Monday, July 27, 2015

SEALS 2015: Law Professor Vacation Scamaway at the Waldorf Astoria Boca Raton Resort and Club.


Did you know that Chief Justice John Roberts once explained his conception of judicial restraint with a baseball metaphor, saying that his job was to call balls and strikes, not to pitch or bat? Any educated American with an interest in history and government could probably come up with his or her own scorecard of reasons why that analogy may be apt, and some competing reasons why it may be evasive or historically dubious.
 
But an enlightened academy does not leave such important contemplation to minor league thinkers. Rather, it flies a whole bunch of professional law faculty to a luxury resort in Florida where they can flex their intellectual muscles for a couple of hours by batting around their various insights about Roberts’ comment and fielding each other’s questions about "how courts and commentators use baseball to explain a range of concepts."

 
Afterwards, these academic foul balls-- sorry, I mean best athletes-- can join several hundred faculty teammates in their well-appointed scholarly dugout, the Waldorf Astoria Boca Raton Resort and Club, for a week-long scampionship celebration, featuring swanky receptions, sponsored golf and tennis tournaments, boozing, shmoozing, pampering, and carefree fun in the sun.
 
Yes, it is time for the annual SEALS (Southeastern Association of Law Schools) extravaganza, where the Law Professors of Summer celebrate another triumphant season of victories over their hapless students, our profession, and whatever remains of their own integrity.

http://sealslawschools.org/submissions/program/programwp.asp
 
The lawprofs can attend a discussion of role-play and other innovations in teaching constitutional law. Then they can hobnob at the dozen or so receptions, galas, luncheons, and the, uh, teen pizza party. Some of these foodfests are sponsored by legal book publishing companies. (Explain again, law "prawfs" how there are important pedagogical reasons to assign $200 casebooks instead of instructing students to print out or read particular cases online). Lots of "sponsored breaks" too, not to mention "a myriad of unforgettable" on-site restaurants and bars, so no law prof need role-play constitutional history or articulate his or her baseball and the law insights on an empty tummy.
 
They can hear what Indiana Tech Law honcho and jet-setting party animal andre douglas pond cummings has to say about Ferguson. Then they can hit the links at either of the resort’s two exclusive 18-hole golf courses. (West Publishing is sponsoring a golf tournament).  
 
They can ponder whether Edward Snowden is a "Patriot, Traitor, Whistleblower, [or] Spy." Then they can rejuvenate at the 50,000 sq. ft. spa, rated No. 1 in the world by Conde Nast, and designed to look like the Nasridian royal digs in Granada, Spain, with  stone arches, cypress-lined gardens, and Moorish-style windows. I dread the day when the crisis in legal education has reached such proportions that lawprofs are forced to have their prestigious bods exfoliated at  a spa that does not resemble a medieval palace.
 
They can attend a panel on "International Comparative Inequality," or listen to the head of the oh-so-progressive SALT (Society of American Law Teachers) organization advise fellow law faculty on "navigating identity" and "finding your voice." Then they can pluck refreshments from the trays of silent low-wage immigrant caterers.

The resort boasts seven pools, four on the waterfront with personal butlers and cabanas. Granted, the lawprofs deserve a few moments of tranquility and ease after gifting a suffering planet with their advice on "International Crisis: Ebola, ISIS, and Late-Breaking Events." If only the personal poolside butlers were authorized to pass out Nobel Peace Prizes along with tropical-themed drinks.

There is a panel called "Innovations in Academic Support and Take-Aways for Law School Pedagogy." Isn’t that fine professorial wording? Much better than "Adjusting to the Fact that Our Students are a Lot Dumber than They Used to Be Because We Keep Lowering Admissions Standards to Keep the Money Flowing." Afterwards, the law professors can take resort shuttle boat transports to "half a mile of golden private beach."  Because the real "Take-Aways" of this event are callous self-indulgence and exploitation.

