Thursday, June 30, 2016

Look Upon Your Alma Mater's Works, ye (Valpo) Law Grads, and Despair

As an initial statement, it is probably unfair for any one law school to be held up as the poster-child for the ills of the industry.  Many, many schools could have been profiled in the aggregate, as many, many schools have been complicit in the scam.  But in the recent New York Times  article it appears that Valpo was the lucky winner, so we'll just go with that.

I am reminded of a prior OTLSS post concerning Jay Con-ison, the former Dean of Valpo Law and now proud dean of Charlotte School of Law, and the victory lap he undertook in defense of the Law School Cartel at the time.

My, how things have changed since 2012.  Change was already underway even then.  It's just that no one within the Cartel could afford to be honest about it, and it was cheaper and easier to throw barbs at the scambloggers and serve up misdirection rather than engage in honest introspection.  Many students had to run into the non-dischargable debt and poor-to-no job prospects gristmill in order to keep the machine going, as depicted in the NY Times article.  LSAT scores and bar passage rates apparently had to drop, in order to keep the music playing.

Most shocking (damning?) are the recent comments by Professor Rosalie Levinson and Former-Dean Berner:

“Maybe I was naïve, but I didn’t think it would be as stark,” said Rosalie Levinson, a longtime constitutional law professor at Valparaiso who recently headed a committee on restructuring the school. “The number of tenured faculty that would be leaving — not gradually but immediately — just personally, that was difficult.”

The committee agonized over whether it should accept fewer students or keep its class size roughly constant and admit weaker candidates. In the end, it opted for the latter, a decision Mr. Berner admits wasn’t entirely on the merits, since fewer students would have meant less revenue...“There was a lot of pressure, of course, from the central administration to keep the numbers up,” he said. Mr. Berner, for his part, feels a tinge of regret when he looks back on the years after the 2009 recession. “Everyone had good intentions,” he said. “If we could go back, I think we should have erred a little more on the side of turning people down.”

Really, Professor Levinson?  You can write well-respected scholarly papers on Constitutional Law issues, but you had no idea things could be this bad for your fellow faculty, to say nothing of the outcomes for students and the school overall?   Talk about oblivious lawprofs.  At least Berner can stutter out a "mistakes were made," admission after all this time - although he "got his" in spite of best intentions, I suppose.  And I'm sure it was only the mean, mean central university administration, and not innocent Valpo law, that forced the choices that were taken.  Teaching ain't cheap, yo.

And what is this ridiculous notion that companies like "We Buy Liens" are reasonable (JD-Advantage!) placement outcomes for law graduates, after an "investment" of $150k?  Good God, I can only hope there are Lutherans looking down from above and shaking their heads at this nonsense and that a special place is reserved for Valpo Law grads - they certainly aren't getting much in this life.  The fact that LawProfs can even bear to offer tripe like this with a straight face shows how far legal employment and the Cartel both have sunk.  If you want a career buying, selling and trading liens, fine, but you can probably get an education that is much less expensive to achieve the same result.  Be sure to get a second job over at the check-cashing place, because you will need both jobs to even make a dent in your IBR-ed loans.

In the final analysis, we, the scambloggers, ourselves victims of the scam, were right.  We had to take a lot of name-calling and flak for our humble position - that law school is not for everbody and is largely a bad idea for most, let alone at the rate of 40,000 graduates per year.  It took time.  You can't brush this kind of carnage under the rug and pretend that It Doesn't Exist.  At least not forever.  I congratulate the scambloggers, the commentators, the news media, and the Law Profs willing to speak the truth, although it feels like a Pyrrhic victory at this point.

I close with Jay Con-ison's ironically-hyperbolic-yet-prescient comments from 2012:

"If you read newspapers or pay attention to bloggers, you've heard this story about law schools: they are villains."

Right you are, Dean, right you are, and you knew the truth the whole time.  The evidence continues to speak for itself for those schools outside the, say, top 50 or so, if not higher.


  1. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJune 30, 2016 at 3:06 PM


    Nobody in their right mind wants to attend law school for 150K plus and end up a struggling Solo trying to grab three bills from a client. There is a lawyer on every corner.....just drive down ONE street...Western Avenue in Chicago. Now, turn your Prius down say Montrose or Irving Park or 35th firms and lawyers down the other direction. Or small towns.... multiple decrepit law offices next to the video gaming palors, bars and thrift (antique) stores selling Walmart crap circa 1992. Folks are wising up....they see it and you don't?

  2. The professor recommending that his students get into the lien buying business reflects how totally out of touch the deans/professors are-which is understandable, as few, if any, have actually practiced law.
    Really, he should have said what he really feels: Let them eat cake.

  3. "Good intentions" is shorthand for "Convenient rationales for that which is immediately advantageous to us, and willful blindness to the predictably disastrous consequences for others."

  4. I recently litigated a personal injury protection issue with an automobile insurance carrier, and being successful on our claim, the insurance company is liable for my attorney fees. What I found out is the insurer's attorneys went to war with me for a flat fee amount? That's how bad it is out there. . . . insurers are dictating to lawyers that they must litigate and try cases for "flat fees". I don't know the amount of the flat fee . . but I am guessing it was not very large.

  5. Even the most elite judges know that law schools need professors who have actually practiced and know about the real world. Why are schools so tone deaf to this stuff?

  6. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJuly 6, 2016 at 10:12 PM

    They are there to study the Constitutional and Legal History of Arendelle.