Monday, February 20, 2017

What's Next For the Scamblog Movement?

Indiana Tech has closed and the Charlotte School of Law is in its death throes. Over the next 10 years, it is reasonable to expect other schools to shut down. The main causes for shutdowns will be bad student outcomes leading to low enrollment or poor financial performance. When this movement started, the law school industrial complex felt invincible and acted with undeserved arrogance; the schools are now on the ropes. What's next for the scamblog movement? What further impact can we make? Are there other structural changes that now deserve our focus?

My personal checklist of things that still need to happen:

The power of the law schools to police themselves is taken away
The ABA is a puppet organization that rubber stamps and answers to the whims of its law school constituency. Since the ABA's founding in 1878, it has done little to help law students. In its early days, the ABA helped eliminate apprenticeship style programss in favor of the current method used to teach law. More recently, the ABA accredited or provisionally accredited schools like Indiana Tech and the Charlotte School of Law. These schools were woefully unprepared to offers results in line with the tuition they charged. The ABA did nothing. Instead, we had to wait until the Indiana Tech Board of Trustees and the Department of Education stepped in to stop the bleeding. The ABA was the body that should have policed the debacles at these schools. Instead, they stood by while students had their money stolen by these subpar institutions. They have no right to continue in a role as a steward for legal education.

Student loans need to be tied to job-related benchmarks
Most people go to law school to get a job. Period. Administrators and professors who claim that students go to law school to learn how to think are out of touch with reality. They should be ignored. The way we can corral costs for law school is to hit them where it hurts: the pocketbook. If law schools continue to provide a useless education to students, then they shouldn't be compensated for it. Instead of allowing places like the Charlotte School of Law to charge $60k to each of their students without any consequences, claw back $50k of that money if enough of their students don't get a job that requires a law degree. Law school administrators will say that would be unfair because people with law degrees have so may different career options. To that I say: BS. Very few people go to law school to become a contracts administrator. They want to become attorneys. If your law school fails to help students become attorneys, then the school and its faculty are abject failures. That is not something to be rewarded. I would prefer that educational debt be dischargeable in bankruptcy, but that may send us down a slippery slope that many people in higher education will fight to the death.

Institute an apprenticeship or trade school model as an option for students
The current model of law school is broken. Do you really think that someone going to Charlotte School of Law will ever find themselves in a negotiation hinging upon an international treaty or some arcane area of law? No. They will likely be handling criminal defense, family law, or traffic; these are areas of law that affect normal people. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career in these areas of law. But the crippling debt placed on these students preclude them from helping normal people. Getting paid $100 to fix a traffic ticket won't make much of a dent in the average $194,000 cost of attendance. Giving students who don't want to get into Biglaw or elite practice another route is essential. Students should have the option to read the law once again. If they do read the law, then the testing for such students should also be different. Don't make them sit through a two day bar exam, covering areas of law they may not have studied or want to study. Instead, allow them to take a more practical exam, akin to a supersized version of the MPT. The thing that may cause objection is that contributes to the bifurcation of society into haves and have nots. That's a structural problem that goes much deeper than law school; we just need to help students who want to practice law and help others.

We haven't won yet. Not until the cost of law school tuition approaches rationality and we don't have large numbers of law grads roaming the streets unable to work in the field they trained in. For me, this wasn't about sticking it to the law schools (OK, maybe a little bit). My personal goal was more focused on curbing the avarice of the law schools at the expense of their students.

38 comments:

  1. It took close to a decade to see a school close. Law schools are behaving like the tobacco industry. Deny, deny, deny until you can't while still making big money. More lives will be ruined but at this point, this is not even a law school problem as many undergrads degrees are not much better and debts are starting to get quite high.

