Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here's To A Great 2013

The last year has been a banner year for this site and the law school scam in general. A lot of important work has been done by the contributors on this site. We have directly engaged professors and shown that we will not be silenced until there is meaningful change in how law schools operate. The end of the year is a good time for reflection. So, we all want to share our thoughts on what we feel was the most important development this past year.

MA: The continued precipitous decline in law school enrollment was an encouraging sign that more and more people are unwilling to swallow the lies being disseminated by deans and professors. Since 2010, some schools’ entering classes have been cut in half. We must be vigilant though. Law profs take every negative story and try to spin it so that it looks like law school is still a good option for students. Law professors are now writing articles telling students that the drop in enrollment means that the job market will reach an equilibrium by 2020. We must continue to fight these falsehoods in 2014 and we cannot stop until the worst schools are either shuttered or forced to cut tuition to the point that attending law school is no longer an albatross that hangs around graduates’ necks for the rest of their lives.

dybbuk:  Happy New Year!  2014 will almost certainly be the fourth consecutive year of substantial declines in law school applications, declines I believe are due in significant measure to the scamblogs. A few more years of truth-telling in our online forums should rip away any lingering illusions about prestige or versatility, and drive down applications even further. When University and law school trustees realize that the law school scam can no longer generate enough money to meet expenses, let alone support a professorial Dolce Vita, they will be compelled to develop and implement a much less expensive and training-oriented model of legal education, perhaps run by the practicing bar instead of by six-figure salaried pseudoscholars who are lawyers in name only. Either that or they will have to shutter their law schools altogether-- in my imagination to the musical accompaniment of Ode to Joy.

dupednontraditional:  Friends, the burden of proof is shifting away from indebted graduates and disillusioned practitioners, and back to the purveyors of the law school scam themselves, where it squarely belongs.  I think we can safely say that gone are the days where ScamDeans and LawProfs can regurgitate a pithy, half-baked article or a dismissive interview with no data, and that be enough in and of itself to put critics on the defensive.  The pain is real, and more and more people are getting the message.  While some commenters complain that the scamblogs rarely have anything "new" to say, it is precisely the need to repeat the tried-and-true message that helps us win the information war and alert new readers before they become new statistics.  Onward and upward into 2014!

OTLSS:  This year has seen yet another decline in student interest in attending law school, and also a commensurate increase in interest in the message that law school (and in many cases higher education) is a broken system that is run for the benefit of profiteers, not students.  The focus has started to shift from education to money.  The conversation is changing from highlighting the victims to instead highlighting the scammers.  You'll note that this blog (and blogs like Third Tier Reality) are at their most effective when highlighting the personal greed and stupidity of those professors who are desperately trying to hide behind their titles and degrees and scholarship.  While we need to continue to press the message that a JD is a worthless degree and that there are still no jobs for law grads, we also need to focus on highlighting the personal stories of professorial malfeasance - these stories generate interest, and they focus the attention on exactly where the student loan money is going.  And by following the money, following each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of dollars borrowed in non-dischargeable debt as it flutters from student to professor, we can really bring into focus the sheer madness of the system.

LSTC:  Happy New Year!  2013 was a great year in that the next few dominoes towards real reform in the legal education sector fell.  Whereas 2011 and 2012 were largely about raising consciousness of the issues that had been existing and worsening for some time, 2013 saw state bar associations begin to question legal education and applications dropping to levels that threaten sustainability for mid- and lower-level law schools.  Whereas deans and administrators could easily dismiss verbalized complaints and courtroom allegations of fraud, they cannot fight against the dwindling supply of money in the pot.  Stakeholders will not indefinitely support law schools when they're a money-losing proposition spitting out graduates that the market cannot bear.  Budgets can only be slashed so much before several law schools will be staring closure in the face.  The most entitled and least-networked professors will be whining rather loudly.

Charles Cooper:  540,000 page views; that speaks for itself.  I think the most important development in 2013 was the fact that the message turned from dismissable myth to undeniable reality in the eyes of many professors, students and lawyers.  They finally woke up and realized that the scambloggers were right after all, and that there is a problem with the system.  But there's still a massive disconnect between the acknowledgement of the problem and the reality of its effects, rather like an addict knowing that he takes too much cocaine but thinks that it's not a problem because he still gets to work on time, pays the mortgage, and puts the kids to bed in the evening.  There's plenty of work to do in 2014, and I'm looking forward to playing my part - it's a worthwhile cause, and one in which I wish more people would become actively involved.

AdamB:  I just wanted to thank the original admin for starting this project to fill the void of the mostly inactive Inside the Law School Scam.  Without that moment of inspiration, the scamblog circuit would have started to weaken.  Now, we wield a power that many in the law school world fear.  The recent retaliation by certain professors shows how much power we have.  The tables will continue to turn this year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Is The Attorney Life A Life For Normal People?

On this site, we address the lack of jobs out there in the market for newly minted attorneys. But, what about the people who get one of the attorney jobs that are actually out there? Is the work environment for an attorney worth risking financial ruin? Not by a long shot. Attorneys are among the unhappiest people, as measured by job satisfaction surveys. I recently ran across a couple of different posts: one by an associate at a large firm, another who took jobs with small firms. As you will see, neither job scenario is appealing at all.

