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.

41 comments:

  1. Just read the ATL article; while it is good news that this scam school is closing-but apparently not without a fight-it is almost unbelievable that for the past several years anyone applied, let alone attended. TJ had it all: terrible applicant numbers-both quantity of applicants and the quality of their applications; terrible bar passage numbers; egregious employment stats for grads. The objective data was stunning and rock-solid: this is a terrible law school and if you attend all you'd get is massive debt. But still people attended! What were these 59 people thinking?
    It's good news the school is terminal. But the fact that anyone, let alone 59 individuals, applied and enrolled shows that the only way to eliminate the scam will be to end govt loan participation. You can't count on prospective TTTT 0Ls to show any sense. There are just too many stooges willing to enroll otherwise.
    TJ should have had an entering class of zero.

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    1. I fully agree. If people insist on doing something as idiotic as enrolling at Thomas Jefferson, let them do it with their own money, not with student loans guaranteed by the government. And if they don't have the money (most would not), well, tough. The public should not underwrite their folly.

      For Christ's sake, more than half of last year's graduates were unemployed ten months after graduation. They had no job of any sort, not even unskilled work one day a week.

      Obviously the law schools and the ABA (which the law schools control) will not establish meaningful standards for admission. Yet the federal government stupidly goes on extending student loans in any amount that the schools demand, to any person whom they admit. A single law school could stick the government with more than a hundred million dollars in losses before anything was done.

      Total insanity.

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    2. Total insanity, yes, but how dare the scamblogs speak out against said insanity...! They should just quietly go away, rather than highlighting the personal cost, the illusory opportunities, and general, good old fashioned cartel grift.

      Or so say the grifters who are currently running for the hills.

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  2. 1. What were they thinking? In point of fact, they weren't thinking.

    2. I agree that the evil is in the loan system. But I do not support a ban on loans, just that the loans use ordinary, rational underwriting standards which would have to include the prospects of graduates of the school the borrower planned to attend.

    3. Here's a novel idea. Why doesn't the ABA require a cash or professional surety bond from all schools to cover the cost of a teach-out? The cost to Harvard would be negligible but the requirement could put the bottom of the barrel toilets under.

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    1. Two years ago, the state of Arizona did require Arizona Summit to post a $1.5M bond for that purpose:

      https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2017/05/arizona-summit-must-post-15m-against.html

      Simpler than your proposal, but at least as effective, would be a minimum score on the LSAT. Require each law school to prove every year that at least 90% of its incoming students scored, say, 151 or better (151 being at the 50th percentile). That little requirement would immediately shut more than half of the law schools down.

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    2. “the loans use ordinary, rational underwriting standards which would have to include the prospects of graduates of the school the borrower planned to attend.”

      That is racist.

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  3. Thomas Jefferson has issued this press release, apparently as propaganda for the morons who were planning to enroll this autumn:

    https://www.tjsl.edu/sites/default/files/tjsl_statement_on_council_decision_june_2019.pdf

    The über-toilet calls the ABA's decision "capricious" and vows to contest it.

    There's also this little gem at the end: "According to the ABA, a student who starts at an ABA-accredited law school will be deemed to graduate from an ABA-accredited law school." That's bullshit: the student has to graduate first, and the last students at Charlotte, Arizona Summit, and Indiana Tech found out the hard way that a law school can close down and leave them high and dry. Anyway, even if Thomas Jefferson did stay open long enough after losing its accreditation that the remaining students could graduate, coming out of an "ABA-accredited" law school wouldn't do them much good: they would be eligible for the bar exam, but they would struggle to find work with the damning name of a defunct law school on their résumés.

    Sorry to be rude, but I have to say that anyone who enrolls at Thomas Jefferson at this point is beyond stupid. There might be a case for lack of capacity.

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  4. If Western State really does die, this will mean Southern California lost roughly 700 law school slots since 2019 (Western State, Whittier, and Thomas Jefferson). This doesn't include Arizona Summit going belly up (to the extent Arizona Summit fed into the SoCal market).

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  5. I discovered that California only requires 60 semester hours of undergraduate education, basically an associates from a community college, to become an attorney. Now I understand why there are a plethora of non ABA law schools in Calif.

    But who is more mad? The fools who go to a 4th tier ABA without a chance of practicing? Or the non ABAs who not spend a fraction of tuition, but only have to invest in 2 years of college? True the non-ABAs have a low bar passage rate, but for the right person it could be a good choice. Such as realtor who wants a law license as well.

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    1. Well, "the non-ABAs" fall into two categories: state-accredited law schools and unaccredited law schools.

