Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bottom-of-the-barrel Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers academic merit scholarship to applicants with 2.0 UGPA/ 140 LSATs.

Let’s say a person squeaks through college with the minimum GPA needed to graduate (2.00, i.e. a "C" average) and then completely bombs a standardized test designed to measure reading comprehension and analytical and logical ability, scoring in the bottom 13 percent of test-takers. A euphemism for such a person, suitable for this touchy age, might be "intellectually disinclined" or, certainly, "academically challenged." But at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, that person is referred to as a “recipient of an academic merit scholarship.”

Consider the “matrix” of UGPA/LSATs used by Thomas Jefferson School of Law, beginning this fall, to award guaranteed renewable academic merit scholarships. A kid with a 2.0 GPA /140 LSAT (i.e., a "C" average in college and a 13th percentile score on the LSAT) gets a merit scholarship of $1,000 a year. And $7,000/ yr. if that kid can boost his or her LSAT performance to 145-- the 26th percentile.

What is even more striking than the small merit awards provided to the, uh, intellectually disinclined, are the quite substantial ones provided to the utterly mediocre and sub-mediocre. Thomas Jefferson will provide a $44,000/ yr. renewable scholarship for an incoming law student with a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a 153 on the LSAT (i.e., a "B" average in college and a 55th percentile score on the LSAT)—essentially a full-ride, since the school’s annual tuition is $44,900. A half-tuition scholarship is available to students with a 2.5 undergraduate GPA and a 148 on the LSAT (i.e. a "C+" average in college and a 38th percentile score on the LSAT).  




In addition, Thomas Jefferson now offers transfer scholarships to students in the top 20% of other law schools. Perhaps the idea here is that, by poaching non-intellectually disinclined students from other law schools, it can keep that pesky bar passage rate in ABA-approved territory.


But suppose other law schools get a similar idea and tempt Thomas Jefferson's own top students with some financial transfer-bait? No problem. Thomas Jefferson will counter with "defensive" mid-law school scholarships.  


On balance, of course, it is better that these scholarships exist than not. If a kid is going to get scammed, hopefully the level his or her resulting indebtedness can be controlled somewhat through scholarships of this sort. Pre-matrix, Thomas Jefferson students graduated with the highest median debt load among all 200+ ABA approved law schools, even though the school's job placement record is among the worst. In light of its dismal record even relative to other law schools, it seems almost unfair to describe Thomas Jefferson School of Law as a mere scam. A grad of this institution can boast to those who obtained JDs elsewhere: "You have only been scammed, but I've been Thomas Jeffersoned."

But I am concerned about another stakeholder-- the as-yet-unpaid bondholders who financed Thomas Jefferson School of Law's schmancy new building. On June 26, 2014, the school defaulted on its debt service obligation under its loan agreement, and was likewise unable to make its next quarterly scheduled payment on September 26, 2014. The school is currently negotiating with the bondholders to restructure its obligations, which evidently total a trifling 133 million dollars. I wonder: Are the bondholders fully aware of the amount of the scholarship money, i.e. tuition rebates, that the school is planning to disburse in order to maintain enrollment? Do they understand how unlikely it is, therefore, that Thomas Jefferson will be able to climb out of its fiscal hole, especially given that 95% of the school's revenue comes from tuition?

Incidentally, the current two-week long extension on the period allotted for debt restructuring negotiations expires on October 31, i.e. Halloween. So if you know any child who plans to trick-or-treat at the homes or offices of Thomas Jefferson School of Law faculty, why not suggest that he or she dress up as Consent and Forbearance Agreement No. 10?

Hey, bondholders: No need to delay the inevitable foreclosure by giving these profligates and deadbeats a hopeless opportunity to regain solvency. Thomas Jefferson’s spacious and eco-friendly eight story palace of legal learrning could be repurposed as office space, or perhaps even downtown condos, for some lucky San Diegans. Well, lucky provided that the building is not haunted-- it is the site of a mass graveyard of legal careers. (Cue sounds of heavy rain and thunder. Flash terrifying images of a profession being murdered. Display title: "The Scamityville Horror").

