Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On Hidden Truths

Both Nando and the LSTC have previously discussed PSU Dickinson Assistant Dean of Career Services Tamesha Keel, who now appears to have a side gig in law school spin at HuffPost.

In this post, entitled "The Hidden Truth About Law School Employment Stats", Keel laments that legal education analysts underplay JD Advantage jobs without even a microgram of irony:
Much of the stats we see being reported, [sic] point to only those bar passage required positions and J.D. advantage positions typically fall into the "Other" category. This has led to grossly inflated unemployment rates for recent graduates. 
Here are PSU's 2014 numbers as compiled from its ABA submission:

LT/FT Bar Passage Required:  116
PT Bar Passage Required: 5
JD Advantage:  11
Temp JD Advantage: 1
Professional (all): 5
Non-Professional (all): 4
Student:  6
"Deferred Start Date"-  10
"Not Seeking" - 2
"Seeking" - 14
Unknown - 3

Now let's look for some "hidden truths."  The most curious entry on this list to me is "Deferred Start Date."   Here is what the ABA placement questionnaire states about "Deferred Start Date":
The graduate has accepted a written offer of employment by the February 15th reporting date, but the start date of the employment is subsequent to February 15th. In order to qualify in this category, the start date must be identified with certainty, or the employer must be compensating the graduate until actual employment begins.  
Pretty narrow, right?  Color me surprised, but 10 PSU graduates had written offers of employment and/or compensation but had not yet started?  In 2015?  Really?

For reference, here are the top schools claiming "start date deferred" on their 2014 ABA forms:
  • Penn State - 10
  • CUNY, San Francisco, Cal-Hastings - 9
  • Pepperdine, Albany, Fordham - 7
  • Connecticut, Cal-Western, San Diego, Seattle, NYLS, Suffolk - 6
Among T14 schools, Georgetown had the most with 5, while Harvard, Duke, Cornell, and Berkley all had 0.  When figured in percentages, only 0.7% of graduates nationwide fell into this category, while PSU had 5.68% of its class deferred.  In the region, Penn only had 1 graduate (0.35% of its class) fall into this category.  Temple only had 1 as well (0.39% of its class).  Villanova had 2 (0.9% of its class).

Are PSU grads particularly deferral-able?  Or are law schools perhaps viewing "start date deferred" as a category in which to siphon off a few unemployed graduates on flimsy pretexts?  What were these deferred start opportunities?  Advanced tax practice with Morgan Lewis?  Doc review in Morgan Lewis's sub-basement?  Somewhere in between?  Law?  Non-law?

These are just questions, of course; in fact, that's all we can do.  The consuming public has no way of knowing if these are real jobs, bogus jobs, or even jobs at all.  Such things are hidden truths, and law school folks want the benefit of the doubt.

Indeed, the sales game manufactures trust in "hidden truths." Ms. Keel, for example, wants us to believe there is a veritable boom in demand for JD Advantage positions:
With an increase of nontraditional legal careers and the industry shift to utilize more outside resources, there has been a surge in what employers deems [sic] as "J.D. advantage" positions.
[O]ther trending legal careers that do not require bar passage are seeing increased demand for specialized legal talent. Almost 15% of class of 2014 graduates held J.D. advantage positions, the highest percentage since the ABA began tracking the data.

J.D. advantage careers has helped [sic] to advance the legal industry by embracing its [?] evolution. The employment growth underscores the next generation of lawyer's [sic] desire for nontraditional careers as well as the need for lawyers to fill these roles. And as more graduates fill advantaged positions, the perception of being less prestigious than bar required jobs begins to break down.
The self-immolation of my copy of Fowler's Modern English Usage aside, it takes a leap of faith to assume that there's a real added demand for JD Advantage positions rather than law graduates accepting lesser positions that are being up-classified to JD Advantage.  And it's sure nice to know that Starbucks barista will become more prestigious with the presence of lawyers, rather than would-be lawyers adopting the prestige of Starbucks baristas.

Of course, it has to be a leap of faith for anyone outside of the law school's offices because we have no way of knowing what these JD Advantage positions are, or whether they were the type of thing worth attending law school at the exorbitant tuition rates.  Penn State - and if anyone knows otherwise, please correct me - does not report salaries for these positions, does not report what type of students take these positions or any other information beyond the vague - and abuse-prone - definition provided by the ABA.

