Tuesday, November 22, 2022

"Rankings" by defunct magazine finally being dumped

In the past few days, at least eight law schools have decided not to participate in the "rankings" put out by defunct magazine U.S. News and World Report (called by Old Guy You Ass News): Berkeley, Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, Stanford, Yale. Typical explanations focus on the flawed (or meaningless or irrelevant) methodology employed by You Ass News and the perennial manipulation of the idiotic "rankings" by law-school scamsters.

Those points are, of course, perfectly valid. And one might well wonder how a failed mass-market magazine became the sole authority on the quality of law schools. But Old Guy says that all of that is beside the point. The main reason to oppose these "rankings" is that law schools shouldn't be ranked at all. For years and years I have said that maybe thirteen law schools are worth considering, under certain circumstances. If I am right, there can be no point in distinguishing #14 (however identified) from #200, because no one should be going to either of those schools. And even the thirteen that possibly might be reasonable choices for certain people don't need to be ranked: Harvard and Yale form a little group at the pinnacle; then there are the other eleven. It is true that Stanford is not Duke or Georgetown, but nobody needs a numerical ranking to draw whatever distinctions exist within this small set of law schools.

The fatal flaw in the "rankings" is not the particular choice of criteria (although the criteria chosen by You Ass News are undeniably stupid) but the idea of "rankings" itself. Far more useful than any "ranking" would be an article—such as those published here—that said "Consider attending these 13 schools, but be careful" and "Don't attend any other school". Of course, there's no money to be made in that simple proclamation (which is why Old Guy will have to defer those plans to retire on the Côte d'Azur). Lemmings wouldn't heed it anyway: they would just go looking for some other publisher of "rankings" that would allow them to take pride in admission to the 37th or 56th or 83d or 121st best law school, as identified by some scam-profiteer.

Undaunted, You Ass News has announced that it will continue to assign these schools a "ranking", notwithstanding their refusal to genuflect at the temple of you-assiness. And something tells me that some of the institutions that had the temerity to defy godlike You Ass News will find themselves kicked down several notches next year. Maybe You Ass will take a leaf from Cooley's book and come out with a "ranking" that places Cooley in second position, ahead of all others but Harvard (or maybe Appalachian will displace the pride of Cambridge, Massachusetts). 

In other news, the scam-fostering American Bar Association is setting the stage for abolishing the requirement of standardized testing for admission to law school. Until recent years, everyone applying to an ABA-accredited law school (and also to most Canadian law schools, and even some in Australia and elsewhere) had to take the LSAT and divulge the score. Then a number of schools began to accept the GRE instead, on their own initiative. Now testing of any sort is about to become "optional". Of course, those who avail themselves of the option to skip testing will be overwhelmingly those who would score poorly. And where will these people apply? Realistically, to über-toilets. Although the measure is being passed off as a "progressive" way to promote "diversity" (perceived exclusively in racial terms, it seems), Old Guy predicts that it will serve mainly to let the über-toilets conceal some of their shittiness. If data on LSAT scores are reported at all, they will be skewed upwards by the simple expedient of encouraging the worst applicants to skip the LSAT. Once again, the ABA does a great service to the law-school scam.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Wilmington University to open the seventh law school in greater Philadelphia

Wilmington University, in New Castle, Delaware, is preparing to open a law school in 2023. This new über-toilet will be seventh law school in the general Philadelphia area.

Whatever its charms (and Old Guy must admit that he likes a good cheesesteak), greater Filthadelphia does not need the law schools that it alraedy has, let alone another. So what are the gimmicks that supposedly set this future über-toilet at Wilmington University apart?

First, allegedly low tuition of $24k per year. According to dean Philip Closius, who has made his career at various über-toilets around the US, "it will cost [students], at most, a total of $72,000 to earn a law degree". The cost, however, involves more than multiplying the annual tuition by three years. (And is he guaranteeing that tuition won't be raised?) On top of that, what is the value of a law degree from an unknown, unaccredited upstart of an über-toilet? He doesn't discuss that inconvenient little question.