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  2. I also suggest that schools be forced to keep long term longitudinal information regarding employment and income of their graduates. This would require self reporting by alumni and admittedly would likely result in data biased toward the high end of real employment and income. However, few understand the real nature of law practice and that, as dismal as initial employment data are, they are the best employment statistics that a graduating class will ever see. The real unemployment rate only increases over time for each graduating class. Even inaccurate longitudinal long term data will clearly demonstrate just how bad an investment a J.D. degree is. For instance, Citibank Accounting serving biglaw reports that 85% of biglaw associates are gone within 5 years. Anecdotally, the editors of the law review of my midtier law school and in both instances #1 graduate per class rank for two consecutive years in the mid-1990's have neither practiced law in about 10 years.

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    1. Agree !00%. The math does not work because there are too many entry level lawyer jobs (23,000- 26,000 a year) relative to all lawyer jobs (780,000 full time equivalent jobs) to allow all lawyers who start with lawyer jobs to practice on average 40 years or until age 70 when unreduced Social Security benefits start.

      Failure for a substantial percentage of lawyers who start their careers with good jobs is baked into the system.

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    2. This is so very true. The initial employment data are the absolute best employment statistics that a law school graduate will ever see. Yet this is the only metric that the law schools –and the oh-so-proud parents– focus upon. It’s the bait for the trap. Sadly, nearly all biglaw associates are gone within 5 years and the yearly tide of similarly dispossessed lawyers makes lateraling or even establishing a meaningful solo practice highly unlikely.

      The shelf-life of law jobs for young lawyers is intentionally incredibly short and once ended, the work is hard to replicate. It is impossible to duplicate the income. It’s a 3-5 year gig for most people followed by radical underemployment. I doubt that most law students fully appreciate this point.

      The legal profession is a tournament and grows more so each year. It is intentionally designed to be that way–and can functionally remain so given the interests of the ensconced law firms. The overproduction of lawyers allows this dance to continue. And the law schools knowingly and intentionally tie into it by ‘selling the dream.’ Law schools like it this way. The only persons adversely affected are the law graduates.

      Lawyering is a cage fight to the death. That’s not a judgment or condemnation; it’s just the facts. Participants who are unwittingly thrust into this sudden-death, single-elimination tournament sometimes avoid early elimination through overwork and self-denial, but eventually the bill comes due. It’s not so much about winning as it is about outlasting and/or eliminating others. Even the advancers are miserable, compromised people.

      The law school scam runs off the stardust of law dreams. Thus, accurately conveying the dismal outlook of a ‘life in the law’ is an integral part of fighting the law school scam.

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    3. "The shelf-life of law jobs for young lawyers is intentionally incredibly short and once ended, the work is hard to replicate. It is impossible to duplicate the income. It’s a 3-5 year gig for most people followed by radical underemployment. I doubt that most law students fully appreciate this point."

      What about solos?

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    4. Solos seem to follow the distribution of many self-employed/small business ventures, if not the general labor economy: the top few percent make a total killing, there's a large middle class with varying degrees of subsistence, then there's the large underclass that's highly subsidized, in fact part-time, or on a path to failure.

      Which category one falls into doesn't always correlate with any measurable attorney skill. And what's worse in the case of solos in that it's often an option thrust upon them rather than an entrepreneurial choice.

      Many law students don't appreciate that that's a common de factor outcome 10 years out.

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    5. @ 6:29 PM "Lawyering is a cage fight to the death...Participants who are unwittingly thrust into this sudden-death, single-elimination tournament sometimes avoid early elimination through overwork and self-denial, but eventually the bill comes due. It’s not so much about winning as it is about outlasting and/or eliminating others...." So, so true, and anecdotally I know of countless ex-biglaw partners who were eliminated at various points. The practice of law in a biglaw firm is indeed a cage fight to the end, a tournament, and you are never secure, even as a partner, and yes, even as a senior partner.

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  3. The law school criminal pigs should be fought at every opportunity. The spigot of student loans must be turned off- a minimum LSAT of 165 must be introduced. Above all we must work hard to demonstrate to taxpayers that unlimited loans to students is creating stupendous waste.

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  4. And I forgot to add, we should lobby hard for a 10 year shutdown of all lawschools to allow the market time to adjust.

