Friday, March 13, 2015

Northwestern Law Dean Daniel Rodriguez reports that law professors "in the trenches" are "remarkably resilient and positive" amidst the ongoing "war on law schools." (Updated)



Don’t you know there’s a war on? I hope you can spare a thought, or even a prayer, for the fighting men and women of the law professoriate, who have displayed such admirable fortitude through the long and arduous years of law school combat. Dug into 200 ABA-approved trenches, our faculty warriors are valiantly holding back the mighty onslaught of the scambloggers, those barbarians who are waging their relentless online "war on law schools." The law professors know that they are fighting to preserve our way of legal education, in all its successful constructiveness. 

These are the times that try men’s scams. The atmosphere is portentous, and the future contours of the battlefield none of us can predict exactly. Fortunately, former AALS Generalissimus Daniel Rodriguez, Commander of Northwestern and recipient of the coveted Order of the Forgivable Loan, has returned from a tour of the front with very encouraging news about faculty morale.  

True, our forces face a long hard slog. Reinforcements are few, as faculty hiring has been postponed. The supply lines which deliver essential consumables, also known as One-Ls, have been severely disrupted, and we have heard troubling reports of battlefield commanders foraging law students from each other. The cruel enemy is deploying its bottomless arsenal of screed and invective. (Nando, you magnificent bastard, I read your blog!) And worst of all are the casualties-- so many law professors have sustained grievous wounds to their egos and hurt to their feelings. (When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was a tenured professor’s ego, you will know what to do!) 

And yet in spite of everything, the law school heroes remain at their classroom posts, remarkably resilient and positive about their mission. And the legal scholarship continues largely unabated. 

You want to know who to thank for the luxury of your high-quality legal education that inculcates the value of a manifestly comprehensive and creative set of theoretical and experiential skills in a fluid marketplace? Thank a law professor. Thank a law dean. To quote Winston Churchill on the subject of non-dischargeable student loans: "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."

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Highlights from Commander Rodriguez's dispatch ("Ambition and Anxiety in the Trenches"), June 9, 2014:

1.  "So, in the trenches are clear-eyed, smart, serious teacher-scholars, passionate about what they do, concerned about the challenges facing their law schools."

2.  "[T]he key threat from the war on law schools is that directed at the students who are investing, and the young alumni who have invested, in legal education is very much on the minds of our member school faculties."

3.  "Let the scamblogging games commence!! I should have added to above: law faculty with whom I meet are remarkably resilient and positive in the face of the bottomless pit of screed and invective that comes by way of (mostly) anonymous bloggers."

4. "The atmosphere of these visits reveals a high level of concern (of course) with the impact of the changing admissions structure and what it portends for law school benefits generally and faculty well-being particularly." 

5. "[T]here is a deep confidence, some might call it hubris, that the doing and disseminating of legal scholarship will continue largely unabated." 

6.  "[Law professors are] invested in preserving what is successful and constructive about the modern structure of legal education in the U.S.  In all, an encouraging picture, even if relentlessly under threat by those who reach a contrary conclusion (on much thinner evidence)."

7.  "[F]aculty members truly get that the core dilemma is how best to provide a high-quality education to the group of students, even as they come in often at smaller numbers, and, moreover, how to inculcate in them the value of a manifestly comprehensive, creative set of skills -- theoretical and experiential -- in a fluid marketplace, the future contours of which none of us can predict exactly."

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UPDATE:  

On December 1, 2014, less than six months after the heartening assessment quoted above, Rodriguez relayed the alarming news that a civil war has broken out in loyalist ranks.  As quoted in the New York Times:  

""It's insane," Professor Rodriguez said. "We're in hand-to-hand combat with other schools.""

Fortunately, Rodriguez, ever the cool-headed warlord, assures us that "[W]e are taking all steps that urgent, not desperate, times call for."   

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/law-school-becomes-buyers-market-as-competition-for-best-students-increases/

So. Now we are engaged in a great law school war, testing whether this scam, or any scam, can long endure. 



