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.


  1. It's important to note that the many, many scam schools aren't going away quietly anytime soon. It's a matter of simple economics combined with ego-driven decision making. On the ego front, if you're the dean or prof of a scam school, you've got that wonderful title, and are never going to give it up. On the economic front, it's clear that all the deans and all the profs of the scam schools are grossly overpaid, and shouldn't even have any pay as the schools should not exist. So they will fight, tirelessly, to keep their respective scam schools open, accepting 140 LSAT scores, GPAs below 3.0(in this age of easy majors and grade inflation, this is truly amazing and disturbing; how does someone get a GPA below 3.0 these days?), and still argue that they are simple servants of justice seeking to assist underprivileged students get their JDs so they can save the whales/environment/immigrants, et al, even though they know it's a patent lie and none of these people will get law jobs, and most won't even pass the bar. It's all a charade, designed to keep the deans/profs in $$$, guaranteed by the feds, and they will never surrender it. Lies will be told, marks will be duped, but the money will flow into their pockets. It will never end until the loan guarantees end. And the lies will never end-after all, can you imagine any of these deans/profs actually practicing law?

    1. 180. This is the brutal truth, folks. Govern yourselves accordingly.

    2. Except that eight law schools in the past few years have shut down or are in the process of doing so, and at least two more show signs of going tits up very soon:

      * Indiana Tech (dead)
      * Whittier (dead)
      * Charlotte (dead)
      * Savannah (dead)
      * A campus of Cooley (dead)
      * Hamline (merged with Mitchell)
      * Valpo (not accepting students; couldn't give itself away; apparently being wound up in the next two years)
      * Arizona Summit (has lost accreditation; not accepting students; apparently being wound up)
      * Thomas Jefferson (probably preparing to close)
      * Florida Coastal (accreditation in doubt; out of its building; unsustainably small; probably on its last legs)


      Scamsters certainly want to ride the gravy train forever, but they can't keep it running without the coal of student loans and other funds. Even "first-tier" (read: fourth-tier) Minnesota may find itself dumped because it is bleeding the parent institution white.

    3. By the way, don't disparage a GPA below 3.0. It was damn hard for me to maintain my 2.05 GPA in underwater basketweaving at Big Bubba's Akadummy of Bible-Thumping and Cosmetology.

    4. While it's great that 8 schools are closed or are closing(one hopes), it is pretty clear that 75-100 more ought to close, if only to balance out JD graduates and JD-required jobs. But the scam deans/profs running those schools aren't going to have a collective moment of clarity, don sackcloth and ashes, and take to desert caves to atone for their sins. No, they'll keep on scamin'-and it appears to be working, with the large uptick in applications this past year. A person making an informed decisions would ask: does it make sense to attend Vermont or Appalacian? But Vermont, which looked like it was on the verge of closing three years ago still survives, as does ALS. There's way too much money to be made "teaching" at a TTTT law school-especially if the alternative is actually practicing law.
      And let me be clear: those 75 unnecessary schools ought to close; I take no joy in my prediction they'll be with us a for a long time-or until federal loan guarantees disappear.
      And regarding Minnesota-it will never close. That's got nothing to do with value or need; it is instead a reflection of Minnesota declining to make the headlines. They may fire everybody and hire just a couple of replacements; they may jack the tuition through the roof(most likely scenario), but the law school at a state "flagship" university will never close.

    5. Yes, at least 100 law schools should be closed down.

      Vermont did seem likely to close a few years ago: it was and still is in deep financial trouble, it is isolated (half an hour from the nearest grocery store), it is toilety. But it managed to get a ridiculous agricultural grant, and the recent firing of all but five of the tenured professors must also have helped financially. Most distressing of all is the rise in enrollment over the past two years. I still think that Vermont Law School cannot have much life left in it, but I may be wrong.

      Appalachian is even more ridiculous. Though it at least is situated in the vicinity of grocery stores and similar services, it is even more isolated than Vermont Law School: even modest cities such as Asheville, NC, and Knoxville, TN, are four hours away by car. It is down to 50 new students this year, a dangerously small number. It is plagued by financial problems. And it finds itself near the bottom of the category of über-toilets. Unlike Vermont, it must be on its deathbed.

      Minnesota? I don't expect its imminent collapse, but I wouldn't say either that it will never close. The law school seems to have stung the university for $45 million in subsidies over the past six years (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2018/05/university-of-minnesota-heavily.html). Those subsidies cannot go on forever. Tuition is already $52k per year, and not much less for residents of the state, but even that is far from sufficient for this expensive fourth-tier institution. Firing everyone may be realistic in a self-standing toilet like Vermont but not in a law school that is part of a state university. The most likely strategy for saving this school is a sharp reduction of standards—which would also mean loss of reputation.

