Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The National Jurist identifies the most influential editorial board in legal education and the threat it poses to "all that we hold dear."


The glossy magazine National Jurist is hardly a reliable source. The articles in the National Jurist, and its almost identically formatted sister publication preLaw Magazineare boosterish in tone and shallow in substance, often featuring lists of best law schools for this or that, lists which invariably include lower-tier law schools with deplorable job placement rates. By strange coincidence, the magazine is filled to the brim with advertisements for second, third, and fourth tier law schools.   

However, National Jurist's recent article featuring the alleged 25 "Most Influential People in Legal Education" for 2015 mostly gets it right. The article does, mind you, not the list itself, which is topped for the second straight year by Indiana Univ. Law Prof. William Henderson. This gravelly-voiced windbag incoherently blends futurist Richard Susskind's bleak vision of the forthcoming technological obsolescence of many law firms, especially small firms, with enthusiasm for the job creating potential of tech-based startups and legal process outsourcers. Henderson is optimistic about the capacity of law schools to prepare kids for these interdisciplinary jobs of the future via the dubious method of teaching them the "behaviors and attributes of highly successful professionals."

Also on the Top 25 list are 14 law school deans, one law school dean emeritus, three current or past Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Presidents or executive directors, and daffy gossip columnist and social media enthusiast "Peter Aduren," plus Aduren's Access Group-funded Mini-Me. The Top 25 list includes three reformers, all below 10th place. [1]

What I like about the National Jurist article, as opposed to its accompanying list, is that it focuses heavily on the impact of the "particularly scorching" New York Times editorial published on October 24, 2015 ("Law School Debt Crisis"), which criticized law school admissions practices and student debt loads in scamblogger-like terms, even deeming guaranteed federal educational loans, the lifeblood of the legal academy, to be a socially regressive misallocation of resources. ("If fewer federal dollars were streaming into law schools' coffers and more were directed to fund legal services organizations, the legal profession — and the American legal system as a whole — would be better for it").

The National Jurist article provides very brief profiles of some of the bigwigs on its most-influential list, and several of these profiles mention the honoree's appalled reaction to the Times editorial. For instance, Influential Person #6, University of Washington Law Dean Kellye Testy, rebukes the unsophisticated louts of the Times editorial board for undermining the rule of law and "all that we hold dear," notwithstanding two years of patient AALS tutelage:

  • "She felt she had to respond to The Times. . . because, she said, the editorial relied on inaccurate data and it "evinced a far-too-common misunderstanding about the importance of the rule of law for all that we hold dear, including equality, justice, prosperity, and the common good.""
  • "She said AALS has had a dialogue with The Times for the past two years, so she expected a publication of its quality to do better in terms of accuracy and sophistication of argument."
  • ""It can be challenging to make an argument for the importance of law that resonates," she said... "But lawyers also save lives and create a healthy world.""


By repeatedly referencing the New York Times editorial and the reactions it elicited, the National Jurist article left an impression that most of the persons it identified as powerful shapers of legal education at the national level  are, in fact, weak, defensive, and butthurt, just glorified shills reflexively casting their greed and privilege as nobility of purpose. Why was Kellye Testy so rattled by an editorial? I mean, what are a dozen paragraphs of ill-founded criticism when you have equality, justice, prosperity, and the common good on your side, to say nothing of a $375,012 salary, the AALS Presidency, and more influence on legal education than all but five people?

The New York Times editorial, which used Infilaw's Florida Coastal School of Law as its example of law school scamming at its most egregious, linked to and echoed Paul Campos's remarkable Atlantic Monthly piece from September, 2014 ("The Law School Scam"), which also singled out Florida Coastal.  [2], [3] Amusingly, the fearful name of Campos is unmentioned in the National Jurist's "Most Influential" article and list. I think that Voldemort was similarly excluded from mention in the pages of the National Muggle. But the New York Times is the Paper of Record, too big and too establishment to be ignored. 