More seriously, there is a panel on law faculty suffering from mental illness, featuring a Charlotte Law Prof who has experienced major depression. I do not want to mock this, but it is fair to note that there is no panel on the psychological impact of spending six figures of borrowed money and three years of one's life to attend a poorly-regarded law school such as bottom-of-the-barrel Charlotte, only to realize too late that the degree and education may be worthless or worse-than-worthless. 

Barry Currier, the Managing Director of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will be at the SEALS shindig, and this fun-loving ex-dean of two lousy law schools will surely beam with delight when cocktail-emboldened fellow revelers offer some good-natured teasing about regulatory capture and revolving door access. 

Daniel Bernstine of LSAC will be there too, and this scam-bloated gent deserves some love, beyond his trifling $700,000 a year salary, for rescuing dolphins via the indirect method of funding law school pipeline projects that target children. The Boca Raton resort offers guests an Intracoastal Waterway cruise and ocean sail on a 55-ft. catamaran yacht, so perhaps the grateful sea creatures will have the opportunity to thank Bernstine in person.

Access Group’s President and CEO Christopher Chapman, that humanitarian prince among loan sharks, will not fail the feast, and who could deny him some well-deserved R&R, given that he runs an outfit responsible for 18 billion in student loan origination and still made time to serve on the ABA Panel for Financing a Legal Education.

To be fair, I will say that overall the scholarly presentations are not quite as frothy as in the two preceding years, a low bar indeed. But even generously granting, for argument’s sake, that some legal scholarship is better than dilettantish posturing or same-old same-old, it can surely be done without the perk of an expense-paid luxury vacation on top of those customary five-figure summer research stipends on top of law professors' best-in-academia baseline salaries.

I wonder if the law professors will raise a toast, even a boisterously insincere one, to their incoming students, whose misplaced trust and likely future misery  has made  the SEALS conference possible.  Scambloggers tend to refer to recklessly naïve law students as lemmings, but this event conjures up alternative animal imagery for the scam-doomed Law Class of 2018, that of clubbed seals.

41 comments:

  1. Jesus Christmas.. a 50,000 sq. foot spa? Seriously?!? I think that's larger than even Bill Gate's primary residence. These noble educators sure know how to live well, don't they? And on only $700,000 and sometimes about half that for the poor law school Deans, etc. And the professors only make low six-figures, etc.

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    1. Law school deans and professors are without doubt an oppressed and exploited class.
      If the law school trustees don't take quick action to lower their workloads and raise their salaries, we could see a mass exodus of these academic luminaries to Wall
      Street, Silicon Valley, and the Supreme Court.

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    2. Not to mention sable-carpeted corner offices.

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  2. SEALS has some bloated committees noted on their website. The International Committee has 46 people in it. The purpose of the committee is to put together a panel or two at SEALS. I cannot imagine all 46 play much of a role in that, but I am sure they all have it on their resume.

    And you missed, in addition to the baseball panel, there is a moneyball panel (which they moneylaw).

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    Replies
    1. The admissions policy of those committees is about as weak as that of Charlotte or Nova Southeastern. Any résumé-padding aristocrat can get on for the asking.

      Typical of the "International Committee" (Irrational Committee?) to assemble 46 people for the purpose of organizing a panel or two. The same committee, preferably headed by Dougie Fresh, should take charge of the curriculum on "global leadership". After all, every high-powered jurist knows that the way to get things done is to establish a committee of 46 people.

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  3. Oh and.. I forgot.. It's really important that you H.S. kids pony up the best years of your lives and enroll in the illustrious 3 + 3 program at Pace so you can contribute $250,000 to these overpaid, underworked, noble educators. Really important.. for their lifestyles.

    Sure, you'll come out with a cool 1/4 of a million in non-dischrgeable student loan debt, your 20's - half of them anyway.. gone. Your future destroyed.

    But, as per the above, it's for a very good Cause.

    "Go.To.Pace!"

    Unfortunately, you won't ever see the Higher Education Scam profiled on "American Greed" (some people will do anything for money..) But you should.. Americans are too brainwashed about education.