68 comments:

  1. This reminds me of a business venture that I had to close down. Things had been bad for a while, but in the last month they got really bad. When I looked over the records after shutting it down, I saw that the manager had been making desperation sales and pricing products that would ordinarily have generated a 50% gross profit at a 10% gross margin, just to keep cash coming in the door. It didn't work for her and it won't work for TJ.

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  2. You can't kill it 'cause it's already dead.

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  3. What sensible person would attend, even for free? A TJSL degree is like a permanent scarlet letter on your resume, much like a degree from Cooley or an infilaw school.

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    1. That's just it. They've given up on trying to attract sensible people.

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  4. Damn. If I went to law school today, I apparently would be treated like a King. What a difference a decade of truthful reporting, national print media articles, and lawsuits makes.

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    1. For a man, it's like when you reach your mid-30s and you realize for the first time how easy it would have been to score with good-looking women in their mid-30s when you were 20.

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    2. Me too. 2004 - full tuition. 2014 - full ride.

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    3. Duped Non-Traditional, you might be treated like a king when you signed up, but you'd still be treated like dirt when you looked for a job.

      Stay the hell away from law skules, especially if you've reached the age of unemployability (30+).

      Old Guy

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  5. I was curious again about TJSL, so I went to their website. I was informed, contrary to previous belief, that its graduate (LLM) programs are ranked in the top 10 of all law schools, ahead of Harvard and Vanderbilt.

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    1. That is true. Cooley also ranks above Yale.

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    2. Yes, Cooley is ranked as the number 2 LS in the country.

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  6. These are just "discounts," not scholarships. It's just like Kohl's. No one pays full retail price.

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    1. Kohl's School of Law. Excellent!

      In all fairness, Kohl's would probably be more selective concerning its applicants.

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  7. What do the descendants of Thomas Jefferson think of their namesake being used for this law school?

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    1. Does he have any descendants to whom he actually gave his name?

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  8. "The Thomas Jefferson School of Law has signed a Restructuring Support Agreement (RSA) with nearly 90 percent of its bondholders that reduces its debt by two thirds ($87 million), reduces annual cash flow obligations by half ($6 million) and ensures continued operations of the school in its state-of-the-art campus in downtown San Diego. . . As part of the transaction, the bonds will be cancelled. In exchange, the bondholders will become owners of the building and lease it back to the school. In addition, the bondholders will also receive $40 million in new notes at an interest rate of 2 percent. Interest rates on the previous outstanding taxable bonds were over 11 percent, with non-taxable bonds at over 7 percent."

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20141029005193/en/Thomas-Jefferson-School-Law-Announces-Debt-Restructuring#.VFE2Pslsgot

    TJSL is no longer the owner of the building, but the intention is to use the same facilities. Who knows for how long . . .

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    1. It seems lemmings aren't the only ones to fall for the law school glamor.

      The new repayment conditions are so generous even TJSL might be able to meet them indefinitely.

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    2. This happens a lot in corporate near-bankruptcy situations. The debtor gets the creditors/bondholders together for a "come to Jesus moment", tells them it's going to default on the debt unless there's a massive haircut, and then some agreement is reached. This seems really favorable to TJLS, but the alternate for the bondholders is to sell a shell of a building that can't serve its original purpose. Enrollment will fall further, and at some point these tactics won't work.

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    3. LOL. I guess the bondholders think that taking a haircut is better that kicking TJSL out. Hell, I would toss the bums out and turn that building into something useful.

      If only the shareholders would just "do their research"...hmmm....where have I heard that one before?

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    4. Congratulations to TJSL for successfully using the Donald Trump Approach to Insolvency: Get so deep into the banks that they'd rather restructure than write off and liquidate.

      What a bunch of crap.. Who knows how long they'll hang on for now. BS.

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    5. Bummer.

      Old joke: If I owe you $100,000, I have a problem. If I owe you $100,000,000, YOU have a problem. So it is understandable that the bondholders agreed to this restructuring. At least they get something more than the building itself-- they get the building plus a tenant that is obligated to pay six million a year.