Second, it proposes to prey upon "traditional- and non-traditional-age students, professionals transitioning from other careers, and multicultural populations". In short, it will be Indiana Tech all over again: a few local people whose commitments keep them from going to a decent law school (if they could get into one), older people whom age-based discrimination within the legal profession will soon hit right in the face (Old Guy being the poster boy for that), and various exploitable ethnic or racial minorities who can be duped into signing up for law school whether they belong there or not. According to LaVerne Harmon, president of the university, "[o]ur law school instructors will genuinely care about their students and be committed to making a difference in their lives." Pardon me while I yawn. She continues: "One of their main functions will be to prepare students for the real world that awaits them as attorneys." Assumes facts not in evidence, Harmon. Already lots of law students never pass a bar exam—a fact admitted in Wilmington's puff piece of an announcement. There is no reason to suppose that Wilmington's students will become attorneys. Closius makes the same mistake: he says that his über-toilet will help those many students who "want to specialize in areas of law they find meaningful but can’t because they have to choose specialties that aren’t as rewarding — just to pay off their loans". Something tells Old Guy that Wilmingtonians in the main are not going to enjoy abundant options in the legal profession—and that many won't become lawyers at all. But of course scamsters cheerfully dangle fantasies before the glassy eyes of 0Ls.

Another of those fantasies is the possibility of working far from Delaware—in Arizona, for instance. Outside a few élite and slightly sub-élite law schools, students rarely enjoy in practice the portability that exists in theory. If you want to work as a lawyer in Arizona, go either to a Harvard or to a law school in or very near Arizona. Do not throw your lot in with a bullshit question mark in distant Delaware. For that matter, if you want to work in Delaware, still don't go to Wilmington: look around for a decent school, such as Penn.

Yet another fantasy is access to "externships". The über-toilet will offer students academic credit for a 21-week "externship" with a lawyer. The difficulty is that local lawyers are hardly likely to snatch up all of the students who would like to avail themselves of this option.

Sound familiar? That's because we've seen it time and time again: an über-toilet opens amidst a load of self-congratulatory propaganda about being "a different type of law school", its tiny entering class has a median LSAT score in the 140s, and soon enough the propaganda yields way to reality. Old Guy predicts that Wilmington will prove to be yet another bottom-trawler that tries to prettify its students' general shittiness under the signboard of "diversity". The fancy educational opportunities envisioned by Closius will turn into mandatory bar review, and soon enough the school will shut down.

As is by now well known at this site, Old Guy recommends staying away from law school—except maybe Harvard, Yale, and eleven other schools listed elsewhere, and even those should often be avoided. Don't even consider Wilmington.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Golden Gate is the new Indiana Tech

Marx famously said that the major events and personages of history appear twice: first as tragedy, then as farce. With Indiana Tech, however, the farce seemed to come first. The second around will be scarcely better—and now it is taking place at Golden Gate University.

In a desperate but ill-fated attempt to save itself, Indiana Tech one year reduced tuition to zero and slashed enrollment to 15 students. Über-toilet Golden Gate—maybe Rusty Gate would be more like it—has taken a leaf from Indiana Tech's book by doing the same: only 21 full-time and 24 part-time students enrolled, so this year's class is a third of the size of last year's. And all of the little full-time dolts, and about half of their part-time analogues, who were ass enough to sign up at this dump are getting zero tuition for all three years.

Why would a moribund über-toilet suddenly whore itself out free of charge? Obviously not in a spirit of generosity or public service. No, Golden Gate did this for the sake of its survival: the ABA threatened last year to pull the plug because Golden Gate fell short of a standard by which at least 75% of those graduates who take a bar exam pass one within two years of graduation. In theory, Golden Gate could lose its ABA accreditation next year by failing once more to meet the standard. In practice, we know damn well—from ample experience—that the ABA doesn't seriously enforce its "standards": it instead readily makes excuses for the underperforming über-toilet and offers extensions and other dispensations as often as it pleases. Thus Golden Gate isn't really in danger, even though last year only 38% of those who took the bar exam in California passed it. None of the 17 other ABA-accredited law schools in California did so poorly.

