Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Did the 79 law school deans who challenged NCBE Chief Erica Moeser’s “less able” explanation for falling bar passage rates lower admission standards at their own schools?

Perhaps you remember the October, 2014 memo from 79 law school deans to Erica Moeser, Chief of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The memo was the opening salvo in an ongoing barrage of law school propaganda aimed at pressuring the NCBE to dumb down the bar exam in order to maintain passage rates for increasingly, uh, academically undistinguished law school graduating classes.
"We, the undersigned law school deans, respectfully request that the National Conference of Bar Examiners facilitate a thorough investigation of the administration and scoring of the July 2014 bar exam. .. . . In particular, the investigation should examine the integrity and fairness of the July 2014 exam. We also request that the NCBE provide the evidence it relied on in making the statement that the takers of the bar exam in July 2014 were less able than those in 2013." – Memo to NCBE, Chief Erica Moeser, signed by 79 law school Deans.
Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard, ever the self-satirizing buffoon, not only signed on to the memo, but penned a separate open missive to Moeser, in which he went beyond an ostensible demand for evidence and investigation and outright rendered a verdict: "It’s not the students, it’s the test."
"Your unexpected defense of your test goes on to conclude that that the serious drop in scores was due to, in your view, the 2014 test takers being "less able" than the 2013 test takers. We don't know what evidence you have to support this surprising (and surprisingly disparaging) claim, but we do have evidence about our own 2014 graduates, and it tells our precisely the opposite: their credentials were every bit as good as our 2013 graduates, if not better. . . . In plain language, I disagree with you: It's not the students, it's the test."
I used Law School Transparency’s excellent online resources to check the 79 schools whose deans questioned Moeser’s statement that the takers of the bar exam in July 2014 were less able than those who took the test in 2013. How many of those 79 helmed schools that lowered admission standards at the vulnerable edge of the LSAT spectrum between 2010 and 2011 (the dates when the incoming classes would be expected to take the respective 2013 and 2014 bar exams)? And how many lowered standards between 2010 and 2014, the date of memo?
 
A.  The distribution of LSAT changes at the 25th percentile between 2010 and 2011 for the 79 law schools whose deans signed the memo to Moeser:
 
increased
12
 
unchanged
26
 
down by 1 pt.
26
 
down by 2 pts.
11

down by 3 pts.
3
UC-Hastings, Charleston, Colorado
down by 4 pts.
1
Case Western
 
B.  The distribution of LSAT changes at the 25th percentile between 2010 and 2014 for the 79 law schools whose deans signed the memo to Moeser:
 
increased
3
 
unchanged
3
 
down by 1 pt.
5
 
down by 2 pts.
12
 
down by 3 pts.
12
 
down by 4 pts.
13
 
down by 5 pts.
16
 
down by 6 pts.
5
American, Capital, Faulkner, LaVerne, Valparasio
down by 7 pts.
4
McGeorge, Vermont, Southern Ill., Whittier
down by 8 pts.
4
Ave Marie, Charleston, Thomas Jefferson, Cooley
down by 9 pts.
2
Brooklyn, Hofstra

As for Brooklyn Law, its 25th percentile score and median LSAT declined between 2010 and 2011. So did its 25th percentile and median GPA. Thus, Allard’s claim that he had "evidence"-- the nature of which he did not disclose-- to establish that the credentials of BLS’s 2014 graduates "were every bit as good as our 2013 graduates, if not better" may have crossed that thin line that separates self-serving bullshit from filthy lie.
 
Why did 79 law deans sign on to the memo? They knew, and they surely knew that Moeser knew, that admission standards have been declining sharply at most law schools. Maybe they were just trying to sow as much confusion and dismay as they could in order to place Moeser temporarily on the defensive. Kind of like a pickpocket, caught in the act, who cries, "Stop, Thief!" Or maybe they are such brazen smear artists that they believe they can scapegoat Moeser and the NCBE by promoting a fight-the-power narrative of promising young legal fledglings oppressed by autocratic testmasters. Or maybe they believe their own nonsense about how the JD program imparts immense legal knowledge plus exceptional thinking and reasoning abilities, and so a high bar failure rate is as incomprehensible to them as if a large number of medical doctors flunked a test of basic anatomy.
 
