Monday, June 10, 2019

Thomas Jefferson School of Law loses accreditation

Today the ABA revoked the accreditation of Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The notorious über-toilet had long been in the throes of death. More than half of its graduates last year were unemployed ten months after graduation, and another sixth or so were marginally or tenuously employed. Enrollment of first-year students plummeted last year to 59, an unsustainably low level. Students paid $50k per year in tuition, but only a quarter of those taking the bar exam last year passed. The school had even lost its financial stability, thanks to declining enrollment and such foolish decisions as the construction several years ago of a ridiculous $90M building that it had to vacate last year in favor of cheap rented office space.

The ABA has demanded a "teach-out" plan whereby those few students still at Thomas Jefferson may complete their degrees. Reportedly Thomas Jefferson intends to appeal against the decision. By doing so, it may be able to defer the submission of a "teach-out" plan. The appellate process could extend into the autumn.

Nonetheless, Thomas Jefferson is done for. It would not have been viable even with another class of 59 first-year students, and now presumably most of those few people who may have been admitted for the coming academic year will look elsewhere rather than gambling on the highly improbable survival of a toilet law school that has lost its accreditation on multiple grounds. Thomas Jefferson has apparently obtained accreditation from the state of California, but that is far less attractive than ABA accreditation. A state-accredited (or unaccredited) Thomas Jefferson would probably attract even fewer students and would certainly have to lower tuition dramatically from the current sky-high level of $50k per year, in part because its students would have less access to student loans or other financial aid. Thus Thomas Jefferson has little hope, with or without ABA accreditation. Count it dead.

I expect Thomas Jefferson to cancel the entering class à la Arizona Summit. Then it will quietly close, whether it carries on with the threatened appeal or not.

Which law school will be the next to die? I'm betting on the Western State College of Law, but Florida Coastal and Appalachian are other strong contenders.

The real Thomas Jefferson was a fan of French wine. Old Guy is going to open a bottle of good Bordeaux tonight in celebration of the demise of another über-toilet law school. My colleagues in the anti-scam movement are welcome to come over for a glass.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Why tiny law schools cannot survive—and what that means for many an über-toilet

A law school needs a certain minimum level of enrollment. One study of the feasibility of a law school in Alaska (kudos to Law School Truth Center for the reference) cited an estimate of 75 students per year, which was more than twice as many as any law school in Alaska would attract.

Indeed, 75 is probably close to the minimum for any law school pursuing or maintaining ABA accreditation. A law school of that size might bring in $6M or $7M per year and would probably spend that much or more. Without a hefty subsidy (possible for a public law school), large donations (unlikely), or an unusual source of income (bake sale, anyone?), it could not operate for long with substantially lower enrollment.

Quite a few law schools enrolled fewer than 75 new students last year:

Appalachian, 50
Ohio Northern, 51
Concordia, 59
Faulkner, 59
Thomas Jefferson, 59
Florida Coastal, 60
North Dakota, 62
District of Columbia, 64
South Dakota, 71
Liberty, 72

(In addition, Penn State Dickinson and Southern Illinois each enrolled 76.)

Of the ten law schools listed above, all are toilets: nine are in Tier 6, by Old Guy's standard, and the other (Liberty) is in Tier 5. Seven of them have seen enrollment plummet from more than 100 new students per year earlier in the decade. Just a few years ago, therefore, all of them should have been financially viable; a few were even big profit centers, such as Florida Coastal, with 808 students in 2010, and Thomas Jefferson, with 422. Today, however, they are all marginal at best, and some of them are known to dip deep into the red ink.

The three law schools that have not suffered sharp declines from manageably high levels of enrollment all have special circumstances. North Dakota and South Dakota receive subsidies from their respective states. Concordia was established only in 2012 and never has had more than 75 students. Its parent university expected much higher enrollment. Perhaps the governments of the Dakotas will continue to waste money on their respective über-toilet law schools, but Concordia University cannot afford to sustain its über-toilet at a loss for many more years.

To consider the viability of these tiny law schools, let's look at an example. At Appalachian in 2017, total revenue was only $3.5M, with 128 students. Tuition that year brought in $2.3M; the rest came from gifts, grants, contracts, and investments. Expenditures, however, stood at $5.4M, which is more than half again as much as income. That spells bad news, particularly in light of Appalachian's endowment, which was only $4.23M at the end of fiscal 2015 (down 7.55% from the previous year).

How can Appalachian make up an annual shortfall that two years ago came to $1.9M? Consider that the average tuition paid was only $18k per student, although the nominal rate was over $30k. It would thus take well over 100 additional students, or some 35 per class, to save Appalachian. That represents a sudden 70% increase in enrollment. Even with that dramatic and unrealistic increase, Appalachian would not be in the black for three years to come.

Appalachian could instead increase tuition by 70%—to more than $60k, a level surpassed by only a dozen law schools of the Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, and Cornell variety. That strategy too seems unrealistic, although Cooley, charging $53k per year (and most students pay full fare), seems to be getting away with it.

How about borrowing the money? No creditor would lend it when Appalachian obviously could not pay it back.

Can Appalachian sell assets, such as its campus? After all, it does have a pretty brick building, complete with billiard tables in the basement. I haven't bothered to investigate the title to that land, but anyway I find it hard to see who would buy it. What, after all, could be done with it? It's located in tiny Grundy, Virginia, four hours' drive from even a small city such as Asheville, North Carolina. And if a buyer were found, the law school would need new quarters, which would also cost money—and entail a costly an inconvenient move, almost certainly out of the area.

Is there any other way to come up with $1.9M? Selling souvenirs at the bookstore can hardly bring in that much. Appalachian might pray for a donation, but its relatively unaccomplished alumni might not have much money and in any event might be disinclined to give much to their dying über-toilet law school. Might the state give privately held Appalachian a grant? I doubt it. Appalachian appears to be controlled largely by the McGlothlin family, one of whose members is the dean. It would be a poor, and suspicious, recipient of public funding.

Would any institution take Appalachian over? Appalachian has made overtures to various obscure colleges. But why should they want a failed law school that loses a couple of million dollars a year?

I conclude that Appalachian has one foot in the grave. Only a miracle could save it. I doubt whether it can last even two more years.

And much the same is true of most of the other schools on that list. Florida Coastal and Thomas Jefferson have shown signs of imminent shuttering, and some of the others must not be far behind. Liberty, with 72 1Ls last year, may appear to be an outlier on this list; however, it actually brings in very little money: 12% of the students get free tuition (some are even paid to attend!), 74% get discounts of 50% or more, and most of the rest also get a discount. Even by very generous estimates (using discounts of 50% and 10%, respectively, and ignoring the payments made to some students), revenue from tuition cannot exceed $1.3M per year for the entering class, or about $3.9M for all students. That does not cover payroll and benefits for a dean, 23 other full-time professors, 9 adjuncts, and the rest of the staff, never mind Liberty's other expenses.

North Dakota and South Dakota can last indefinitely, if their respective state governments are willing to sustain them at a loss. Better would be to admit that neither of those two large, sparsely populated states needs a law school of its own. Merge them and call them Dakota Law School. Build the school to straddle the border if necessary, perhaps between Ellendale, North Dakota, and Frederick, South Dakota; then each state can lay claim to it. Better yet, close both law schools down and cut a deal with the government of Minnesota so that students from the Dakotas can get their tuition their subsidized by their respective states. The law school at the U of Minnesota also depends on subsidies that the state is tired of paying, so this sort of deal might benefit all three states.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Here's Your Feasibility Study, Shreveport

To make up for posting to the wrong blog yesterday, I'm now going to rip on the idea of a law school in a third-tier metro area, which is somehow an idea people are still discussing in 2019.