Anyway, by offering free tuition, Golden Gate hopes to draw in slightly better students. And it has succeeded: the median LSAT this year went up to 153 from last year's 151. Two lousy points, however, can hardly suffice to bridge the immense gap in bar passage so as to propel Golden Gate barely over the line this year. In any event, cheap stunts such as this are unsustainable. Perhaps for a couple of years this über-toilet will draw money from an endowment or otherwise keep the lights on for its handful of charges and its similarly large faculty (many of whom are being reassigned to bar-review courses in support of that desperate attempt to meet the 75% threshold). Once the gimmick of free tuition has expired, however, whatever appeal this thing may have will predictably dry up and the median LSAT score will sink like a stone. 

Two new ventures—a useless master's degree and a "Bachelor of Arts in Law"—will throw a few shekels into the coffers. But these recent stunts in the JD program presage the law school's death in the next, say, four years. Old Guy reminds everyone that Golden Gate is not worth attending even on free tuition.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Jacksonville: Newest über-toilet attracts only 14 students

One might think that the closure of fourteen law schools in the past six years would deter prospective scamsters. Jacksonville, Florida, would seem an especially unlikely place for a new über-toilet, since the stench of recently shuttered Florida Coastal, which once brought in classes in excess of a thousand students, still hovers mephitically over the city. 

Alas! one would be wrong. The Jacksonville University College of Law opened on Wednesday with an inaugural class of 14 students. Scam-dean Nicholas Allard, who had hoped for 15–20 students and had imposed a ridiculous "cap" of 30, claims to be proceeding "in a very methodical, brick-by-brick fashion". Well, so did Indiana Tech (apart from the astounding expenditure on a curated art collection from the first day), which nonetheless dried up and blew away within four years—in one of those years not collecting a single cent in tuition, for it tried to give itself away by offering zero tuition to everyone but still got only 15 takers. 

Über-toilet Jacksonville charges $36k per year in tuition. Suppose that it didn't give a single discount ("scholarship") and that it will fully collect tuition from all students but will not receive other income (so, for instance, no profitable sales of highly coveted Jacksonville sweatshirts). That's $500k in revenue. With ten scam-professors to pay, not to mention support staff, payroll alone will suck up all of revenue and much more. I'm well aware that few lawyers, and still fewer law-school scamsters, could perform arithmetic of this sort if their lives depended on it; but it doesn't take much intelligence—admittedly a lot more than one can expect from either the students or the faculty of this dump—to discern that erecting this edifice brick by brick while posting large losses is going to cost the parent institution a pretty penny. 

And ten professors for fourteen students? Why not throw in four more and offer full-time private tutoring? They're building it brick by brick, so they say, yet they front-load it with a bloated faculty. They could have started with two or maybe three professors for their tiny cohort, but they had to hire ten. Well, at least they included Scott DeVito, whose recent experience as scam-dean of Florida Coastal will come in handy when his new über-toilet likewise has to be wound up.

Indiana Tech offered to its handful of students such luxuries as four—four!—certificates in Global Leadership™ (a Fort Wayne specialty) and absurd courses such as Hip-Hop and the US Constitution. Old Guy would consider those frivolous at best, idiotic at worst if they were found at a serious law school like Harvard; at vacant Indiana Tech, they stood as monuments to the hauteur and self-importance of the scamsters who bled the parent university for their short-lived vanity project. Whatever can be said for the fifteen to thirty-odd dolts a year who signed up at Indiana Tech, they could ill afford to pose as the global leaders of tomorrow or listen to André Douglas "Dougie Fresh" "Pond Scum" Pond Cummings prate endlessly about hip-hop.

