Saturday, February 18, 2023

Happy 10th birthday to Outside the Law School Scam

Outside the Law School Scam is about to celebrate its tenth birthday: it was founded on February 27, 2013.

When we started this site, not a single law school had closed down in many years. We predicted that ten would be gone by the end of the decade. That prediction came to pass, and by now fifteen law schools have taken a one-way trip to Hell:

Cooley (one campus)

Hamline (merged with Mitchell)

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 (and with it InfiLaw)

Penn State Law (or maybe Dickinson—one or the other will be closing)

This humble site has been cited in the mainstream media and other publications. It has done much both to dissuade people from attending scam-schools and to foster public discourse on the law-school scam. Its material has been read more than 3.3 million times. We have had fun with original poems and other art, and we have singled some particularly vile scamsters out for public denunciation and (where appropriate) ridicule. Undeniably, we have had a hand in the decline of the law-school scam and the closure of various über-toilet law schools. People have also thanked us for saving them from the mistake of enrolling at a scam-school—or attending law school at all.

Our work, however, is far from complete. Four or five new über-toilets have been announced in the past year or two. And although many über-toilets have shrunk to a mere fraction of their former sizes, and quite a few are in financial or administrative peril, the law-school scam has shown resilience. Attacking the federally guaranteed student loans that make the law-school scam possible will remain a priority.

Many happy returns of the day to Outside the Law School Scam!

Monday, January 30, 2023

Software passes exams at "prestigious" U of Minnesota Law

A piece of software called ChatGPT passed four out of four exams at the law school of the U of Minnesota. Most of the questions were multiple choice (a format that was not used at Old Guy's élite law school), but many required essays, and on some of the latter ChatGPT scored in the top half of the class.

The authors of the article cited above suggest that ChatGPT may be useful to practicing lawyers. Without wishing to boast, Old Guy admits that he has a reputation for writing excellent briefs (some lawyers call them the best in the jurisdiction), and he would never use a tool of this kind. It is evident from the article, and quite predictable, that the software just looked through material on the Internet and pieced it together into text, without understanding what was asked. Although the text was perfectly grammatical (which is more than can be said for that of many students), it gave no real analysis: it would often cite an authority on a point of law, but it would not analyze the applicability of the authority to the case or even offer clear conclusions or advice. (There appears to be a mode in which it gives definitive or at least assertive answers; that was disabled for the purposes of this experiment.) Old Guy will continue to write his briefs the old-fashioned way—by himself.

(It must be said that useful software packages known as expert systems have been around for many decades. An expert system asks questions of the user in an attempt to solve problems. These have been developed to assist physicians with obscure diagnoses. Conceivably they could help lawyers to explore options for litigation. Again, Old Guy relies on his own abilities. He can sometimes come up with a creative solution that would escape 99%+ of lawyers and that would probably elude software as well.)

The authors also suggest that students are likely to use tools such as ChatGPT, either to prepare for exams or to cheat on them. A student running short of time, for instance, could submit a question to ChatGPT rather than giving no answer at all. That would clearly constitute cheating (unless, improbably, the professor invited computer-generated answers). More profitably, the student might generate a first draft with ChatGPT, improve it, and submit the result as the student's own work. That too would be cheating. Or a student preparing for an exam could run sample questions through ChatGPT and rely on the output for guidance. That sounds like skating on thin ice. But ChatGPT can apparently outperform many toileteers already.

More interesting than the possibility of using software to generate briefs and such is the possibility of turning some legal work over to computers, thereby casting many lawyers out of a job. Software for writing wills has been around since the 1980s (taking the place of forms that used to be sold), and much other legal work is so formulaic that it may soon be automated. For clarity, Old Guy does not recommend that anyone produce a will with software or forms, although even a naïvely generated will may be better than none at all (yes, I said may!). But is the day far off when an expert system will be able to interview a testator and generate a respectable will—or a referral to a lawyer when the expert system cannot handle some difficulty (assets outside the country, complicated trusts, sophisticated estate planning)? Old Guy uses a template—his own—for the purpose, although it invariably requires alteration rather than mere filling in of blanks. Although Old Guy does not write many wills, he prides himself on producing superior ones. For uncomplicated situations, maybe the task could be automated.

Last month a company announced that its software was going to be used experimentally to defend a traffic ticket: it would listen in court and tell the accused (through an earphone) what to say, and the company would pay any fine. Perhaps some common defences could be handled effectively by software, and the options for some tickets are likely to be so limited that the approach might work some of the time. But effective computer-generated cross-examinations and closing arguments are probably a long way off.

Old Guy's work, in the main, is along the lines of briefs for court more than basic wills or defense to traffic tickets. He doesn't expect to be displaced by a computer. But some bottom-end legal work—filling out routine forms, calculating support in a divorce, document review, soon enough perhaps even traffic court—may soon be automated if it hasn't been already, and that will reliably reduce the number of openings for lawyers. Über-toilet law schools will suffer the most: after all, their graduates are the most likely to do bottom-end work as it is, and they cannot expect to migrate into something like appellate litigation that will be a human endeavor for some time to come.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Über-toileteers continue to perform terribly on bar exams; ABA issues four notices of non-compliance


The disclosures that the ABA requires from law schools under its so-called Standard 509 are due by December 15. Usually the ABA publishes the reports on a Web site, but this year it still has not done so; one must hunt up the reports on the law schools' own Web sites.