As Old Guy mentioned earlier this month, Shreveport, Louisiana, is actively exploring getting a new law school, or maybe a branch of Southern, whatever, who cares.  Earlier this week, the Louisiana House voted - 98-0 - for the Board of Regents to study the viability of a law school in Shreveport.

In other words, for now at least, they're seeking a feasibility study. Well, why can't we do that here and simply save the legislature some money?

As we know from the Indiana Tech experience, feasibility studies can be rigged by white collar salespeople desperate for a law school, leading well-meaning idiots down a path of disastrous idiocy.  Okay ideas go 50-48.  Atrocious ones, 98-0.

In contrast, consider this well-reasoned feasibility study for a potential law school in Alaska from 2004, which found that the entire state would only produce about 56 qualified law school applicants each year, not all of whom would necessarily want to attend law school in Alaska since Harvard is still in Massachusetts and people still want to go to places like USC.

Rounding up for convenience, Alaska has approximately 740,000 people.  At the 2000 census, it had 630,000, so it is gaining about 6k a year and the estimated population in 2004 would be around 654,000.  Using crude math, that means one qualified applicant for every 11,500 residents or so.  Nationwide, incidentally, there's currently about one admitted law student for every 8,000 or so people in the general population.  As we all know, however, there's too many darn people going to law school, so that number is probably high.

In any event, using the 75-student minimum number cited by the Alaska report, to support a law school, there would need to be an untapped population of 600,000 at an absolute minimum (this is approximately Wyoming's population, and it barely supports a law school dedicated to one single state) and more like 850,000 to a million.

Do we have that in Shreveport?  Nope.  The metro population for Shreveport, Louisiana, is around 450,000.  To get into the range of even minimum law school demand, you have to expand the population radius to include places like Longview, Texas (65 mi., 45k) or Texarkana (70 mi, 40k).

But neither of those places will really feed directly into a new 5th-tier school in Shreveport.  Longview residents can get in-state tuition at Texas public schools and Dallas (a two-hour drive away) fills most law school demand by itself with Southern Methodist, Texas A&M, and - now - UNT-Dallas (which was built in 2009, in part, to serve this area!). Texarkana is similar but on the Arkansas side it is just two hours to a state school that is more established and in a better location.

No one is moving from a nicer city to attend law school in freaking Shreveport and no one is fretting about driving two hours to law school instead of one.  It's not keeping a single person from going to law school currently, so building a law school in Shreveport would suck demand from schools like UNT-Dallas, UA-Little Rock, Southern U., Loyola-New Orleans, Mississippi COL, and similar places.

It's particularly egregious when you look at the in-state competition's admission scores.  In 2018, LSU's hypothetical 25th percentile student is at a 150 LSAT/3.16 GPA. Loyola's is at 148/2.89.  Southern's is at an offensive 142/2.55.  If there's anyone in Shreveport (or Monroe or Alexandria) with the chops for law school, they can currently get more than enough in scholarship money to make attending one of these places worthwhile and that's before we consider the Texas schools.  At a minimum, these paltry scores tell us there's no qualified in-state candidates being rejected or anything; that teat is milked..
 "If you look at points south between Baton Rouge and Shreveport and west between Dallas and Shreveport and north between Little Rock and Shreveport and east between Jackson and Shreveport we have one of the largest geographic regions in the country without a law school," Glover said.
Good God. Alaska (663 sq. mi.) has no law school.  There's no law school anywhere in eastern Montana or northern Wyoming.  There's no law school in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota.  There's no law school in Nevada outside of the very southern tip. A large swath of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas is completely devoid of any law school.  Western Texas has no law schoolat all.

Yet El Paso survives, same as Reno/Carson City, Mobile/Pensacola,  and - yes - Shreveport.  Colorado and Wisconsin - these are sizable states with more than 5 million people each, okay? - do just fine with two law schools. Arizona, at 7 million, should have only two.  Louisiana doesn't even have five million and it's already got four law schools, two of which objectively suck and a two of which are weak sisters to their southern peers.

Shreveport?  Shritttttt.  The city's not really growing and if it's made it this long 2019 is not the time to build.  If you come up with a feasibility study that says otherwise as to organic law school demand, the countdown to an Indiana Tech-like fate is on, because you're boarding a cruise speeding towards an iceberg even faster than the one boarded by the sophisticated consumers enrolling at Loyola or Southern with a 145 LSAT.

So I'm looking forward to this feasibility report and its exorbitant price tag, because it's either going to take 30 pages to repeat the above or be an incredibly, stupendously expensive lie.  And you know, that's sorta fun either way.

Friday, May 17, 2019

ABA trivially raises standard for accreditation; toilet law schools wage war against bar exams

Overriding strident opposition from its scamster-dominated House of Delegates, the ABA has finally forced through a namby-pamby amendment to its Standard 316. The former standard provided various means by which a law school could retain accreditation, notoriously among them "having at least 70% of its graduates pass the bar at a rate within 15 percentage points of the average first-time bar pass rate for ABA-approved law school graduates in the same jurisdiction for three out of the five most recently completed calendar years". Under the revised standard, at least 75% of those of a law school's graduates who take a bar exam must pass within two years. A law school that fails this standard has two years in which to come into compliance.

The new standard takes effect immediately.

This weak change may perhaps drive a few schools to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel for students. But it has already sparked reactionary struggle. Yesterday, presumably in anticipation of today's revision of Standard 316, various high officials from the following 13 ABA-accredited law schools wrote to ask the ABA to "convene a task force to work toward an appropriate outcome standard to determine fitness for the practice of law" and to offer to serve on the task force themselves:

District of Columbia
North Carolina Central
Northern Kentucky
South Dakota
Southern University Law Center
Texas Southern University
Thomas Jefferson
Western New England

The list reads like a veritable Who's Who of toilets and über-toilets. What do these exalted scamsters propose? They assure us that they "express no consensus view on an appropriate standard or outcome". Yet they add the following:

The precipitous decline in bar pass rates of graduates of ABA-accredited law schools in almost every state in the last ten years signals that the exams, themselves, may be faulty, that scoring may be improperly designed, or that other methods of determining fitness for the practice of law should be studied. We think an examination of how best to determine fitness for the practice of law will be fittingly complemented by the work of the NCBE Testing Task Force that is looking at the bar exam itself to determine whether it is “keeping pace with the changing legal profession.” While decline in bar pass rates might be addressed through a modified bar exam, additional solutions can be identified through an ABA task force studying the broader issue of an appropriate standard to determine fitness for the practice of law.