We have entered the era of Law School Scam 2.0. Some of the original concerns that animated the scamblog movement have been addressed, however inadequately. Class sizes are down, there is transparency as to short-term employment outcomes and exploding scholarships, and an applicant with a good  academic record who comparison shops can probably get a hefty discount on tuition at a non-elite school. What has changed is that law schools are now recruiting, even enticing, students with mediocre to horrible academic credentials. Bar failure is only the most visible aspect of the harm. These are kids who will find it especially difficult to carve out a place in our swamped profession, who will be ineffectiveness/ malpractice hazards if they do, and who are less likely than their more accomplished classmates to have some alternative skill set to fall back upon when their legal careers crash and burn. Thus, the scam continues, with the burden shifting to the least sophisticated and least resilient among the law students, in ironic mockery of the "sophisticated consumer" rationale that courts used to shoot down the class action fraud lawsuits against law schools.

27 comments:

  1. The law school pigs wanted more asses in seats, even with fewer applying. It's for a good cause though, right?!?!

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    1. I need more clients. I think we need to rev up the War on Drugs again, War on Crime, bring back Prohibition, recriminalize Marijuana, remove all caps and barriers to law suits, bring back the Illinois Structural Work Act, remove any and all statutes or repose and limitations. If the law deans can do it to feather their nests, why can't us underemployed lawyer do the same?

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  2. Can you list the handful of schools that did not decrease or decreased only by one point? I'm curious as to the motivations of those schools for signing on to the letter.

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    1. Check out the LST report. In the data visualizer section, select national and LSAT-25. The default comparison is 2010 and 2014. If you want to compare other years, add the following to the URL: &y1=2010&y2=2011. Adding that will compare 2010 and 2011. We only allow comps for years in the 2010-14 range for now.

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  3. The bottom really fell out of admission standards at non-elite law schools with the class that entered in the fall of 2013. Those standards stayed low with the class that entered in 2014, and I presume that this trend continued with the class that entered in 2015. And what must keep Allard and his lot awake at night? - None of these students have taken the bar exam yet! If you think the results were ugly for the 2014 and 2015 bar exams, just wait until the results come out for the July 2016 exam. I predict that the bar passage rate will dip below 50% at numerous schools (this has already happened at Infilaw schools).

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    1. John Marshall Atlanta's pass rate for July 2015 was 35% (50% for first time takers). It will be interesting to see if the ABA yanks their accreditation.

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    2. The odds of that are about the same as those of drawing an inside straight. The ABA seems to seek any excuse to refrain from yanking accreditation.

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  4. Crooklyn had an 81% July 2015 passage rate, which it will eventually recall as the good old days. Given it a few years and they'll hand out fliers in Bed-Stuy.

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  5. Another telling stat on BLS: Its 25% LSAT score in 2010 (162) is three points higher than its 75% LSAT score in 2014 (159). Yikes!

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  6. I'm somewhat familiar with McGeorge, and the absolute collapse of the applicant pool is shocking and tragic. There are almost no students at the school capable of finding serious jobs after graduation. Instead, there are herds of naïve adolescents convinced that their careers will consist of highly-paid jobs identical to an eviction clinic or an immigration clinic. I wonder if they think federal loans will pay for the high salaries and endless perks they fantasize about.

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  7. Please stop admitting lawyers and close law schools. I am saying this as a veteran lawyer, not a newbie. Its not about greed or selfishness. It is about earning a decent middle class income for all of my hard work and sacrifice. It is about numbers My dad, with a college education and an "ordinary" middle manager position in 1983, made more money in one year than I did from the last two years of my practice combined.

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  8. This post says it all. (I am 5 or 6 years in on the law scam blogs and 40 years in solo practice.)

    So, will the Boards of Trustees FIRE those Deans who have passed from self-serving Bullshit, to filthy lies?

    Any why would they NOT?

    (They too, are complicit-yet generally paid nothing or little fora prestigious, figurehead position.)

    A HUGE difference between failed solos, and successful solos, is the skill, tact, and credibility of a solo to deliver bad news to a client re a meritless case, or nearly so, and do it in a "client appreciative" manner.