The encouraging fact is that the most influential people in legal education for 2015 were the members of the New York Times Editorial Board, not a bunch of scamming law school deans.  

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notes:

[1] National Jurist's selection process does not exactly reflect the views of a broad spectrum of stakeholders in legal education. "[I]n creating our list, we sought nominations from the nation's law schools and added our own nominees. We then narrowed the list to 48 and asked every law school dean and one professor from each school to rate them."  

[2] Florida Coastal can console itself that at least it has a friend in Cypress Press, the publisher of both the National Jurist and preLaw Magazine. Jack Crittenden (pictured above), founder of Cypress Press, wrote a puff piece in support of the "plucky" school in the Spring, 2015 edition of preLaw Magazine, entitled "Florida Coastal's Resolve." ("The school received an A+ in preLaw's study on the best schools for practical training, placing eighth overall.  It combines a strong mix of clinics, simulation courses and externships. It recently launched an entrepreneurship clinic. . . "). By strange coincidence, Florida Coastal placed a full-page advertisement on page 2 of the February, 2015 edition of the National Jurist 

[3]  Florida Coastal may also have a friend in William Henderson, who is on record as praising InfiLaw's approach. In October, 2013, Henderson was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, "InfiLaw is applying a private-equity model to legal education and so far I'm fairly impressed by what I've seen. . . . I think these are people who could  make a difference in legal education."

54 comments:

  1. Interesting point-instead of funding low-income, legal aid groups, the government is funding the legal educations of those who will not be able to afford to work for such legal aid groups. The unemployed JD's remain unemployed; the newly-minted never get employment; the underrepresented remain just so.

    The worst possible result for everyone.

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    1. There are not enough jobs, even at said "legal aid groups." Note that Legal Aid in some places won't even look at you unless you have a 3.5 GPA.

      The idea that Legal Aid is some charity that will take whoever applies is ludicrous. It's now become a highly competitive job to obtain, despite the fact that you barely make 30K per year.

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    2. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 26, 2016 at 10:41 AM

      The Public Defenders in my jurisdiction are now very polished, highly trained and from top tier schools. It is the golden ticket of jobs. Their public employee unions get them top scale with many earning 90K per year. It is now us Solos who are viewed as schleppers. The days of an unbathed dope smoking bearded PD sporting a frayed orange knit tie with black jeans and an ill fitting tweed jacket are long gone.

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    3. When I applied several years ago, I learned that the public defender in my midwestern state had approximately 130 applicants for less than 10 job openings (many located in rural offices a dozen miles from nowhere).

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    4. I applied for a PD job in Ottumwa, IA. One of about 50 or so. The chief of the office was a former bankruptcy lawyer who got whacked out after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act was passed, and got into the PD's office just before the market got bad. He found himself in charge of the office because everybody around him kept applying for Des Moines PD slots as soon as they were open - only transfers got jobs at the Des Moines office, apparently. Didn't get the job, of course. Word was that the job went to a Chicago lawyer that waived into Iowa, but I can't say if that is actually the case.

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    5. Today it's probably 400 applicants and 2 openings.

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    6. A couple of years ago in Connecticut the office that investigates disciplinary matters against lawyers advertised a part-time position. It required at least two years' experience practicing law, so no new graduates could apply. A condition of employment was that you could not otherwise engage in the practice of law. They got over 800 resumes, many from people who had been making six figures.

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    7. The Illinois Secretary of State advertised for part time, independently contracted license reinstatement hearing officers in a rural downstate community far from Chicago or St. Louis. They received hundreds and hundreds of applicants. It is brutal out there.

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    8. They've done the same thing in NY.

      No more applying for the PD without 2 years of experience and it has to be specifically criminal experience. Now, granted it's not every county PD's office, more often the larger counties specifically.

      Still, I laugh when I hear these out-of-touch academics talking about how to find jobs. Their job is teaching and they are paid by the schools who are paid by the students.

      They know nothing of the real world or how bad it really is out there for all levels of legal jobs including entry level.