And there we have it. They blame the bar exams themselves for that "precipitous decline", and they propose to identify "an appropriate standard"—apparently the modification or outright replacement of the bar exams. Never do they suggest that the law schools could be responsible for any part of the decline. Well, the bar exams haven't changed much over the past decade, but the quality of the students at many an über-toilet has indeed declined precipitously. Consider the following illustrative data, which show for each year the LSAT scores (at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles) and the rate of success on the state's bar exam for those graduates who took it in the year in question:

2010: 144/146/151; 84.5%
2017: 139/142/146; 58.8%

2010: 153/155/159; 79.3%
2017: 145/148/150; 46.9%

Thomas Jefferson
2010: 149/151/153; 55.9%
2017: 142/144/147; 26.5%

On the other extreme, we have the following very different results:

2010: 170/172/175; 97.7%
2017: 169/171/173; 97.7%

2010: 171/173/176; 98.0%
2017: 170/173/175; 100.0%

2010: 171/173/176; 97.1% (New York, not Connecticut)
2017: 170/173/175; 98.3%

These data, admittedly not exhaustive, suggest a correlation over time between a school's LSAT scores and its rates of success on the relevant bar exam. If it be objected that the two groups of schools represent different states and therefore different bar exams, I can happily substitute the U of Michigan (same state as Cooley), Duke (same state as Elon), and Stanford (same state as Thomas Jefferson): the results are similar. And they offer no support for the groundless allegation of "faulty" bar exams or "improperly designed" scoring.

Now, it is true that correlation does not imply causation. But the data above give at least grounds for suspicion. Any serious investigation would look at the cohorts themselves and ask whether the well-established decline in the quality of the students at many lousy law schools had anything to do with the plummeting of those cohorts' rates of success on the bar exams. Common sense suggests that it did, and the data back that up. But of course the scamsters who live large off toilet law schools won't do anything that might jeopardize their fancily paid sinecures. Instead, they want to abolish the exams that expose their schools' utter lousiness—all while purporting to act in the public interest.

Appointing a "task force" packed with a baker's dozen of toilet law schools would be tantamount to setting foxes to guard the henhouse. With at most three exceptions, those schools are utter disasters. Why the hell should they get to decide on "an appropriate standard"? They have no meaningful standards! They certainly should not be able to springboard themselves into compliance with Standard 316 by supplanting the bar exams with some low threshold that even their sub-marginal cohorts might be able to cross.

While they scheme to neutralize requirements for maintaining accreditation, the über-toilets have almost three years to bring their graduates' rates of passing up to the 75% mark. Some of them might succeed by imposing a minimum LSAT score of 150 or more. That, however, would entail reducing enrollment to a small fraction of the current level, and many über-toilets could not survive so drastic a reduction. I therefore anticipate open warfare against bar exams, the LSAT, and other objective standards that lay bare the irremediable shittiness of many dozens of toilet law schools.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Louisiana and Texas may each be getting another unneeded über-toilet law school

During the past three years, eight law schools have announced their closure: Indiana Tech, Whittier, Charlotte, a campus of Cooley, Savannah, Hamline, Arizona Summit, and Valpo. Three more closures appear to be imminent: those of Western State (no longer receiving money from student loans; embroiled in trouble over the disappearance of millions of dollars in federal funds; barely escaped sudden closure in the middle of the semester that just ended), Thomas Jefferson (only 59 first-year students enrolled last year; did not admit students this spring; big financial problems; operating in reportedly non-functional office space), and Florida Coastal (only 60 first-year students; out of its building; the last of the InfiLaw chain of über-toilets). Many others, from Appalachian to Concordia, may be standing on the brink of the grave.

The states of Louisiana and Texas are not deterred. Just this week they announced plans to consider a new branch of Southern University Law Center to be built in Shreveport and a law school for the Río Grande Valley.

Louisiana already has four law schools, none of them worthy of the name. Southern University Law Center, located in Baton Rouge, is one of the foulest über-toilets, second only to Cooley in the department of low LSAT scores (though admittedly Appalachian, Texas Southern, and others are not far behind). If another law school were needed in Louisiana, Southern University Law Center would be totally unfit to operate it.

The proposed law school for the Río Grande Valley is supposedly justified because the region "has been neglected for decades when it comes to educational opportunities", according to Rep. Armando Martínez, who appears to be the project's chief proponent. The state would require a "feasibility study". Perhaps the scamsters behind this dumb proposal should dust off the one for Indiana Tech and recycle it mutatis mutandis. In the meantime, they have already estimated a few of the costs of opening their über-toilet, including more than $50 million for a building and $800k for a dean and three support workers in the first year. All that for a school that, in their pie-in-the-sky dreams, would attract a hundred students in its first year. Indiana Tech too thought that it would get that many, but only about thirty enrolled.

At least the state of Tennessee had the sense to reject a proposal to let Middle Tennessee State University acquire Valpo: even the price tag of $0 was correctly deemed too high. Let's hope that similar sanity will nip in the bud the patently foolish proposals to create law schools in Louisiana and Texas.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Analysis of 2018 Bar Passage Rates

H/t to David Frakt:

While there is a tendency to assume that law schools with bad bar pass rates are "bad law schools" in the sense of having bad teachers, or having an insufficiently rigorous curriculum, or having inadequate academic support and bar preparation programs, this is not necessarily the case.  Rather, the primary factor is the school's admissions policies, not the quality of legal education offered by the school.  As you can see on the table, with the exception of four California law schools, University of San Francisco, Southwestern, McGeorge and Cal Western, every law school on the bottom 25 list had very high risk admissions policies in place for their fall entering class of 2015 (when most of the 2018 first-time bar takers matriculated into law school).  By very high risk, I mean that at least 25% of the students that matriculated were at very high risk of failure, and at least 50% were at high risk of failure, based on the LSAT Risk Bands table I first published in 2014, and which has been repeatedly validates since.  I have argued that admitting any significant percentage of extremely high and very high risk students is unethical, irresponsible and violates ABA Standard 501.  At the very least, it is a recipe for disastrous bar passage rates.  Perhaps not surprisingly, as the chart also depicts, many of the schools on the list have either gone out of business, been placed on probation, or been sanctioned or had some form of remedial measures imposed upon them by the ABA at some point since 2015 (although some schools were later found back in compliance).  

This pretty much says it all, although there is a nice summary chart below the fold.  Is it any wonder that Whitter, Valpo, and Arizona Summit are closed/closing?  That Appalachian, Golden Gate, Cooley (sorry, Western Michigan) and Texas Southern have been sanctioned?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Does it run in the Lamparello family?

Regular readers of OTLSS may recall Adam Lamparello, whose "snotty poor-little-me memoir about his disillusionment with practicing law, hookers, cocaine, his church, his frat, his girlfriends, and his alleged eating disorder" was featured here six years ago. He was one of the most, er, renowned professors at the late and unlamented Indiana Tech Law School. What he is doing now I cannot say, though I have information on two of his former colleagues, for anyone who cares to know: Peter Alexander is now "Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Visiting Professor of Law" at the notorious über-toilet law school of the University of North Texas, and André Douglas "Dougie Fresh" Pond Cummings—now with capital letters!—has a new position at private über-toilet St Thomas University.

The name Lamparello was recently in the news: just days after the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, a Marc Lamparello was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted arson, second-degree reckless endangerment, and trespassing for going into midtown Manhattan's famous St Patrick's Cathedral with two jerry cans of gasoline, two bottles of charcoal-lighting fluid, and two long-handled butane lighters. It turns out that he was also about to leave for Rome on a "one-way ticket" that had cost him $2800. Unless he was in first class, he paid an awful lot. Probably he bought the ticket at the last minute. Since the items that he was carrying upon arrest are not allowed on airplanes, presumably he planned to stop at a Roman gas station on his way from the airport to St Peter's Basilica.