The large firm associate's day can only be described as hectic. The busy day for this associate is a continuous fire drill, comprised of client created emergencies. The most galling part of it is that the attorney spends almost 21 hours in one day at the office. When a person always works at least 13 hours a day, 7 days a week, that $150,000 starting salary suddenly doesn't look that great. The attorney ostensibly accepts a work schedule that would be unacceptable to most normal people because he has huge loan payments that need to be paid off so he can move on to something more satisfying. The Biglaw job essentially becomes a way for the associate to erase the huge financial mistake he has made by going to law school in the first place. Is an "education" that is so useless and financially burdensome that it forces graduates to take jobs that with this much stress really worth it? Oh, and if you are laid off, you have a black mark against you that makes it much harder for you to find another Biglaw position.

If you are unable to get the brass ring that is a Biglaw job, things are even worse. Not only do you have to put up with a schedule that can rival the Biglaw associate's, you have to do it for a lot less money. This person had a couple of terrible jobs that are representative of what to expect if you are unable to break into a mid to large size firm (Note: there is a lot more in this article I will discuss at a future date). His first job was at a firm that "ran through associates like tissue paper". I unfortunately also worked at such a firm. The partners had no interest in developing anyone or providing the training law schools expect firms to give new graduates. They simply hired whoever would work for the least money and let them go if things didn't work out. There were so many people out there that their ad would always get tons of resume submissions. The second job this person took required him to work for free as an "intern" for three months. After that, he made $1,000 per month for three months before getting a raise to a $2,000 per month salary.

I unfortunately also have experience with this. My first job out of law school was with an attorney who agreed to hire me for $400 per week plus 20% of any fees received from cases that settled or that we won. This was reduced to $300 per week one day after my boss expressed surprise that I expected the $400 per week. He swore up and down that he had said $300 per week. Not wanting to rock the boat, I agreed to the reduced amount. I eventually ended up leaving after five months when no case monies were coming in and I was forced to ask my parents to loan me gas money so I could drive to the office. This was in 2004, so I can only imagine what indignities law graduates are having to put up with now.

For most people, the law is a terrible choice. I do everything I can to discourage people I meet who want to go to law school because it seems "interesting". Still, some fail to heed my advice and still go. The fight is not over until our message is known to everyone and the ScamDeans and ScamProfs are forced to discount their services to what they are actually worth.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


It's been a busy year and we'll have more retrospective posts later this week.  But for right now, it's time to turn off the computer and spend a little time with family and friends, or just crack open the booze/drugs and slump in front of the TV.  Whatever gets you through Christmas.

Indiana Tech Law School had a "Treat Tree" this year, from under which students could take delicious free food to sustain them through their pre-exam studies.  But from the school's Facebook page, it looks like there's just a half-eaten box of crackers.  And I'm sure in a year or two when the school is showing off its "Employment Outcomes", there'll be little more than the career equivalent of a half-eaten box of crackers too.

I hope you all have a happy 25th.  Remember, even Santa is underemployed and works just one day each year.  Probably still paying his student loans from centuries ago too.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Comments and Corrections: Additional thoughts on Prof. Nancy Leong's Leiteresque Smear Artistry.

I had hoped to conclude my internet sparring with law Prof. Nancy Leong. However her recent, and most inventive, piece of smear-artistry requires some comments and corrections. 

The primary flaw in Leong’s five-post series at Feminist Law Professors, especially her concluding post, is her deliberate failure to consistently distinguish between harassment and criticism, which allows her to describe critics of her work as harassers, of whom I am deemed “the most persistent.”  

Google's online dictionary provides workable thumbnail definitions of the terms "harassment" and "criticism." Harassment is defined as "aggressive pressure or intimidation." Criticism is defined as "the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes" and as "the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work."

I assert that legitimate criticism includes expressing the view that a particular law review article is meritless or absurd. And few are as meritless and absurd as Nancy Leong's remarkable law review article entitled The Open Road and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream," 64 Fla L.Rev. 305 (2012) (complaining that Fourth Amendment caselaw is "dry," "mundane," and "focused on minutiae" in contrast to the "poetry or magic" of her fave movies and songs, those that feature the open road as a narrative motif). Likewise, it is criticism, rather than harassment, to note the irony that the author of this nonsense is a stalwart proponent of the view that legal scholarship holds immense value for law students and the profession, and to note the further irony that the author has zero practice experience in the field she is paid so well to profess: criminal law. 

The category of harassment, by contrast, includes Professor Leong's behavior in snooping the identity of a pseudonymous critic and then sending that critic a stalker email containing false accusations of racism and sexism, and a demand for a discussion via a medium (telephone) specified by her and by a deadline imposed by her, under the threat of outing. Nancy Leong is my harasser, not the other way around. In the classic fashion of smear artists, such as Brian Leiter, she projects her behavior on to others. I appreciate that Leong does not know much about criminal law, which she has never practiced. Therefore, she may find it instructive to look up the statutory definition of intimidation in my jurisdiction. 