If Jacksonville University wants to be raped of its endowment for the sake of this flash in the pan, Old Guy certainly cannot stand in the way. He will only point out that opening in "the largest U.S. city without a law school" does not guarantee success. In Fort Wayne or Shreveport, in Anchorage or Murfreesboro, there is only so much demand from local people who want to go to law school but cannot move or commute a couple of hours away to attend a toilet school that at least has the significant advantages of an image (however shitty) and ABA accreditation. Very few people from other places will matriculate at Jacksonville, and those who do will probably be desperate for a visa or else will be bought off with free tuition—something that won't contribute to the über-toilet's coffers. Already Florida Coastal could not sustain itself even with a twentieth of its peak entering class in supposedly thriving Jacksonville, so why should an upstart in the same city do better? 

When will Jacksonville shut up shop? Difficult to say. That depends on the willingness of the parent university to inject cash. Old Guy would never have let it get past the bullshit "feasibility study" that must have been cobbled together, but maybe Jacksonville University is prepared to throw a lot of good money after bad. In the meantime, scamsters are about to pull the same stunt in North Carolina and West Virginia, and a foul über-toilet in Louisiana that draws its so-called students primarily from the low 140s on the LSAT is pretending to operate a branch in Shreveport. And the general public, saddled with federally guaranteed student loans that will never be repaid, will end up footing the bill.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

The seven tiers of law schools: update

Our article "The Seven Tiers of Law Schools" is now more than five years old. It's time for a brief update.

That article was written about seven months after the start of the wave of closures that continues to batter the law-school scam. Two schools in Tier 6 (the lowest tier) are described as "soon to be closed".

Well, in the ensuing five years, fourteen schools have closed (or switched to state accreditation only), if one counts three campuses of the Cooley chain as separate schools:

Cooley (one campus)
Hamline or Mitchell (the two merged)
Indiana Tech
Arizona Summit
Cooley (a second campus)
Thomas Jefferson (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)
La Verne (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)
Cooley (a third campus)
Florida Coastal

All fourteen of these defunct toilets were in Tier 6. Several others in Tier 6 are apparently endangered, and even Vermont (Tier 5) and the U of Minnesota (Tier 4) seem to be tottering financially. 

Old Guy hasn't taken the trouble to appraise each surviving law school anew and make adjustments to the tiers, mainly because his basic position remains the same: below Tiers 0–3, all schools should be avoided. Those four tiers collectively contain only thirteen law schools—the very ones that they contained five years ago. It's true that Tier 4 is not altogether out of the question for those who get free tuition (a "full scholarship", in scamsters' jargon), so maybe there's still a point in reviewing Tier 4, in which case Drake, Chicago–Kent, Case Western, and a few others would be demoted. But Tiers 5 and 6 really need not be finely distinguished. And Old Guy has doubts about Tier 4.

Anyway, for convenience' sake, here is the updated list—now down to six tiers, the last two from the old ranking having been consolidated:

———— * ————

TIER 0: Definitely worth attending. Leap at the chance to enroll at one of these schools, even if you have to borrow the full cost.

*** NONE ***

Comments: Formerly occupied by a handful of schools, this tier has been vacant for years and is likely to remain that way until the second half of the century. Not for nothing is it named Tier 0.


TIER 1: Excellent choices for trust-fund babies. Others should seriously consider them while bearing in mind the very real risk of a bad outcome. You cannot, after all, eat prestige for breakfast.


Comments: No, Stanford, your jive ass is not in the same league as Harvard and Yale. Petulant Californian demands for representation in Tier 1 don't sway me one bit.


TIER 2: Rich kids should feel free to attend these. Others should not enroll without a substantial discount and should weigh the risk of a bad outcome carefully.


Comments: Formerly this category also included Michigan and Penn.


TIER 3: Rich kids are likely to consider these insufficiently prestigious. Others should not even apply without a fee waiver and should not enroll without a large discount, probably at least 50% off; even then, the risk of a bad outcome would loom large.


Comments: This category, which has shrunk considerably since 2010 or so, is the end of the group that, as of the last time that I checked (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2014/12/guest-post-by-old-guy-which-law-schools.html), saw at least 50% of the graduating class get jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships. I advise against attending any school below Tier 3. Even Tier 1 is questionable nowadays.