43 comments:

  1. "(mostly) anonymous bloggers"

    We're anonymous for good reason. Need I mention the abuse and harassment that were visited upon Dybbuk? In any event, the validity of our claims has nothing to do with our identity. The validity of the argumentum ad hominem is zero.

    "The atmosphere of these visits reveals a high level of concern (of course) with the impact of the changing admissions structure and what it portends for law school benefits generally and faculty well-being particularly."

    Let me simplify this: Law profe$$ors are upset over the extra challenge of getting through the skulls of the mouth-breathing mooncalves that the admi$$ions office is bringing in.

    "[Law professors are] invested in preserving what is successful and constructive about the modern structure of legal education in the U.S."

    And what is that, exactly? Legal "education" seems to be succe$$ful primarily at lining the pockets of undeserving aristocrats.

    Old Guy

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    1. Exactly, Old Guy. ScamDeans and LawProfs like to preen their peacock feathers, but they hide behind tenure while vindictively attacking others. Hypocrisy knows no bounds with this set, but as we have seen with recent firings and "mergers", they stone-throw from glass houses.

      In the "real world", there is no tenure. That thought sacares that crowd more than any other. Well, that and "work."

      Delete
  2. "The validity of the argumentum ad hominem is zero."

    Well, let's not go overboard. It can be valid when the speaker's credibility is relevant.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Which matters (slightly, rarely) if someone is testifying in court against a criminal defendant, but on blogs discussing publicly-available information and common experiences?

      It's remarkably transparent that the "opposition" (the fact that he phrases reform advocates in war language is troubling) wants names so they can change the focus of the debate and make it one about credentials and whatnot. Plus, remember that they have a track record of hiding behind tenure while trying to get private and public sector employees on the opposition punished for their speech against law schools. (Campos, dybbuk, and I think Nando have all faced this)

      Pseudonyms can build credibility just fine. Old guy, ITOT, MacK, BoredJD, Unemployed Northeastern - do you have any credibility issues with these folks? Do you think for a second that certain interested parties would love to know who these people are so they can discredit them ad hominem?

      Besides, if they do view this as "war" being fought in "trenches" (holy Christ that sounds ridiculous), the reform advocates are much, much better off using guerrilla tactics. The professorate are not going to play by the rules of engagement among gentlemen, so why should we play by their rules on their battlefield? That would be dumb.

      Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

      Delete
    2. Technically I'm still right: the argumentum ad hominem is not logically valid, however little credibility the speaker may have. That's because the speaker's credibility is a separate issue from the truth of what the speaker is saying. Even a known pathological liar may happen to make a true statement from time to time.

      I also thank 8:45 for the comments above. As it happens, I'm still hoping to find a job in the practice of law. Publishing my name here might well harm my (already slim) chances. As 8:45 said, I'm not in the comfortable position of a tenured law profe$$or with a high income, minimal hours, stable employment, and a bully pulpit to exploit.

      Old Guy

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    3. "Technically I'm still right: the argumentum ad hominem is not logically valid, however little credibility the speaker may have. That's because the speaker's credibility is a separate issue from the truth of what the speaker is saying. Even a known pathological liar may happen to make a true statement from time to time."

      What I've noticed is that the people who ardently decry anonymous bloggers are those who post either lies or BS. I've seen remarkably few truth-speakers get heated up over anonymity.