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    9. I remember applying several years ago. Despite my internships in the DA's and PD's offices, and having a family member in the DA's office, I could not get hired. My contact in the office told me there were hiring freezes and nobody was hired.

      The problem is generally speaking you need to get hired right out of school for a lot of these positions. Even in the unlikely event that you're getting solid experience somewhere else in the interim, when a slot opens up it's probably not going to go to you.

      Heck, nowadays even doc review is glutted. People need solid academic credentials and a consistent work history for doc review, with rates continuing to plummet towards minimum wage. Absolutely brutal.

      I just can not fathom why anybody goes to law school now. You would have to PAY me $50k a year to go. The fact that they actually charge people that type of money, on interest, boggles my mind.

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  2. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 26, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    I have been practicing 26 years and never heard any of these "influential" names. Professor Henderson fails to realize one thing: The law is a very personalized, visceral, intellectual exercise. Clients want to SEE their lawyer. A computer can not run from court house to court house chasing three bill retail thefts and traffic matters.

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  3. The disconnect between how they teach law and what the practice of law actually is, is comical. 10+ years after graduating law school, I look back at my law professors and just want to laugh at them. These people are in no position to tell us what law is, or what society needs.

    However, that's besides the point. The real problem is the lack of jobs, caused primarily by far, far too many law schools.

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    1. Agreed. But when I went to law school over twenty years ago, there were professors who did actually practice law (for many years). They became professors for less hours, less stress and more money. They taught law pursuant to the standard way knowing it wasn't the best way but figured it was how they were taught. I'm sure they also wanted to remain employed rather than become renegades.

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  4. And on a totally unrelated point, thousands of bottom 90% Lemmings across the country got their middling 1L fall grades back and made the foolhardy decision to double-down on their legal educations!

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    1. And I wonder how many of those poor lemmings got back their first semester grades AFTER their second semester tuition was due. By the time they realize that they have no business being in law school, they are in debt for another $25,000. But hey, the dean's vacation home on Cape Cod isn't going to pay for itself!

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    2. Don't blame the lemmings!

      They're mostly just innocent kids who don't know any better. Blame their stupid parents and teachers for not guiding them better.

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    3. exactly. It worked like this at my Toilet. There were very few brave enough to drop out without knowing all their grades.

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    4. I remember a couple of people dropping out middle of 2L year when I was approaching 1L year. Not many at all. However, the "Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!" warning lights were not flashing bright enough for me.

      I was having a hard time understanding it, and it was easy to dismiss as "well, he decided it wasn't for him, no big deal," (or as Boomers would put it, "Looser!!!! You should have just tried harder!!!"), not "Holy Christ, the bottom is falling out of the profession and the Deans and Profs are spinning 70s-era sugar-plum visions to keep marks in school!"

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    5. I recall this one fellow who either left law school or flunked out after his first year. He was a very decent guy and owned a classic car. Everyday, he was polishing and buffing that car instead of studying. He had a nice fiancé. A the time, I (we) sneered at him....If he only studied....etc. etc. The car was more important than law school. He now has the last laugh. That car saved him in more way than he could foresee. Its funny how life works out...It turns out he was the one who was balanced and healthy. Twenty eight years later, as an attorney, I struggle along with a 36K Schedule C, student loans up to my neck and an unsustainable, terribly erratic way to earn a living. I envy you bro, wherever you are....Hope you still have that car....

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    6. I was actually top 10% and that still didn't help me.

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  5. Another Bloomberg article:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-26/the-best-law-schools-are-attracting-fewer-students

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    1. Interesting that state schools seem to be shrinking the most, with Minnesota leading the pack. It's easy to see the dynamic at work. The U of M only occasionally drifts into the USNWR top 20 so, consistent with the article, it must be careful about lowering admissions standards. They could fill all of the seats any time they felt like it by raiding the state's two (formerly three) TTTs but that would be the end of that top twenty status. But here's where it gets interesting. Although I didn't end up going there I was accepted at Minnesota in the early 1980's as a non-resident. At that time 80% of seats were reserved for residents. If that is still the case then aye, there's the rub. Minnesota's population amounts to less than 1.725% of the nation's population. If applications and the quality of applicants start falling they have a very limited ability to cast a wider net, leaving them no choice but shrinking enrollment if they want to avoid lowering standards. Sure, they can try to attract out-of-state students by bribing them with financial aid but when they hit that magic 20% that game is over.

