meeting. Unfortunately, these ideas are paid lip service only; the only mission of the school is increasing the student pool to make bigger profits for its administrators and investors.






72 comments:

  1. What are the oppressed professors getting paid?

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  2. How utterly disgusting. The law school scam on steroids.

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  3. Pull. The. Accreditation. Now.

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    1. Yes! And with any luck, some deans and professors at TT and TTT schools can help us do just that!

      Charlotte makes the TT and TTT schools look even worse than they really are. The same flatulent sales pitches and excuses, barely disguising vastly worse inputs and outputs.

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    2. I attended and graduated from one of the 3 InfiLaw Schools. They "were" so nice and "seemingly" supportive to me as the money for tuition flowed, however, once I graduated, I became invisible to them. A matter of fact, I was outright betrayed by one of these "Deans." Remember the typical "duck" machines that children ride (say) outside a K-Mart when 25 cents is given? The duck entertains a child while the money is still in the machine, but once time is up, the machine immediately stops. This is JUST LIKE faculty and staff of InfilLaw; put a "tuition coin" in it and they come alive. Coin (or graduation) runs out - you are run out! I got scammed! Shame on me.

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  4. I was told by a member of the FCSL faculty that the salary scale there ran from about $90,000 for entry level hires to around $130,000 for senior faculty. Does Charlotte pay similarly? (This would be useful to know when trying to calculate how much profit Infilaw is extracting from these schools).

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    1. Its hard to have sympathy with the law professors here when they are still earning $100k. If you earn that much anywhere else, you can expect to work long hours and put up with stress. Although the professor still has plenty of legitimate gripes.

      But one thing I agree with is the de-emphasis on scholarship and "scholarly pursuits". As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, the actual legitimate demand for legal scholarship is quite small. Most law faculty should be concentrating mainly or exclusively on teaching.

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    2. Great to hear from professor Campos again.

      We could all feel some sympathy for the former Charlotte professor for a few good reasons:

      (1) Professors at law schools higher up the food chain may feel outraged at InfiLaw's poor treatment of its professors. Some only care about themselves, but many are capable of sympathy and even compassion for a fellow professor with a good academic pedigree. These professors can be valuable allies with us in shutting down the worst 50 or so law schools. In fact, as a group they have far more influence than we ever will.

      (2) Any professor or former professor who spills the beans on a scam school deserves the greatest respect. We can learn a lot more about these exploitive and destructive institutions, about the social structures and economic incentives that keep them in business. Without inside information, we can make crucial errors in interpreting the voluminous public information.

      (3) Professors at Charlotte receive far less economic rent, far less unearned surplus, than most law professors. Even the deans, as cold and calculating as they are, probably don't get paid as well as deans at non-profit schools. Why? Because InfiLaw has capitalized and recapitalized massive acquisition costs that don't exist at non-profit schools. Businesses controlled by private equity funds often borrow extra money just to pay tax-free dividends to the initial investors, and then deduct interest on the borrowed money as a business expense. With such high and increasing capital costs, InfiLaw is going to pay its professors as little as possible. There are far more bloated targets for criticism than a Charlotte law professor.

      I'd like to personally thank the former professor for a great post. Everyone else, please think about it and enjoy it if you possibly can.

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    3. These are all very good points 1:50. The natural tendency here would be to treat accounts such as this former professor's with cynicism (and I'm sure this professor knew the risk of this when he submitted his article here!). But this cynicism is largely undeserved in this case.

      Infilaw would be running this and their other schools to maximize short term profit above all else. The only reason they would even have professors and not just adjuncts would be ABA regulations. They would be paying them the minimum they could get away with too (I'm not sure what determines that minimum).

      And although most schools do go overboard with encouraging scholarship, its probably an even worse sign when a for-profit discourages it entirely.

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    4. Sorry to kick the deceased equine beast, but if the federal loan spigot were closed the invisible hand would likely close at least 50 schools, if not make them more affordable

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    5. Unfortunately even if Plus loans (the main problem) were restricted private lenders would just step in and fill the gap. They wouldn't care about risk - considering lack of bankruptcy protection for student debt, and they'd just securitize and sell the debt off to third parties anyhow.