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  5. I'm a CPA and former law school admissions representative. I think the licensing model for lawyers could be modeled after the licensing model for CPAs. Here are some suggestions:

    1. Make law an undergraduate program and then offer a JD as an add-on program for an additional 30-40 credit hours. Those who wanted to pursue something more off the beaten path or more specialized study could then pursue an LLM or a PhD or an SJD. This would be akin to the 150 credit hours required of CPAs. Many satisfy that requirement by pursuing a master's in taxation or accountancy after undergrad. Those who want to teach accounting at the university level then can follow an academic path and pursue a PhD.

    2. Modernize the bar exam. The CPA exam is offered in four parts, and all are taken independently. The exam is taken on a computer in a testing center, so candidates can study for each component separately and take it at a more convenient time and at a location close to home. This model would be less of a burden for people planning to do small-time criminal defense or something like family law. In addition, there's just one CPA exam for the entire country (i.e., the uniform CPA exam) even though rules for things like taxation and revenue recognition might vary from state to state (state-specific nuances can easily be taught via CPE).

    3. Add a practice requirement for full licensure. Unlike law, when accountants fulfill the 150 credit hour requirement and pass the CPA exam, they are not CPAs. They must practice for a year under the supervision of a CPA to finally earn licensure. Why not do this for lawyers, as well?

    I realize these ideas are half-baked. It's busy season, and I'm taking a break from filling out corporate tax returns to write this. I've been following the scamblog movement since its infancy and, having been on the inside of these panicked discussions about plummeting enrollment, it's always satisfying to watch struggling and failing law schools try to spin acts of desperation as genuine concern for students' financial well-being.

    Don't stop writing about law schools. There are still plenty of college kids and parents of college kids who are headed blindly toward law school, and they need to hear this stuff.

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    1. Many other jurisdictions require practical experience for licensure. In Canada, for instance, a prospective lawyer must complete "articles", a sort of apprenticeship that takes approximately one year. England and Australia have similar requirements. Some European countries require a three-year apprenticeship on top of the required degrees and examinations.

      In the US, by contrast, a moron from any toilet law school who eventually manages to pass the bar exams can practice law with zero experience.

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    2. I am also a CPA. Here are some changes I am hoping to see

      1. No LSAT.
      2. Option to take 100% online like some MST, MBA, MS ACCESS programs, where the credits count towards the uniform bar exam, like it does for the CPA exam.
      3. Reasonably priced tuition. I can even go to my community college to get requisite credits to sit for CPA exam.

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    3. I oppose the elimination of the LSAT. Right now the LSAT score is the most important element of the application, mainly because it is objective and measurable. Eliminating the LSAT would only favor the law-school scam by facilitating the admission of people who cannot think or read at the level required for law school and the legal profession.

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  6. It's been fun taking on these pigs and cockroaches. In our collective efforts, we have helped many avoid life-altering debt.

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  7. Agree 100%--Having the ABA responsible for accrediting law schools is the fox guarding the hen house. I'd suggest a few other measures:

    1. No additional public spending to build new law schools or expand existing law schools. These boondoggles are being sold to the public in the name of "diversity," but they are in reality duping minority students into borrowing large sums of money for useless degrees. A recent example is that the state of Texas recently sank $100 MILLION into the University of North Texas Law School in Dallas, billed as a good choice for "non-traditional" students and "people of color." The damn thing may not even get accredited.

    2. And for that matter, NO STUDENT LOANS for new students to attend law schools that are not fully accredited. That would mean that no new law schools could open, as these upstart, non-accredited cesspits wouldn't be able to get their grubby hands on federally-guaranteed student loan money from the get-go.

    3. Dole out a set number of student loans for each law school based on the average enrollment of the previous three years. That would virtually guarantee that existing law schools would not be able to increase enrollment by scraping the bottom of the barrel for marginal applicants. It would also mean that, as entering class-sizes shrink, failing law schools would get less and less tuition money. And hopefully, those schools would eventually dry up and blow away.