It seems that Marc Lamparello and Adam Lamparello are brothers. Adam made typically asinine statements to the press about this incident, and both Adam and Marc live in the small town of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. But they have more in common: both of them have a theoretical claim to being professors. Marc is listed on a book as "a Boston College-educated philosophy professor", though he has no PhD (that's in the works at CUNY). Apparently the "philosophy professor" has merely taught a couple of courses as an adjunct at a few institutions in the general vicinity of New York City.

Also, the brothers Lamparello share a penchant for self-promotional scribbling. Marc may not yet have discovered the advantages of tell-all vulgar memoirs but "is currently working on two other book-length projects, including a witty dialogue on arguments for and against the existence of God, and a series of essays on the epistemology of practical motivation". The "witty dialogue" reminds me of the sickening "Rodrigo chronicles" that come out of the ass of hackademic poseur Richard Delgado. As for "practical motivation", I don't even know what it is. Is it contrasted with impractical motivation?

Marc Lamparello has published a book, Reason and Counterpoint. "Presented in the form of aphorisms and paragraph-length insights"—prime vehicles for serious philosophical discourse—the book asks "What is the nature of the a priori?". (That it is a priori.) Also, "Can we really rely on our own cognitive architecture in distilling the nature of moral-practical motivation?" (If we can't rely on our own cognitive architecture, then on what, exactly, shall we rely? Coin tosses?)

In any event, Daddy is awfully proud of dear Marc: "His writings — other professors can’t even understand his writings." That's because they're shite, idiot. What's the use of incomprehensible writing?

Marc and Adam also share a certain self-image that might remind one of Narcissus. The article reports that Marc "Lamparello is a frequent poster on the Reddit community 'AmIUgly,' where users ask for their appearance to be rated. In recent years, Lamparello has replied to dozens of women with critiques." What sort of person would frequent a Web site for people who are concerned about being perceived as ugly? and send dozens of women critiques of their appearance? Last August he wrote "I’m going through a phase. After not giving a shit about my appearance for 20 years, I’ve swung in the opposite direction. Now, I’m very vain and appearance-obsessed." I don't ordinarily think ill of other people's appearance, but after reading that I had to look at his pictures again. For someone who is "very vain" (nice that he admits it) "and appearance-obsessed", he certainly has far to go. That bushy beard only accentuates the receded hairline. Decent clothes, instead of those tatty-ass T-shirts, would also help.

Apparently with no success at all, Marc has been "going for in-shape women who are a little attractive, and have a few nice features". Assessing people as "attractive" or "nice" solely by their appearance is terribly shallow—not what one would expect of a brilliant philosopher. Pathetically, Marc seeks the solution to his problems in plastic surgery: he is saving his pennies for procedures that will take him "from a 4/10 to a 7.2-7.3/10". He'd do better to keep his money and address his wretched personality. He published the following: "All I know is, if the French dislike us for something, we must be doing something right. They think they’re so much more sophisticated and culturally alluring than us. But secretly, they’re jealous of us and want to be us. Never forget that, fellow Americans." Yes, that's straight from the pen of sophisticated, culturally alluring Marc Lamparello.

Back to the scene of the crime. When Marc was caught in flagrante delicto (I couldn't resist the pun), he had parked his minivan in front of Saks Fifth Avenue. I'm not aware of any legal parking along Fifth Avenue at that busy location. The vehicle would have been towed quickly enough, but apparently Marc didn't intend to stay long. Anyway, in statements to the police (didn't his brother Adam, allegedly a great lawyer, advise him against making a statement?), Marc claimed that the vehicle had run out of gas and that he was merely cutting through the cathedral in order to get to Madison Avenue. Now, how much sense does that make? His vehicle was found not to be out of gas after all. He had taken two jerry cans of gasoline out of his vehicle and was taking them elsewhere. Why didn't he pour the gasoline into the tank, if that was the issue? Why was he going to Madison Avenue? Not to get gas: there is no gas station on the island of Manhattan within dozens of blocks. Is it even possible for the general public to cut through the cathedral in order to go between Fifth and Madison? Who the hell would do that rather than walking, say, along 50th Street? Especially with hands full of inflammable materials, just days after a fire at another cathedral. And why was he carrying fuel inside a vehicle? Not smart.

The police have nonetheless reported that "[i]t's hard to say what exactly his intentions were". Oh, come on! In the wake of that fire at Notre-Dame, he walked into a cathedral heavily laden with jerry cans of gasoline, bottles of charcoal-lighter fluid, and long-handled lighters (two of each—maybe he was playing Noah's Ark). What could his intentions have been, if not to burn the building down? To replenish the church's generator and then grill some hot dogs on the altar? Without wishing to convict him on the strength of the story given here, I find it hard to see a source of reasonable doubt about attempted arson.

Perhaps the police meant that they could not immediately tell whether Marc Lamparello was driven by malevolence or psychosis. I certainly cannot comment on that. One thing is clear, though: the Lamparellos of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, never fail to surprise.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Brief Update: Applicants up 1.4% Compared to Last Year

Well, what began as a strong start for the Cartel, near 2012 levels of applicants, quickly morphed back to near-repeat of 2018.  While it is good news that we are still nowhere near 2012 levels of applicants, there has been a slow, steady march upwards from 2015 ever since.  For the friends of the scamblogs, this is a disturbing trend.  

2019 Projected, with Past Data

It appears that we will be clocking in around 62,000 applicants for the 2019 cycle given current projections.  Hopefully a significant number of these will be encouraged to move on to something else, as sometimes rejection only looks good in hindsight - ask some of the commentators here who realized after the fact they dodged a bullet.  Here's hoping that those who do remain have good prospects on the other side, though we here at OTLSS won't be holding our collective breath for that - with the Cartel stroking egos and selling snowflake-dreams, it is a siren-call difficult to dismiss.    

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

JD-Disadvantage, Part X - The Truth Comes Full Circle

I've been writing about the illusion of "JD-Advantage" in particular for some time now.  The reasons why are essentially two-fold: (1) JD-Advantage is indeed farcical and plain-old bunk at an objective level, and (2) I have first-hand experience in the same, so that makes me somewhat of a subject-matter expert.  I've included a handy summary of posts on the subject over the years at the bottom should anyone need a cure for insomnia or delusions of grandeur, either one.

As we all know, a data set of one is not a data set.  So before everyone starts chiming in saying "but your experience is relative and not representative, because you are just one person, and forget about your dumb posts, anyway," here is some additional information in support of the Truth(tm):

There are a number of problems with the JD Advantage category as defined.  One is (or perhaps two are) its breadth and pliability.  They almost certainly cause some outcomes to be reported as JD Advantage that it would make no sense ex ante to attend law school to obtain (because there are much cheaper and easier ways to achieve the same result), and thus should not be considered placement successes (in my terminology, Law Jobs).  Worse, the definitional flexibility may inspire some administrators to stretch the category beyond any reasonable scope, rationalizing some “demonstrable advantage in either obtaining or performing the duties of the position,” in order to report an outcome they can claim as successful, especially in hard times. 