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  4. These people are scum. The scam won't end either until all of the victims like us band together and stop this trainwreck.

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  5. It should be criminal.

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  6. Satire is dead. It's dead, I tell you.

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  7. I would like to personally contact each and every "professor" on the list for the baseball discussion panel, and ask them all how they manage to sleep at night. Really, do they have no pangs of conscience at ALL? Surely a few of them must feel a tiny bit of guilt about the fact that they are getting fat while destroying lives. I'd also ask these "professors" to show me their dissertations and their peer-reviewed scholarship! Oh wait.....

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  8. In other news, law professor Stephen Diamond of Santa Clara, warrior against "Law School truthers", as he memorably called anyone who suspects that going to law school these days might not be a good idea, has taken down his webpage (it redirects to his biography page at the law school).

    Who will we have to lambaste and denounce "the few remaining critics of law school", as he put it on March 7th?

    Hopefully, he'll reinstate his blog once he's back from his three-month summer vacation!

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    1. And let me point out that if Diamond is collecting a "research stipend" during what he calls a "vacation," then he's a thief, pure and simple. But only if he's receiving a stipend. Otherwise he's just a buffoon.

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    2. LOL. A couple of weeks ago, Diamond retweeted a tweet from Randy Picker, who is a law professor at the University of Chicago, stating:

      Randy Picker ‏@randypicker Jul 11
      Yes, professors do send work emails at 10:30 on a Saturday night in the middle of the Summer. #indeeditisafulltimejobandthensome

      Wow! Send one e-mail on Saturday night in the summer, and that is proof that law professors work much harder than other professionals!

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    3. Full-time job, my ass! These people don't know what work is.

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  9. The students and/or alumni of these schools are perfectly within their right to demand that NO TUITION MONEY be used to fund such luxury.

    Why aren't they doing this?

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    Replies
    1. I would imagine most don't know it's going on. Can't believe it's published in the alumni magazine.

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    2. Tuition money would fund it one way or another. The profits of those publishing houses, the coffers of the ABA, the "research stipends" and bloated salaries of the professors—all are made possible by tuition money.

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  10. Great finishing line to the post - 'clubbed seals'. Gold!

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  11. Fuckin' Pigs! Reminiscent of the Roman Empire.

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  12. "after gifting a suffering planet" Oh lord, I read that as GRIFTING a suffering planet, and it worked.

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  13. If the goal were simply to exchange views, they could have a webinar. As the goal is to jack up costs in order to "justify" the otherwise, inexplicable tuition rates, then I'll have my piña colada with a tiny red umbrella this time, please. To the faculty: you ain't fooling anyone but yourselves. Your research is largely useless and law journal articles are simply an academic circle jerk.

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    1. The aristocrats of legal academia are dining at Versailles, while the peasants (who took out the loans that enabled the law prof lifestyle of vulgar, conspicuous consumption) seethe with frustration and rebellion....

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    2. "Let them eat Ramen!"

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    3. I think of it more as a bunch of death-row inmates who are making the most of their last meal.

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    4. 10:23 is 100% right on. This shit is about to blow sooner rather than later. The whole scam will blow up and publicly all these asshole legal academy liars will disavow any knowledge of why it went down just like 2008 and 1929 and every other financial crisis perpetuated by criminals. I have given up on humanity. I want to leave this planet because nothing gets better. Anyone else feel the same?

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    5. I'm with you @3:36.

      But when is the crisis actually going to happen? Things have never gotten better for me since 2008. I graduated in 2008, I hear things are supposed to be great now, but all I've done is garbage doc review since then, and this particular year is even worse for that. I've completely ruined my resume and have no hope of a real job at this point, and doc review is probably going to be gone within a few years too, if not sooner.

      In that time I've pretty much lost any friends I've had, and completely lost all my own dignity and self respect. I am very much a complete loser now, who sits at home alone the vast majority of the time. I know, it's pathetic. But it's been 7 years of a constant struggle and I've rather given up. I feel like some slime or something on the ground when people ask about my career or question my social life or any of that, because I really don't have anything to speak of. All around me though, it always seems like people, especially outside of law, are doing great. Getting married, buying houses, having kids, really having pretty normal lives that are expected of them. And meanwhile I'm like some troll, thinking there is a financial crisis coming but when I really think about it, it's only me that has failed so it's only a personal crisis.