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    1. I'd revise #2 to NO STUDENT LOANS INVOLVING THE GOVERNMENT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM. Any bank loan officer who gave out student loans the way the government does would be fired in an instant. Government loans only exist at current levels because the government has a damned good way to raise cash and will still be in business with a 100% default rate.

      I am tired as Hell of the "but then only rich people will be able to go" tripe because it puts the cart so far before the horse the horse might not be able to see it. When I was young people talked about "working your way through college." It lasted longer at state schools but I doubt many college students today can even grasp the concept - how could they with the current sticker prices?

      There is no excuse for the present cost of higher education, only a reason. The reason is the government has enabled anyone who can sign their name to sign their life away along with it. Once the cash flow from the government loans is gone everything else will quickly sort itself out. I would submit the following for consideration:

      1. I went to a private T-25 (since USNWR rankings came along it is, anyway). Tuition was $8K a year. I borrowed a bit under $11K total. I had some middle class (as in upper-part of the middle class, but not upper middle class) family support. I had part-time jobs. I found the deal of a lifetime on a small apartment after a long search. I drove a rusted out bomb and did as much of the repair work as I could myself. I ate a lot of rice, often mixed with freeze-dried foods a friend with Defense Department connections got for me. (It wasn't stolen, they were clearing out thirty-year old cases of cans of this stuff, which had been supplanted, like c-rations and k-rations, by MREs.) I do not seek to paint myself as a hero. I seek to point out that what I did is no longer remotely possible (although I suspect that loans for living expenses might encourage some to live a bit large).

      2. There were traditionally underrepresented minorities entering the profession before federal student loans and -- shazam! -- they weren't left unemployable and burdened with crippling debt. IMHO opinion a group that is underrepresented but has not had their lives ruined is better for all concerned than what we've got now. There were always people and organizations that lent a hand to deserving students, but nowadays, in my community at least, scholarships from the local service clubs, which back in the day could largely put a bright young person through our flagship state university, barely amount to spit in the ocean of loan-driven tuition hikes.

      3. If the only way to borrow for school is to convince a banker that your earning potential will be enhanced enough to pay the money back anyone can see what will happen. So you've got to increase earning potentials of everyone getting loans or reduce the amount being borrowed. Right now the banker would have skin in the game but the scamsters would not. Make the students go to the bankers and the latter won't part with a dime until they see one of the variables change, and the only one the scamsters can control is cost, which will have to shrink to the size of an obtainable loan.

      4. There is a need for lawyers which to some degree will increase with population and economic growth (two closely related factors). To have more lawyers (even after a ten-year shutdown to take up the slack) existing schools must get bigger or new schools be opened. Trying to count how many lawyers is "just right" or setting arbitrary cutoff points in admissions criteria would be impossible to sustain over time. Return the money factor to the free market and the rest of the situation will soon follow it there.

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  8. Thanks for sharing those thoughts.

    Certainly the ABA cannot be entrusted to accredit or supervise law schools. Even the Department of Education knows that: last year it contemplated stripping the ABA of its accrediting function. Nor can law schools be left unsupervised. They'd admit a stillborn iguana if the thing qualified for student loans.

    Instead, we should impose meaningful standards for admission, or at least for eligibility for student loans guaranteed by the state. The time has come for a minimum LSAT score. I know that the suggestion will be unpopular, but I stand by its soundness. Revise the test if necessary (I'd add a scored test of writing—more complex and less predictable than the formulaic Mickey Mouse thing currently used); exempt a small percentage of the class. But do impose a reasonable standard.

    Clawing money back may be difficult, since most law schools quickly distribute their ill-gotten gains in forms such as salaries and benefits for cushy hackademic jobs. It's better to keep law schools from getting undeserved funds in the first place.

    Vermont and some other states allow for "reading law" under the supervision of a lawyer. For various reasons, few people avail themselves of this option: lawyers tend not to know about it and may not be willing to supervise a student; reading law can take more time than attending law school; student loans aren't available to cover the cost; a license so obtained may not be portable; alternative approaches to licensure may bear a stigma.