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  6. Key quote from the Bloomberg article:

    "The most urgent challenge facing the top schools is that applications from students with the highest test scores have declined. In 2010, 12,177 people with the highest scores on the LSAT (165 and above, the highest possible score being 180) applied to law school. By 2015, only 6,667 people with those scores applied, according to figures provided by Jerome Organ, a law professor who analyzes law school admissions data.

    “It creates a competitive pressure on the part of the top law schools in competing for a smaller pool of the very top applicants; there is no question about it,” said Daniel Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern University School of Law, which has cut its first-year class size by 19 percent since 2011. Rodriguez says he pushed for the school to slim its classes partly because, with fewer and fewer jobs available for law grads, he thought it was “irresponsible” to keep taking in so many new students.

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    1. "In 2010, 12,177 people with the highest scores on the LSAT (165 and above, the highest possible score being 180) applied to law school. By 2015, only 6,667 people with those scores applied"

      That's amazing - they've lost about half of the top tier candidates. HYS takes about 1000 alone - the downmarket "prestige" schools must really be hurting.

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    2. Oh, it's worse than that, 12:34. Of those 6700 applicants, many won't go to law school.

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    3. It's also worse than that squared for the TTTs, as many of their students will transfer to Georgetwon after their first year.

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    4. The Columbias take people who a few years ago would have gone to the Virginias, which in turn are forced to poach from the Vanderbilts, which have to poach from the Notre Dames, and on and on. A few rounds of that plunge us into the 150s. And the last several dozen skules find themselves with no one left to poach. Solutions? First, standards—such as they were—go right out the window. Suddenly 143 becomes a "serviceable" LSAT score (hello, Dougie Fresh), and even the 120s are no obstacle. Formerly despised populations suddenly find themselves courted in the name of "diversity". Second, class sizes approach the vanishing point. Many schools can't fill a class even by admitting—on "scholarship"—everyone with two butt cheeks.

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    5. Yep Old Guy, that’s exactly what’s happening. I bet a lot of the lesser schools are secretly hoping their competitors end up closing. For example, there would be a lot of champagne corks popping on the Main Line the day Villanova heard that Drexel was shutting down. Also, as 3:27 notes, many higher ranked schools are skimming the 1L cream from lower-ranked schools through the transfer process. G-Town and GW are notorious for doing this to American and I seem to recall reading something about an American prof or dean whining about it. Ha! Too bad douche bag!

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    6. Old Guy - to further illustrate your point, G-Town’s 25% LSAT in 2015 (161) is lower than Brooklyn’s 25% LSAT in 2010 (162). Also, G-Town’s 75% LSAT in 2015 is now the same as it’s 25% LSAT in 2010 (168). That’s right, the declining admission standards have worked their way right up to the so called “top 14.” It’s amazing to think that a full quarter of the students at G-Town could only manage a 161 (or worse) on their LSAT. I got a 165 on my LSAT back in the day and never even considered applying to a school like G-Town - would have been a waste of money.

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    7. Good observations, especially the ones about "T14" Georgetown. By my calculations based on employment, Georgetown over the past few years has slid from the third tier to the fourth. Do not go there.

      Just a few years ago, you would have been a long shot at Georgetown with your 165. Today you would get a fee waiver without even requesting it. With any decent GPA, you would almost surely be admitted. But you would still be a fool to sign up.

      And, yes, transferring draws many of the better students upward. The top 1L from a Cardozo may move to a Michigan—and there goes half of the jilted skule's brain power. Note too that many of the better schools, including Harvard, have greatly expanded their transfer programs.