      Will TJSL be able to meet even this reduced obligation? Under the TJSL scholarship matrix, tuition is heavily discounted for kids with truly awful credentials, and anybody who rises to the level of mediocre goes for free. How then will TJSL raise the six million per year it owes to its bondholder-landlords? Peddling online LLMs to couch potatoes across the globe? Opening a Columbian mammoth theme park? A senile billionaire willing to pay a fortune for naming rights? A miraculous revival in demand for JDs that allows TJSL to discontinue the matrix?

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    6. I wonder how much the building was valued and what the terms of the lease are?

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    7. I hope the students at TJSL have their own "come to Jesus moment," or perhaps to Darwin or the deity of their choice. For whether or not they know it, they are in serious trouble. Wanting to go to TJSL is not a positive signal to outside observers such as us. But they obviously don't know or care what we think. Getting admitted only to TJSL should be a huge red flag to them about their poor career prospects, but they lack the self-awareness to understand it.

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  9. I wonder what would happen if the new owners didn't extend the lease.

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  10. And courts have the audacity to claim past students didn't "rely" on fraudulent data?

    Look at what is happening when the data got out and the law scammers could no longer hide what they were doing. People anywhere close to normal intelligence promptly refused to go. They had to start scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    And still they're not actually lowering tuition, because the stupid Federal Government created yet another bubble with their reckless policies.

    When these schools start closing can we finally get some honest discourse by the government and the Boomer parents? People that got scammed by law school aren't stupid or lazy, they've been scammed and screwed over. When the sophisticated Wall St. types make mistakes they get bailed out, and they're experts with massive resources in place. When a naive 22 year old listens to what they've been programmed their entire lives, it's all their fault?

    Education is so toxic in the US. It just doesn't work that way anywhere else in the world. Professors around the world are respected but also don't earn much money at all. Tuition is low or non-existent in most places. None of this indebt kids before they even start their lives with facially visibly stupid amounts of debt.

    These law school deans and whoever decided in the DOE to give out those loans without any checks need to be in jail. Look the American public is extremely stupid, but burning an entire generation so obviously means there will be a lack of faith in the entire system. The economy just can't recover when this type of cronyism is used to blatantly rip people off. People need to go to jail.

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    1. This dishonesty is compounded by the fact that we in the United States have elevated higher-education to the level of a "constitutional right" while requiring it as a ticket to ride. Other countries strictly limit access to these same educational resources, but, guess what, those same resources are not watered-down and are of value, while not strapping the graduate with non-dischargeable debt at the same time.

      Will there be some injustice in the European system? Certainly. Some people will get into higher education due to their Europoean "zip code" and connections while others won't. But guess what? That is the exact same system we have in the US currently, with worse results. At least the testing regimen in European education is, for the most part, "the great leveler," even for the well-to-do, and it doesn't cost a fortune to get the ability to take the test(s). Compare, contra, law school and the bar exam in the jurisdiction of your choice.

      I believe strongly in the value and purpose of education. But I also believe that what we do to our own citizens, with its mythical fairy tales of education and jobs for all at the low, low, price of your future, is a far greater tragedy than the tragedy of Sven in Sweeden graduating from a good high school and not being admitted to the college of his choice.

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    2. "[B]urning an entire generation so obviously means there will be a lack of faith in the entire system. The economy just can't recover when this type of cronyism is used to blatantly rip people off. ...."

      I'd like to see how the alumni base of non-T14 law schools act towards their schools over the next 20 years. This is especially relevant in light of the recent studies showing a dearth of lawyers under 35.
      That is a great point, and people are paying attention. This is why enrollment is plummeting AND folks are leaving the profession in droves.

      HOWEVER,

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    3. ""[B]urning an entire generation so obviously means there will be a lack of faith in the entire system. The economy just can't recover when this type of cronyism is used to blatantly rip people off. ....""

      The system is at the point where it really doesn't care anymore about that. If nothing else, a lot of people will believe it until it's their turn on the altar, others will desperately deny that (because of the horror), and there will always be a bunch of people happy to pocket money to lie to the others.

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    4. Nepotism and plutocracy are far more severe in the US than they are in most of Europe. Recall that a rich fuck recently got into the U of Texas (supposedly a great law skule) with an LSAT score of 128. Look too at the role of "legacy" (parents or other near relatives from the same school) in admissions to universities. Look at the monstrous cost that closes the door to some people and leaves others struggling through with loans and part-time jobs while the scions of grandees attend to their secret societies and exotic travels.