      To understand how dreadful the unaccredited ones are, see the following:

      https://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-law-schools-20150726-story.html

      Things aren't much better at the state-accredited law schools. See their graduates' results on the July 2018 bar exam (page 6):

      https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/admissions/JULY2018_CBX_Statistics.pdf

      Are state-accredited law schools cheap? I looked at San Francisco Law School, which has been accredited by the state of California since 1937. Its program requires 87 credits at $958 each, plus various other fees. That's about $90k in all. If you're going to spend that much, you may as well go to an ABA-accredited über-toilet.

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    2. If know the best choice is to avoid either 4th tiers or state accredited schools, but since both will result in unemployment, the state accredited makes more sense, when the only goal of a student is to obtain a law license.

      Presumably, the school attended has no correlation to passing a bar exam. It all depends on the internal attributes of the student. So, the same student could attend a state accredited and get the same results whether it be pass or fail.

      The state accredited then makes more sense because it only requires an associates degree and the tuition will be less. There might be other intangibles as well such as more night school options.

      I did think it was sad that that Marine was squandering his GI benefits on a a toilet.

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    3. I don't agree. One can go to Cooley, which unfortunately is still accredited by the ABA, with as little as an associate's degree or two years towards a bachelor's degree. Many state bars do not accept a JD without a bachelor's degree, but those (other than California itself) certainly don't accept a JD from a California-accredited law school either.

      People who don't care about finding work in the legal profession may go to any law school of their choice, as long as they don't come crying to Old Guy later. By all means go to Big Bubba's Law Skule 'n' Bait Shoppe if you just want to buy a diploma to hang on your wall. I won't stop you. But if you want to do anything else with a JD, such as finding work, stay the hell away from most ABA-accredited and all state-accredited or unaccredited law schools.

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  6. How to buy an entering class, courtesy of über-toilet Thomas Jefferson:

    https://www.tjsl.edu/admissions/scholarships

    Admission is based on a range of factors, but "scholarships" to newly admitted students are based only on LSAT score and undergraduate GPA. Why does a law skule that uses a "holistic" approach to admission turn to rigid numbers on the issue of price? Might that have something to do with the "rankings" put out by You Ass News or with Thomas Jefferson's promise to the ABA that it would improve with respect to those two numeric criteria?

    With as little as a 2.5 GPA and a 145 on the LSAT (both figures being in the bottom half of candidates), a person admitted to this year's entering class at Thomas Jefferson got a guaranteed "scholarship". With two more points on the LSAT, that "scholarship" went up to $29k per year (about 60% of tuition) or more. And 159/2.5 was enough for free tuition and a monthly payment of $1350 towards living expenses, apparently every month for all three years.

    It seems that Thomas Jefferson was so desperate even for such lousy figures as 147/2.5 that it was prepared to offer a bribe—I mean a discount—well over half of tuition. And in the unlikely case that someone with a 159 applied, Thomas Jefferson would even shell out almost $50k in cash over the three-year course of study. That's an awfully high amount to pay for a single LSAT score. But a notice of probation from the ABA demands attention, and Thomas Jefferson seems to have opened the purse strings in its haste to "improv[e] the LSAT profile of [its] entering students dramatically" (https://www.tjsl.edu/sites/default/files/tjsl_statement_on_council_decision_june_2019.pdf).

    Old Guy will let you in on a little opportunity for arbitrage. If you live near San Diego and have the required LSAT/GPA, you can call Thomas Jefferson and ask for that "Merit Scholarship". You shouldn't even have to attend class, since the über-toilet is expected to lose its accreditation definitively before the end of the next academic year. Just sign up and collect $1350 per month. This opportunity for a student to make money off the law-school scam doesn't come along every day.

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    1. Insane that a 159 gets you full T + stipend.

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    2. And that a 145 (at the 26th percentile) coupled with a dismal GPA of 2.5 gets a "Merit Scholarship". Reminds me of Harvard's undergraduate school, from which about 90% of the class graduates with Latin honors.

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  7. The ABA has deemed Florida Coastal to be in compliance with its standards for accreditation after all:

    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/florida-coastal-and-atlantas-john-marshall-get-more-news-from-legal-ed

    It's true that Florida Coastal did drive its LSAT scores up a couple of points, mainly by shrinking to an entering class of only 60 (unsustainably small—see the previous posting) but perhaps also by buying some higher scores with discounts labeled as "scholarships". It's still a foul über-toilet, with abysmal LSAT scores and a passing rate around 40% on the bar exams. It will be gone soon enough, I expect, even though the ABA has given it the usual rubber stamp of approval.