Bam. Yessir, and a voice from the academy, no less.  But wait, there's more:

For example, is paralegal or law clerk (not for a judge, but as an unlicensed assistant for other lawyers) a JD Advantage position?  To be clear, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these jobs; they are valuable, honest work, and skilled besides.  But you sure wouldn’t plan to spend 3 years and $150,000 in law school in order to get these jobs—in fact, you can get a paralegal certification in one year at many inexpensive community colleges, and you don’t even need that to get an entry-level job as a paralegal.  And yet the ABA’s 2019 Employment Protocols for the Class of 2019 provide that both paralegal and law clerk are presumed to be JD Advantage placements by dint of job title alone.  (See here at pp. 26, 67.)  In the same publication, the ABA says legal secretaries are presumed to hold a “Professional” rather than a JD Advantage position (here at p. 68), though (in my experience, at least) their work in many if not most cases is as highly skilled and law-related as paralegal work, especially at smaller firms. 

Ah, the good ol' ABA, looking out for the little person.  Anyway:

(more below the fold):

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Purchased admission to university

Dozens of rich people and their collaborators have been arrested for fraudulent schemes to have already very privileged young people admitted to allegedly élite universities. Some parents bribed proctors of the SAT or the ACT so that a child could take the test with, shall we say, a little help. Others bribed coaches and others to pass their children off as recruited athletes deserving of extra attention and, of course, lower standards at the admissions office. Reportedly much of the money went through a charitable organization, and some of the people involved took tax deductions for their "donations".

I fully concur that the acts alleged are contemptible and that they should be punished aggressively. But does anyone really believe, as the prosecutor claimed, that "there can be no separate college-admissions system for the wealthy"? A separate system for the wealthy has existed for decades, and much of it is perfectly legal. Read Daniel Golden's book The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—And Who Gets Left outside the Gates. (Golden, incidentally, wrote the article cited above.)

Is Junior uncompetitive for Ivy? Call the "development" office and work out a donation, maybe a couple of million dollars, that may ever-so-coincidentally come to the attention of the people down the hall in admissions. As long as there is no formal quid pro quo, you should even be able to deduct the donation. Of course, this strategy works only if you have that much money and can afford to part with it—in other words, if you're filthy rich.

You may not have to go that far: your name may be enough. When it discovered that it had rejected a British princess, "horrified" Newcastle University back-pedaled and admitted her after all, blaming an "Italian" admissions officer for failing to consider that Her Disgrace "may have had more significance for the institution than another applicant"—than some poor slob like Old Guy, that is. US universities likewise fall all over themselves to welcome the scions of the rich and the prominent (usually one and the same).

If your own name doesn't command attention, you can have a well-placed person pull strings with the university. This ploy works especially well if you happen to be friends with the golfing partner of the university's president. Not many of us, however, can claim that distinction.

Or, if you yourself attended the university in question, or your spouse or another relative of your child's did, then your child counts as a "legacy" and gets special consideration. Again, this strategy doesn't work for people like Old Guy who are "legacies" of nothing in particular.

Those are just a few of the ways in which one can exercise direct influence over the admissions office. Indirect influence takes thousands of forms, many of them requiring money but all of them considered perfectly legitimate: aristocratic and expensive private schools, music lessons, élite sports (think polo and lacrosse—no competition here from the kid at East Bumblefuck High School), foreign travel, costly tutors for the SAT, even costlier "admissions consultants".

The tactics listed in the last few paragraphs may not strike you as fraudulent, unlike the purchasing of SAT scores or the bribing of the university's personnel. But they prove the existence of a "separate college-admissions system for the wealthy", one that takes up spaces that might otherwise go to lowly commoners.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Legal Hiring Landscape Leaves Something to be Desired

Why do the scamblogs, who are already past their expiration date according to some critics, keep whining about job prospects for graduates and for the legal profession as a whole?  Why not just shut up, or something, already.  

Well, thanks to an upcoming article, we have yet further information to explain why the scamblogs maintain their dogged insistance on the matter:

Why, then, you may well ask, is there persistent talk of the entry-level job market’s purported improvement, and even suggestions that it is “hot”?...Well, the percentage of new graduates obtaining a Law Job has risen steadily since 2011.  And how can the portion of the graduating class getting a Law Job increase while the number of Law Jobs falls?  Easy:  The number of students graduating law school has been falling faster than the number of Law Jobs.  Here’s a picture:

Look at the above chart.  When the scamblogs say that "JD graduates have been overproduced 2-to-1 compared to available jobs for decades," it is data such as this, hot off the presses, that we are referring to.  Granted, given this recent summary, perhaps we should amend our statement to say "Ok, overproduced anywhere from 1.4 to 1.8, given the year," but the thesis still holds.  When we speak of the "lawyer glut," this is it.  And when those who cherry-pick the data say "this is the best time to go!", the reality is exactly what the quote above describes - there are relative percentages, and then there are absolute numbers.  Not the same thing.

No employer sector offers more Law Jobs today than it did ten years ago.  Non-law-firm entry-level Law-Job hiring has remained relatively flat in all sectors (other than the sudden dip experienced by nearly every sector of the hiring market when the economy crashed in 2008-2009):

Again, look at the above chart.  The fact that non-law-firm hiring has been flat does not bode well for the JD-Advantage crowd, either.  Many, many times has the Cartel lauded and praised the opportunities for JD-Advantage jobs, and many, many times have we taken those claims down.  Into this flat market have excess JD graduates been pumped, year after year.  The market is clearly not crying out for JD-trained individuals.

A final chart shows lawfirm-specific hiring:

Again, this looks very similar to the prior chart.  While some might say "oh, look, firms of 501 or more lawyers are on the upswing," but by what percentage?  Take a more critical look at the broad expanse as a whole.  These lines are not flying off the charts, are they?  They look rather flat in actuality.  The total job line, at the top, has the profile of a road with several potholes, not the long graceful upwards-curve of a suspension bridge to new heights.

Friends, this is why we say what we say.  I, for one, am greatful the Academy is publishing this information, as it needs to be made known, even though the implications are not good for the Cartel. Many of us would like nothing better than for the excesses of the past to be wiped away, and there to be Elysian Fields ahead.  But the reality is that the market does not need new JDs at the rate they have been produced.  Don't go to law school because it sounds good, only go if you have the backing and the credentials to get you there.  It's nothing personal, it is just the reality on the ground.  Too, too many have been sold a bill of goods to only learn the truth later, and we would all like to see that scenario go away in favor of gainfully employed JDs doing real work for real people.

In fact, just don't go.  The market still has yet to right-size, given prior comments from the Cartel itself. Now is not the time.           

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Scamblogs Are Passe'...or are they?

Ripped from the headlines, as it were, as of February 21, 2019:

Some schools took advantage of students’ desperation for a lucrative career in law, said Jerry Anderson, dean of the Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. To attract students, they lowered admission standards and let students borrow well into the six figures to pay ever-rising tuition bills. Meanwhile, bar exam failure rates were rising.

“Not everyone should go to law school,” Anderson said. “Admitting students that are not really prepared for the rigors of a legal education or for the rigors of a legal practice, that’s a bad thing.”

A-yup.  Totally agree.  Nice that people in-the-know are actually talking about it, instead of pretending like it didn't happen.  Where was this discussion previously, especially when Campos and Tamanaha were being called out, to say nothing of other scambloggers...?  Wonder if Nando saw this...

Kaplan's Thomas said that what many people in the legal education field now see is “a little right-sizing of legal education. If we have all these schools and not enough demand to satisfy them, perhaps it would be better off in the longer run if some of the law schools — particularly in the lower tier — did indeed choose to close.”

