Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Rooster Can Only Crow so Many Times...



Grisham's 25th legal thriller, "The Rooster Bar," explores the world of for-profit law schools through a group of students who learn their school is owned by a shady hedge fund operator.
 
Grisham told "CBS This Morning" he was inspired to write the novel after reading an investigative article in The Atlantic about for-profit law schools and the crisis of student debt in the U.S.
 
"It was an investigative piece by Paul Campos published three years ago in The Atlantic and I somehow stumbled across it. I was not familiar with for-profit law schools and I was not really familiar with the student debt crisis. And the article really opened my eyes. It was a great piece but also a troubling issue and I started researching and the novel was quickly born from that."
 
"Not all the schools are shady. There are a lot of success stories from these schools, but the levels of debt that these students incur, and then they pass it off in the form of high tuition to people who are making a profit. That just struck me as being wrong."
 
 
Strangely, even a well-known author is able to look through the information and distinguish the nuance of the law school scam.  Too bad many ScamDeans, LawProfs, the ABA, and even some Judges, who are much more familiar with the details, are not able to do the same...

29 comments:

  1. "I was not familiar with for-profit law schools and I was not really familiar with the student debt crisis."

    For a man who's made his living writing about lawyers, he seems out of touch. But now the next step in his education is to realize the problem is not just with the half dozen or so for-profit schools. The 200-odd non-profits are almost as bad. The entire legal education edifice is rotten.

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    1. Those were my thoughts exactly when I read about this book. Grisham has written some good books and he seems like an all-around nice guy. But my first reaction was to wonder why he hadn't been aware of the law school/debt crisis before. Second thought was that it's not just a for-profit issue; there are a lot of "non-profit" law schools that are just as scammy.

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    2. I doubt Grisham wants to take on all of legal academia. It would be an act of professional suicide. "For-profit" law schools are low-hanging fruit, but let's be real: All law schools are for-profit. Do I believe Grisham knows that? Absolutely.

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    3. "All law schools are for-profit. Do I believe Grisham knows that? Absolutely."

      I don't. I honestly think some of our intellectual leaders are convinced it's an isolated phenomena among the riff-raff, probably some cognitive dissonance to protect more noble institutions. In Grisham's case, the U. of Mississippi.

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    4. Grisham's alma mater, the U of Mississippi, is in Tier 5 ("Don't go near these unless you are independently wealthy, crave a little wind-up-toy law degree, and are too dumb to get into a school in a higher tier even after exploiting your rich connections"). That's only one tier above the dreadful Foggy Bottoms.

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    5. Except for a few municipalities. Jackson is the only 'city' in the state, there is no need for lawyers beyond some land delineation and farm disputes.

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  2. Apparently a group of third-years decide to drop out. Would this void their student loans? I've been practicing for over 20 years, and this whole situation staggers me. . .

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  3. Problem is that he is primarily a fiction writer. The law school pimps will simply treat it as fiction.

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    1. It's based, however, on facts that Grisham read in Campos's article.

      However the law-school pimps may disparage the book, the public will readily draw connections between Foggy Bottom Law School (too funny) and the various for-profit toilets. The next step, as someone suggested above, will be to observe that the "not-for-profit" toilets are not materially better.

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    2. Here is another account of the for-profit law school issue:
      Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools
      by Riaz Tejani. This came out in July.
      Publisher's website offers reviews, and a peek inside.
      http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=25975
      Amazon website previews more content:
      https://www.amazon.com/Law-Mart-Justice-Profit-Anthropology/dp/1503603016

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  4. Until HLS allows a qualified financial journalist to follow an entire class from graduation for ten years out in the real world and then calculate the actual rate of return for those elite students I would treat going to law school as a financially jeopardizing prospect, one fraught with huge undisclosed risks, even at the HSY level.

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  5. I think "Better Call Saul" is worthy of a spin-off about an idiot who goes to law school based on inspiration he got from watching TV lawyers.

    Working Title: "Third Tier Toilet"
    Premise: Douchebag with Social Studies degree watches TV after his crappy job every night; slick shyster lawyers on TV give him the idea to go to law school.
    Tag Line: Here's the story of how I flushed my life down a Third Tier Toilet.

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  6. NY Times gave it a good review. It has the obligatory evil billionaire antagonist and scrappy protagonists. The problem, as @Atavist noted, is it distracts from non-profit schools that offer their students the same dismal education and outcome.

    Not likely I'll read it.

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    1. "The problem, as @Atavist noted, is it distracts from non-profit schools that offer their students the same dismal education and outcome."