These opaque, "trust us!" presentations are the real "hidden truths" of the employment stats.  Law school administrators want the consuming public to trust them as to what is behind that wrinkled curtain, to believe that there's a pool of good jobs waiting in Californey if you just ride their special golden-ticket train for three years.  It's the same shit as five to ten years ago, only now the illusion is the "evolutionary" practice/JD Advantage sector instead of the plentiful BigLaw gigs.

But by this point, everyone should know better.  Law schools actively slaughtered their own goodwill with respect to any "hidden truths."  The law schools' own conduct has given the public no choice but to be cruelly skeptical, as if these folks were elixir salesmen rolling into town a second time

If Ms. Keel and her peers lament that, they have two options.  One is to regain market trust, which takes time and a level of candor the industry generally lacks.  The other is real transparency.  Give the public viable, usable information upon which to evaluate these JD Advantage positions.

Something tells me they'll continue to take the third option.


  1. This is liberalism laid bare. This is what it is. It is the rich, privileged, and politically connected using the poor and disenfranchised as a straw to suck money out of the productive class. Not only does this harm the productive class, but it frequently destroys the very poor that the liberals pretend to care about.

    All of these sales tactics, which claim that law and college degrees have value, are targeted at the poor and the desperate with the sole objective of to making rich bankers richer and pampered professors more secure.

    Without the state's involvement, none of these parasites would be able to steal money like this because entities with money wouldn't lend it out so easily for super high risk endeavors, ie pursuing a law degree.

    The hypocrisy is so severe, it's so blatant, and so destructive that it makes my blood boil. The only kids that are going to come out ok from these filthy diploma mills are the kids from rich families who, irrespective of ability or intelligence, have had their futures secured at birth. The poor and middle class kids are going to get killed, and these sons of bitches are going to continue to steal from the tax payer claiming nonsense like "JD Advantage" in the process. Fucking thieves.

    I don't understand why people don't see what's going on more clearly.

    1. EXACTLY!

      Frame the post from 6-24-15 @ 11:36 AM.

      The law school scam is nothing more than a microcosm of the System in modern America. The poor and middle class have no chance but the rich need to convince them to buy into a completely rigged game to profit off them.

    2. Unfortunately, neither of our mainstream political lines has a positive approach to education.

      Liberals are the reason education in general is a drain from public resources to private benefit.

      Conservatives, meanwhile, have spent decades off-shoring "lesser" jobs, are the reason we have non-dischargability, and are the first to scold someone for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting more educated.

      It's like when Stankmom met Scumdad, and we're stuck babysitting the offspring.

    3. Liberals outsource too, and they do it more effectively as well. Who's President now? Obama. What is he trying to do? Pass the greatest jobs killing bill in the history of the United States: TPP. Sure, it is supported by the Congressional Republicans, but you need the sweet con man to be the face of the bill. Just like education. If Mitt Romney was selling law degrees, you'd think twice, but if it's the nice man talking about self sacrifice all day long, you'd let your guard down.

      Liberals serve the interests of the rich in a much more effective and devious manner.

    4. In higher education, liberals love to talk about "access"'s their favorite buzzword right now. They act as if all the problems of our nation would be solved if more people, especially from poor backgrounds, attended college. In the name of "access" they have lowered admissions standards to laughably low levels, and lowered academic rigor and expectations (since flunking out the masses of unqualified students they admitted would mean less revenue from loans flowing in). Meanwhile, the only thing these exploited people have been given "access" to is a lifetime of debt. The greed of the parasites in higher education, who exploit the poor and turn them into student-loan-conduits, is shocking. They are truly terrible people who know exactly what they are doing, and don't care.

    5. Yeah used to piss me off so much, but then I gave up. People want to be willfully ignorant, and I no longer have the energy to bother. And honestly, not like the right is any better, just look at how they shoved through TPP. Politics is just a game, a theatre, a show. A diversion to keep us unconnected folks at each other's throats.

      The oligarchs always work together in the end. And I don't have the energy to bother anymore. That same message you wrote, I've written it many times only to be attacked, told I am a fool, an idiot, and lots of other harsh words. Why bother? It's not like it will help me in any way anyway at this point. The people it would help are the most hostile about it too.

      I guess I understand why people sellout now.

    6. Theft and fraud are independent of any political ideology; the best international example is Russia which has had corrupt Czars, Communists, and Crony Capitalism which cut across the ideological spectrum yet produce shitty results for the majority of people in their society. America's legal educational system is currently being run by criminals who have no concern for the next generation. That is the problem. Take the simplistic liberalism/conservatism debate to Fox News or MSNBC or whatever cable news network that spews basic one dimensional political analysis for a viewership dominated by high school educated, double-digit IQ mentally challenged "Muricans". Fraud is fraud, that's the problem. Nobody cares which sucks.

