Monday, January 5, 2015

Dean Jay Conison Shills for Charlotte School of Law; Comedy Gold Ensues

As the title implies, Dean Conison went on the offensive recently, stating how Charlotte School of Law is poised to lead legal education into the 21st century, or something like that.  While we are certain that this was an attempt to make Infilaw proud and bring the scamblogs and other critics to their knees, weeping at the logical deductions and conclusions therein, the reception of the argumentation was, ah, shall we say, something else.

A bit of background for those who do not know: up until recently, Conison was dean at Valparaiso School of Law and he is on the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, cocerning law school accreditation, among other items.    Conison has also been a prolific writer in the mainstream media, and has penned pieces on law school tuition (not really the problem you might think), what to do with a JD (corporate VP, wealth manager, art gallery owner), and legal scholarship (not to be criticized).

On or about the same time in mid-2012, Conison took on the then-law-school-backlash in his letter to the alumni.  Only three pages are reproduced here, as the rest of the letter went on to detail the "accomplishments" of students and faculty and are not the thrust of the argument.



Not surprisingly, the scambloggers have it all wrong, according to Conison.  Disgruntled graduates consider themselves "consumers," and this is a novel concept.  In past decades, while law schools were indeed criticized for not providing skills(!) or not providing adequate professional responsibility training(!), the idea that Law Schools should be held accountable for their misleading statistics and representations is "novel."  Newly-minted JDs should just shut up, or something.  Further, who can expect law schools to self-monitor their admissions process, reduce tuition, or make changes to staff, anyway?  Those open-road narratives are expensive, you know.

During this time, Valparaiso's statistics slid.  When looking at Valpo's data over the last few years, LSAT scores have dropped significantly - the 50th percentile, for example, has gone from 150 to 143, yet the number of new admittees has stayed relatively constant at around 200/year.  Tuition has gone from $35k to almost $40k over the same time period.  Many graduates suffer from unemployment, and only about 40% of graduates have full-time, bar-passage-required jobs.  Those who are employed are not in BigLaw, but in small "firms."

Fast forward to today:  Over at The Faculty Lounge, Conison criticizes the "black box" approach to using falling LSAT scores as an idicator of law-school-worthiness, or for later bar passage predicitons, or for placement data.  One should not judge a law school based upon the applicant pool it accepts or the results it delivers, reasons Consion, because federal student loan dollars but on "educating students and transforming them into professionals."  "A law school is a complex educational enterprise delivering a wide range of educational services. Different schools have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are very strong in clinical education, others very strong in public policy. Some position themselves to provide opportunity; others position themselves to develop large firm lawyers. Some schools put much effort into developing professionalism and other non-academic competencies; others emphasize building scholarly competencies and future law professors. Understanding what law schools do inside the box is critical to understanding and evaluating them," reasons Conison.

Thankfully, the commenters are having none of this:


Is this guy really trying to convince us that the Charlotte School of Law produces graduates ready to...what? Practice law? What a joke. I'm in the trenches in this town and I promise you that very few CSL graduates show promise. The vast majority, 95%, shouldn't be lawyers. They don't even understand the basics - like showing up on time dressed in courtroom attire.

I'm embarrassed for the young man in a business suit with no socks on who shows up 30 minutes late with his I-phone in his hand wondering why the judge is pissed. Or the young lady in rubber flip flops. Or the guy who files a lawsuit at the last minute and then serves the defendant by first class mail, but can't afford malpractice insurance. Or the woman who insists to the point of hostility to an exasperated judge that she doesn't need a supporting affidavit in her Motion For Summary Judgment - in a lawsuit she filed against her client who is refusing to pay her because she's incompetent. I could go on.
One other thing - in addition to ruining the futures of these student victims, CSL is also destroying the small law firm business model, at least in Charlotte. Even if only half the 400 graduates a year pass the bar, nobody's hiring these people so they have no choice but to hang out a shingle and hope for the best. Our local legal directory is full of strange, ever-changing names with residence addresses or P.O. Box addresses and cellphone numbers only.
They've saturated this market to such a degree, and provide (shoddy) legal services for next to nothing, that the rest of the local Bar is feeling the pinch. Spare me your retorts about healthy competition. Can I handle a traffic ticket for $50? Not if I want to pay my staff. Is the minority or immigrant community served by this influx of lawyers who work for next to nothing? Not if they don't know what they're doing. State Bar grievance filings? Through the roof.
Graduates forever buried in debt. Clients with incompetent and uninsured lawyers. Experienced lawyers and firms with ever-increasing revenue shortfalls. Exasperated judges and court personnel. Overworked State Bar investigators. Everyone loses except Jay Conison and the vulture capitalists at Infilaw's parent hedge fund.
I agree with Paul Campos. If it can't go on, it won't go on. Conison's gibberish nothwithstanding, the real question is how much damage Infilaw will do before he and they leave town.
Our own Antiro notes the following:


There is some merit in the point that some of what law schools do is not appreciated due to the relentless focus on student debt, bar pass rates, and employment prospects.

But when it comes to law schools, the focus FIRST should be on student debt, bar pass rates, and employment prospects. When people are entrusting three years or more of their lives, you owe them the basics.
The basics are that they graduate from your institution, can pass the bar, and obtain a job requiring your degree that allows you to pay your debt and save some at a level that your financial straits have improved due to attending said school.
If you're not meeting the basics, Mr. Conison, you can't be charging a premium. According to a quick search, your school has a yearly cost of attendance of $41,000.
If your law school had good job prospects, good bar pass rates, and were giving students careers that were paying them well enough to manage the debt, save, and become contributing consumers, then we could seriously discuss what goes on in the "black box."
But such talk about black boxes when your graduates are faring so poorly is premature.

David Frakt fires back:

Dean Conison’s black box analogy brings to mind another kind of black box -- the flight data recorders that are recovered after an aircraft accident.  When Charlotte School of Law and its sister schools finally crash and burn, and InfiLaw is forced to reveal its internal data in response to the subsequent class action lawsuit, what will the data inside the black box say about the cause of InfiLaw’s downfall?  Based on Dean Conison’s posts on The Faculty Lounge, one factor that will be difficult to rule out is “pilot error.”


Priceless.  Read the comments, as they are hilarious and enlightening.  Supporters of the scamblog movement, let's take a moment to give thanks in the New Year that what once passed for serious discourse from the ScamDeans and Law School Cartel is now being called out for what it is: sheer, unabashed shillery.  What once was used as "evidence" to immediately mock law school critics is now instantly turned back on the purveyors.  While we have further to go, we have also come a long way at the same time.




25 comments:

  1. Before you know it, several ABA-accredited toilets will start admitting applicants who scribble "I like to smell my sister in law's panties" with Crayola on their application.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I sat next to that dude in one of my 1L classes. Creepy beyond fuck. Like half the guys there to be honest.

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    2. Is the omission of the hyphens deliberate? I was left wondering what sort of panties law wears.

      Old Guy

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    3. "Wait, you're NOT supposed to do that? That wasn't in the assigned reading! It better not be on the exam!"

      - Concerned Charlotte 2L

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    4. Hey, they don't ask about sniffing relative's panties on the character and fitness forms. If you're going to have a vice, go off the beaten path so you can answer truthfully.

      Delete
  2. One of the comments included in the original post by OTLSS Team raises a very real issue. There is now a permanent bubble of recent TTT graduates who hang out a shingle and last a year or so but in the meantime bid fees down to absurdly low levels in hopes of attracting any cash flow and surviving. The lawyers from whom they take clients then branch out into other areas and take clients from lawyers already doing that kind of work.

    We are way past market saturation.

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  3. You forgot to capitalize "Law".

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  4. This situation is going to get even worse before it gets better. No one in the federal government, or any state government is stepping up and saying something about the collapse of legal education. I say this as a graduate of a TTTT. I do have a master's degree and passed the CT bar on my first attempt and feel I am a competent but unemployed attorney, the system is fucking broken.

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  5. This guy is absolutely the worst sort of person. Preaching diversity and opportunity, while taking these same vulnerable people (minorities, non-traditional students, immigrants, first generation college graduates, plus the stupid and delusional) for over $200,000 in non-dischargeable debt and leaving them with a 50/50 chance of passing the bar and about a 1 in 3 chance of getting legitimate full time, long term employment in the legal field (and I bet you could count on one hand the Charlotte grads who start out making $60k or more).

    Truly disgusting.

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    Replies
    1. The epitome of a con man.

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    2. Amen. This guy is the sort of piece of garbage sociopath that would be a televangelist selling holy water to old ladies for $29.99 at 2am if he wasn't a law dean.