    I would support a lighter track for "students who want to practice law and help others" only if it came with severe and well-enforced restrictions on practice. Criminal defense, properly conducted, requires real knowledge and ability, not just an eagerness to Help Others™ and a bit of rudimentary legal training. Licensing hordes of Cooleyite dolts would not foster access to justice, rather the reverse.

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  9. I agree with @8:28 in that a complete "shutdown" of law schools would produce results, but that will never happen. I also agree in part with @9:30: "Make law an undergraduate program and then offer a JD as an add-on program for an additional 30-40 credit hours." But you'd still need some sort of "bottleneck" to let only smart students in and keep the dumb-a***s out. You could say the same for medicine in that it would make sense to combine undergraduate and medical school into a 6 or 7 year program by not requiring medical students to take the same courses i.e. biochemistry twice. But as the way things stand now, the medical school admissions process weeds out most unqualified students. Law school used to work that way, but no longer.

    I'm not a lawyer and I know this is a little off-topic, but please bear with me: I think one way to sell these corrective measures we are discussing to lawmakers is to stress the "social costs" of having too many attorneys and too many unqualified students in law school: First you have the cost of defaulted student loans that is absorbed by taxpayers. But you also have to problems caused by having tens of thousands of hungry, barely functional lawyers out there looking to generate income by any means possible. You have frivolous lawsuits, overcharging for legal services, and billing for unnecessary services. A few years ago in my community, a gaggle of lawyers figured out how to feed themselves by suckling at the public teat. Attorneys doing ad-litem work for the family court (one court, one judge) somehow billed the county for something like 60 hours of legal services for every day the court was in session!

    It's gotta end, folks. Not only for the sake of hapless students who would get duped by the law school scam, but for the sake of the rest of us who are bearing some of the cost of law-school largesse!

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    1. One trick is if you go to court on multiple motions you charge each client for the same travel time to get there and back and at least some of the same wait time, i.e., the meter stops running on each case as it is called and heard, but after the last one is done that day all meters go back on for the trip home. In my state, instead of forcing the courts to pick apart bills on a case by case basis they said you could only charge for travel to court but not going home. It made sense when there were a lot fewer lawyers so everybody had at least a couple on the calendar on any day, but now when everyone is lucky to get one file a day not so much.

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  10. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingFebruary 20, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    Far more effective at closing law schools than any scam blog, is to erect more Chicagoland style billboards in all major cities shilling $49.00 Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyers. Who wants to join a "scammy" profession like that? Let the market decide. Show it, don't have to say it...

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    1. Problem is all these delusional lemmings think they won't be the one working in a dingy office for nickles and dimes. They are going to all be public defenders and big firm lawyers and the like.

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  11. In my small town, there is only 2 orthodontists, 3 dentists, 2 chiropractors, 4 vets and maybe a dozen MD's of all specialties including podiatry, optometry and family. AND There are 150 lawyers. Tell me what is wrong with this picture?

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    1. According to the ABA and Sterling partners, what's wrong with this picture is that there should be THREE HUNDRED LAWYERS. BTW, do you know how many RNs, professional engineers, FSAs, and CPAs there are?

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    2. Yes, I do. There is a shortage of all nurses, even the ones who attended the 2 year program. 2 CPAs., There are several engineers of differing disciplines. There are not 150 civil engineers, 150 computer engineers, 150 product engineers, 150 metallurgical engineers.

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    3. Thanks, at 8:16 PM. A shortage of nurses, 2 CPAs, and several engineers vs. 150 lawyers. There could not be a starker picture of the bubbling cauldron of hot oil law school students face. Don't go to law school. If you are in law school, get out now. And for the love of God, Congress/Parents/and Parent institutions, turn off the student loan spigot, shut down your law school now, and save our children!

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    4. @2:43 -- actually, optometry and podiatry are NOT MD's.