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    1. Perhaps the ABA has realized that pulling accredidation can lead to messy appeals and potential litigation expense, and has therefore taken an approach of using the enforcement of LSAT standards for admission to starve and suffocate toilets by cutting off their supply of underqualified lemmings. As you point out, Florida Coastal has wiped out all the fat and is now feeding off muscle and bone, shrinking class sizes to unsustainable levels and further sacrificing cash flow by offering discounts to those with higher scores.

      The beauty of this approach is that it is founded upon irrefutable empirical evidence that shows that a lemming with a score below a certain point has little chance of ever passing a bar exam.

      Would I be giving the toilets too much credit to suggest that they have grasped the ABA's strategy and that that is why they are all rallying to the make the bar exam easier cause?

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    2. That's the double bind the ABA put the bottom 35-50 law schools in. To keep the bar passage rate above 75%, the schools have to be selective. However, to be selective, the schools have to drastically reduce class size or tuition costs. The schools are thus rendered financially non viable. I think you may see another 10-20 law schools close over the next five years as a result of the ABA actions.

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    3. I just learned, if I am understanding that stats correctly, that New England Law Boston had an entering class of about 425 in 2013 then drastically dropped to around 225, apparently in response to the new ABA requirements. At present, the incoming classes are around the 185 range. This is above Old Guy's 75 student breakeven point, but I am wondering if a school that is accustomed to having over 1,000 students in the house at any one time, can adjust financially to having just 600 or so. Would like OGs financial insights on this.

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    4. The toilets simply have to go after people with frightfully low LSAT scores (151 is at the 50th percentile, and plenty of toilets plunge far below that), because there aren't enough students with decent LSAT scores to go around, and those that do exist will seldom want to sign up at a toilet.

      Since the toilets have no way to improve the quality of their students to acceptable levels, they are faced with two options: either shut up shop or struggle to perpetuate the toilet. They don't want to shut up shop, so they invariably wind up defending their shabby-ass students as "excellent" and attacking concrete measures such as the LSAT and the bar exams.

      As for New England Law | Boston (complete with ridiculous vertical bar), it will indeed feel the costs of its sharp decline in enrollment. What can it do with all of the empty space in its building? A university might well be able to use extra space for other purposes, but a stand-alone law school cannot easily do so without moving out of the building in the manner of Florida Coastal and Thomas Jefferson.

      In addition, New England Law | Boston probably made financial commitments on the assumption that enrollment would remain high. Now that enrollment has fallen to less than half of the figure from 2013, the toilet may well find itself in financial peril. I don't know the facts about the toilet's finances, but sharp declines in enrollment are often the beginning of the end for stand-alone toilet law schools. Not much can be done about them. A dramatic increase in enrollment is rarely realistic. Some schools try to bolster enrollment by lowering their standards, but that's difficult for a school like New England Law | Boston that hardly has any standards. Cooley was able to close a campus, but most law schools don't enjoy that option.

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    5. New England Law Boston does not have an extra campus to close, but it does have an extra building housing its administrative offices that it bought in a down market. It could probably sell that building at a profit, move its administrative operations back to the main building and hold on for a few more years that way.

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    6. 1. The only thing you left out, OG, is playing the race card, claiming that your school is fighting for the rights of "traditionally underrepresented minorities" so anyone who questions your admissions standards is obviously a racist.

      2. I made a cursory review of the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds on line. Looks like the mortgage on the admin building at New England is paid off, so a sale is pure profit, with plenty of empty classrooms to convert into offices. But to what end? Sure, given Boston real estate values it will keep them going for a while, but then what next?

      They say there are people in the more remote regions of the Scottish Highlands who are still waiting and hoping for Bonnie Prince Charlie to return from across the water, but he will never come. Similarly, these struggling toilets must be hoping for an eventual return to the glory days of the scam if they can just hold on long enough. With the new ABA firewalls in place, though, if they can't get the bar exams dumbed down those glory days are never coming back, either.

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    7. Yes, 6:35, white scamsters disingenuously trumpet "diversity" as an excuse to perpetuate their scam schools' exploitation of racialized people. As if racialized people benefited from running up a quarter of a million dollars' worth of debt for a toilet-paper degree from an über-toilet half of whose graduates can't work as lawyers.

      I estimate that New England comes close to breaking even. By my quick calculations, it probably rakes in about $16M per year and spends a similar amount. It won't be the first to fold. As you said, though, it cannot have much of a future. Maybe its assets, such as that building owned free and clear, will enable it to acquire one of the many law schools in the area, thereby effectively closing an unneeded law school. That's probably the best that it can expect.