In her efforts to portray me as obsessed, Leong asserts that I have posted approximately 70 comments about her under the pseudonym "dybbuk" and that it "would not surprise" her to learn that some offensive anonymous comments about her were also authored by me. Contrary to this claim, if you tally up my posts and comments referencing Leong, the number is around 25. Furthermore, I have not commented on Leong under any other screen name, or as an anonymous poster--and will say so in an affidavit, if it comes to that.

I believe that all of my posts and comments regarding Leong, with the exception of a single wisecrack, pertain either to her article Open Road, or to her utter lack of practice experience in the field of criminal law. I am especially proud of this short satiric piece about Open Road, which Leong describes as a "lengthy play[ ] about me." It is telling that, throughout Leong's truly lengthy series of blog posts about her alleged harassment at the cyber-hands of me and other scambloggers, she does not once acknowledge the existence of Open Road, let alone that is is the target of much of the scamblogger criticism, especially my own. Perhaps, she is ashamed of the article. If so, that is to her credit -- she should be ashamed of it.  

The only example Leong offers to substantiate her contention that I made numerous racist posts is particularly ludicrous. In a comment on a JD Underground (JDU) thread last year, I referred to a law professor conference in Hawaii, where Leong was one of the speakers, as "a gravy train, or shall I say, a luau train." "Gravy train" was a reference to the free vacations masquerading as scholarly conferences that law professors routinely hold for themselves, vacations ultimately paid for by their massively indebted students. "Luau train" was my reference to the fact that this particular law professor conference was held at a Waikiki beach resort, where they stage starlight luaus for the pampered resort guests. 

Leong described my joke about a "luau train" as an effort to disparage her Native Hawaiian ancestry, something I had no idea she possessed. Personally, I doubt that Leong herself believes that that comment was racist. It is yet another irony that a lawprof, who blogs in an authoritative tone about the proper way to converse about race, grants herself permission to defend her wounded pride with false accusations of racism.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wisconsin Legal Task Force Comes Down on the Side of the Reformers

Almost two weeks ago Dupednontraditional did an excellent post on the differing conclusions that the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education report compared to the Illinois State Bar Association's "Special Committee on the Impact of Law School Debt on the Delivery of Legal Services" report.

Then, last Thursday, dybbuk123 took down the self-interested New York City Bar Association Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession's 135 page report.  Though it purported to be broadly representative of both the New York and national legal profession, dybbuk123 reported that the makeup of the Task Force was almost completely made up of elite lawyers (BigLaw, General Counsel, Chief Legal Counsel) or law school employees (including eight law school deans).  Dybbuk deserves a nod for holding his nose and making it through the whole report, which was so out-of-touch with reality that it could only have been the result of a collaboration between law school deans and BigLaw partners.

Though we often feel (rightly) that us average folks in the legal profession are not getting the support we need from the top, whether it is the ABA, NALP, or state bar associations, things have been starting to change.  In June, as covered by Dupednontraditional, Illinois put forth a report that looks like something that OTLSS contributors could have come up with.

Not to be left out by their neighbors to the south, the State Bar of Wisconsin created the "Challenges Facing New Lawyers Task Force" to address the serious issues, which they did in the "Special Task Force Report".  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toilet Paper

I’m referring to “The Brief”, Volume 1, Issue 1, the “newspaper” published by Indiana Tech Law School.  Please, please go here to read it yourself.  A few highlights:

Page 1, headline: “Tech Era Law Begins.”  Hopefully, we can all do our part to ensure that the Tech Era Law ends within a year.  A typical fluff piece, not much to see other than a giant front page photograph of Dean Peter Alexander receiving "a medallion" to signify his investiture as VP and dean of the law school.  A fitting start, seeing as this entire law school is nothing more than Dean Alexander's vanity project.

Page 2, headline: no, it's not about law or the amazing students or the great facilities or the world-class faculty.  "Art Collection Fills the Law Building.”  Yup, lead with the important stuff.  Like the decoration.

Page 2, sidebar from the follically-challenged scamster himself, Dean Peter Alexander.  He’s here to solicit cash, a true salesman.  Always Be Closing.  “Please visit our website and make a gift to add to our scholarship endowment or the Dean’s Discretionary Fund.” Discretionary Fund?  Slush Fund.

Then my favorite story.  Page 2, an article entitled, “Climbing to the Top”, by scam victim law student Rachel Johnson.  She recounts how she based her decision to attend law school on a truly bizarre, unconnected event.  Let’s listen to her explain: “Last summer I decided to overcome my fear of heights by climbing Half Dome in Yosemite. I told myself that if I could conquer Half Dome, I would finally quit my job and focus on getting into law school.” Er, yeah.  After much description of her climbing “struggle”, she writes: “When I got to the top, I screamed, ‘I made it and I’m going to law school!’ At that moment, I heard people clapping and cheering for me.”  She might as well have tossed a coin to decide whether to attend or not.  Her little story reminded me of Leo DiCaprio standing on the bow of the Titanic, shouting, “I’m King of the World.”  Little did he know that soon he’d be at the bottom of the ocean.  I expect Rachel’s career will take a similar trajectory.  It’s not too late to quit, Rachel.