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  5. Many, many thanks to the ex-faculty member who has shared this information.

    We just need to keep in mind that the difference between this picture and the situation at a nonprofit law school is only one of degree.

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    1. I would say that its very, very likely there is no difference. The above describes quite accurately the atmosphere at my non-profit TTT. At least what I glean from now looking back after so many years. Churn 'em. Burn'em. Move 'em out. All that remains is the debt and a lifetime of broken dreams and empty promises while the faculty, staff, and administration feasted for 3 years on my (borrowed) money. Sounds about right. Especially the attitudes described.

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  6. Seems like the focus on teaching not scholarship is to discourage professors from "transferring" to better schools. If this is law school, why can't we just have CCs open law schools for 2K a pop?

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  7. You have to admire the "practice ready" classes as a tactic to prevent transferring out after 1L. Scammers gonna scam.

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    1. Not the only scam to keep students from transferring, I remember a teacher slipped up in one of my classes when said stated she was told to grade hard. Essentially, she ended up saying she was giving out C for what would have been a B at the school she came from.

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  8. Wow a member of the SS is upset because hitler was a strict disciplinarian. Screw u dude. You got paid to be there but your students will pay for the rest of their lives. What would you have done for your students if you weren't in a meeting? Pose some other worthless hypo to plant the core legal concept.

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    1. Somewhat agree. Some of this sounds like your typical bad job office environment coupled with actual, you know, "work." On that level, yes, Boo Hoo, welcome to how the other half live, LawProfs.

      On the other hand, nobody wants higher-ed to look like this. Infilaw sounds truly craptacular - a money-grab by high-level Boomers before their diabetes catches up with them, nothing more.

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    2. @ 8:44 AM. You sound like the commenters who respond to the scamblog movement with "What, we're supposed to feel sorry for you? Quit whining!" The point of this guy's story, like the scamblogs, is not to win sympathy. It's to get the truth out there so that fewer people will be victims.

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    3. Yeah, if you think the victims are the faculty and staff. Sorry, I don't. The victims are the students. This guy feasted at the trough and is upset that he ate ny strip instead of filet. Like I said screw this guy. If he is smart enough to be a prof he was smart enough to see that there was and is no need for the charlotte law school or really the whole forth tier and probably third tier law schools.

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    4. Well I don't have much sympathy for the "students" either. Take a look at Law School Lemings. If the Darwin Awards were given out for financial suicide, they all would win.

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    5. "Yeah, if you think the victims are the faculty and staff."

      Disclosures like this help prevent *student* victims. It shows how law schools are money-grubbing con games that can't be trusted.

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    6. I have sympathy for the students. Kids with avg lsat scores like those at charlotte are not in the mental position to make the decision to borrow this money. The school is taking advantage of low iq people and should be ashamed.

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    7. Don't insult people who are defecting to your side. You want to encourage defection, not slander it.

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    8. How is this guy on my side? He seems to be saying that if he had more time to spend writing whatever law review articles he wanted and didn't have to attend meetings and spit out the party line on command then he would have been fine. There may be more than one problem with this dump but the one I care about is that poorly qualified students are being strapped to nondischargable debt so pigs like this guy can make $90k or more a year. So like I said screw this clown. He didn't like the job and quit. I've had jobs like that and quit and that was the end of the story. Unfortunately you can't quit student loans and kids with such low aptitude don't get it until it's too late. I'd feel better about this guy if he confessed to the harm he's done to his students and gave the salary he earned there to a charity. Try the Salvation Army because that will probably benefit some of his former students.

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    9. Well, I don't know what side you're on, but he's on the anti-scam side in that he took the time and risk (who's really anonymous?) to share these damning details with OTLSS.

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    10. Sorry but profs and admins aren't being scammed, students are. FYI a scam is when a fraudulent party fleeces another for $$$. This guy made money off the deal

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    11. The overwhelming reality in this case is that everyone is getting scammed to pay off the huge debts incurred by InfiLaw. It's an unusually poor way to try to educate future lawyers. I hope all the InfiLaw schools lose their accreditation soon, after which the creditors drive them onto bankruptcy.