TIER 4: Expect a disastrous outcome at these unless you get tuition waived, have local connections, and intend to build your career in the vicinity of the school (no farther away than, say, an adjacent state). As always, rich people can go to one of these schools if they really want to.

Arizona State
Boston College
Boston University
Brigham Young
California—Los Angeles
Florida State
George Mason
George Washington
Georgia State
Louisiana State
Loyola Marymount
New Mexico
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Ohio State
St. John's
Southern California
Southern Methodist
Texas A&M
Texas Tech
Wake Forest
Washington and Lee
Washington University in St. Louis
West Virginia
William and Mary

Comments: Many of these are what Paul Campos has called trap schools. Others are toilets with employment figures that are better than those of typical toilets. All are best avoided, from the faux-prestigious outskirts of Tier 3 to the toilety outskirts of Tier 5.


TIERS 5 & 6 (combined): Tier 5 was originally described as follows: "Don't go near these unless you are independently wealthy, crave a little wind-up-toy law degree, and are too dumb to get into a school in a higher tier even after exploiting your rich connections." Tier 6: "The survival of these into 2017 offers an argument against the existence of a just god. Anyone who enrolls at one of these should not be allowed to roam the streets unsupervised." Now, in 2022, Old Guy's ranking of law schools merges these into one tier: "Hell, no."

Arkansas—Little Rock
Ave Maria
California Western
Case Western Reserve
District of Columbia
Florida A&M
Golden Gate
Florida International
John Marshall—Atlanta
John Marshall—Chicago
Lewis and Clark
Lincoln Memorial
Loyola—New Orleans
Michigan State
Mississippi College
Missouri—Kansas City
Mitchell | Hamline
New England
New Hampshire
New York Law School
North Carolina Central
North Dakota
Northern Illinois
Northern Kentucky
Nova Southeastern
Ohio Northern
Oklahoma City
Pennsylvania State—Dickinson
Pennsylvania State—University Park
Roger Williams
St. Louis
St. Mary's
St. Thomas—Florida
St. Thomas—Minneapolis
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Clara
Seton Hall
South Carolina
South Dakota
Southern Illinois
Southern University
South Texas
SUNY Buffalo
Texas Southern
Thomas Cooley
Wayne State
Western New England
Western State

Comments: The distinction between Tiers 5 and 6 was not meaningful in practice, except for a handful of rich kids. None of these schools is worth attending: all are very likely to lead to atrocious outcomes. Anyone with potential in the legal profession can do better than these. If the best that you can get is a school in this tier, do not go into law; find something else to do with your life. By the way, any new law school that may be opened—and it seems that three or four are in the works—will presumptively start in this tier and will probably never get out. Special circumstances that are unlikely to be repeated allowed Irvine to get into Tier 4, and even its scam-dean never aimed for Tier 3.


GRAVEYARD: These have been shut down since 2017, the start of the unprecedented wave of closures in which the anti-scam movement played a major role.

Cooley (one campus)
Hamline or Mitchell (the two merged)
Indiana Tech
Arizona Summit
Cooley (a second campus)
Thomas Jefferson (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)
La Verne (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)
Cooley (a third campus)
Florida Coastal

Comments: Every one of these was in Tier 6. Outside the Law School Scam reported on the deaths—often colorful—of every one of them. Expect more closures still, but not nearly enough.

Friday, July 1, 2022

"Law-school lite": will bachelor's degrees in "legal studies" deplete the ballyhoo'd "JD advantage"?

The so-called University of Southern California joins other institutions in offering a bachelor's degree in "legal studies".

In many countries, the professional degree in law is a bachelor's degree: students can go straight into preparation for the legal profession after finishing high school, without first obtaining a bachelor's degree in another field. This new bachelor's degree in "legal studies", however, will not give access to the bar. Its purpose is anything but clear. Scam-professor Bob Rasmussen denies that it is "law-school lite": he says that the program will impart "general knowledge for what you would want a smart, educated person to know about the law". Smart, educated people have presumably been learning about the law for centuries without the help of four-year degree programs, so I don't see the urgent need for this new degree. 