Page 3 begins with the headline, “Love of Law Profession Draws Judge to Teach.”  And credit where credit is due, Professor Judith Fitzgerald clearly has the experience to teach law.  But she’s teaching it at a scam law school, which makes her part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Bottom of page 3, we see a profile of one of the attorney-mentors for the students at Indiana Tech Law School, Andrew Palmison of Rothberg, Logan & Warsco.  He’s a bit meh – average education, average firm, insurance defense practice.  Hardly going to get his assigned students the insider connection anywhere beyond Fort Wayne's insurance defense community, but if that's your goal in life, who am I to judge?  (I'd strongly suggest going to a school other than Indiana Tech though - at least one that is accredited.)  I’m assuming he’s not working for free either, so it'll be interesting to see how much money the school is throwing at these mentors in order for them to sully their resumes with the name of this law school.  "Look, I mentored failures!" Andrew, if you’d like to correct me on your financial gain from this arrangement, please email me at outsidethelawschoolscam@gmail.com.

Page 4 is dedicated to Indiana Tech’s very own Nelson Mandela, a certain student called “Prosper Batinge.” Indiana Tech’s scammy fingers reach all the way to Ghana for this victim, although I expect that he (and most of the other students featured in the magazine) are on some kind of scholarship.  Note that all of Indiana Tech’s scholarships are contingent – i.e. a scam within a scam.  Prosper sounds nice enough, although his strong accent is evidently a bit of a problem: “He is dismayed when people are hesitant to ask ‘what?’ and have him repeat himself. . . . So please… ask him ‘what?’ ‘what?’ ‘what?’ as much as you need… because with Batinge, you can be certain that what he has to offer is worth the perseverance.”  Yeah, right.  Let’s see how that translates into success in the practice of law.  Let’s see how well the jury understands what he’s saying, or how long the judge’s patience lasts, or how quickly clients tire of continuously asking, “What?”  Let’s hope this isn’t some new way to rack up fees – saying everything twice.  (Note the dismal level of English in the writing of this particular article.  It was written by a law professor, Nancy Marcus.  She must have gone to the Dean Alexander School of Not Giving a Fuck.)

Interestingly, Prosper’s home country of Ghana has got the law school thing right.  “In 2008, Batinge took the Ghana law school entrance exam for the first time, but was not surprised when he did not get in; out of many thousands of applicants every year, only 100 are accepted to become students at one
of Ghana’s three law schools.” We have much to learn – three schools that limit supply into the profession before the lives of the students are irreparably damaged.  No toilet law schools like Indiana Tech in Ghana.  Send your rejects to the US!  We’ll take ‘em!

Page 5 contains a profile of drug and hooker aficionado Professor Adam Lamparello.  Enough said, and I refer you back to the great post by dybbuk that highlights the sheer unbelievability of his appointment to any position of responsibility.  His presence on the faculty makes an utter mockery of Indiana Tech's commitment to high ethical standards.

Page 6, a nice little bio of Aretha Green, one of the faculty.  Nothing wrong with her other than the fact she’s working at a scam school and making a living from the impending misery of the graduates.  Also a small piece by Assistant Dean for Administration and Outreach Tom Fox, who tells us about the law school’s Constitution Day celebrations, including how “the law school courtroom was the site of a continuing education (CLE) program attended by several members of the local legal community.” A whole several members?  What is that?  Three people?

Page 7, a profile of Anna Johnson, another member of the faculty with an obvious love of her favorite lunch, the "fried bologna sandwich with mayonnaise."  I hope the school has AEDs strategically placed throughout, if there's any wall space left between all that art.  She has the strangest, creepiest hobby: “I call myself a ‘lookie-lue.’ I love going out looking at real estate and open houses. I don’t have plans to buy.”  Errr, okay.  (Back in a bit – just going to lock my doors and close the curtains.)  Note that she's the registrar, the person with access to all of your personal information, your files, everything about you that you might not want a snoop having access to.  To the question about what books she’s currently reading, she answers: “No books.  I love People and Essence.” This is a member of the faculty!  Gossip magazines, snooping in houses, and a diet that's the culinary equivalent of chain smoking.  As a sidenote, the article itself is written by someone with the writing skills of a middle school student.  Not a professor this time, but where are they finding these illiterates?

Page 7, the pyramid scheme begins.  “Pre-Law Group Helps Undergrads Prepare.” Yes, the 1Ls at Indiana Tech Law School are helping undergrads study for the LSAT.  I guess the 1Ls are sucked in now and have to have at least two new classes under them to float the law school until they graduate.  And which poor undergraduates want to be coached by students with a median LSAT of 146?  That’s setting them up for failure.  Which is, I suppose, the whole idea.  If the undergrads score higher, they’ll go to real law schools and not flush their money down this toilet.


