It was a sound decision, insists one of the leaders of the "feasibility study". Only "some really bad luck" derailed Indiana Tech's sure thing. After all, "[i]f you look at the baby-boomer generation and expected retirements, and at the expected growth in the economy, the case was there".
Except that we, who were recently likened to the Wicked Witch of the West at the LSAC's lavish conference for 500 admissions scamsters, spoke to every bit of that and more. As usual, the "feasibility study" was nothing but propaganda designed to cook up a justification for a decision that was a fait accompli. Since there never was a case for a law school at Indiana Dreck, one had to be cobbled together out of the usual scraps:
- a void to be left any minute now by the retirement of baby boomers en masse
- many openings for lawyers as a result of economic growth
- unmet demand for law schools in the region
- a shortage of lawyers to serve the impecunious
The much-vaunted imminent retirement of the baby boomers hasn't shown signs of happening—and the oldest of them turned 60 a decade ago. Moreover, the departure of old lawyers won't necessarily entail openings for new ones. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not noted for economic doom and gloom, has stated for years that "more students are graduating from law school each year than there are jobs available". And that statement seems to militate against opening yet another goddamn law school.
Prognostication of economic growth is of course the standard chestnut for Pollyanna forecasts. But economic growth, even if real rather than imaginary, may not extend to all sectors. As the BLS has long predicted (see link above), much work that used to be done by lawyers is now going to cheaper paralegals, overseas suppliers, temporary workers, and others. Law is not the candy store that it was once upon a boomer time.
It is true that Fort Wayne had no law school. Yet, by my count, there were 31 accredited law schools (including one in Canada) within a four-hour drive during the "feasibility study". From Chicago and Michigan to Valpo and Cooley, there was something for every taste and LSAT score. True, a handful of people in the vicinity of Fort Wayne were unable or unwilling to move even a couple of hours away for law school. As Indiana Tech has discovered the hard way, however, one cannot build a viable law school on a couple of dozen local students alone.
Of course there's a vast unmet demand for free legal services, just as there's a vast unmet demand for free anything. If Indiana Tech ever becomes accredited and its graduates are able to pass the bar (neither point should be taken for granted), some valiant Indiana Tech centurions may be able to fill this void, competently or otherwise. But I doubt whether many of them spent three years and six figures of borrowed money with a view to practicing without pay.
In addition, both applications and admissions were already in decline when this "feasibility study" was concoc—er, conducted, and it was well known that large numbers of graduates even of established schools, to say nothing of unaccredited upstarts, were unable to find relevant jobs.
In short, the veriest simpleton could have seen that this would-be bottom-grade law school was headed for the rocks. The founders knew of the criticisms but proceeded anyway. And now they blame "bad luck" for their wholly predictable calamity.
The author also opines that "[t]he departure of the law school’s founding dean inevitably hindered the accreditation process". This refers to Peter Alexander, who suddenly (what was the euphemism?) resigned less than a year after the school opened. Reportedly he resigned on account of "the achievement of the goals he had established for the law school to that point in time and a desire to pursue other employment opportunities". So strong was the desire to leave that he gave up not only the deanship but also his tenured post as professor, all without a minute's notice. His profile on LinkedIn suggests that today, more than a year after his "resignation", he is marginally self-employed if not downright unemployed.
Now, I don't know what goes on in Alexander's mind (if I may so flatter him), but this narrative strains credibility. First, I find it hard to believe that he achieved any goals that he had established. Indiana Tech Law Skule 'n' Biker Bar completely missed his stated goal of starting off as third out of Indiana's five law schools in LSAT and undergraduate GPA: the first class's median LSAT score of 146 (percentile 29.5) fell ten points below his proclaimed target (percentile 67.4). Upon his departure, Indiana Tech was the poster boy of arrogance, greed, self-delusion, and exploitation (particularly racial exploitation). It had ousted Cooley as the leading laughing-stock. Enrollment was a third of the pie-in-the-sky forecast. Red ink gushed forth in torrents, to the point that in less than a year the school would be forced to raffle off a "scholarship" in the hope of trapping one more gullible student-loan conduit. Only a sadist could feel gratified and accomplished with that track record.
Second, he would not lightly throw away two sinecures in a dismal hackademic job market unless he had something better lined up. A genuine resignation, unmotivated by pressure, would ordinarily include a bit of notice—two weeks at the minimum, and probably several months for a dean and tenured professor; yet he was gone before the ink was dry on the announcement, and the institution immediately scrubbed from its Web site every mention of him. I therefore believe that he nominally resigned after being—how can I put this diplomatically?—invited to consider that option.
If that be so, then the departure of the founding dean was within Indiana Tech's control. And if it would "inevitably hinder the accreditation process", Indiana Tech has only itself to blame for that consequence.
I don't believe that it made a significant difference in the accreditation process, except perhaps to the extent that Dougie Fresh Pond Scum was an even more inept administrator than Alexander. The editorialist is off the beam here. He is just bitter that the one law school in his city has become a grievous embarrassment, not to mention a financial and professional liability.
The author of this editorial may not be so sanguine this time next year, when 25 or fewer people are expected to don hideous orange-yellow caps and gowns as Indiana Tech's first graduates. Will their precious alma mater be accredited by then? How many of them will have found suitable work? How many of them will be able to repay their loans?