Old Guy can't be bothered, but he has checked a few, for your information.

Appalachian School of Law has long been a target of derision here at OTLSS. This year only 51 new students enrolled, a number well below the figure of 75 that Old Guy has estimated as the minimum for a law school's long-term sustainability. Such low enrollment is bad news for this particular über-toilet, which has been in dire financial straits for several years. 

Another piece of bad news for Appalachian School of Law is its graduates' abysmal performance on the bar exams. Of the 53 graduates from 2021 or prior years who took a bar exam for the first time, only 18 passed. That's 34%, far below the level of 75% that the ABA has nominally required since 2019 (the rule says that "[a]t least 75 percent of a law school's graduates who sat for a bar examination must have passed a bar examination administered within two years of their graduation"). I say "nominally" because in practice the ABA readily excuses non-compliance; its rule contains more holes than a wheel of Gruyère. It is true that the data show only the number of graduates who passed on the first attempt, so these data do not prove that Appalachian School of Law is out of compliance; however, it would take a hell of a lot to catch up, and the über-toilet has little control over its graduates' preparation for the exam or even their willingness to take a bar exam again. 

At the odious Western State College of Law, which in recent years has changed hands among a wacky church and a couple of private entities supposedly in the field of education), only 55% of this year's candidates passed a bar exam for the first time. First-year enrolment soared from 23 last year to 128 this year, Old Guy is sorry to report.

Über-toilet Charleston enrolled 223 new students, which is 223 more than it deserves. The bar-passage rate was 59%, again well below the ABA's threshold.

Ohio Northern, another über-toilet that seems too small to be sustainable, has not yet published its 509 report. Its bar-passage rate was 71%, still below the threshold.

Cooley this year had 191 new students and a 38% rate of bar passage. See below for more on this poster child of über-toilets.


Last month the ABA issued new notices of non-compliance with the standard of bar passage to four law schools: Ave Maria, District of Columbia, Hofstra, and Vermont. All four have been called before a meeting to be held in May 2023 so that they can try to prove that they are in compliance with the standard. That is likely to be difficult, in light of this year's new data:

Ave Maria, 63%
District of Columbia, 33%
Hofstra, (no data since 2020)
Vermont, (no data since 2021)

Vermont Law School doubled down this year and turned itself into Vermont Law and Graduate School, the "Graduate School" part apparently referring to a whole slate of new degrees of questionable value marketed to people who don't have a background in law. Perhaps that was done in contemplation of losing accreditation, because the "graduate school" could go on operating anyway, although I fail to understand what would attract anyone to the little unincorporated crossroads of South Royalton, Vermont.

In August 2022, two Puerto Rican law schools each got a three-year extension of the time to achieve compliance, however remote the possibility may seem. Cooley got the same in May, and we can see how very little progress Cooley is making towards its fulfilling its purported plan to reach the 75% mark (which is disgracefully low, but that's another issue).

Old Guy is going to bet that the ABA will rubber-stamp a similar extension for the four über-toilets newly notified of their non-compliance (as if they hadn't long been aware of it) and that it will also find some cockamamie excuse to grant additional indulgences once the extension lapses for those four and the others. In the meantime, Old Guy will say yet again that nobody at all should attend any of these so-called law schools, or indeed any other law school in the US but perhaps as many as thirteen (Harvard, Yale, a few others) that in theory may be worth attending under certain conditions.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Fifteenth closure: Penn State Law to be merged into Penn State Dickinson Law

An anonymous poster mentioned in the previous article that Penn State Law and Penn State Dickinson Law are merging. Although nothing official has been announced, it appears that the Dickinson campus, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is going to absorb the much larger campus of Penn State Law, which is in University Park.

The poster opined that this merger constitutes the closure of a law school. I agree: it's on a par with Hamline and Mitchell, several years ago. Merging law schools is a discreet and subtle way to effect the closure of one of them, without drawing adverse attention.

Of course, there will be plenty of talk of "synergy" or "improvements" or "economies of scale", all of it designed to cast this effective closure in a favorable light. Students, however, are already complaining that the news was broken to them just before their exams, when they did not need the stress and worry of uncertainties about where they would be next year, and that the president severely curtailed the period for questions about this topic of great interest to everyone in either law school.

In any event, the number of law schools that have closed in the past six years now stands at fifteen:

Cooley (one campus)

Hamline (merged with Mitchell)

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

Penn State Law (probably) 

Which scam-school will be the sixteenth to close? Appalachian, Ohio Northern, Faulkner, Western State, Mississippi College, Golden Gate, District of Columbia, Vermont, Western New England, Charleston, the rump of Cooley, and a number of others seem like prime candidates. Feel free to discuss this topic below.

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 time 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.