      In most of Europe, the cost is kept low and the standards of admission are more objective (unlike the Yankee "holistic" approach that serves as cover for favoring the children of the great and the good). That's certainly not to say that a deserving Sven of Sweden is never displaced by a princeling, just that access to university is much more fairly apportioned in Europe than in the US.

      Old Guy

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    5. There's over a trillion dollars in student loan debt, almost all of which is saddled on Gen x and now especially Gen Y. What does this mean for our long-term economic viability? The Boomers are having trouble retiring and they enjoyed all the benefits of America's economic zenith. What are we going to do with a trillion-dollar hole to climb out of? The financial consequences of all this will be felt for decades to come.

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    6. Many boomers spent every nickel and more. Despite a lifetime of high-paying jobs, they now have no savings to speak of. Theirs was the first generation to grow up with credit cards, and the first generation to accumulate substantial unsecured debt.

      Old Guy

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  11. Jesus H fucking Christ. A 140 is good enough for a "scholarship"? How many asses at that toilet WON'T get a "scholarship"?

    It's a total disgrace. And obviously it's a brazen attempt to buy LSAT scores and GPAs. "Merit" is a joke: the real purpose is to bolster the toilet's already dismal ranking at You Ass News.

    This toilet won't last out the decade.

    Old Guy

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    1. This crap hole can't make money letting people in for free.

      What kinds of scholly-revoking games are they planning to play on the students once they get them in the door and their butts into seats?

      This is just the tip of the iceberg with them at this point.

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    2. I actually don't think they are. Remember their median LSAT is a 144 - the average TJSL student is only getting 5-10k in scholarship.

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  12. I don't see how anyone with scores that low even has a realistic chance of passing a bar exam...

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    1. I hope you're right, for the sake of the legal system and whatever clients these graduates might get.

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  13. Campos has an interesting post up at LG&M about the correlation between low LSAT scores and low bar passage rates at the shit pits run by Infilaw. One of his points is that the LSAT is not very good at predicting bar exam results until you get below a certain level - namely the 140's territory. While admission standards have been declining for a while at most schools, they really went off a cliff at many schools (not just Infilaw) beginning with the Fall of 2013 entering class. Time was, even bottom of the barrel schools were reluctant to admit a student with an LSAT score below 150. Now, there are dozens of school where the median is below 150, and sometimes below 145, which is really just disgraceful (I’m looking at you Valpo!) With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what happens with bar passage rates beginning in the summer of 2016.

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    1. "One of his points is that the LSAT is not very good at predicting bar exam results until you get below a certain level - namely the 140's territory. "

      In the sense that there were few data points, so that there was a wide confidence interval, spanning the range of chances 'slim to none'.

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    2. It's just stupid to require the LSAT (as the ABA does) without imposing a standard of admissibility. One could register for the LSAT, answer not a single question, and still be admissible to law schools. I don't exaggerate: someone with a 128—a score within the 95% confidence interval for haphazard guessing—was admitted to the supposedly élite law skule of the U of Texas.

      Old Guy

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    3. I wouldn't dismiss haphazard guessing so casually. Scoring 128 on the LSAT could be excellent preparation for serving on the US Supreme Court.

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  14. I always laugh at LSAT scores.

    I scored a 150 on the LSAT, where the median LSAT score for my school that year was a 161. I was told the lowest score they admitted was a 148, making me the second or third lowest LSAT score for that year's entering class.

    I still passed the bar exam on the first attempt (in both NY and NJ), and NO employer ever asked me about my LSAT score.

    The LSAT is just a silly, arbitrary exam they use. It's only purpose is as a barrier to entry, nothing more. They could just as easily have gone with the GRE or GMAT, but law schools wanted to do something harder to keep fart-for-brains out. But, ultimately, it's just an arbitrary number with no intrinsic significance at all. As with the SAT, the LSAT only measures how well you do on the LSAT--nothing more.

    Perhaps this is why LSAT is not a good predictor of bar passage rates, unless you get to the really low numbers. If you do really badly on the LSAT, you'll do badly on any exam. A low LSAT score means that you "choked," thus you're likely to do so again on the bar exam where much more is on the line by that point.