      -Barry

      Delete
  3. The days of "war in the trenches" are long gone. Witness the ongoing fight against Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc. These enemies are not nation states and the battlefield is everywhere. Rodriguez is signalling that he generally thinks and operates in outmoded paradigms, as do most law professors. This is a telling symptom of why droves of kiddies are avoiding law school these days. The law profs and deans simply do not get it, and likely never will.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "[F]aculty members truly get that the core dilemma is how best to provide a high-quality education to the group of students, even as they come in often at smaller numbers, and, moreover, how to inculcate in them the value of a manifestly comprehensive, creative set of skills"

    Um....no. First of all, most law "professors" couldn't do any inculcating of skills even if they wanted to, because they don't have any skills themselves, given that they usually have little, if any, experience with actual law practice. Second, the real core dilemma is that JD-overproduction has rendered at least half of the nation's law schools redundant and candidates for immediate closure, but there are no signs it will happen. Rodriguez lives in a fantasy land, a bubble, and wouldn't know an actual trench if he fell into one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a great parody, although I don't think the original article was meant to be taken seriously either. I mean look at some quotes from it:

    1. "how to inculcate in them the value of a manifestly comprehensive, creative set of skills -- theoretical and experiential -- in a fluid marketplace"
    So many buzzwords...

    2. "the key threat from the war on law schools"
    He actually called it "war".

    3. "there is a deep confidence, some might call it hubris"
    Surely an educated man like Mr Rodriguez must know hubris is a bad thing?

    4. "it can also limit the bandwidth with which a law school can implement innovative, modern programs"
    One of the worst misuses of the word "bandwidth" yet seen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His misuse of the word bandwidth led me to suspect that he did not know the word hubris either.

      Old Guy

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  6. I LOVE IT! GOD HELP ME I DO LOVE IT SO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Dybbuk123, you Magnificent Bastard! I read your book!!"

      Delete
  7. So, has anyone heard of a laid-off law professor who has actually found employment and/or successfully employs himself? Bwhahahahaha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a news item today about a former NBA player who had to go to work at McDonald's. One can only hope that some law professors will soon be putting their priceless critical thinking skills to good use at drive-in windows.

      Delete
  8. Cannot these Law Deans take responsibility for their actions? News flash: when you charge way too much for a product, the customers stop buying your product.

    These asshats destroyed their guaranteed money hustle, and we're supposed to regard them as intelligent? They couldn't run a solvent lemonade stand.

    Law Deans lack the self-discipline to refrain from shitting where they eat and now they're going to eat shit...and die. Morons.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I went for a walk tonight with a cat, and she's such a cutie. Very quiet and clean for a feral cat. She had enough decency to scrape away some leaves and dirt before she took a shit. Then she scraped it all back over when she was finished. Wonderful cat.

      Law school deans, on the other hand, leave it out in the open, call it Memphis BBQ, and charge you top dollar. Especially those at the lowest rated schools, and more especially at the private equity schools. I don't know why Rodriguez is standing up for them. They're making a mockery of everything that he and Northwestern supposedly stand for.

      Delete
    2. He's not standing up for a toilet, private-equity law school, he's feelin' the heat at Northwestern.

      No one should be able to say with a straight face that there's demand in the legal market, particularly for entry-level labor, when schools like Northwestern cannot find real, legal jobs for 250 people and employ their own grads to make it smell less.

      The USA is huge country; we're 316 million in population, yet there are not 250 jobs for new lawyers from Northwestern. Anyone still selling a J.D. - at any price - is running a scam. This market is fucked and will be fucked for decades. Northwestern is a scam.

      How is it that these law schools needed to continually add more and more students at higher and higher prices just to be operating in the black? None of them can manage the very simplest of business models. You get some people with a J.D. to teach, you need a classroom...that's fucking it. It's not even hard to tell who the good teachers are, just ask the students. You fuck up a business that simple, and you're a Grade A Moron. Real, actual, practicing lawyers run much more complex businesses.

      Law schools are being run by the village idiots, who, even in their hour of doom cannot figure out how to reorganize their businesses to survive. It's arithmetic. They can't do it. They'd rather take the last few shillings they can get and let their schools collapse.