      The other problem, at least for me, how do you sympathize with a protagonist dumb enough to take on six figures of debt to attend a 4th tier shit pit? Anyone with internet access can figure out what time it is after 15 minutes of Google searching. Also, the vast majority of the vampires profiting from the scam are far-left progressives, not Donald Trump type billionaires.

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  7. I gotta say, I just drove by WNEC Law today for the first time, and it still amazes me how expensive (and unnecessarily so) a lot of education is. They're the Walmart of degrees (shitty, but not technically illegal to sell), yet that campus is bustling with construction activity, and it's not cheap stuff! Stone and brick everywhere, and that is certainly not a budget-conscious construction method. You could house the classrooms in an insulated sheet-metal barn for a small fraction of the cost that it takes to make buildings in the "Ye Olde University"-style, but I haven't seen any schools in the area that do so. The friggin' community college I drove by the same day had all sorts of unnecessary frills.

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    1. They may have some contract (or donation) that requires construction in some ratio to expense certain things. i'ma CPA and i see it in co-ops. just a guess though

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  8. Grisham is an anomaly in that he's technically in the legal community, I guess, but he's even more isolated from the everyday reality than a BigLaw partner or a judge.

    At the same time, it's pretty damning that one of our most publicly visible, widely read lawyers apparently didn't understand "the scam" or student loan debt until 2014. And it's even worse that in all his book research he didn't figure out that the lower circle of non-profits are thoroughly indistinguishable from the for-profits.

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    1. He should have been sophisticated, like 22 year old college graduates, then he would have known.

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    2. I agree; it is very discouraging that one the most publicly visible, widely read lawyers apparently doesn't understand "the scam" or student loan debt.

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  9. The discussion has to be started and at least John Grisham made a little qualified noise regarding student loan debt with his Rooster Bar effort.

    What else can the darling of the legal profession do?

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  10. —— Not all the schools are shady.

    Context does not reveal whether "the schools" refers to law schools in general or just to the four or five for-profit institutions. All of the for-profit toilets are in Tier 6, the lowest tier. So, yes, all of them are shady—and that's an understatement. As for the other 185 or so toilets, they too are shady, although most of them are not in a league with the likes of Florida Coastal.

    —— There are a lot of success stories from these schools

    Again, I don't know what "these schools" means. Down in the depths of Tier 6, however, there are hardly any "success stories" in recent years. Yes, some people who came out of, say, Cooley thirty years ago may have had good careers in law. But that has nothing to do with the prospects of people ass enough to enroll in a Cooley—or even a Vanderbilt—today.

    Grisham should not speak about "success stories" and the like without investigating the facts.

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  11. Mine eyes have seen the second coming of Paul Campos, for whom this blog was created and one has to wonder over the extent of the involvement of the good overlord and Professor who has by now inspired a mass marketed novel no less and by none other than the pop fiction writer himself.

    I applaud the way Grisham can say so much and figure out a happy ending. Such novels tickle the nose and make six figure lifetime, womb to tomb debtors want to wiggle the toes.

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  12. For-profit schools earn profits for Infilaw.

    Nonprofit schools earn profits for their nonprofit universities. Indiana Tech proved to be a money-losing proposition, and was thus closed.

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    1. Indiana Tech's law skule burned through a huge fraction of the university's endowment—and was obviously going to burn through the rest in a few years if it continued to operate. I'm surprised that the plug wasn't pulled much sooner.

      So-called non-profit law schools simply disburse their ill-gotten gains in forms such as fancy salaries, feather-light workloads (which require the hiring of more overpaid instructors), junkets to exotic destinations, and, as you said, payments to the parent institution (if any).

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  13. You can tell a law school is scam by if they have any standards. If they're letting any dog into the law school (https://imgur.com/gallery/Y5aCXt9) it's a fraud, for profit, non-profit, whatever.

    A true scam may ask people to take the LSAT, but really the only requirement is the ability to fog a mirror. (And in some cases even this requirement can be waived, like if you have a doctor's note attesting that you suffer from Vampirism, Undeadness, or Acquired Zombie Syndrome)

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  14. It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
    The only reason is the money
    An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
    All that access stuff is just funny

    When your ROOSTER crows at the break of dawn
    Look out your window and we’ll be gone
    Grabbing your money and trav’lin’ on
    And don’t think twice, you've been had


    Signed,

    The Trash Law Schools

    (w/apologies to Bob Dylan)

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  15. When the law school cock crows, it goes fuck a doodle doo.

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    1. Really, really funny.

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