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    12. In my semi-rural New England town there are a number of dirt roads that are no longer maintained. Back in the 1930's when farms were being abandoned and the town budget was tight they would only plow and grade to the last house on the road as you came in from either end, leaving an impassable trail in the middle. But under state law those trails remained official town roads until they were abandoned by a vote of the town meeting.

      Fast forward 60+ years. An older lady who had grown up in town and had inherited her father's house wanted to split off a lot in the back and sell it. To meet the frontage requirements for zoning she was relying on one of these unmaintained roads. The Planning & Zoning Commission felt it was legit but higher powers did not want the town to have to pay to reopen the road. They got our sleazebag town attorney to draft an opinion letter saying there had been an "Implied Abandonment" of this road. Nice old lady could then either give up and build a long driveway over the old roadbed or spend even more fighting in court. She went with the driveway.

      Fast forward a couple more years. Brash young self-made millionaire who had grown up in town buys land on an unmaintained road to build a big, new house. While the Implied Abandonment thing was bullshit it described his road just as well as the other one. But the town knew he would sue their ass so they sent the road crew out to get the road in shape.

      The ABA hasn't got the stones to go up against the deep pockets of Infilaw unless and until their violations of the accreditation standards are beyond absurd. Don't look for the ABA to act anytime soon.

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    13. @7:05 and @ 11:00- This chucklefuck is not "defecting to your side". S/he is simply longing for the salad days of law school when professors could write a bunch of unread and unreadable crap ("scholarship" is mentioned three times), teach a few classes, get a paycheck and never know what was happening in the admissions or career services office.

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    14. That's a great story at 8:09. It makes a good point, too.

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    15. I think you may be right, 2:00, but those who now long for privilege now will soon become resentful of privilege. Eventually they can become powerful critics of the entire law school scam.

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    16. Part of what ropes people into the scam that is law school is the notion that law professors are prestigious; that they are the very best legal minds with maybe the exception of members of the Supreme Court.
      If prospective law students get the image that law professors are treated unprestigiously at forth tier places, and are in fact equal to low-grade salesmen, I think they would be more likely to stay away.

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  9. "The whole institution is like a cult, always reciting their three mission pillars (skills preparation; being student-centered; serving the community) before the beginning of any faculty meeting."

    The Wal-Mart-ization of Legal Education. It has been a long time coming, and it has finally arrived. Whether the above trends continue to percolate upward remains to be seen.

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    1. Walmart is cheap!

      Would that there would be Walmart-style law schools providing JDs for $10,000 per year! They would shut down the for-profit scammers faster than anything!

      (Except the Federal government limiting student loans).

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    2. Resident tuition at Arkansas is only $6500 a year. Does that make them the Wal*Mart of law schools?

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    3. Law School Transparency indicates tuition is closer to 13,000 per year for in state. Out of state is still circa 30,000.

      For some reason cost of attendance is still crazily high. Possibly because of interest paid.

      If the CoA is just (tuition + living cost) x 3 years, then (13,000 + 17000) x 3 = 90,000 is not that bad by todays standards. Its as close to Walmart as there looks to be right now.

      Of course, it would be better if the equation were more like (10,000 + 10,000) x 3 = 60k. How could CoA be brought down though?

      Walmart style dorms and cafeteria? I bet it could be done.

      Ideally though, law school could just be a undergrad major and Walmart University could make tuition and living costs cheap, saving the JD seeker the extra 3 years of skool.

      The whole point of this is "Walmart" style higher education would make things cheaper for students, which would be a good thing. Professors wouldnt like it. I hold a PhD and while Id like to cushy salary that comes with overcharging students, I recognize a lower salary paid by lower tuition is better for the students, their parents, and society.

      Bring on Walmart University and School of Law!!!!

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  10. In a few years, each and every InfiLaw school will shut down.

    NOT because the ABA will step-in (although, it would be nice if it did), but because the schools will stop making a profit, and InfiLaw will shut them down. The investors will have made their profit, so they'll run off and find something else to invest in.