      Regarding nurses -- I keep hearing that there is a shortage of nurses, yet every time I look some hospital keeps laying them off. It seems that although nurses may be needed in the workforce, the funds to pay them are not there.

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  12. No argument with your suggestions, but I've got a bad feeling that Charlotte is somehow going to manage to stay in business. So that will be one-total-law school actually closed.
    The quickest way to solve the glaring problem of way too many lawyers is to close dozens of schools, and the only way to do that is to cut off the guaranteed loan $$$. As it currently exists, law schools will lie, lie, lie to keep the $$$ flowing. So the government can take action(anyone got DeVos' phone number?) and refuse to fund the TTTs, or things will take care of themselves-1.3 trillion in education debt with a very high % of repayers either "behind" in payments or in actual default. Unless the govt takes action-and fairly soon-it's going to be ugly.
    But the oversupply of lawyers is so great, the only appropriate course is to close dozens of schools. They simply aren't needed, and are kept afloat artificially, as the govt will give out loan $$$ to just about anyone for anything. It's not just law school-take a hard look at the proliferation of cooking schools and art schools around the country. Giving out millions in loans to people who can't get jobs is insane. Well, the clock is ticking; the education system isn't Too Big To Fail.

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    1. 5:31 is correct. The loan dollars are they key. If and when the Feds start putting real restrictions on the flow of loan dollars, nature will take its course and a lot of the toilet schools will cease to exist. 5:31 is also correct that the corrupting effect of the loan dollars is not limited to law schools. I visited my undergrad alma mater last year and it seemed like there were twice as many buildings on campus compared to when I was there (30 years ago). Fancy dorms, a huge student center, a gigantic gym/fitness center etc ... Its almost like they were looking for ways to spend money just for the hell of it. Of course the annual cost of attendance is now over $60K. And yet, is a degree from that school worth any more today? Nope. If anything, today's grads have fewer career opportunities than the people in my class had all those years ago. The higher education system in this country wastes enormous sums of money - other peoples' money.

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  13. Taxpayers will end up holding the bag on the law school loans that will never be repaid. So, if Uncle Sam had a brain (wishful thinking, hey?), he would pursue the following agenda:

    Immediate (less than 1 year)
    1. Immediate moratorium on Federal loans for new law students, starting in school year 2017-2018. No Federal largess means very few new law students. Liberal artists will just have to find some other way to put off the real world. Also, schools will only get 2/3 of the normal, massive pile of Federal cash dropped on them in October, and will have to get efficient fast, because next year they will be getting less than that.

    2. Department of Education to find a new accreditor for law schools, due to regulatory capture of the ABA. Could be another bar association (there are lots out there) or a Federally-appointed council of state and Federal judges, large and small practitioners, and “lay” members, to include doctors, financial professionals, accountants, and others who must deal with lawyers regularly. People who know what practice skills lawyers need.

    3. All law graduates on Federal loans, must file each year into an independent or Federal reporting system detailed information on their bar and employment status. This will eventually provide longitudinal data on law school outcomes. Schools that show low bar passage and poor employment outcomes over the last 2 years will lose access to Federal student loan money permanently. Law schools no longer will be the official collectors of this data. I don’t have to tell you why!

    4. Total tally of law school portion of Federal loans unpaid and outstanding (whether in forbearance or whatever, or not) tallied up and presented to the public. Republicans aren’t going to candy-over the facts here.

    Short-term (1-3 years)
    1. Moratorium on Federal loans to new law schools continues. Now the schools will only get Federal money for their 3rd and 4th year students.

    2. Congressional hearings on law school financing and also the “national curriculum” - toward a future curriculum that is relevant, practical, cost-effective, and only 2 years long.

    3. First group of law schools dropped from the Federal trough, I mean loan access, for poor student outcomes.

    Long-term (3 years and up)
    1. Accreditation of law school is dependent on bar passage and employability of graduates. Schools that cannot place their graduates and cannot educate them adequately to pass the bar, go out of business.

    2. Access to law school loans dependent on higher standards, both for the student and for the school. This way, students will get jobs and be able to pay their loans off on time.