    I have always marveled at the deference shown doctors (M.D's not J.D.'s). An MD tells you of your terminal condition and the patient nods, adopts a blank, shocked stare, but not willing to break down. That is it. I saw a radiologist give that diagnosis to a patient in a gurney, at the entrance to an elevator, in the WAITING ROOM OF THE RADIOLOGY DEPARTMENT! About 8 folks were sitting in waiting chairs, watching the deliver of the diagnosis. (When I was less than a year into practice, I prepared a document where the middle initial of my client's child was wrong, and got a "scolding" from a matronly and business savy female. "You knew the correct middle initial." (Well, we could correct it and just print it out again for signature, shouldn't we-this is only a draft???) (Or better yet, let's just FIRE the low wage secretary who is a heinous, vicious, rabid, and impoverished office worker, just to teach her a lesson???
    What is her LIFE to you, over a middle initial? Not my firm, me, just an employee.)

    Oh, and we have here in my jurisdiction the rule of idem sonans.

    Any idea? I did, even then. It means that middle initials are irrelevant in the absence of evidence creating an ambiguity. Well, my client had only one child with the first and last name, so the middle initial was irrelevant.

    Medical doctors do not likely see this much.

    "I've got a middle initial wrong, but we can correct it, no damage."

    "You CUR!"

    "You are going to die, and now all these strangers here know also."

    "Um."

    A friend of mine once summed it up precisely. "Surgeons have knives and cut, radiologists, big machines which see through things…lawyers, we speak and write-something nearly every client can do, and BELIEVES he or she can do as well as us, and that is WHY WE FIGHT."

    (Well, he was a bit more pithy, but that is the sense of it.)

    As a 40 year solo, not 40 years old, and I have made a decent living, though it has taken 58 years of 2,000 hour years to do it, DO NOT go to law school unless your are in the top 5% of your high school, go to a top ten law school and get at least a 50% scholarship. And maybe that is not enough.

    I did HUSTLE. I worked from 9 to 7 pm, went home to eat, returned to the office at 9 p.m, and worked until 1 to 3 a.m.

    FOR 22 years. That is hustle.

    Oh, and I worked about 2 saturdays a month, from 4 p.m. until midnight.

    And almost every single Sunday from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m or so. During those 22 years.

    So, "tough?" Yeah. Do you want this life? I had to make that effort to pay the bills and take care of my family.

    I have posted many times. Frequent readers will recognize my writing.

    If you do not COMMIT to work this hard, you will FAIL. Oh, and my law school loan payment was…


    sit down…

    take a deep breath….


    $32.92 a month.

    Yep.

    Now, I charged $45.00 per hour for the first year or two in 1980. But still. That was no debit at all.

    You folks will be simply CRUSHED by your loan payment of $2,000 to $3,000 per MONTH.

    I have said many times-At age 61, owning a going-concern firm, could not afford that at all.

    So, who do you think you are that you can do so?

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    1. The problem isn't hard work, the practice, or the clients moaning and complaining. It's part of the territory I signed up for. We see people at their worst and I get it. What I didn't sign up for was the Walmart like spiral perpetuated by 250 now desperate law schools and the crushing amount of Solo and small firm attorneys all competing for the same five bill DUI client. There are now kids with zero experience and seasoning hanging out a shingle, getting 10 rankings from AVVO, becoming over night "top lawyers" according to their slick websites and then taking work for fifty to one hundred dollars per court appearance and screwing things up. I signed up for a profession that with hard work and a bit of luck, one could earn a middle class income. Not today.

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    2. Add to that an advertising budget of at least 15k a month in a barely medium size market. And, that amount hardly keeps up with the competition.

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  9. From 2010 to 2014, Crooklyn's LSAT score at the 25th percentile slid from 162 (the 86th percentile) to 153 (the 56th percentile). Yet that swine All Lard has the gall to claim that the quality of the student body is not sinking like a stone.

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    1. Almost all non-elite law schools saw a decline in admission standards between 2010 and 2014. So Brooklyn is far from unique in that respect. However, in terms of the degree of decline, Brooklyn took it to a whole new level. As I pointed out above, Brooklyn’s 25% LSAT in 2010 is three points higher than it’s 75% LSAT four years later. I haven’t bothered to look on LST, but I have to think that few if any law schools saw that kind of inversion. When it comes to admission standards, Allard would be wise to keep his mouth shut.

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    2. Of the 79 law schools who's deans signed the open letter 10 of them have suffered 'inversion' where the 2014's 75 percentile LSAT is equal to or less than 2010's 25th percentile score.