Cross-Post from Law Prof: Progress Report

In case you aren't subscribed to LawProf, here is his first new post in about ten months.  He keeps posting law-related posts at lawyersgunsandmoney blog every week or so, but here is his "Progress Report."  Make sure you check it out, it's a good summary of what has been going on and includes many links to news relating to law schools and other blogs and websites covering the scam.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elliot Milstein Fancies Himself An Advocate For Change

With the ABA contemplating wholesale changes to the tenure process for law professors, it is to be expected that professors will fight any proposal to change the current system. After all, it has enabled law professors to have the most lucrative part time job in the country. Inside Higher Ed did a blurb about these potential changes and received an email from Elliot Milstein, a professor at American University. Milstein states in part, "As both teachers and scholars, law professors often play an important role in a society built on the rule of law, to be critical of injustice and advocate for change."

There is a certain black humor in Milstein's words. American University has one of the worst employment rates in the country. In an effort to save his own position, Milstein makes the laughable assertion that he as a law professor should be "critical of injustice" and that he is an "advocate for change". Perhaps he should look out his office door at the students who are soon going to be thrown into the world with minimal job prospects and a worthless credential that will be an albatross for the remainder of their lives. Milstein has no interest in remediating real injustice. Milstein's CV states that the only time he has held a non-law school job is from 1971 to 1972, after which he ran back to a law fellowship at Yale. For over forty years, he has been paid a handsome wage to "teach" the law. I would like to know what he is doing to crusade against the injustice being perpetrated on his students. As for being an "advocate for change", isn't this letter going against that concept? Milstein wants to preserve the status quo because it will continue enriching him. Like most law professors, his "advocating for change" stops when it begins affecting his bank balance.

As I have stated before, Milstein should be thrust out into the job market with his grads. He will quickly find that most firms don't have any use for theory. But until the student loan tap is shut off, Milstein and his ilk will gladly take hundreds of thousands of dollars from students to teach them nothing of any real value.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Public Service Message from OTLSS

The images highlighted in this post were created by a well-funded organization that, in turn, works with several other well-funded organizations.  Together, they all want you to spend $100,000 on a law degree in order to make a lot of rich people even richer.
The image above was created by a member of a blog run by experienced lawyers and law grads whose only goal is to provide you with fair warning about the true state of the legal profession.

You decide.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Genuinely Practice-Ready Law Graduates

One of the hottest trends among law schools frantically trying to fix the jalopy of legal education is "experiential learning" or creating "practice-ready" graduates.  Practically every week in my news feed on this topic, I see some article about yet another law school parading these buzz phrases as they add some bell or whistle.

Like installing a car horn that plays La Cucaracha.

Here's a typical article on this nonsense:
"In the past, experiential learning was almost optional," says Diane Rifkin, an attorney and founder of Rifkin Consulting, an attorney recruitment firm located on the web at www.rifkinconsulting.com . "Now, experiential activities will be an integral part of the majority of law school classes. Classes are becoming much more hands-on, with the ultimate goal of producing lawyers who are better prepared to handle the realities of practice."
For one example, this is from Capital's page on the subject:
At Capital University Law School, we know that getting real-world experiences is critical to getting the most out of your legal education and differentiating yourself in the job market. Experiential learning opportunities help students take their classroom theory and apply it to the real world – teaching you how to work like a lawyer.
Emphasis added.  As a koan for the reader on the road to enlightenment, try to figure out how students are going to differentiate themselves on the job market when virtually every law school in the country offers the same puffed-up claims.

This isn't to say there's a lack of good intent, or that law students don't need real-world experience.

It's that law schools simply aren't built to provide it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The NYC Bar Association Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession, which includes eight law school deans, declares that the "perceived oversupply of lawyers is largely illusory."

The New York City Bar Association Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession recently issued a 135-page report on legal careers in the 21st century, entitled "Developing Legal Careers and Delivering Justice in the 21st Century (hereinafter: "Report").


The Task Force boasts that its membership is "broadly representative of the profession in New York and nationally." ("Report, p. i) Indeed, the 35-member Task Force includes 19 persons who are Big Law partners or are General Counsels or Chief Legal Officers of major corporations. It also includes eight law school deans, and two other persons who are employed by law schools. That is so representative that maybe the rest of us should all just fall silent, and let the Task Force speak for us.

The Task Force boasts that its members "approached the work from different backgrounds and with different perspectives." (Report, p. i) Indeed, the Task Force includes among its members the Dean of New York Law School, as well as another person whose job title is "Advisor to the Dean, New York Law School." So we get the radically "different perspectives" of both the Dean of a school with a 37% nine-month-out bar-passage-required employment rate, and the Advisor whom he employs.

The Report dismisses the "wide-spread handwringing" and "common lament" (Report, p. 1, 108) about a saturated legal market, finding that the "perceived oversupply of lawyers is largely illusory." (Report, p. 1) According to the Report, the problem lies elsewhere, in the mysterious failure to match the supply of lawyers with unmet legal needs.


According to the Task Force, the recent laments about an alleged "oversupply" of lawyers are ironic. Not just false, but "ironic," in that there are too few lawyers to handle the huge demand for legal services.

  • "Perhaps most importantly, there is a huge unmet demand for legal services across America among middle-class households of moderate means: an irony given the common lament about the "oversupply" of lawyers." (Report, p. 1)

Did you know that more than half of American households are afflicted with at least one unmet legal need? Given the extent of the crisis, maybe we should empower law schools to conscript recent college grads into their 1L classes. 