    3. Law school to eventually become a 2-year program, with 2-year practicum/residency required to become fully licensed. Law students will have to take PREREQUISITE courses so keep out the aimless “liberal artists.” My list of prerequisites includes accounting, finance, economics, Aristotelian logic, rhetoric, a foreign language, and constitutional law.

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  14. What's next?

    1. All the Infilaw schools.
    2. All the John Marshall schools.
    3. TJ, VLS, Whittier, NYLS, LaVerne.

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    1. Let's give credit where it is due. No fake news here. I attended a T-2 School, not Marshall-Chicago. One Marshall Professor helped me get my first Law Gig. Marshall had a great law school model. It catered to non-traditional students, retirees, coppers who moonlighted, second career and young folks with marginal undergrad grades. It was known as a flunk out school. They didn't string along poor students for three years. If you weren't lawyer material after one semester, you were gone. Didn't waste the student's money nor teaching resources. Gave folks a shot....you had three months to sink or swim.

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  15. To be quite honest, half of all law schools need to be shut down.

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  16. The easiest way to solve this issue is to slightly modify IBR so the schools are responsible for picking up the slack when their students go on IBR or unemployment deferral.

    My proposal:
    The student gets the same monthly bill with 10 year payoff period and we apply the same IBR formula to determine how much the student pays. The rest of the bill gets paid by the school. Let's examine how this changes the current outcomes:

    Current situation:
    1) student makes biglaw, pays back their debts over a 10 year period because they have plenty of cash flow.
    2) student makes shitlaw, for the first few years pays 50 a month via IBR until their practice gets off the ground. If they make a go of it, this is totally viable, but increasingly shitlaw isn't viable so the IBR grind never stops and the capitalized interest make the loans grow to ridiculous sizes. I started with 60k in loans, and after a couple of years it was 85k until I left law practice to do engineering again.
    3) student unemployed, loan is deferred, interest capitalizes, loan balance skyrockets. This is how cooley grads end up owing 500k while working at starbucks.
    4) students who pay for 10 years while doing government work get forgiven the entire balance at the end of ten years. They then get hosed by the IRS if I remember correctly.

    Under my proposal:
    1) student makes biglaw, no changes for anyone. This is an ideal outcome and the school should profit from this happening.
    2a) student makes shitlaw, they pay the amount currently dictated by IBR, school makes up the difference to maintain a 10 year payoff period. If the grad does well in shitlaw, the school is mostly unaffected. If they continue to struggle, the student is still done with loans after 10 years, but the school has paid them off.
    3) student unemployed, student gets deferral, school makes up the difference to maintain a 10 year payoff period. The school pays back the entire loan balance and the interest for the student. In 10 years the student is free and clear of the mistake they made and the school is probably bankrupt if this happens too much.
    4) no public service forgiveness necessary

    The end result of my proposal is:
    -T10 are completely untouched by this. They continue to charge high prices and their students continue to enjoy success.
    -cheap T200 with decent shitlaw outcomes are unaffected for the most part. This probably applies to some of the better state tier 1 and tier 2 schools that have so-so outcomes but low debt load. More realistically there are no schools in this category since a "cheap" law school is still like 20k a year and a realistic outcome from a non-elite school is making 30-40k a year doing traffic tickets.
    -expensive trap schools go under quickly. Georgetown, for one example.
    -expensive toilet and joke schools will be utterly nuked from existence, even cockroaches cannot survive this level of nuking, believe me. It will be great.

    Curiously, there is really not much distinction between Cooley and Georgetown under this system- they both charge exorbitant amounts of money for a bad outcome and so they both go out of business.

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  17. In much of Europe, people can attend university free of charge, or for only negligible administrative fees (a few hundred euros per year). The state, and therefore the public, covers the cost. The state also keeps expenditures down: academic salaries in particular are modest, if not downright low, in many European countries, and professors are expected to teach multiple courses. Quality and standards are also high.