      More closures are coming. Florida Coastal and Thomas Jefferson should announce their closure within a year or two. Many other law schools are also endangered.

    6. I don't know how many law schools there are now, but at the very most there should only be 50 in the entire country, and really more likely closer to 30.

      So however many there are now that need to be closed to get to that number.

    7. Exactly 200 law schools (3 of them in Puerto Rico) have full ABA accreditation, but a few are known to be in the process of closing. I agree that 50 for the whole US would be plenty.

  2. Is it really hard to believe that people who score in the bottom 10% or 20% or 30% or even 50% on a well-established standardized test designed to test reasoning and reading do not make decent lawyers?

    Frakt did a service to the über-toilets by praising a number of them for "significant improvements" that are anything but. Sorry, but going from 142 to 143 or 144 is not a significant improvement. All three scores are so fucking dreadful that the "improvement" is illusory. Not a single über-toilet deserves praise. Close every goddamn one of them down right now.

  3. It's funny to observe that the law schools regard only four or five élite or quasi-élite law schools' graduates as worthy of teaching law, even while they regard all law schools' graduates as worthy of practicing law.

  4. Given trends in the legal industry, the disconcerting fact about Old Guy's list of dead law schools is that so few schools are on it.
    I, for one, was hoping for a much larger shakeout during the 2008-2012 period.
    What is also needed is a massive downsizing of all law schools to match the serious decline in entry-level legal jobs. Unfortunately it looks like schools are trying again to increase enrollment, to make up for the tough times.
    The federal government (if it ever reopens, that is) needs to take a hard look at its over-generous educational lending programs and steer them in line with what the labor market desperately needs: fewer law graduates.
    The schools, obviously, cannot make the needed adjustments without a huge ass-kick.

    1. Close all of Tier 6, all of Tier 5, and most of Tier 4.

      And still administer that huge ass-kick.

    2. If the federal government must be involved in education and healthcare, it needs to look to more successful models as in Europe and Japan. We need to stop pretending the US system is somehow the world leader. It has not been for a long time. The only thing it leads in is cost. Not results.

  5. I don't know if the issue has been studied, but I wonder what percentage of people who apply with sub 145 LSATs also have GPAs under 3.0.

    I could see a law school accepting a person with a good LSAT and sub par GPA or a good GPA and sub par LSAT but if you want to go to law school with both being sub par, there really is no sign of hope for you passing the Bar exam right out of law school.

    And kids, if it takes you three or more tries to pass the bar, you are heading off to solo land because firms will generally not want to hire you barring family connections or some such exterior factor.

    People who make money as solos usually build their book of business elsewhere. Unless of course you want to spent five or more years earning under $40,000 a year.

    There are always exceptions, but ignore these observations at your peril.

    1. Since GPA is a one-time affair, I'm less concerned about a poor GPA than I am about a poor LSAT score. A person might well have obtained a poor GPA on the first degree—the only one that counts for this purpose—because of illness, immaturity, financial difficulties, or other reasons that may well no longer apply. Evidence of improvement, such as professional success, could downplay the importance of the poor GPA. (Mere excuses, however, would not.)

      By contrast, the LSAT can be taken repeatedly. Whole courses are available that have brought people from sub-Cooley level to Harvard level. The LSAT is also objective, unlike the GPA (which might vary significantly on account of university, major, or choice of courses). Inability to perform well on the LSAT should disqualify almost everyone. Blind people should get special consideration—but they already do, as their scores aren't issued on the usual scale. I am disinclined to exempt non-native speakers of English, for two reasons: 1) "non-native" opens the door to abuse by people who can hide native or near-native ability behind another language spoken at home; 2) people who cannot read English quickly and well would struggle in law school and legal practice.

      A good GPA does not offset a poor LSAT score. One could obtain a good GPA just by taking a bunch of trivial or undemanding courses. (One native speaker of Spanish signed up for a whole string of elementary courses in the language just to get an A without having to do anything.) Entire bachelor's degrees in "communications", "criminology", and other majors à la underwater basketweaving can be had without significant effort.

      The scamsters take the opposite view. André Douglas "Dougie Fresh" Pond Cummings, formerly of the late (and unlamented) Indiana Tech and now apparently of the U of Arkansas, notoriously praised 143 as a "serviceable" LSAT score, and Cooley dips well into the 130s year after year (although just a few years ago it tended to hold the line at 144). Even the "prestigious" fourth-tier U of Texas has admitted people with scores in the 120s.

    2. That older post about the UofM suggests that by now they should be spending $12,000,000/year to prop up the law school. Enrollment there has been at 600 for many years and tuition has presumably gone up. On top of that tuition, then, they are subsidizing each student to the tune of $20K a year. All I can think of is the lawprofs get a raise every year (although that should be built into the business plan) and/or the increasing use of "scholarships" (which is lawprof for "discounts") to keep warm bodies in the seats. Got to keep the in-staters from decamping to higher ranked schools give the out-of-staters reason to put up with the weather.