  • "The most comprehensive study of the legal needs of persons of moderate means is the 1994 ABA Consortium on Legal Services and the Public, Legal Needs and Civil Justice: A Survey of Americans: Major Findings from the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study. . . found that 52% of moderate-income households faced at least one legal need. Our research confirms that the need for legal services for persons of moderate means, if anything, has increased since the 1994 survey. (Report, p. 89)

There is no oversupply of lawyers, simply a weird failure to match lawyers who need clients with clients who need lawyers. Think of it this way: underemployed recent law grads are huddled at one end of the dance hall, and "large portions of the U.S. population" are huddled at the other. What pitiful "lack of confidence" prevents them from sauntering over to each other, and tripping the law fantastic?

  • "There is a need to reconcile the perceived oversupply of new lawyers with the persistent unmet legal needs of large portions of the U.S. population. We believe that many new lawyers could develop sustainable legal practices serving Americans of moderate means who have legal needs and who can afford to pay something, but who do not now obtain legal advice because of competing priorities for limited resources, a lack of confidence in the value of being represented by counsel, and the difficulty of finding the right lawyer at an affordable price." (Report, p. 11)

Or think of it this way: recent law graduates are starving to death at the Super-Glutton All You Can Eat Buffet because they are too dim to realize that there is food underneath those plate lids.

  • "Why have large numbers of underemployed law graduates not been driven to address this unmet need in their attempts to build sustainable careers?" (Report, p. 97)

Maybe the problem is that today’s youth are technologically unsophisticated. The cost-savings made possible by newer technologies allow lawyers to profitably represent the middle class, but recent grads just don’t see it. What do you have to do these days to persuade a kid to turn on a damned electronic device?

  • "We believe that newer business models, technologies, and innovative practices can provide better opportunities to meet these needs while providing satisfying and remunerative long-term career opportunities for new lawyers." (Report, p. 12) 

Or maybe the problem is that new lawyers are too citified, refusing to abandon Park Avenue, or the elegant leafy burbs, for rural Green Acres, where the simple country folk often pray for a recent law school grad to move to town and sell them legal services.

  • "There are, for example, many areas of New York State outside New York City and its suburbs that have few attorneys in residence, yet populations with legal needs." (Report, p. 13)

  • "Rural areas, for example, are rife with underserved legal needs." (Report, p. 97)

Or maybe the problem is that new lawyers, with their media-driven fantasies of Big Law wealth, are just too egotistical to devote themselves, Atticus Finch-like, to the needs of the common people.

  • "We also believe that there are additional, existing opportunities for new lawyers who have flexible career goals and realistic economic expectations. In recent decades, many law schools, law students, prospective law students and the press have been unduly focused on "BigLaw" jobs and their high starting salaries." (Report, p. 5)

Law deans and law professors can help remedy the crisis by persuading their students not to be such greedy bastards. Or, to put it gently, they could shift their students’ paradigm.

  • "But what would the profession look like, and what could be achieved for law graduates, law schools, and—most importantly—people with unmet legal needs, if the paradigm were to shift: if schools and students were encouraged to recognize the value and professional rewards of pursuing a private viable legal practice aimed at delivering affordable services to people of moderate means and to adjust their career support services and career expectations accordingly?" (Report. p. 98)

You know what would be "game-changing"? Easy credit for insufficiently indebted law grads. (What would be really cool is if we could make those loans non-dischargeable).

  • "In particular, access to outside capital could be a game-changing development in providing legal advice to the moderate- and low income individuals who currently have unmet legal needs." (Report, p. 86)

Let us not put all blame on young lawyers though, when some of the fault lies with the public. As with many gamblers or drinkers, American middle class households are in denial. They need to be informed that they have a problem, a problem of unmet legal needs, and require professional assistance.

  • "[M]iddle-class households gave several reasons for not seeking legal assistance. The principal reasons were that the households did not identify their problem as a legal issue, thought a lawyer was unnecessary to resolve it, or did not believe a lawyer would be useful." (Report, p. 90)

You had me persuaded, Task Force, and I was prepared to do my part by offering to convert my scamblog column into a law school recruiting tool. Then you mentioned, three-quarters of the way through the Report, that lawyers are often not needed to address unmet legal needs.  

  • "We also recognize that in certain circumstances, non-lawyers can provide an important service to individuals who need help and assistance resolving law-related issues. . . . [S]ome of the tasks involved in assisting low-income individuals are relatively simple and, in appropriate circumstances, could be performed effectively by non-lawyers with some degree of training, or even by untrained but intelligent laypersons." (Report, p. 99)

  • "[N]on-lawyers already provide legal services in limited circumstances in New York, including in landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosure actions, consumer credit cases, family court, tribal courts, and administrative proceedings regarding social security benefits, immigration, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation, with better outcomes for the clients. . . . The Task Force applauds these initiatives, specifically encouraging additional study to find roles for non-lawyer practitioners in areas where the market will not bear the costs of a full lawyer." (Report, p. 99)

No, you don't always require a lawyer to address your relatively uncomplicated legal need. Just like you don't always require a doctor to address your minor medical need. Sometimes you can address your medical need simply by consulting a non-doctor with "some degree of training," or an "untrained but intelligent" layperson, or by availing yourself of online resources, or by taking an extra-strength Tylenol. This last option is how I chose to address the pounding headache I experienced after reading the deceitful and highfalutin' 135-page whitewash produced by the New York City Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Tale of Two Committees

We...are...the...A-B-A!  We...are...the...su-per-i-or...legal...in-tell-i-gence!  