The curriculum includes the following courses: "Law and the U.S. Constitution in Global History, Law and Society, Introduction to Criminal Law, Fundamentals of the U.S. Legal System and Current Court Cases". That sounds pretty thin to me. "Current Court Cases" is obviously ephemeral, and a few of those other courses sound like candy-ass crapola of the dreaded "law and" variety. Conspicuously absent is rudimentary training (outside the criminal field): what exactly is a contract, and why should one care? 

Vague notions gleaned from "Law and Society" will not prove useful for employment. At first I speculated that the purpose of the degree was to curry favor with admissions offices at not-quite-toilety law schools. But the piece cited above ends with the following:

Undergraduate degrees in law could help graduates obtain JD-advantage jobs without the cost of a law degree, said Kyle McEntee, founder of the advocacy group Law School Transparency, in an interview with Reuters.

Kyle McEntee was indeed the founder of Law School Transparency, but this year he apparently sold it and the anti-scam movement for thirty pieces of silver and a cushy job at the LSAC. The law-school scam is unlikely to thank him for suggesting that jobs in its mythological "JD-advantage" category can be filled without the supposed advantage of a JD, just a cotton-candy bullshit bachelor's degree in "legal studies". Nor will scamsters be flattered by the unfavourable comparison of "the cost of a law degree" to that of majoring in "legal studies" in the course of an undergraduate program. 

If you are stupid enough to sign up for law school, expect to be undermined by a bunch of undergraduates who opt for "legal studies" instead of some other major with similarly bad prospects for employment. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Namby-pamby ABA gives dispensation to non-compliant Cooley

Two years ago, when the ABA supposedly tightened its so-called Standard 316 for accredition of law schools, we pointed out the weaknesses in the new standard and predicted that the ABA would allow non-compliant schools to remain accredited. We were right.

Odious "Western Michigan University's" Thomas M. Cooley Law School, an erstwhile chain now shrunken to two outlets, has received a three-year "extension" of time to come into compliance. The standard requires that at least 75% of those who take a bar exam pass it within two years of graduation. Cooley's rates for 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively, were 66.01%, 62.31%, and 59.51%. 

As we pointed out in the article cited above, law schools and their administrative enablers have resorted to various stratagems for temporarily bolstering bar-passage rates without improving quality. One popular old ruse was to cajole or bribe inferior students out of taking the exam, so that their predicted failure would not affect the bar-passage rate. Schools have been known to pay quite a few thousand dollars just to keep one student away from the exams. Another trick is to pare enrollment down artificially just long enough to make the school more "selective", with better students more likely to pass the exams—only to return to open admission as soon as the school achieved compliance with the norm. Unabashed pursuit of compliance has turned a number of über-toilets into glorified test-prep courses. And of course there is boundless potential for special pleading, flim-flam excuses, and other bullshit reasons to get "extensions" that amount to indefinitely renewable licenses for shameful non-compliances.

The scam-enabling ABA reassures us that Cooley's extension comes with strings attached:

They include working with faculty to improve teaching and learning, reviewing the effects of more rigorous grading policies, and making a “significant financial investment” in a “reliable plan” to ensure that the law school has resources to operate in compliance with the standards.

Also, the law school must adhere to a revised admissions policy, so entering classes have stronger success predictors for graduating and passing a bar exam.

What exactly is meant by "working with faculty to improve teaching and learning"? How will that be measured? Not at all, Old Guy imagines. What good will "reviewing the effects of more rigorous grading policies" do, especially if those "effects" turn out to be nil or negligible (or even negative)? Just what will the "reliable plan", the "resources to operate in compliance with the standards", and the "revised admissions policy" entail?

Note too that the ABA gave Cooley a three-year extension to a period of compliance that by default lasts only two years. One does not ordinarily think of an "extension" as being longer than the original period. Furthermore, with a bar-passage rate that shows a rapidly declining trend, Cooley is hardly the ideal candidate for an "extension". If Cooley gets a three-year extension for such dreadful results, would any school be denied?

When will the ABA cut the crap and admit that it is not serious about standards for accreditation?