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    8. Trouble is, look at the other ABA accredited law schools in eastern Mass. Harvard, BC, BU and Northeastern don't look like fish NELS is going to be able to swallow, given that they are backed by solid universities. That leaves Suffolk (not an indy) and Zoo Mass DAHT-mouth, which is backed by the Commonwealth. Let's look at the Twin Cities. Mitchell absorbed Hamline (read: bought alumni donor list) but Hamline was like Whittier Law School, a 1970's money grab that became a millstone.

      You're not gonna beat in-state tuition so the only plausible target is Suffolk. But Suffolk has a parent university with a $100Mil endowment, a $32Mil law school endowment and 1,600 students to NELS's $40Mil endowment and 600 students. The small fish don't eat the big fish, the big fish eat the small fish. And given its lame admissions standards, who wants anything from NELS but, like Mitchell, a cosmetic merger to keep the alumni checks flowing to the only surviving merger partner.

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    9. Good observations, 6:50.

      Several years ago I quipped here that New England Law | Boston should try to take over New England Law | Cambridge and New England Law | New Haven. As you said, it is New England Law that will vanish, probably through a nominal merger. But the only likely partner in the Boston area is Suffolk. Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern might be happy to absorb New England Law's assets but would not want its shitty students. (Recall that Arizona State rejected the students of Arizona Summit as generally too lousy to complete its program.) Suffolk has slightly better students than New England Law but could get away with absorbing the existing students, particularly since their LSAT scores and GPAs would not count against Suffolk on the idiotic "rankings" put out by You Ass News.

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    10. The real prize to Suffolk would be to get hold of one or both of NELS's buildings and sell it/them to the highest bidder. Nice endowment booster.

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    11. Proposed NELS exit strategy:

      1. Announce merger with Suffolk effective in two years, new name will Suffolk University, New England School of Law.

      2. Existing NELS lemmings finish their degrees at NELS and get NELS diplomas. Sell admin building to fund what will effectively be a teach-out, bank extra funds.

      3. Everyone applies to new school for future 1L classes, Suffolk does not increase its size.

      4. Upon graduation of last NELS class, sell main building. Use those funds and extra funds from admin building to retire bonded debt and fund faculty pensions. Any leftover funds from real estate and the NELS endowment go to Suffolk Law endowment.

      5. Suffolk takes possession of NELS transcripts and alumni list for solicitation.

      6. Suffolk diplomas say Suffolk University, no mention of New England, and over time Suffolk slowly phases out use of New England name.

      Because in the final analysis, all the scam deans and lawprofs care about is their own financial well being, which this plan mostly covers. It's a better outcome for them than pissing away the endowment and the value of the admin building covering operating deficits for years and risking a loss of their pensions.

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    12. I just took a look at NELS's 529 report for 2019. Theoretically, reducing the student body by more than 50% after 2013 should make the ABA 75% requirement more attainable. But NELS still appears to be struggling. Only 55% of the class of 2018 passed a bar exam. For MA NELS did better, 65%, but for NY the rate was an abysmal 19%. Clearly the school teaches to the Mass. Bar exam. If the ABA interprets its rule as only including the home state, NELS might have a chance to meet the 75%.

      Having reduced its class size to such an extreme degree, and still not having favorable results, where does NELS go next? Can it feasibly cut the class size much more and bring in the revenues to support operations such as salaries and the law library, even if the physical plant is owned free and clear? It is an interesting business conundrum.

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    13. Recently I estimated that the smallest sustainable ABA-accredited law school would need about 75 students per class (so 225 in all) and about $6M per year. By my estimates, New England Law has about 540 students but brings in less than $8M per year in tuition. That isn't nearly enough for expenditures, which came to $21M in 2015.

      The good news for New England Law is that it has a large endowment, some $88M in 2015. But if indeed the toilet law school dips into the endowment every year to cover more than $10M in shortfalls, that endowment will be gone in a decade.

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  8. Old Guy said: "Sorry to be rude, but I have to say that anyone who enrolls at Thomas Jefferson at this point is beyond stupid. There might be a case for lack of capacity."

    For the most part. But I'd bet a few are banking on squeaking by, somehow passing the bar, and having some position handed to them on a platter because they belong to some kind of "entitled" group, whether they are adequately qualified or not.

    Again, this is an example of how the scam and shit law schools are causing social problems. A few of these morons actually get jobs that they are incapable of doing, and some even make it into politics and influence policy decisions, even though they lack the ability to think critically.