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    1. You did better on the bar exam that the LSAT not because the LSAT is arbitrary, but because you studied harder for the bar exam. Calling it arbitrary reflects your own priorities, not those of most law schools.

      I'm happy you were able to get in, but that's not because the LSAT is arbitrary. It's because law schools also consider factors other than the LSAT. You must have had good grades or a great personal statement. Or just been an all-around great guy.

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    2. Or he went to a school that fudged its LSAT numbers, like U. of Illinois and Vanderbilt (I think they were one of the others that got caught)

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    3. I don't think it was Vanderbilt---maybe Villanova?

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    4. @ 11:43 you are right, it was Villanova. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/excerpt/2012/tamanaha_failing_law_schools.html

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  15. @1:16 -- why thank you.

    I had a masters degree and 4 years work experience, so the law school probably overlooked the low LSAT score. My undergrad grades weren't particularly high, but they were in a science major so my GPA was understandably lower.

    But I did study for the LSAT. I studied a lot, but sadly I just choked. I'm one of those people that was scoring 160s on the practice, but then I just blew it on the real day. Due to work and just wanting to move on, I applied anyway rather than retake the test. Oh well, that is ancient history now.

    The important point is that the LSAT is just a completely different exam than the bar exam. The bar exam (despite all its flaws) is a knowledge based test, whereas the LSAT is a "game." As such, the bar seems to reward people that know more, study more and retain more. The LSAT, on the other hand, seems to reward people that think a certain way, rather than what they actually know. So my brain just didn't work the way the LSAT wanted it to work.

    I should also note that my GRE score (from few years earlier) was above average. I scored over 700 in math, and well over 600 on the game section. So it's not as if I can't do standardized tests or am dumb, but I just didn't do well on the LSAT.

    Then again, I went to law school. How smart can I possibly be? LOL

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    1. "Then again, I went to law school. How smart can I possibly be? LOL"

      I feel the same way. No matter how smart I think I was, how great my grades and my abilities, I made literally the stupidest decision anyone could ever make.

      I'm a fucking idiot really. Fuck my GPA (not that employers give a damn anymore now that I've been branded as an ex-lawyer). Fuck my STEM degree. Fuck every other smart fucking decision I've ever made in my entire life, because twenty two years of smart decisions are now utterly eclipsed by one immensely fucking retarded decision.

      Fuck you, law school. I will never, ever forgive being scammed by you cunts. Ever.

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    2. Don't be so hard on yourselves. You went to law school because you were lied to by people you had every reason to think were honest scholars or ethical lawyers, or both.

      And while JD Advantage (TM) is a malignant deception, you guys probably did learn something in law school. And your subsequent experiences on the legal job market can help thousands of people to avoid a destructive scam. I'm proud to comment on the same blog as you guys.

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    3. @5:41 -- again, don't be too hard on yourself. The harder you are on yourself, the more difficult it will be for you to get out of your current mess. Also, consider some things:

      First, you need to put things into perspective. There are no guarantees in life. LUCK is always a huge factor to achieving success. When we decided to go to law school, the decision probably made sense. Oh well, we were wrong. That's just life!!

      Second, JD advantage really is a function of the economy (something I respectfully disagree with scambloggers about). When or if we get robust hiring once more, the JD won't be such a scarlet letter as it is today. I'm old enough to have been in the workforce back when the economy was strong, and lawyers DID transfer in and out of practice all the time. So, a lot of this is just trying to hold on until things improve.

      Third, are you too old to try something else? Can you go back to school?

      Good luck!!

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    4. Yeah, I still beat myself up about getting in the mid 160s doing timed practice LSATs, then getting only a 158 on the actual test.

      But anon at 11:22 is right. There's little point in beating yourself up. We never have all the information we need at the time we need it to make a perfect decision. We just have to do our best with what information we have.

      I feel sorry for those who are too timid to try new things. I see it all around me: people who live in the same town their whole lives, people who never do anything new, who never stretch themselves personally and professionally, etc.