Hilarious.  A little "right-sizing."  I seem to remember a lot of push-back on this idea, previously, how everything is fine, how the scambloggers are losers, if you can dream it you can achieve it, etc. etc. etc.  I notice many usual-suspects LawProfs have been very non-vocal on this, compared to even 5-10 year ago.  And what about access?  How do you plan to defend liberty and pursue justice with fewer, count 'em, fewer law schools...?

Meanwhile, law school tuition has been soaring. According to data compiled by the advocacy group Law School Transparency, since 1985, tuition at private law schools has risen 270 percent, while tuition at public schools has risen 580 percent after accounting for inflation. Average tuition now stands at $47,000 at private schools, $27,000 for public in-state students and $40,000 for public out-of-state students. 

If you go with the assumption that costs double every twenty years, law schools have been making a hefty profit way above even that rule-of-thumb, all along the way.  Because the law is "dynamic" and "ever-changing," don'cha know.

“People have long viewed a legal education as a ticket to financial security,” McEntee says [sic]. “And that just wasn’t the case. Not only did a substantial number of graduates not actually become lawyers, but then once you do become a lawyer, not all the salaries are commensurate with what you might expect if you get your information from the news or TV or movies.”

McEntee pointed out that fewer than 70 percent of today’s law school graduates land jobs that require a J.D. and passing the bar exam — the legal jobs that tend to pay the highest salaries. Several decades ago, the proportion was above 80 percent.

Ah well.  Pay no mind, nothing to see here, move along.  Just dive-in, 0Ls, the Law School Cartel has nothing but your best interests at heart.  The mean, mean scambloggers just want to thin the ranks so as to have less competition in their lucrative legal careers.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Western State College of Law in receivership; students left high and dry

We may be witnessing the ninth closure of a law school in recent years. Über-toilet Western State College of Law, located in Irvine, California, fell into the clutches of Dream Center, "a faith-based nonprofit" that appears to be serving God and Mammon. The subsidiary Dream Center Education Holdings bought up dozens of private institutions of so-called higher education all over the US, including Western State, but has lately fallen into federal receivership. Congresswoman Katie Porter, herself a professor of law at UC Irvine, accuses the Dream Center chain of having "defrauded students … across the country"; she vows to hold "these con artists" accountable.

The students at Western State have not received the financial aid that they have been awaiting since January. Some $9 million in funds to "Argosy University", which includes Western State, have vanished. Many students cannot cover living expenses such as rent and food.

Dream Center bought Western State just over a year ago but has been disappointed with an alleged shortfall in revenue. Porter, to her credit, pulls no punches: "Predatory actors like Argosy have been given free rein by the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make a quick buck at students’ and taxpayers’ expenses. The Department of Education has taken aggressive steps to deregulate for-profit universities, encouraged institutions to lie about their accreditation statuses, and left students vulnerable to fraudulent groups." I wish her every success in her efforts to stop the higher-ejookayshun scam in general and the law-school scam in particular.

As for the students, I'm afraid they have only themselves to blame. They should have expected a bad result from their über-toilet, even before it was bought out by this god-bothering non-profit outfit. The median LSAT score is 148, more than a quarter of the graduates are unemployed ten months after graduation, and the debt-financed cost of attendance stands at $282k.

Western State, it seems, cannot be long for this world. When it does go tits up, any remaining students should look into their rights to walk away from their debt. The public shouldn't have to pay for their folly, but they would be stupid to double down by transferring to another über-toilet.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Applicant Update : Applicants up 0.9% per LSAC, Applications down compared to last year

Well, this is a completely unexpected result.  What started off as a strong showing for the current cycle has since petered-out into a rehash of last year, if not more so.  To be fair, I would argue that the year-to-year comparison is 3% above last year as opposed to 1%, but the fact remains.

As readers know I like the "velocity" chart, so I am pulling that up again.  In 2012, the Million-Dollar-Express rocketed up to more than 3,000 applicants/week by Week 8, to glide back down in a graceful parabolic curve thereafter.  I would argue that this shows interest was "strong", and the numbers back it up in that the total applicant count was the highest of all.  Later years showed a more modest trajectory - the end results, while less, were respectable, but definitely showed decreased interest.  2016 was the nadir - instead of a moon shot, the curve looked more like a cannon shot.  Long and flat, which would indicate minimal interest in applying to law school.

2017 and 2018 seemed to show renewed interest, tracking the performance of prior years.  But this year has shown the lowest-trajectory yet, which I still find very surprising given the initial stronger start.

What does this mean?  Well, the area under a flat curve can equal the area under a tall curve (that is to mean, total applicant count can be similar in both instances), but we have yet to see anything rival 2012.  What started as something similar to 2012 and 2013 has instead become worse than 2016 despite recent comebacks.  Total applicants will still likely reach somewhere around 60,000, but this is much less that was initially indicated earlier in the cycle.  

Perhaps people are still getting the message after all: that a JD is not a sure-fire path to riches or saving dolphins, but a form of modern-day indentured-servitude that few will be able to get out from underneath in any reasonable time frame.  To the extent that this represents a long-overdue market correction, we of the scamblog movement welcome this as the much-needed medicine that has been avoided for a long time.  0Ls, do your research, as this may be the best time to wait a year or more, if not scrapping the idea altogether.    


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Toilets Я Us, Part VII: Profiting from the "non-profit" scam?

Notorious scam-chain InfiLaw is trying to turn über-toilet Florida Coastal into a non-profit institution.

After the closure of Charlotte and the announced closure of Arizona Summit, Florida Coastal is the last so-called law school in the InfiLaw scam-chain. Suddenly the profit-oriented firm InfiLaw is eager to turn its sole surviving über-toilet into a "non-profit" entity. Why? Florida Coastal offers some odd-sounding justifications, all of which ring hollow in light of InfiLaw's profit-seeking motive.

Especially interesting is the following:

Florida Coastal officials said that at the end of the process, the law school would be an independent entity. But they didn’t rule out some kind of role for InfiLaw, its parent company.

“We’re not exactly certain what InfiLaw’s final role, if any, will be. But they will not be the owner,” said Jennifer Reiber, Florida Coastal’s dean of academic affairs.

Other institutions, like Grand Canyon University, that have converted to nonprofit status have signed management agreements with their former parent companies after splitting off. Kyle McEntee, the executive director and co-founder of Law School Transparency, said he questioned what kind of arrangement the new nonprofit entity would have with InfiLaw.

“Will InfiLaw be managing or does it hope to manage the law school?” he said.

So it seems that "non-profit" status might involve an "agreement" whereby InfiLaw would "manage" "non-profit" Florida Coastal—for consideration, bien sûr. Is this sort of sweetheart deal with the former owner the new face of the law-school scam? How can an entity be approved as "non-profit" if it intends to cut a questionable deal of this kind?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

(Updated:) Surprise, surprise: scamsters oppose standards for accreditation

(Update below.)

A new article discusses the many graduates who do not pass the bar even after years of attempts. One of these, a Mr. Sam Goldstein, has failed eight times but plans to try again, despite coming all of 13 points from passing on his most recent attempt. Mr. Goldstein racked up $285k in debt to attend profit-seeking über-toilet Arizona Summit, which has cancelled all classes in preparation for shutting up shop.