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    1. This is so true. A good number of kids who enroll in toilet schools already have jobs lined up through family or political connections. These youngsters don't have to worry about making law review or graduating in the top 10% of their class. More importantly, these are the students who don't have to debt finance their legal education.

      Toilet schools don't have to explain this to their incoming classes. They just report some percentage of their graduating class landed law jobs within nine months of graduation.

      Pretty sure that's how TJ$L was able to puff their statistics to "sophisticated consumers."

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    2. Just being outright rich is enough. If you have capital, other people will do the work for you. That’s how it works, competence is secondary past a very minimal threshold.

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  9. Not just the scam schools closing; while not a scam blog, it did offer advice on the scam, but it appears jd underground is shut down. Some of the discussions were helpful; it's too bad they closed.

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    1. Oh really? About time. That site has been worthless for several years now. And I wouldn't say it was anti-scam, if anything it seemed to promote law schools.

      Personally I think the law schools won. The scam bloggers did their job, and even mainstream journalists warned of the scam. At this point, we are long past the point where people enrolling are working without important information. The better students all refuse to enroll in anything outside of a top law school, barring the connected students that have guaranteed outcomes.

      My law school doesn't even ask me for donations anymore. They know they won't get anything out of me.

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    2. Not sure what you're talking about-how it promote law schools? While there was a sophomoric crew of posters, there were those who regularly posted warning of the scam and its life-ruining consequences.

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  10. TJSL can just continue on a smaller scale as a Cali accredited, which it was before the high-flying 2000s. Plenty of fools out there who think a J.D. is worth going into debt for.

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    1. But they couldn't get federally guaranteed student loans in order to attend a law school that was not accredited by the ABA.

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    2. Now THERE'S an idea. It would be interesting to see the history of TJSL tuition and find out what effect access to government student loans had on it.

      Of course, the toilet's answer would be that any sudden boost had nothing to do with loans; accredidation made their degrees more valuable.

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    3. A few years ago, the federal government came close to revoking the ABA's power to accredit law schools.

      Consider that the federal government guarantees the student loans of just about everyone, not otherwise ineligible, who attends an ABA-accredited law school. Since the ABA is clearly not handling accreditation responsibly, the federal government should change the rules, either by putting accreditation into more responsible hands or by adding additional criteria—for example, all but X% of the entering class must achieve an LSAT score of Y, or Z% of the class (with minimum participation of W%) must pass a bar exam within one year of graduation, or V% of the class must obtain employment in the legal profession with a salary high enough to support the payments on the average student's loans (including any loans taken out before law school). Appropriate choices of criteria would kill a heap of law schools within a year.

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    4. No doubt this is the end for TJ, but it's best not to get ahead of events. Just three short years ago both Vermont and Charleston appeared to be at death's door and both made miraculous recoveries. I can't figure out how Appalacian makes a go of it financially, but somehow it does. The scam is strong and resilent. Many schools which should have disappeared months ago somehow are still open( Florida Coastal). NOne of it makes any sense financially, but open they are all.

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    5. Well, Charleston's troubles stemmed from a failed takeover by InfiLaw. Charleston ended up with a big debt (some $6M, as I recall) to InfiLaw, and someone stepped in and personally guaranteed the debt.

      As to Vermont, its debt was reduced to junk status and it fired most of the faculty, but it still draws in almost 200 students per year at $48k each. Even though it gives large discounts, it probably rakes in about $16M per year in tuition, plus a few million for its LLM programs, and it gets a couple of million in grants from the federal government and a bit of money from donations. That still leaves it with a shortfall from expenditures in the vicinity of $25M per year. So it eats into its endowment (below $10M), and it pulls stunts such as firing all but a few of its professors. But it is still in dire financial straits. A recent loan from the Department of Agriculture (believe it or not) for restructuring the $17M debt has forestalled the Grim Reaper, but the toilet law school of the Green Mountain State can't have much life left in it. Being in the middle of nowhere (people associated with it actually gloat that it is half an hour from a traffic light), it is an unattractive candidate for a takeover—and the U of Vermont has already said no. I expect it to fold within six years.

      I recently analyzed Appalachian (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2019/05/why-tiny-law-schools-cannot-surviveand.html) and predicted that it will announce its closure in the next two years. Florida Coastal will meet a similar fate, though perhaps InfiLaw will kill it by "merger" instead.

      We never said that the law-school scam would collapse like a house of cards, but we did correctly predict that approximately ten law schools would be gone by the end of 2020. So far eight have closed in the past few years, and now both Thomas Jefferson and the Western State College of Law seem to be slated for the same fate. Others will follow.

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