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    3. He's definitely a deceitful con artist.
      He actually "stepped down" from his Dean position (of fifteen years) at Valparaiso. He made a statement in an issue of the school's newspaper saying he wanted to go back to teaching and planned to finish his term as dean, take a sabbatical, then teach law courses. (Not a bad attempt to save face.) He then finished his term and left.

      Delete
  6. "A law school is a complex educational enterprise delivering a wide range of educational services. Different schools have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are very strong in clinical education, others very strong in public policy. Some position themselves to provide opportunity; others position themselves to develop large firm lawyers. Some schools put much effort into developing professionalism and other non-academic competencies; others emphasize building scholarly competencies and future law professors. Understanding what law schools do inside the box is critical to understanding and evaluating them."

    No. Few care what law schools do inside the black box. The only thing that matters to 99% of OLs is the actual, transparent, honest-to-goodness probability of finding a decent job practicing law. Therefore, the primary criteria are bar passage and law firm placement rates with medium to large firms. Everything else can stay inside the black box.

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    Replies
    1. In addition, one could go down the list he gives, and rate Infilaw schools on that. It'd be a string of F's.

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    2. Barry, are you seriously claiming that Charlotte is failing to build scholarly competencies and graduate future law professors?

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    3. No, because I'm sure that among the hundreds of Charlotte grads, at least one will be a law professor [1], which proves that Charlotte rulz, and scambloggers droolz :)


      [1] Probably through having a rich father buy his idiot child a professorship at an Infilaw school.

      Delete
  7. Conison was an idiot, an absolute idiot, to write that "black box" piece. Even most of the mooncalves who apply to ├╝ber-toilets (unter-toilets?) Valparaiso and Charlotte will see through his song and dance, which amounts to an admission that no one should attend Charlotte.

    "Black box" is a singularly stupid metaphor, not only because of the connection to crashing aircraft but also because of the implications of concealment and inscrutable goings-on behind the scenes. It's even worse than the "pipeline" metaphor that recently inspired here some pointed jokes about raw sewage and the like.

    Peek inside the black box of Charlotte, Valparaiso, and indeed the great majority of other law skules today, and what will you find? A cynical vulture-capitalist scheme to take full advantage of the arbitrage opportunity that the federally guaranteed student loans afford.

    Old Guy

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  8. Ladies and gentlemen (used loosely), Dean Connison is the former Dean of Valparaiso, a prestigious law school, and was selected as the reporter for the ABA's task force on the future of legal education.

    You people ur jus h8rs.

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    Replies
    1. A "prestigious" law school? Valparaiso is one of the lowest ranked law schools- fourth tier, to be exact. And the students did not care for him.

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  9. Campos has also written a post about this:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2015/01/tyranny-evil-men

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  10. The comment section is an absolute riot. I've been trying to step away from the scam blogs, but stuff like this keeps pulling me back in.

    The Charlotte lawyer post brings the fire. What an absolute indictment of the law school scam.

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  11. Looks like Conison crashed one plane and is in the process of crashing another. People get paid six figures to do this?

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    Replies
    1. I'll do it for half as much.

      Old Guy

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  12. Reading Conison and thirtyyearcharlottelawyer together, CSL must be busy "building scholarly competencies and future law professors," then. They certainly aren't producing active practicioners.

    The scamblogs have been warning about this type of outcome for years, but, hey, what do a bunch of JDs who had their degrees conferred years ago know, anyway...? Clearly nothing.

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  13. Finishing up my 1L year at CLS's less atrocious sister school. I've been following scamblogs, above the law, and faculty lounge re: infilaw criticisms for 6 months.

    I am an idiot who chose law school to please my disapproving [attorney] father and to do SOMETHING other than work meh-jobs with my bachelors degree. I don't want to practice law or even take a bar exam.

    Already $60k in debt even with "scholarship" money that I'll lose next year if I return. I feel a sense of urgent intuition that I should get out now before I accrue more debt... The amount "required" to complete the degree is, in my opinion, absolutely crippling to any young person's future.

    Sigh.

    There's a misconception among my parents' generation that a law degree sets you up for life. My dad is successful. He also went to school in the '70s. Times have changed drastically. JD-preferred jobs look dismal especially when your debt load is a mortgage on a nice home.

    ReplyDelete