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    1. Not sure, I think they can make a tidy profit with less students. They can staff for the students and they have moderate fixed expenses. It's not hard to make money if you can get your expenses in line.

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  11. InfiLaw needs to buy up a few more schools. They seem to favor schools in the south. Might I suggest a Sun Belt of Scam?

    Current Properties:

    Charlotte
    Florida Coastal
    Phoenix

    Future:

    Charleston, SC

    NEXT UP:

    Regent (Norfolk)
    John Marshall (Atlanta)
    Birmingham/Miles Schools of Law (Birmingham)
    Loyola-New Orleans (New Orleans)
    South Texas (Houston)

    STCL and Marshall are top-tier targets.

    Can't stop the Borg.

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    1. Good idea. What about Campbell and elon???

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    2. And let's not forget Appalachian and Nova Southeastern.

      Old Guy

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    3. Don't forget Savannah, which looks like a twin of Charleston.

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  12. "The administration had even put forward proposals for IT to have access to faculty's personal smart phones if they also contained Charlotte Law email accounts, and the ability to wipe out ALL the data on them. "

    Welcome to corporate America. This is not at all uncommon. Of course, in corporate America, any employee's phone might have emails with highly valuable trade secret info.

    Not sure the same would be true with the average LS prof's email.

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  13. "The school has been continuously creating new assistant dean positions that are unnecessary. It has several InfiLaw insiders in dean positions that are superfluous. No one seems to know what it is that they do. "

    My last comment said welcome to corporate America.

    This comment's message is, "Welcome to any of 200+ accredited law schools".

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  14. Play it the Company Way!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGhTr8lDCV0

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  15. Pretty amusing that the first post is about how bad the poor professors have it.

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  16. Wouldn't this be better received if the Prof was not anonymous?

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    1. Hi Pushkin/Aduren/Brian.

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    2. Now that you mention Aduren, I think that his own comments would be better received if they were anonymous. Why? Because then potential readers wouldn't be repelled by his ugly mug.

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  17. Why is there a dog in the picture? Mascot? Professor? Graduate?

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    1. The dog is Charlotte. Mascot. http://nclawyersweekly.com/2008/03/24/beagle-adds-a-light-note-to-busy-days-at-charlotte-school-of-law/ Awww how adorable! The for-profit law school with a cute mascot. What a light note to busy days.

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    2. Caption for that photo: "Charlotte $chool of Law. Come and be our bitch."

      Old Guy

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    3. Looks like a "therapy dog, " badly needed at most law schools. Therapy dogs are the hot new thing in psychotherapy. Other law schools have used them during finals, for example at the University of Tennessee.

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    4. The "career" office at my élite law school did fuck all to help with finding jobs but did spend money to bring in dogs with which we could play by way of reducing stress just before exams. Too puerile for words.

      Old Guy

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  18. The distinction between "not-for-profit" and "for-profit" law skules is unimportant. Except in a formal sense, they're all profit-seeking institutions. "Not for profit" just means that they spend every penny of the take, principally on salaries and benefits for profe$$ors and admini$trators.

    Old Guy

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    1. Actually, the reason that so many universities opened law schools in the last thirty years was because they were seen as profit centers that generated positive cash flow that could be skimmed off to subsidize other departments.

      It was fun while it lasted.

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  19. The "students" at the Charlotte $kule of Law are deluding themselves. Last year the median LSAT score at this toilet was 146. That's below the 30th percentile. What makes them think that they are intelligent enough for law?

    Old Guy

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  20. "Law school is for uncreative types who become low performers"

    -from an article entitled "Don't Hire People Who Went to Grad School"

    https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/dont-hire-people-who-went-to-grad-school/

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  21. Does the dog accompany students to go pan-handling after they graduate?

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    1. With the outrageous tuition they charge, the Charlotte School of Law could afford to buy every student a dog for that very purpose. I'm sure Career Services could figure out which breeds evoke the most sympathy.

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  22. You should do a post mentioning rip off sites that take advantage of law students by charging money for case briefs. Bsmsphd comes to mind.

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    1. Oh the scam of ROMLAW. I fell prey to this piece of shit.