    3. $40,000 a year for the first five? You are likely to encourage pupils to enroll at the toilets. How about $0 a year in perpetuity.

  6. 147,525 lemmings in 2010 down to 111,561 in 2018 is still great progress by my math.

    The toilet law schools appear to have an inner core of pigs that will hang on to the scam, even at a reduced enrollment level.

  7. I certainly don't support the snobbery of hiring as professors almost exclusively the graduates of Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. But it's interesting that one mark of an über-toilet, not to mention a state-accredited or unaccredited law school, is the tendency to hire no one from those schools, and hardly anyone even from the upper fourth tier. Look, for instance, at this lot:


    Cooley's large faculty does include one from Harvard (emeritus—graduated more than 60 years ago), one from Yale (probably also approaching retirement), one from Duke, and about ten from the U of Michigan, but most of the rest appear to be from Cooley itself or another nearby toilet (such as Wayne State):


  8. The law professor hiring process is just another aspect of the law school scam. Graduates of elite schools know that biglaw operates on an up or out system. The work is lousy and the legal market is contracting. Also, if the elite grad doesn’t make partner, they will be kicked to the curb. But law school sinecures offer elite law grads a lifetime of annual six figure salaries for little work. The law schools hire these top grads in the never ending arms race to move up one or two spots in the U.S. “News” rankings. Law reviews are more likely to publish an article by a lazy law prof who graduated from a top law school over the law prof from some toilet. More worthless articles from a toilet law school can improve the toilet’s ranking. These hiring decisions have nothing to do with helping the students. The students borrow more money to pay the ridiculous tuition to support the exorbitant salaries of law profs. But not because the profs are better teachers. Rather, they will publish more crap and possibly improve the schools ranking to attract more lemmings and make more money for the deans and profs.

    Contrast that business model with other professional schools. Academic medicine pays far less than non-academic jobs. And academic doctors still have the same work requirements. Academic surgeons still perform surgeries. Academic infectious disease docs still see patients. Academic radiologists still read images. Only, these docs also have med students, residents, and fellows to teach while they are seeing patients and performing procedures. Academic docs do the job because they like to teach and they like research. Think about how absurd it would be for a med school to hire a cardiologist, pay them an exorbitant six figure salary, and only expect them to teach one class a semester, publish non-peer reviewed papers, and never see patients. How can someone teach a student or resident how to manage a CHF exacerbation, if they haven’t seen any of the physical exam findings like pedal edema or JVD, or know nothing about the management? But in law, the schools have no problem hiring people who never saw the inside of a courtroom to teach students.

    1. Some professors urged me to teach law. When I asked whether I would ever be hired at my age, however, they admitted that I would not be.

      To continue your example, imagine what would happen if the journals in the field of cardiology, all edited by second- and third-year students (many of them barely literate), contained almost nothing of any use to practitioners but instead filled their pages with such asinine tripe as "The Open Road and the Myocardial Infarction: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream". And if that one class per semester were entitled "Hip-Hop and the Interventricular Septum".

    2. The thing about academic medicine is that the research/ teaching/ seeing patients job is very varied. In some medical centers, and especially for doctors who reach the position of chair or vice chair of an academic department, the pay can be great. In big cities, pay is over seven figures for many esteemed academic doctors. I have seen departments of major hospitals that employ mostly young doctors, possibly under an up or out type system. It seems that these doctors can find other work after the academic work since there is a doctor shortage in many specialties. The papers the doctors publish range from landmark clinical trials to more mundane summaries of medical issues. An academic doctor does not have a full patient load. It seems like the academic jobs are really interesting, but one is at the mercy of a department chair, a position that changes over time and of course changes the doctor's work environment as the chairmanship changes hands.

    3. If you feel confident about your pedagogical skills and credentials, what about teaching business law at a state or community college? I have heard of retirees being hired at such places to teach practical subjects.

    4. I actually taught in a paralegal program at a community college, and no doubt OG would be a great addition to any faculty and enjoy the work; my students were serious-most were much older than your usual undergrad-and came from a variety of backgrounds so it was a fun mix of people.
      But...the pay was no so great-about 3K to teach two courses for a semester(maybe different-and hopefully higher-in other locations). So fun, but the life of an adjunct isn't particularly remunerative.

    5. To 4:34 I was just thinking of some practical advice for OG, since he has indicated an interest in teaching. The advice to go to Medical School or apply for even a toilet teaching position, which he wouldn't want, is ridiculous. But, although I think it might be competitive, OG with his combination of legal experience and elite education, might have an attainable possibility of a Community College instructor position.