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    6. 12:19, I'm not really sure but the numbers for both student loans and the American economy for the majority of working people who hold no capital get worse every year. Right now I deeply sympathize with you in terms of your career and the last two years have been a nightmare for me as well. I'm headed back to graduate school with a funded degree and I'm getting PhD afterwards in the humanities; at least I'll be poor and happy rather than poor and miserable working with asshole lawyers until I die.

      I worked as a substitute teacher (mostly elementary) for six months this year until school got out and it was a lot of fun being around non-psychopaths. I shouldn't attempt at giving life advice to anyone as I'm a screwup, but taking different route at this point for yourself and other lawyers makes sense. The profession is contracting and it sucks anyways. Learning a trade like plumbing, carpentry, HVAC, etc. is a much better option and you can always defer your loan payments. The entire student loan debt asset class is going to grow and implode within a decade or so anyways, so unless you really like practicing law it's really pointless to continue on. I'm from Connecticut and this state is filled with fucking assholes and I'm glad to get out and move somewhere else long-term. In a deranged sort-of way, I'm content for now and I'll be in a better and happier place for the rest of my life that my legal career failed. I tell everyone who asks about law school that unless you absolutely love practicing law, do not go. The law schools are run by complete selfish pieces of shit and most lawyers are dickheads who are intolerable socially. Life is short people. You don't know what you don't know and I've learned a valuable lesson - stay away from lawyers unless you need one for a case.

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  14. I have presented at SEALS. The scholarly part is a thin veneer. It's real essence is a kick ass family vacation, at a nice resort, for the professors.

    http://sealslawschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2015-SEALS-Directory.pdf

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    1. Nice to have a law professor (or former professor) here. If you're not currently a law professor, I hope your other lucrative options are everything you were promised by the law school defenders.

      Orin Kerr made an observation similar to yours last year on one of the shillblogs, for which I commend him. Any law professor with any critical thinking skills knows what's really going on at SEALS. The problem is that most of the professors from low-ranked Florida schools don't know how to think. To claim they could teach their students how to think is absolutely preposterous.

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  15. Disgusting. Many of these professors enjoying this boondoggle come from public universities of mostly poor southern states. I'm at a lost why state legislatures don't step in and put and end to this nonsense. They close their eyes to the wasted state funding for these bachalalian affairs, but won't expand Medicaid so the uninsured victims of the scam can afford health insurance. At times I despair.

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  16. Dybbuk, I think the law school SEALS inspire the best of your incisive commentary. This is what, the third year you've reported on their antics, and each time they try their hardest to prove that their harshest critics are absolutely correct. Each celebration is even more lavish, more detached, and more clueless than the last.

    I now feel so inspired to end the law school scam that I will write and perform a play on the subject. The sets will resemble a luxurious 5-star resort. Tickets will go on sale in October.

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    1. Wow, thanks. But it does not take much incisiveness to be disgusted by these luxury resort vacations, the bogus pretense of a scholarly purpose, and the hypocrisy of all those oh-so-progressive panels and discussion groups. Lavish, detached, and clueless, indeed. Although, clueless may be too generous-- by now the professors must know that the overwhelming majority of their students and recent graduates are financially imperiled, and yet they party on.

      You are right--this is my third SEALS profile. Here are the previous two:

      http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2014/08/scam-on-beach-2014-seals-extravaganza.html

      http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/08/law-professors-in-luxury-seals-shindig.html

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  17. I'm so thrilled that Dougie Fresh could make it. He's such a party animal!

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  18. I didn't even know that the Waldorf Astoria had a hotel (or whatever that monstrosity of decadence is called) in Florida. Obviously my name is not to be found in the Social Register.