It has been said that "All Politics is Local."  There is certainly some politics at work when one examines the ABA's "Draft Report and Recommendations, Task Force on the Future of Legal Education (September 20, 2013)," compared to, say, the Illinois State Bar Association's "Special Committee on the Impact of Law School Debt on the Delivery of Legal Services (March 8, 2013)"  Others, like MA's recent post, have commented on the ABA report already, and for the most part the reception of the ABA report has been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic by those not-directly affiliated with Law Schools.  However, less appears to have been said about State Bar views on the current state of the legal industry, and it is my personal opinion that the ISBA report says exactly what needs to be said.  While the ISBA might not call themselves "scambloggers" on this topic, I think the scambloggers can find common cause with the ISBA on these issues.

Rather than going through a long discussion of both reports, I thought I would summarize only the recommendations made by both committees for dealing with the crushing cost of a JD, the meager job opportunities, and the state of legal education.  Both reports have an outline of recommendations with supporting text, but I believe a simple review of the high-level topics is sufficient.

Topic Number 1:  What should Law Schools be doing?


1.   Develop and Implement a Plan to Manage the Investment of Law School Resources in Faculty Scholarly Activity, and Continually Assess Success in Accomplishing the Goals of the Plan.

2.  Develop a Clear Statement of the Value of the Law School's Program of Education and other Services Will Provide, Including Relation to Employment Opportunities, and Communicate that Statement to Students and Prospective Students

3.  Adopt, as an Institution-Wide Responsibility, the Promotion of Career Success of Graduates and Develop Plans for Meeting that Responsibility

4.  Develop Comprehensive Programs of Financial Counseling for Law Students, and Continually Assess the Effectiveness of Such Programs

ISBA:  1.  Focus on Practice-Oriented Courses

            2.  Provide Fewer Exotic Courses  (e.g. "Law and ______" courses)

            3.  Provide More Writing Assignments and Constructive Criticism

            4.  Teach Law Office Management

            5.  Provide Free Bar Review Courses

            6.  Transform the Second and Third Years of Law School

You gotta love the overly-wordy ABA.  Blah, blah, blah, what?  I don't even care anymore.  They are always, always, "Developing, Implementing, and Assessing," but mealy-mouthed about actual positive steps.  The ISBA, in contrast?  Teach practical courses.  Provide writing skills.  Teach Firm management.  Boom, boom, boom. 

Topic Number 2:  What Should Law Faculty be Doing?

ABA:   1.  Become Informed About the Subjects Addressed in This Report and Recommendations, in Order to Play in Effective Role in the Improvement of Legal Education at the Faculty Member's School.

2.  Individually and as Part of a Faculty, Reduce the Role Given to Status as a Measure of Personal and Institutional Success.

3.  Support the Law School in Implementing the Recommendations

ISBA:   1.  Change Tenure/Hiring Requirements; Less Emphasis on Scholarship

            2.  Include Practicing Judges and Lawyers on Hiring and Tenure Committees

            3.  More Reliance on Adjunct Faculty

            4.  Give Clinical and Legal Writing Faculty Equal Say in Governance

LawProfs should "become informed" so as to be "effective" in the implementation of the blah-blah report, reduce the role of "status", and "support" the law school in its success?  Sweet Lord, please don't break a sweat or anything, or get a hang nail while falling all over yourselves to implement change.  The ISBA?    Change tenure and hiring practices.  Focus on the practical.  Put actual practitioners on Law School committees and in the classroom.  Done.

Topic Number 3:  What about the Cost of Law School?

ABA:    1.  Establish A Task Force or Commission With Appropriate Expertise to Examine and Recommend Reforms Regarding Law School Pricing and Financing.  Issues Within the Scope of Such A Project Should Include:

                                    a.  Cost-Based Pricing by Law Schools

                                    b.  Discriminatory Pricing by Law Schools

                                    c.  Reliance on Loans to Finance Law School Education

d.  The Structure of the Current Loan Program for Financing Law School Education

2.  Revise Standards, Interpretations, and Rules that Directly or Indirectly Raise the Cost of Delivering a J.D. Education Without Commensurately Contributing to the Goal of Ensuring that Law Schools Deliver a Quality Education.

3.  Develop and Implement a Plan for Reducing the Cost and Limiting Increases in the Cost of Delivering the J.D. Education, and Continually Assess and Improve the Plan.

ISBA                1.  Place Reasonable Limits on the Amounts Law Students Can Borrow

2.  Impose Outcome-Based Requirements on Law Schools for Federal Student Loan Eligibility

                        3.  Reallocate the Funds Available Through Loan Forgiveness Programs

So, in other words, the ABA thinks we need a Task Force to mumble-mumble about costs, while the ISBA says "lower costs and demand accountability."  Nice.