    In the US, it is still the public that pays much of the cost of university—through guarantees on monstrous student loans that often cannot be repaid. But costs are astronomical, thanks in large measure to obscene salaries and trifling workloads (one or two courses per semester). Quality and standards, except at a handful of institutions, are abysmal.

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  18. Shooting from the hip here, but yes, Old Guy, you're right. The trade off is that if you don't pass certain qualification exams along the way, then "you're done."

    I can't decide which system is better, but I lean nanny-state on this one. What is the point of "letting people fail" essentially, instead of telling them "hey, ya did good so far, but this is as far as you go. The good news is here's your job, with no debt."

    Some would say that takes away individual freedom, and yes, it does. What about the kid who wants to be an engineer, but instead is "stuck" being a blue-collar whatever. Or the wanna-be lawyer who is "stuck" being a barista?

    Hey, waitaminute, isn't that happening here already in good old 'Murica? With 1.2 Trillion in student loan debt piled on...? So higher-ed can go on expensive sabbaticals...?

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    1. In Germany, anyone who passes the Abitur, a set of exams taken at the end of high school to establish admissibility to university, can enroll in law school and attend at public expense. As a result, law programs are heavily oversubscribed. Numerous exams along the way eliminate students by the boatload; most students never finish. Furthermore, a lot of those exams cannot be repeated, or can be repeated only once. Failure means expulsion.

      Even so, Germany too produces too many licensed lawyers.

      I join 1:46 in favoring publicly funded university education. But I wonder whether the German model could not be made more efficient. Perhaps a lot of the people who fail out or quit before becoming lawyers should have been screened out at the start.

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  19. Just realized that there are actually not enough NEW jobs to absorb even the people coming out of big law. About 6,000 first years are hired by law firms with at least 100 lawyers according to NALP and Law School Transparency. Also 6,000 lawyers are leaving these firms each year because only they are not growing.

    However, only 4,300 new lawyer jobs are projected as being created each year through growth according to BLS Occupational Employment Outlook. Actually it may be that no new lawyer jobs are being created based on the jobs report issued each month by BLS, showing a decline in legal services jobs since 2006.

    Thus, lawyers need to leave the workforce to create even enough jobs for the 6,000 big law leavers.

    Not clear that are actually many lawyers of retirement age in full-time, permanent jobs, let alone lawyers who are retiring.

    In order for there to be enough jobs for just those leaving big law, you need 1700 - 6000 retirements a year, depending on whether there are new lawyer jobs being created.

    What about the other 17,000 lawyers who got first year jobs? If they are in clerkships, some government positions, associate positions or other short-term jobs, you need 19,000 - 23,000 retirements for everyone to work. That many voluntary retirements are not happening because we know there are many fewer than 19,000 jobs for each law school class of older lawyers based on the overall employment of 780,000 lawyers

    Absolutely clear that a substantial number of first year lawyer jobs will lead to no job or no full-time permanent job as a lawyer.

    Really a bottleneck - go to big law and the next step may well be unemployment or a marginal job that is not full-time or permanent or legal. There are not enough lawyer jobs for even the people who are coming out of big law.

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  20. "There are not enough lawyer jobs for even the people who are coming out of big law."

    That's been true for two full decades and it's only finally, finally being said.

    The profession has been allowed to hide behind the "prestige" sham for too long; i.e, "John is a lawyer" (i.e., meaning that John has a law license) has been allowed to pass for "John is profitably employed as a lawyer and has something resembling a practice."

    Shutting down all law schools for five years, and permanently shutting down the bottom half of all law schools forever is the bare minimum triage that could possibly make any possible difference at this point.

    Anyone attending ANY law school today is (1) delusional, (2) wholly uninformed about business, (3) hopelessly naive, and (4) not serious about a long term career. If you're within this Special grouping, do yourself a favor and extend your Spring Break... quit in March and don't look back.

    Yes, it's that bad. In the best of times, law schools could get most students close to being a LICENSED lawyer. This is a vastly different concept from an EMPLOYED lawyer.

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