The ABA, as the article points out, has done nothing to stop the many scam-schools that produce Goldstein after Goldstein. In evident response to criticism, the ABA now proposes a condition of maintaining accreditation: 75% of the school's graduates must pass the bar exams within two years. The same proposal was made three years ago and was predictably defeated by the scamsters and scamster-lackeys who effectively control the ABA's so-called oversight of law schools. Once again the proposal faces strident opposition at this year's ABA scam-junket in Las Vegas.

COOLEY: The poster child for the law-school scam, according to interim president Jeffrey Martlew, plans to impose "in short order" a minimum LSAT score of 145 for "students who enroll through the standard admission process". (The article incorrectly reports that "[i]n its most recently admitted class, the bottom 25% of students had an average LSAT score of 139". Actually, 139 was the score at the 25th percentile, not the average score of the bottom 25%—which cannot be higher than 139 but presumably is lower, as some of those in the bottom 25% probably have scores even lower than 139.) At least Martlew admits "that a score of 139 is too low for admission", though he doesn't justify the still reprehensibly low score of 145, nor does he explain what is meant by "the standard admission process" or whether a non-standard back door will let people in with lower scores.

Martlew opposes the proposed standard for accreditation on the grounds that it "would force law schools to turn away lower-profile students, among them many minority students, a move that would probably make the nation's law schools less diverse". He continues: "We don’t want to slam the door on our access mission,… which is really what makes us different than [sic] any other law school." Kyle McEntee of the anti-scam organization Law School Transparency correctly rejects that ridiculous argument: "People who don’t get through school and don't pass the bar exam are not diversifying our profession." McEntee might also have asked "Cui bono?" and noticed that "minority students" (apparently referring only to racial minorities) make up 56.5% of the JD students currently enrolled at Cooley. Consequently, a policy that kept Cooley from exploiting "lower-profile students" would hit Cooley's balance sheet hard. Note that Cooley charges $53k per year for tuition and that most students have to pay full price.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA: With its LSAT profile of 147/150/153, this Cooleyite public institution is the worst law school of a flagship state university after that of its neighbor to the north. It managed to push more graduates through the bar exam only after the state legislature put up funds for bar review. Rather than saddling the public with this expense, why not simply admit that the U of South Dakota is admitting large numbers of students who have no business in law school or the legal profession?

PONTIFICAL CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: I have avoided discussing the Puerto Rican law schools, in part because most of their students faced a big linguistic disadvantage on the LSAT. (An experimental Spanish version of the LSAT was introduced a few years ago for use in Puerto Rico only, but it is not scored on the same scale as the English version.) But after reading the argument of scam-dean Fernando Moreno-Orama against the ABA's proposed standard, I really do have to speak up. Moreno-Orama objects "because law schools don’t control the content of the bar exam or set the passing score". So what? How can that possibly excuse his law school's poor performance? Whatever the standard be, and however it be established, law schools should meet it—or stop pretending to teach law. And just imagine how bad things would be if the schools did control the content of the exam and set the passing score.

FLORIDA COASTAL: Scam-dean Jennifer Reiber objects because people who give up after a single attempt at the bar exam would bring the school's numbers down. According to her, some students "plan to use a law degree to further their careers in journalism or public policy" and take the bar exam only once, more or less for the hell of it. I'd love to see evidence of significant numbers of people with the objective that Reiber claims—people who pour three years and a big six-figure sum into an über-toilet's law degree to gain an advantage in an existing career in journalism or public policy but don't seriously attempt to be called to the bar. That doesn't even make sense, and no one with a brain will believe it. Florida Coastal is no longer accepting students, and presumably it is on the verge of closing for good, but Reiber could have spared us her bullshit excuse for piss-poor performance.

Scamsters find any number of self-serving reasons to oppose the proposed standard. I say that the proposal is altogether too weak. Two years to pass the bar exam? Anyone who has not passed it within two attempts should forget about finding decent employment as a lawyer. And 75% is too low: it would allow schools to maintain accreditation even though as many as a quarter of graduates became stuck with six-figure debt and a useless degree. In addition, the law schools are known for manipulative antics such as paying students not to take the bar exam so that they won't drag the old alma mater's numbers down (only students who take the exam count for this purpose). The standard should be higher, not lower. But the scamsters seem to reject any standard at all.

UPDATE: The proposal was indeed defeated handily, by a vote of 88 in favor to 334 against. Two reasons in particular were cited.

First, because California's bar exam is more difficult than those of many other jurisdictions, the standard would allegedly have been unfair to California's law schools. That's a stupid argument. Nothing stops graduates of California's appallingly many law schools (more than 60, including the unaccredited ones) from taking the bar exam in another jurisdiction, or the graduates of schools outside California from taking the exam in California. In addition, the law schools have been aware of California's standards for decades. It is their responsibility to ensure that their students meet the standard—and if they can't or won't do it, they shouldn't be allowed to operate. Besides, amidst the concern for "California's law schools", where is the concern for the people rooked in their thousands by these toilets?

Second, DIVERSITY! Loss of accreditation for the many underperforming toilets with large proportions of minority students "would have considerably harmed efforts to diversify the legal profession". Once again, diversifying the legal profession requires admission to the legal profession. Saddling people, racialized or not, with six figures of non-dischargeable debt at high interest for a degree that they cannot use is no way to diversify anything but the population of people bilked by the law-school scam. Furthermore, this recent interest in "diversity" is little more than a cynical ploy to exploit, under "progressive" cover, the last large population that can be lured in by scamsters bearing gifts.

When you set foxes to guard the henhouse, don't be surprised at the result. Yet again, the ABA demonstrates that it cannot be entrusted with the responsibility for accrediting and regulating law schools.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nebraska is Still the Place to Be (and don't forget Iowa)

It was only a few years ago that the Law School Cartel mocked struggling law graduates for their inability to find paying jobs.  The problem, as it was stated, was that these graduates may need to give up their latte-sipping, loft-living, gentrified-urban lifestyles in order to get some experience and compensation.   Tons and tons of Boomers are retiring, and no-one is taking their places.  Hey, the Joads had to go West, so you might have to also, snowflake:

When attorney Phil Garland first hung his shingle in Garner, Iowa, there were five lawyers in town. Over 40 years later, that number hasn’t changed. What has changed, though, is those lawyers’ ages.
“We’ve got three guys in their 60s,” says Garland, who is 73.

Garland is the only one who has hired a younger associate to take over when he retires. That means in a few years, the town and its 3,000 residents could be down to just one attorney to handle everything from real estate transactions and probate work to juvenile issues and criminal cases.

And Garner isn’t the only small town facing that problem. Adams County, Iowa, for instance, boasts only one attorney for its 3,686 residents, while Ringgold County, with 5,034 residents, is home to three, according to the Iowa Bar Association.

Look at all that opportunity, and this is just a small sample!

That dearth of legal help is expected to worsen as baby-boomer attorneys who set up shop in America’s small towns 40 or 50 years ago retire and younger attorneys choose to congregate in cities rather than fill the gap.

“It’s a hard sell to get my students to want to go to Fresno and practice, but it would be a really hard sell to get my students to go and hang out a shingle in a place like Chowchilla,” Pruitt says, referring to a small town 250 miles north of Los Angeles.