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    8. 165-170 was a huge trap several years ago. Smart enough that you would have likely succeeded at anything else you tried, but not good enough to have any reasonable likelihood of success in law.

      The only reason the law schools were able to trap people in that range is because of informational discrepancy, the so-called knowledge is power. It was outright fraud, but I suspect the 165-170 range also are smart enough to know the courts will just throw out the lawsuits now and don't try.

      Nowadays I'm sure that range easily gets into all but HYS. It's still not worth it for most, and so most won't go.

      It's kind of disgusting that so many law graduates are insulted for lack of intelligence and work ethic by the very figures that cheated them, when it's fairly obvious it's not a matter of intelligence or effort but entirely a matter of the realities of the legal profession. And profession is probably not a good word for it either.

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  7. What - they didn't mention Nando?

    I bet he's more influential than half the people on this list...

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    1. Nando's legacy is that he will be recognized as the harbinger of the demise of the fraud. And the lead agent in the downfall. Unlike bobsledders who jump aboard for the ride, I suspect Nando will be pushing the sled to the finish line. And Godspeed to him. 38 year solo.

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    2. Nando has already changed to law school industrial complex forever.

      Unlike bobsledders who jump on board after an initial push, I'll bet Nando will push all the way to the finish line.

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  8. And remember, there is a domino effect here. If the Northwesterns of the world have to accept smaller class sizes in order to maintain admission standards, you can imagine what’s going on further down the food chain. Actually, you don’t have to imagine. It’s all laid out for you over at Law School Transparency. There are a bunch of second and third tier schools where the 25% LSAT number from a few years ago is better than the 75% LSAT number today. For example, at Brooklyn Law School, the 25% number in 2010 (162) is a full four points higher than the 75% number in 2015 (158). Of course, all of this should be setting off alarm bells over at the ABA, but the foxes took over the hen house a long time ago.

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    1. Today's Brooklyn is yesterday's Albany.

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  9. Thank you, 12:28 pm.

    By the way, the "articles" in Jack CriTTTenden's NaTTTional Juri$TTT are advertisements masquerading as news stories. In a typical edition, the magazine is littered with literally dozens of ads from TTTs and TTTTs.

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  10. This propaganda piece—really nothing more than an advertisement dressed up as literature—starts by demanding that the law-school scamsters get "a break" for all of the progressive reforms that they allegedly have introduced. The only break that the scamsters deserve should be administered to their skulls, with a sledgehammer.

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  11. "It can be challenging to make an argument for the importance of law that resonates...."

    Dean Testy means that it is challenging to make an argument for the importance of law school rather than law. She could care less about law or she would appluad the NY Times proposal to allocate tax dollars to provding access to legal services rather than funneling this money to pay law profs unjustified salaries to teach a cohort of law students, half of which will not practice law.


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    1. She is great for the lulz. There is no crisis in legal education! Because pro bono!

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  12. From Harper: http://thelawyerbubble.com/2016/01/27/another-shot-at-student-loan-debt/

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  13. Every freaking ad in the National Jurist is for study abroad programs. What a huge freaking nightmare, but hey you get a vacation out of your $150,000 dollars. Great deal!

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  14. Allow me to answer that pig Testy:

    "She felt she had to respond to The Times. . . because, she said, the editorial relied on inaccurate data and it "evinced a far-too-common misunderstanding about the importance of the rule of law for all that we hold dear, including equality, justice, prosperity, and the common good.""

    —— Oh, sure, piggy. And the Rule of Law™ will shrivel up and blow away unless your pig ass gets $400k per year and 24-karat benefits for presiding over a toilet full of lemmings that you exploit just for their ability to sign the papers for a couple of hundred grand from Uncle Sugar.

    "She said AALS has had a dialogue with The Times for the past two years, so she expected a publication of its quality to do better in terms of accuracy and sophistication of argument."