      Delete
  9. This same doofus, who has spent his entire life being warm and safe and dry while getting fat and happy off the proceeds of federal student loans, used the same martial metaphors a year ago. He's nothing but a reprehensible con artist, struggling mightily to justify the unjustifiable for one purpose only: to keep the cash coming in the door. It is truly disgusting.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This and the post above sum up my feelings looking back on my own experience. And they are strong. All the students were treated "well enough" during 1 and 2L but then I noticed a distinct shift after becoming a 3L and, especially, during my final semester. No more money was able to be fleeced from me via the Fed. Gov't. I was, therefore, no longer useful as a Student Loan Conduit. When it came to serious matters - at least "serious" to me i.e. securing a job and a paycheck to begin paying back my now copious debt and establishing a career - I got nothing from my school at all. I didn't matter anymore. Needless to say, that lit the fire within me. And as the scam blogs have spread across the Internet, I see I am not alone. These jerks really only do care only about themselves. Deans and administration? Surely. But the mealy-mouthed, condescending professors were no better. They were all getting paid. They didn't care. Nobody cared as long as "I got mine.." And they didn't care that "theirs" came at the expense of the students who had their lives shredded in a vicious game of "Kick the Career and Future Down the Road". Education has outpaced inflation by 3x. Someone was making out and those someone's are everyone involved in the Education Industry. As long as they got their fat paychecks, sabbaticals, pensions and benefits, and a lifestyle rivaling 99% of the rest of us, they didn't care at all. Frankly, I don't view anyone in education, going down to all levels, as worth a shit. Looking back, they taught me nothing. I was the one doing all the learning and the work. Whatever I know, I taught myself. I didn't need some asshole teacher, professor, or academic for anything. E.g. the entire Education Game is just a Scam to provide "educators" with fine lifestyles at the expense of students who no longer can afford to be wasting time training for jobs which do not and will not exist. Remember, the Pay to Play model is in everything in the US. Not so in Europe and other countries, who do not cannibalize their young people's futures to enrich themselves. As far as the scam blogs, these assholes created us. And we can't be beaten because they are *creating* more and more desperate ones with each new graduating class! Since tuition now is so insane.. Sure, kill Oscama Bin Dybbuk... Congratulations! In the time it's taking you to try and do that, you've created about 15000-25000 new converts to the Cause, each with $150,000+ (starting balance) of non-dischageable student loan debt on his back. Get it now, assholes?? Plus, the Word was out in 2007 and before, 2007 being the highmark WSJ article. It's been close to a decade and yet has any school cut tuition? No! You assholes would rather close than cut. So guess what.. Have fun in the bread/unemployment line when the time comes. If you're lucky, some desperate soul *won't* recognize you and maybe take your head off for fun.. If you're lucky. Worthless shits.

      Delete
  10. Law Deans, you only have yourselves to blame! You had a nice thing going, but you got too greedy and suffocated the golden goose. You are finally being revealed for the charlatans that you are.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "the bottomless pit of screed and invective"

    Damn, that is one petulant scam artist. Dare I say defensive?

    Who ever promised those greedy bastards that they would never read about the consequences of their actions?

    ReplyDelete
  12. That "war on law schools" is such paranoid crap coming out of the dean's mouth. The survival of the few decent law schools--including Northwestern--depends on shutting down at least a hundred of the ridiculous ABA diploma mills.

    Even Obama, the most powerful ally they've ever had, wants to get rid of the 3-year liberal arts education funded by federal debt. If Rodriguez and his buddies don't wise up soon, all the schools are going to be forced into five-year LLB programs with no research stipends. And then no one's going to care about their citation counts any more.

    What a bunch of silly children.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "So, in the trenches are clear-eyed, smart, serious teacher-scholars, passionate about what they do, concerned about the challenges facing their law schools, and committed to substantial change, while also invested in preserving what is successful and constructive about the modern structure of legal education in the U.S. In all, an encouraging picture, even if relentlessly under threat by those who reach a contrary conclusion (on much thinner evidence)."