    The last time I walked past the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, I paused to look at the menu on the wall. The prices were all in whole dollars and were written out in words, in full capitals (Dougie Fresh would have been horrified) but without the hyphen required in "twenty-one" and the like. Illiteracy, meet pretension.

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  19. Dybbuk, do I understand that Dougie Fresh gave a talk there? I should have thought that he'd be busy trying to dupe people with dreadful LSAT scores (he called 143 "serviceable") into signing up for his soon-to-be-flushed toilet. Even after dropping tuition to zero, Indiana Tech is not confident of attracting twenty would-be centurions.

    I suspect that the entire entering class this year will fit comfortably inside a Volkswagen (if not a telephone booth), with plenty of room to spare for Dougie Fresh's sense of humility and Lamparello's sense of dignity.

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    1. Not a full-blown talk. The lower-case sage of hip hop law and sports law will be one of nine "discussants" in a three hour long "workshop on constitutional law." The workshop is called "Discussion Group: Law Under Pressure: Ferguson, Missouri, Revisited."

      I note that mr. pond cummings, during his very brief legal career, was an associate in a major corporate law firm, not a civil rights or public interest lawyer, or a public defender. So it is fair to be skeptical of the fight-the-power persona he has adopted as an academic.

      http://law.indianatech.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/andre-douglas-pond-cummings-CV.pdf

      Here is a quote from Indiana Tech Law Dean Charles Cercone, on the ABA's denial of accreditation: “The ABA’s opinion didn’t specifically say this, but I think for a new law school, the stronger your student profile the better.”

      http://www.kpcnews.com/business/latest/kpcnews/article_17684b90-78b6-502e-888c-4a7f488fce2c.html

      My guess is that this explains the one-year no-tuition gimmick. Indiana Tech is apparently hoping that the free year will lure some slightly-better-than-dreadful incoming students, and that a stronger student profile will impress the ABA. I wish I could be more confident that this strategy will fail.

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    2. What an idiotic comment from scam-dean Charles Cercone! Of course a stronger student profile is better than a weaker one. Did he really have to puzzle over that insight? His comment only shows that Indiana Tech has not cared a tinker's damn about the quality of its so-called students. Well, that was obvious long before Dougie Fresh lauded 143 as a "serviceable" LSAT score.

      The gambit of dropping tuition to zero may attract one or two financially strapped people whose LSAT scores, though poor, exceed Indiana Tech's range. But they could have had free tuition from Indiana Tech in any event. I predict that this gambit will win mostly people for whom the year of free tuition is the primary attraction—people who may well not have been thinking of law at all as recently as a few weeks ago.

      Don't forget that the gambit is likely to frighten some people off. The brighter Indiana Techoids may grow suspicious of this sudden move, coupled as it is with the ABA's denial of accreditation scant months before the first deeply indebted centurions in orange-yellow polyester gowns collect their diplomas (possibly written entirely in lower case). But perhaps I overestimate the intelligence and perspicacity of Fort Wayne's finest.

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  20. Hi, sorry, late entry, but don't know if you've seen Amanda Taub's article yet or not - it's from last month and she hits a lot of the high points, although she could have worked up better the bimodal pay curve and the relative levels of who (how many) are on which side of the distribution.

    http://www.vox.com/2015/6/5/8724555/should-i-go-to-law-school

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  21. I checked out some pictures of Daniel Bernstine. Shocking!

    The law school scam is an insidious cause of obesity--to its perpetrators.

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  22. Of course these expensive junkets for law-school scamsters are a direct or indirect rip-off of the public coffers. But the same can be said of the various vacations dressed up as academic programs for law students. Cooley in London? New England Vertical Bar Law School in Malta? Transnational Negotiation in Minsk? Maybe there are no butlers in livery, but these glorified vacations are part of the same scam.

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  23. Can't believe, really really Shocking.
    There are so many complaints against Scam . Scammers are those persons who want to make money quickly and there concern is all about your account and other document details. They want your money and for that they convince you anyhow.
    Please be aware of these Scammers.

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