Yep!  Get over yourselves, Millennials, you're the problem, not the solution.  The world is your oyster, if you deign to live outside silicon valley, that is.  Back to Iowa:

So Garland helped start the Rural Practice Program, one of several initiatives sprouting up with the aim of introducing new attorneys to the possibility of rural practice. The program organizes meet-and-greets between law students and rural lawyers to set up clerkships for those students in rural areas.

The hope is that some of those older lawyers will hire their clerks as associates after graduation, ensuring that when the older lawyers retire, younger lawyers will be there to pick up the baton.

OK, so what is the catch...?

“When I hired my associate, Carrie, I told her the business is yours when I’m done,” Garland says, promising her that he wouldn’t expect her to “buy out” the practice from him when he retires.

Garland says newly minted attorneys can no longer afford that “buy-out” because of the massive debt they are graduating with. Rodriguez “told me flat out that she’s got a lot of student debt … she said if you’d have had a buy-out I’m sure I wouldn’t have come,” Garland remembers.

“I try to encourage all my contemporaries” to forgo that money, he says. “We had the benefit of a cheap education, these kids today don’t have it.”

That debt is the biggest barrier to luring lawyers to the heartland, according to Pruitt and Garland, making the prospect of a regular salary from an established city firm far more attractive than the vicissitudes of solo practice or the cost of buying into a small firm in a town like Garner.

“Law school debt is just the 600-pound gorilla right now and it’s really constraining students’ choices,” says Pruitt. [emphasis added]

Kudos to Garland and other Boomers like him, and I seriously mean that.  Not only is he taking (self-sacrificing) steps to make a career happen for others and serve his community at the same time, he recognizes the fundamental truth that the Law School Cartel has dishonestly claimed to have been unable to understand - it's the debt, stupid.  Young graduates are not coming because they are "too good" for rural practice, it's because THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO,  unless someone is willing to offer a helping hand.

But, you can't expect a bunch of bubble-living deans, administrators and profs to understand this.  You can, however, expect them to deflect blame and throw the victim under the bus at every opportunity.

0Ls, we here at OTLSS can't say how widespread this phenomenon is, but it is encouraging that actual, work-for-a-living practitioners "get it" and are trying to do something about it.  We still argue that there are too many graduates for too few jobs, rural or not, but perhaps with some planning and a little luck (aka the Garlands of the world) there may be snippets of opportunity.  Don't bet the farm on this, however, as the Cartel will say anything about jobs and statistics, as has already been demonstrated.  And the debt is toxic and constraining, make no mistake, otherwise there would have already been a rural Renaissance of legal plenty.  Do your research before taking the plunge.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

We Tried Law School so You Don't Have To

Readers of OTLSS and other blogs that dare to be critical of the Law School Cartel have likely heard of David Frakt.  Like Tamanaha and Campos before, Frakt has argued for increasing the admissions standards at law schools, not only for the sake of the schools and the profession, but for the sake of future practitioners themselves.  Frakt is probably most famous for speaking truth during his job interview to become Dean of Florida Coastal School of Law (before being promptly shown the door for recommending some tough medicine).  Frakt continues to demonstrate that poor admission statistics generally lead to poor results later (for graduates, to be clear), another unpopular position to take if you are on the Cartel-side of the fence.  

...aaaaand so it goes.  Often this kind of insider-honesty is decried as an attempt by "the man" to prevent diversity and opportunity for disenfranchised students, when the brutal reality is: what school wants to turn down gobs of federal student loan money if it doesn't have to?  And the scamblogs are hardly enticing students to sign up, but to stay away, frankly, for their own sakes.

But what about the students themselves, and their own decision making process?  Over the several years we have all heard admonishments from the Boomer-esque "Personal Responsibility Brigade," yet to some degree there is a point to be made there.  Setting aside the irony for the moment that many people trying to entice students into law have been Boomers themselves, only to blame students for their predicament once the degree is conferred, only so much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the Cartel itself.  The following comment from a current law professor is poignant: 

Look, here's the deal: those of us who are law professors (or have been) know that many of our students are just not willing or able to believe that if they don't score well on their LSATs, they are very unlikely to "make it." Heck, they plead and cry and threaten suit to remain in law school even if they _also_ get very low grades in law school; another indicator of non-success, as it is typically measured, as attorneys. It sounds paternalistic, but Frakt has a point: since we all know that these potential or actual students are highly unlikely to make it past the bar or, if they do, to gain "meaningful" employment as measured against their previous expectations, it's better for them to not go to law school. Yes, they are in denial about that, but sometimes, you have to exercise some "tough love" in these cases. It truly is a consumer issue, as Frakt correctly says. What in the _world_ are you trying to obtain by calling him a racist and all sorts of things?! Please. That's nasty and below a mature, professional discussion.

Second, anon has a very good point: law schools are indeed - the vast majority of them, at least - hiring only from the top five law schools (if that). That's incredibly elitist and downright stupid. I'm sorry, no offense to those of you smart, nice, highly intelligent folks who, for very good reason, made it into those schools... [b]ut I think we can all agree that it's ridiculous to think that only a handful of schools (actually, really only Harvard, Yale, and Stanford) can produce law professors that can teach students the law and how to think critically, etc.[...]

At bottom, I think law schools really ought to hold themselves way above what is currently going on: profit-making, snobbery, and self-serving procedures. Another example of the failure of the American educational system.

Posted by: TruthAboveAll | December 19, 2018 at 11:53 PM

To those who think the scamblogs don't know what they are talking about - don't take it from us, take it from the insiders who are willing to be honest.  The Cartel would have done well to maintain admission standards rather than fling open the doors year ago, and students should not assume that nay-sayers are out to get them, personally, just because the path is dangerous and consequence-filled.

As we always say: 0Ls, pay heed before deciding to take the plunge.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sacred Cows Die Hard

What began as a "simple" post expressing concern over increased law school applicant rates, and the misguided rationales that could explain why such an increase is occurring, instead resulted in a lively debate in the comment section over the value and utility of law school and of a legal career in and of itself.  As some have openly questioned the purpose of the scamblogs now that it is 2019, it is all the more interesting that the debate still continues to roil, rather than being a matter that is instead fully "settled," if the use of the scamblogs has indeed run its full course.

Lawyers deal in nuance.  If a dispute was a simple matter of facts, or something that proved to be not much of a dispute after all, then lawyers would not even be needed.  It is preciscely becuase that large expanses of grey can exist between extremes of black and white that individuals skilled in weighing various factors, and advocating for a position that is supported by the same factors, becomes necessary from time to time.

The anti-scamblog arguments, as evidenced by the last comment section, still seem to fall into a handful of broad categories:

*  The scamblogs are just plain ignorant;
*  The scamblogs oversimplify the true state of affairs;
*  The scamblogs are insolent;
*  The scamblogs are a bunch of losers whose message should be discarded, Because Reasons.

What is interesting about all this is that these broad arguments were the exact same arguments leveled at the scamblogs almost ten years ago, if not earlier.  While it is unfortunately difficult now to link to  sites such as Third Tier Reality, one thing I distinctly remember from Nando's inaugural post was the debate that raged in that comments section.  The long and the short of it is this:  nothing much has changed between late 2018 and late 2008, at least as regards the anti-scamblog comments.  In 2013-2014 or so they died down, I would argue because the truth of the movement had been made manifest, but now that a new crop of students are applying who perhaps are not as acquainted with the message, the cycle begins anew.  This excellent post on the history of the scamblog movement is still informative.

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