    This is complete crap. First of all. I haven't seen any evidence of any law faculty being "committed to substantial change." Any suggestion that faculty teach 3/2 or give up the summer research scam money in order to make tuition affordable for the students is met with banshee-like howls. No other faculty gets summer research money and they manage to publish. Secondly, he doesn't provide any evidence whatsoever that the current law school model is working when it obviously isn't and throws this immature temper tantrum to suggest that those of us who point out the obvious--that the law school model is broken---do so "on much thinner evidence." He sounds like he could write for Stalin. Say the opposite of what the evidence suggest, state that it is a clear fact and that anyone with a contrary opinion doesn't have sufficient evidence.

    The current law school model, in which all law schools ape Harvard (and all faculty ape Harvard law professors) is so clearly broken from any metric available, but particularly from the two metrics which mean the most: employment outcomes and student debt. This douche doesn't mention either of these issues. The subtext of his article is clear; law schools are run for the faculty and screw the students.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh yes, I can imagine the howling that would occur at certain schools if even a 2/1 teaching load were mandatory. (That's what Campos teaches at Colorado, by the way.)

      However, there may be some weakening of this entitlement complex now occurring, particularly among marginal professors at marginal law schools with no plausible academic pretensions. For example, a juvenile and narcissistic professor at an obscure Western law school--a professor with extremely delicate feelings and a horrific aversion to any mention of roasted pigs--is being forced to teach a 3-course load this semester. Whether that's an 0/3, a 1/3, or a 2/3, I don't know. But it could be a sign of serious progress.

      Delete
    2. Usually when obscure law schools increase their professorial workloads, it's only in order to siphon more money to administrative salaries. Serious progress would consist of increasing faculty workloads, reducing the number of faculty, and then reducing tuition.

      Delete
  14. How much longer until this blows up even worse? I'm waiting for the bar results of the next few years and the drop will continue of lemmings who can't pass the bar and pay back their loans. Total loan debt is $1.5 trillion and not a peep from anyone in Congress about doing anything.

    ReplyDelete
  15. His faculty page at Northwestern doesn't specify his undergrad major. I sure as heck hope it wasn't English:

    "[F]aculty members truly get that the core dilemma is how best to provide a high-quality education to the group of students, even as they come in often at smaller numbers, and, moreover, how to inculcate in them the value of a manifestly comprehensive, creative set of skills -- theoretical and experiential -- in a fluid marketplace, the future contours of which none of us can predict exactly."

    They are supposed to instill in students a sense (idea) of the value of skills - not teach them skills, but rather "inculcate” appreciation for skills.

    And, where will this skill-valuing be inculcated? In a fluid marketplace! Notably, they are not teaching skills useful in such a marketplace. Rather, the fluid marketplace is the location in which these skills will be inculated.

    And, the nature of said value-inculating marketplace is completely unpredictable!

    So, the the core dilemma is the method by which law professors teaching in some fluid marketplace are going to instill in their students an appreciation for an unspecified skill set. They have their work cut out for them!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Just for the sake of argument, let's limit the skill set to clear, concise, and logical writing. Then based on the samples you quoted, Rodriguez is totally unfit to teach any skills to anyone.

      Delete
  16. What's with this pseudo-intellectual pretension that law schools must feature "teacher-scholars"? Law school offers (in theory) professional training. Are professors of accounting expected to publish? (Just imagine: "Towards a Neo-Rawlsian Deconstruction of Straight-Line Depreciation" and "The Open Road and the Liquidity Ratio".) Then why exactly should law professors have to publish anything—let alone swill of zero use to bar or bench? And, incidentally, why is it that so many of these "scholars" don't publish anything, when publication is trotted out as the justification for their unconscionably low teaching loads?

    Ditch the requirement of publication and make the professors teach the equivalent of four three-hour courses per term, if not five. As Tamanaha has shown, twelve to sixteen hours a week used to be typical at law schools; there's no reason not to bring that schedule back now. Eliminate all stipends for "research", including payment for non-work during the summer. Any publication shall be done on the professor's own time and shall count for little or nothing for professional purposes.

    Also ensure that all courses serve the goal of professional training. Theory may be acceptable up to a point, but "Law & Popular Culture" and most interdisciplinary fakery have got to go.