Topic Number 4:  How can the State Bars and State Supreme Courts help?

ABA                 1.  Construct and Evaluate Proposals to Reduce the Amount of Law Study Required for Persons to be Eligible for Practice

2.  Construct and Evaluate Proposals to Reduce the Amount of Undergraduate Study Required for Persons to be Eligible for Practice

                        3.  Establish Uniform National Standards for Admission to Practice

4.  Reduce the Number of Doctrinal Subjects Tested on Bar Examinations and Increase Testing of Skills

5.  Avoid Imposing Educational or Academic Requirements of Admission to Practice Beyond Those Required for ABA Approval of Law Schools

ISBA                1.  Consider Ways to Reduce Cost of Becoming Licensed

                        2.  Monitor Ethics Violations due to Excessive Student Loan Debt

                        3.  Help Young Attorneys Gain Practice Experience

                        4.  Facilitate Firm Apprenticeship Programs

                        5.  Partner with Law Schools to Provide Practice Experiences

                        6.  Facilitate Pro Bono Work

                        7.  Facilitate the Sale of Rural Law Practices to Young Lawyers

                        8.  Provide Debt Counseling

                        9.  Provide Solo/Small Firm Resources

                        10.  Partner with Stakeholders to Ensure Lawyers are Placed Where They Are Needed

Enough said.

Topic Number 5:          What about Accreditation?

ABA                 1.  Establish a Center or other Framework to Institutionalize the Process of Continuous Assessment and Improvement in the System of Legal Education.

2.  Establish a Mechanism for Gathering Information About Improvements in the System of Legal Education and Disseminate that Information to the Public.

3.  Establish Training and Continuing Education Programs for Prelaw Advisors to Improve their Understanding of the System of Legal Education and the Current Environment.

5.  Revise Standards, Interpretations, and Rules that Directly or Indirectly Impede Law School Innovation in Delivering a J.D. Education Without Clearly Contributing to the Goal of Ensuring that Law Schools Deliver a Quality Education.

6.  Revise Procedures Regarding Variances [Standard 802] to Promote Innovation and Experimentation

7.  Provide Additional Consumer Information to Prospective Students as Recommended in 2007 and 2008

ISBA                1.  Greater Role for Adjunct Faculty

                        2.  Require Law Schools Provide Debt-Counseling

                        3.  Remove Scholarship Requirement for Faculty

                        4.  Require Law Schools to Collect Additional Salary, Debt, Employment Status Information of Graduates

Hmmm.  The ABA has "a lot" to say here, while the ISBA keeps it short, sweet, and to the point.  Hmmm.  Irony.

Topic Number 6:  Anything else?

ABA                 1.  Establish Standards for Accreditation of Programs of Legal Education Other than the J.D. Program

2.  Authorize Persons Other than Lawyers with J.D.s to Provide Limited Legal Services, Whether Through Licensure or Other Mechanism Assuring Proper Education, Training, and Oversight

3.  Develop Educational Programs to Train Persons, other than Prospective Lawyers, to Provide Limited Legal Services.  Such Programs May, but Need Not, Be Delivered through Law Schools.

ISBA                [...]

What the, I don't even, ABA?!?  On the one hand, the ABA makes these luke-warm, half-hearted recommendations with no teeth; with the other, they are throwing law students and licensed attorneys under the bus because legal services are allegedly too expensive, too ineffective,  and allegedly not readily available for John Q. Citizen.  Wait, who accredits law schools like they were candy?  Yet, who has turned a blind eye to JD overproduction?  Yet, where was regulation of the industry with respect to costs and tuition, such that graduates can "afford" to work for less and supply these "needed" services?  What about the interests of actual, currently practicing lawyers - why are they supposed to take a haircut for No Real Reason, just because the ABA feels the need to distort the market?  Here's a pro-tip - the market has been distorted heretofore already, thanks, there is dubious need to add even more so-called "market correction." 

The ISBA, on the other hand, actually wants to regulate, streamline, and protect the profession - the end goal being legal services provided efficiently at reduced costs without knifing practitioners in the back all at the same time.  I highly suspect there is a way for law schools to make a profit in all this, too, albeit perhaps not at the rate of bank they were previously jonesing for.  They may have to settle for something more, I don't know, "reasonable."  Break out the violins, everybody, as the drama commences.

In conclusion, it is shocking to see the disparity in mission and motivation between two very similar organizations.  Some want to maintain their obtuse and wordy hierarchy; others want to actually take action to change things for the better.  Read the ISBA report; it is full of facts, figures, anecdotes, and recommendations.  I highly respect the efforts of those Illinois Bar Committee members who put it together and their admonitions regarding what to do about the state of the legal profession, indebted JDs, poor career prospects, and efficient delivery of legal services - they clearly feel some responsibility towards those within their jurisdiction.  The American BigLaw Association and their minions, in contrast, apparently have other objectives that lean more towards "innovative" hegemony and less towards the "pedestrian" concerns of Joe and Joanna JD.