      In many cases, non-trads had successful careers behind them and wanted to make something more of themselves. It's not exactly our fault we didn't know about the rampant age discrimination and the other lies that were fed to us by the Law School pigs. Now at least those thinking about law school have access to information and can actually get the facts.

      And luck certainly plays a big role. If I hadn't choked on the LSAT and gone to law school a year earlier, I might have graduated a year before the Great Recession and gotten a decent job. My trajectory might have been 100% different.

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  16. Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.

    Old Guy

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    1. I suspect that Thomas Jefferson would be proud of his namesake law school. They know how to enslave minorities to pay for their own scholarly pursuits, which is exactly what he did.

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    2. And Brian Leiter is standing above fluffing himself, ready to insert his chump of a cock into Tommy's dusty asshole.

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    3. Brian Leiter is a sneering sadist at times and probably a blubbering masochist at others. However, there's no public evidence of his being a necrophile.

      While the truth about Leiter is horrifying, not very horrifying fantasy one could conceive about Leiter is true.

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  17. They had a "Law and Magic" conference at TJSL in June.

    http://www.tjsl.edu/news-media/2014/11989

    You can't make this stuff up.

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    1. Lot of magicians in San Diego, I guess.

      Or would it be lots of magicians with low LSAT scores?

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    2. "Morning panelist Christine Corcos, Richard C. Cadwallader Associate Professor of Law and Women’s and Gender Studies Associate Professor of Law at Louisiana State University Law Center, led the discussion through an examination of the roots and evolution of ordinances banning and later regulating “crafty sciences,” such as fortunetelling, clairvoyance, tea leaf and coffee readings."

      The afternoon panels centered around more easily anticipated legal topics such as the protections that apply to a magician’s act both in the U.S. and abroad, as well as the significance of magic in the form of illusion and misdirection in the trial setting. . . . Indeed, the conference included discussions on literature, such as the law in the Harry Potter series, and magical demonstrations in the form of mind-reading by corporate entertainer Curt Frye and magical illusions by French Professor Dr. Guilham Julia, who addressed intellectual property law and magicians in France."

      MOTHER FUCKER!

      I think we've found a sadder, more pathetic attempt at scholarship than Nancy Leong's open road travesty.

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    3. No, this conference was a model of valuable legal scholarship and sound practical skills training. Illusion and misdirection. Master these and you are well on your way to a rewarding career in legal academia.

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    4. Come to the Thomas Jefferson Skule of Law. We'll make your life disappear in a puff of smoke.

      Old Guy

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    5. Illusion and misdirection? Sounds like the law professors have been stealing signs from the open road.

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    6. Sorry, I meant to write that law professors have been switching signs on the open road. That would effectively misdirect their students. But I would never, ever suggest that any law professor would steal anything. Or for that matter, ever obtain any money under any false pretense whatsoever, even that of conducting summer research.

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    7. Sign seen on the highway to law: Exit now. No hope for the next 100 light-years.

      Old Guy

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    8. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves, being so cynical about the dynamic and evolving field of magician law. Soon it will rank right up there with space law, international law, and the law of neo-feminist race theory. Employers in the field of Magician law will be breaking down the doors of TJSL grads.

      And because of this fine education, the graduates of Thomas Jefferson Screwl of Law will be right there competing against ivy leaguers who may have raw intelligence, but will be entirely lacking TJSL's cutting edge training.

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    9. 5:25, you're surely aware that Majeek Law will never eclipse in importance International Oceanic Dolphin Law.

      In just the next few years, the BLS statistics suggests suggests that practitioners of International Oceanic Dolphin Law will be retiring in droves (or "schools", if perhaps that is more apt), such that there will be an extreme shortage of practitioners of International Oceanic Dolphin Law.

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    10. @ 11/2 6:21, think of the possibilities for TJSL students who combine coursework in magic law and dolphin law - I hear sea world and similar circus acts are always looking for a good 4T graduate to represent them.

      The field of performing dolphin litigation is an untapped niche ripe for TJSL's picking.

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  18. I wonder if David Kaimipono Wenger has been sending out resumes. In any case, it's a tough time to get hired at any law school.

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    1. I think there's still a spot open at UCLA. They gave a long and generous tryout to one of the racial identity scholars, but it blew up in their face and they decided to pass.

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