      These schools are

      American
      Barry
      Brooklyn
      Charleston
      Hofstra
      University of Montana
      McGeorge
      Thomas Jefferson
      Touro
      Whittier

      For New York Law School the 2010 25th percentile LSAT score is equal to the 2013 75th percentile LSAT score but in 2014 the 75th percentile LSAT score improved by one point.
      Brooklyn has in fact experienced the worst inversion with the 2014 75th percentile LSAT score being worse than the 2010 25th percentile LSAT score by 3 points. The second worst was Hofstra where the decline was difference was 2 points.

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  10. While Crooklyn was slashing its admissions standards with abandon, it was also increasing class sizes:

    http://www.educationdive.com/press-release/20140818-brooklyn-law-schools-entering-class-size-increases-for-second-consecutive/

    So let's recap: Brooklyn 1) slashed admission standards while 2) increasing class sizes and then 3) complained that the bar exam was corrupt when their lower quality students passed at a lower rate.

    That's the sort of behavior one would expect from an Infilaw, Cooley, or TJSL level scam school: when it looks like the supply of slop might dry up, the pigs scarf from the trough twice as fast.

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  11. How can they sleep?

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  12. Take it from me: the legal "profession" was in an abysmal state before the start of Law School Scam 2.0, with its admission of damn near everyone who manages to register for the LSAT.

    Recently I conducted a hearing against a lawyer with some 30 years' experience. He got the law wrong on one of the most rudimentary points in his specialty. It was appalling. But not unusual.

    If that's the quality of many a lawyer who graduated in the 1980s, consider how dire the junior bar must be in an era of admitting to law school anyone who can fog a mirror.

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    1. Tell us, you have me intrigued. What specialty and what black letter principle? A lot of guys are dabbling now. My PI buddy does criminal work now because he needs the cash and his practice has dried up. He knows nothing about criminal work. At least he has enough stones or integrity to call me. Guys are desperate and they need to put food on the table and make that huge Sallie Mae/William D. Ford investment pay off.

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    2. There are a ton of lawyers fro the 70s-90s who write like balls and aren't any good, BUT they got in when the going was good and they set up a niche and/or got a marketing advantage. PI particularly, because you can be totally incompetent and still "win" most good PI cases. It's not like the clients have any idea that they settled for peanuts. They got this jackhole slickster from TV tellin' 'em they got the best deal possible when a real lawyer could've helped everyone but the insurance company and work the case fully. And even where the lousy ones have to take a case to trial, how are most clients going to know how badly it was screwed up?

      And yeah, as 6:46 says, there's a lot of dabbling in other areas going on. Literally every practice area for the small firm is slowly drying up as more firms and names enter the market. More labor hasn't lowered prices on hourly work, it's simply meant greater competition for the few payers out there and the few great contingency cases. So they people start to nudge and dabble in new areas, which only reduces the supply of good cases even more. Things like arbitration and tort reform certainly don't help, particularly when Joe Schmo Solo wants to settle the case and get a quick incoming fee out of the deal.

      If anything, flooding the market with an oversupply lawyers is ANTI-justice.

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    3. Sorry to disappoint, but I'd better not give away too much information that scamsters could use to track me down for purposes of harassment.

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  13. All the talk of "competition" in the legal "profession" is off base. A glut of lousy suppliers does not competition make. If rates in many branches of legal practice have been driven almost to the vanishing point, the reason is not healthy "competition" but probably an unwillingness or an inability of consumers to evaluate quality. In other words, either consumers don't demand legal services of high quality or they cannot tell a great lawyer from a lousy one. The result is the same: prices become uniform, and uniformly low. And indeed experienced (which does not necessarily mean good) lawyers in many sectors repeatedly complain here about finding themselves "competing" on price alone with brain-dead recent graduates of this or that Cooley.

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    1. It's true; it's hard for non-lawyers to evaluate the quality of lawyers. I am not a lawyer, but I am currently in a situation where I would benefit from the counsel of one. However, as a rather intelligent person I am loathe to hire one because of the risk of getting a total incompetent who causes me harm.

      I get legal insurance through my work. The one time I called the hotline they supplied, I ended up talking to someone who did not know the definition of the word "recompense". If this is the quality that we can expect in the profession, it probably isn't worth hiring a lawyer for a nontrivial segment of the population, because you cannot expect service any better than what you would get on your own.

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    2. Its getting to the point where I will refuse to represent a client for so little money. It is not worth the risk of a Bar Beef, malpractice, my time, aggravation and even at a buck and a half, the gas. Most lawyers feel the same way. This will not help the so called 'underserved." I would rather quit the practice than give it away.

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