    Old Guy

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    1. And require all law professors become licensed where they teach. This is an absolute minimum.

      Delete
    2. "Are professors of accounting expected to publish?"

      Yes, Old Guy, they are. You might want to inform yourself.

      Delete
    3. Agree with 5:01 about mandatory licensure for law professors. An absolute minimum.

      Half of all law professors are probably incapable of staying licensed. And those who are currently impersonating licensed attorneys should be fined and imprisoned. I hope we can read about some noteworthy cases within the next few months. Especially within the Illinois state courts, there's very little tolerance for pretentious professors at overpriced law schools who falsely represent themselves as attorneys.

      Delete
    4. Are you talking only about accounting programs in big universities? Accounting is most often taught at community colleges and other institutions that lack the academic pretensions of law schools.

      If these people are all expected to publish, I'd like to know just exactly where. Accounting has nothing comparable to the thousands of law reviews that fill the dust-covered shelves of libraries with garbage having little to do with law.

      Old Guy

      Delete
  17. All right, you coward, why did you delete my truthful comment that accounting professors are indeed expected to publish? If these self-important blowhards never get corrected, they'll continue to pollute this blog with nonsense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spam filter. No one deleted anything.

      Delete
    2. LoL, 1:47 Don Quixote all suited up and mounted upon his nag, tilting at craven spam filters.

      What fun.

      Delete
    3. It looks to me like Brian Leiter got to one of our own.

      That's all right. It's a tough world out there. But try to remember that law professors regularly get away with stuff that would get normal people laid flat on the sidewalk.

      Delete
  18. A brilliant satire, worthy of Benjamin Franklin or Jonathan Swift. Apparently the "professors" of "jurisprudence" and "constitutional law" haven't yet succeeded in criminalizing creative writing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. A news nugget for your reading pleasure: UniversiTTTy of Oregon law school purchases an 18-point jump in the USNWR rankings, courtesy of a seven-figure infusion of funds authorized by a university official who happens to be married to the law school dean: http://uomatters.com/2015/03/uo-law-rises-from-100-to-82-in-us-news-after-1-5m-bailout.html.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too funny. Can I still apply for some of that $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$......?

      Delete
    2. Ironically, that nut bar Rob Illig's nationally publicized tantrum about giving up his raise might have also helped the school to the extent that it had any connection to limiting the school's employment of its own graduates. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, it is well worth Googling.)

      Delete
  20. OTLSS team; I think this is worth a post, if you don't mind a suggestion.

    Deb Merritt's done a 5-year study on Ohio (full state, not OSU) LS grads since 2010, and her findings are somewhere between not great and somewhat grim (my own characterization).

    Link below to Deb's blog on the first parts of her review. Somewhat non-surprisingly, the first commenter is Bennie-The-Shill-"Now's-A-FANTASTIC-TIME-To-Go-To-Law-School"-Barros giving some kind of disingenuous "yeah, but" type of commentary. (I'm not a fan of ad hominem but Ben has frankly burned any cred he may have had in my view, so now I just mostly ignore him.)

    Ray Campbell of Peking U LS also highlighted Deb's study over at TFL (second link below).

    http://www.lawschoolcafe.org/thread/what-happened-to-the-class-of-2010/

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2015/03/what-happened-to-the-class-of-2010.html

    Here's the SSRN link to the entire paper:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2577272

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    1. Seconded.

      A highlight - and concerning it, let me just say, Holy. Shit. Class of 2010 in Ohio who passed the bar was 1,241 - the population she's looking at.

      "The Class of 2010 experienced substantial job turnover and episodic unemployment. As discussed further below, two-thirds of the population (67.9%) changed jobs at least once between bar admission and December 2014. Those job changers averaged almost three (2.7) jobs during their four years as licensed attorneys, and about one-twelfth of them suffered at least one employment gap between jobs."

      As Nando would say, what a great profession, huh?!

      Delete