    7. Hmmmmm. Wasn't Bill Clinton the president who made federal loans nondischargeable in bk way back in 1998, redulting in the cost of an education rising at a geometric rate stsrting in January 1999?????

    8. @ 3:23 PM.

      You are right. You get attacked because the ignorant proles drank and keep drinking the Kool-Aid of the American Dream and Horatio Alger myth. It's a two-party Puppet Show with one group, the oligarchs, pulling both sets of strings.

      @ 4:08 PM

      I believe you are correct. Student loans were made non-dischargeable under Clinton's term of office.

      Interestingly, they want people to default on student loans. Here's an article on it:

      Fees collected from defaulted student loans were a main driver of Sallie Mae's profitability.

    9. 1:56 here. Non-dischargability has happened on both parties' political "watch," but it's driven more by conservative economic policies/theory. Same with off-shoring. Note that "Democrat" is not a simultaneous term with "liberal."

      There were major moments in negative bankruptcy reform in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, under Republican and Democratic leadership in the White House and Congress. They're both to blame for our collective mess, and you bicker about who screwed who, you're missing out on the real problem and solution.

    10. "simultaneous" = "synonymous"

    11. This isn't liberalism but out-and-out free market, shucksterism, but whatever. You earned your think tank PR trolling or the day.

    12. @11:52,

      This is liberalism. Ninety five percent of law school professors and administrators profess to be liberals. They preach about crap like social justice, income inequality, etc as they fleece their students dry. The doctrine is used as a mask to cover their extreme predatory intent.

      Liberalism is a con game by the rich and connected to fleece the lower classes. Nature's most dangerous predators aren't the loudest, biggest or baddest animals, ie bears or lions, rather, it's unassuming animals that creep up with you using a deadly venom or other clandestine weapon. They gain your trust and then they fuck you real hard.

      I'm not sayin republican conservatives, if you can call them that, have better intentions, but they are less effective in achieving the aims of the truly rich and powerful because they are open about what they want to do and who they serve. When Paul Ryan talks about the TPP you know who he serves and what he plans to do; but the nice liberal man, ie Obama, talking about the enovroment and workers' rights, etc is the one who is driving the whole process (and doing so by gaining people's trust in the process).

      Liberalism on paper may be a fine idea, but in practice it turns into George Orwells Animal Farm. Predators like the ones detailed on this blog daily will convince the poor and the desperate to go after the productive capacity, not the rich, and not the corrupt. In so doing, they further fuck the poor and the desperate.

    13. Let's focus on the real enemy ladies and gents.

  2. If anyone is adept at hiding the truth, it's the shills that run the law school educational complex.

    1. It's beyond that. Obama just got TPP fast track through the senate.

    2. With help from the GOP! LOL! When he couldn't get it from the Dems he just used the GOP.

      So much for the Republicans blocking what he wanted to do and the rest of that farce. I bet they all have dinner together, come up with a script and laugh at us all for being stupid enough to actually go along with all of it.

  3. Penn State used to make their NALP Report public. Haven't in a few years.

  4. The great Fowler concerned himself with nice points of usage, not with rudimentary grammar that every native speaker should have mastered by age 5.

    1. If you can't master level two, level ten has no further reason to exist.

  5. People like Keel are now fighting for their lives. Nothing but personal survival matters anymore.

    1. +1 this is a subtly powerful comment -- the desperation of drowning rats is palpable

    2. I'm sure that Tamesha enjoys dressing up and going to her exciting and glamorous job. But we can dispense with any pretense that she's providing any "career services" to anyone. She's actually ruining lives and careers with her lies. Her job exists only to advance her own career, and I'm sure that's the way she likes it.

  6. Nothing changes unless we personally confront scammers. Personally, meaning, in person.

    The deans the admissions ho-fessionals would shit themselves if even just a couple hundred lawyers showed up on admitted student day to speak a little truth to fraudsters.

    At this point, nothing else is going to work. A hopeful lemming, being a lemming, will be given a different sort of pause by that sort of demonstration.

  7. "The self-immolation of my copy of Fowler's Modern English Usage aside..."

    Day-um...that's funny, y'all. 180.

  8. I've met lots of Takeeshas before, but I've never met a Tamesha. I always trust and respect someone who's not afraid to do things differently. I can tell that Keel is an outstanding young leader, probably a future president of the United States.