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  23. this is disgusting, but i already knew about it (i.e. preying on community colleges and the diversity card)

    http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-rio-hondo-law-20140831-story.html

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    1. Yes, it's been mentioned before, but it represents a disturbing trend. Those remorseless scam artists, the grossly overpaid deans, will continue to overproduce and cheapen their product until every law degree is considered a mark of shame.

      Did you notice that one girl who, having been persuaded that she's an undiscovered genius, now insists on going to Harvard? That JC recruitment program is going to backfire big time on USC and Santa Clara.

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  24. This post suggests a more general criticism of the law school scam. The schools are in effect charging for scholarship, but often failing to deliver it. Whether because of high class loads, or lazy and entitled senior faculty, or perverse incentives to produce junk scholarship, most students are overpaying by 200% or more just to be around "scholars" who are anything but that.

    Why should law students have to pay for articles that aren't useful to them, and that in many cases are never even written? What theory of justice could possibly justify that? Law professors, please justify your massive privilege and self-indulgence and the grueling poverty and misery of your former students.

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  25. I have personal knowledge of the situation at Charlotte School of Law, because I was a tenured, full-time law professor there for several years, concluding in early 2011. The anonymous author of the main post makes numerous assertions, but I will confine my comments (for now) to the most central point: the treatment of faculty and staff.



    I can tell you from my first-hand experience that I and other faculty were treated very well by the administration, the staff, InfiLaw officials, and everyone else involved at Charlotte School of Law. We were treated with dignity and respect. The culture, which we discussed frequently and openly, was one of mutual support and collegiality. I never was made to feel like a "cult member" or any of the other derogatory terms casually used by the anonymous poster.



    I have taught full-time at three U.S. law schools and two in other nations (India and China). I've also been a professor at undergraduate universities and colleges, including my current position at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Anyone who has shared even a marginally similar experience would affirm that it is a metaphysical impossibility to "brainwash" law professors. We are a notoriously independent, free-thinking, even unruly group. The leadership at Charlotte School of Law and InfiLaw never tried to devalue, control, or denigrate our independence. In fact, we regularly held off-sites and other mostly informal events during which we were encouraged to share our honest thoughts and feeling about the direction of the law school.



    One last point, for now. The nameless author of the main post claims that scholarship "is ignored or even actively discouraged." To say that this was NOT my experience at CSL would be a tremendous understatement. During my years on the faculty there, I published my sixth and seventh books, as well as multiple law review articles. This was rewarded, not only with tenure, but with sizable pay increases. I was allowed to travel (at CSL expense) to other cities, and even other nations, as an invited speaker at scholarly symposia where I discussed my legal scholarship. The Dean and I also created an attractive display case, filled with faculty-authored books and journal articles, which we placed in a prominent, high-traffic area on the main classroom level. This is further affirmation of the value and encouragement of faculty scholarship at Charlotte.



    I would be pleased to provide further insights and information. No law school is perfect, of course, but at least a professor should be meticulous in adherence to the truth when publicly making accusations.



    Respectfully,



    Professor John C. Kunich

    Department of Political Science

    University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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    1. So:

      1. You "have personal knowledge" despite the fact that you departed "in early 2011."
      2. You claim to have "first-hand experience" regarding how "other faculty were treated."

      Lack of foundation, anyone?

      While I'm at it, why do you apparently list Marva: The Musical on your linkedin page, but not CSOL?

      Delete
  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. Everyone talking about broken dreams, pikes of debt, scandal, blah blah blah. Check my Google reviews: Jody S. Lanier Attorney, www.lanierlegal.com . Made low lsat score, second career law student with family, got fine education at CSL. Made 95k solo in 2014. Anyone who is confused, call me and and let me clue you in. Law school is not practice. Oh, and I work about 20-30 hrs per week. Busted dreams my ass.

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  28. Great, Now CLS is threatening to send me to collections over a small dept. Would be easier to re pay if they would stop flooding the market in Charlotte. Its all about he $$$$$$$.

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  29. Well, I am just wondering how a student goes from making nearly all a's and b's throughout the semester to being academically dismissed after the fall semester. I ask this because I think there is something wrong with the grading distribution and not so much of the curve.

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