    —— AALS had spent two years lobbying the Times with bullshit propaganda, and piggy is surprised that the editors won't do her bidding.

    ""It can be challenging to make an argument for the importance of law that resonates," she said...

    —— ... in harmony with the pealing bells of reality.

    "But lawyers also save lives and create a healthy world.""

    —— The argument above is flawed for all of the following reasons EXCEPT:

    (A) It draws an unsupported conclusion.
    (B) It relies on an irrelevant premise.
    (C) It omits damning evidence.
    (D) It is not an argument at all.
    (E) Kellye Testy has your interests at heart.

    If you can answer this question correctly, and even if you can't, you can get a JD from the Univershitty of Wa$hington! Send your answer, a check for $150k, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the attention of Kellye Testy.

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    1. Ironic, isn't it, that a fat pig like Kellye Testy is operating a financial slaughterhouse for unsuspecting students. Better not get too close to the disassembly line, Kellye!

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    2. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 28, 2016 at 7:05 AM

      I will stipulate that the Rule of Law is "what we hold dear." I mean, who wants to go to the Mall in Syria to buy a pair of socks and cinnamon cashews? If the Rule of Law is that IMPORTANT, why accredit so many unranked law schools and hordes of marginal students?

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    3. By "rule of law", she means rule by law-school scamsters.

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  15. "the importance of the rule of law for all that we hold dear, including equality, justice, prosperity, and the common good"

    Personally, I think you undermine the rule of law when you throw around high ideals like hokey interjections from a Hallmark card.

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    1. The Rule of Law is undermined by the incessant –and increasing– dumping of persons into the legal profession combined with a breakneck race towards no admission standards. Look at the results already achieved: the vanishing of anything resembling a living wage for solos, lawyer advertisements that make a used car salesman blush and make the general public wince, personal injury and insurance-based lawsuits ginned up on the thinnest of facts that clog the courts, and growing public criticism of law schools as increasing percentages of graduates can’t pass the bar exam. The rule of law indeed needs defending. And having no obvious regard for our profession, I see law schools as an enemy of the Rule of Law. I intend to write my alma mater and ask why it has not reduced its size by half.

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    2. Here Here. There are billboards posted along I-55 and I-80 in and around Chicago that advertise traffic ticket defense for $49.00. Don't go to court, or pay the ticket they shout!!!! What the hell is that? I am a solid attorney and can't just waive a magic wand. So now, these newbies can?

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    3. I fully concur with 9:56. And "no obvious regard for our profession" is one of the most disturbing aspects of the law-school scam. What should be a noble and learned profession has been degraded into a moron-packed hucksterist free-for-all worthy of Big Bubba's Yoozd Karz ("Free gun rack 'n' plastic Jesus with evvuh pickup truck. Halle-fuckin'-lujah!").

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  16. OH COME ON! This story completely shows how professors have no clue about legal practice and what it means to be a lawyer. I can't believe that this huge disconnect still exists and schools are so totally blind to it.

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  17. And the thing about Aduren being on that list - he's completely stopped contributing, or trying to contribute, anything at all to discussions of legal education. He contributed nothing of substance in 2015, not that he really did much before that either. And he knows it himself, and knows how silly it is for him to be on that list.

    Just goes to show you how pointless that list is. And he'll be on next year's, even though he won't have been engaging in the topic in any way whatsoever.

    After the Aduren affair mostly, and maybe for other reasons, he self-admittedly withdrew from engaging.

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  18. "All that we hold dear," i.e. their fat salaries and 25 hour work weeks.

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    1. There's no way they work 25 hours a week.

      They "teach" what, 2 classes at most, 3 times a week, for a maximum of 6 hours?

      Sure they have office hours, but at my law school they were never there. They literally just were never in their offices. And this is both for administration AND the professors.

      And now add in the fact that law schools aren't even open year round, and even during the semester there are many holidays sprinkled about, and how many hours of work do you really have?

      I'll be stunned if, when you add it all up, anyone in law school "works" 300 hours in a year.

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