Friday, August 30, 2013

Update re: Paul Pless and Illinois Law

This is going to be a long post, so bear with me.

Paul Pless

History first. In the summer of 2011- and dates are fuzzy here (and you’ll see why soon) - “inaccuracies” were discovered in the stats being reported to the ABA and USNWR by the University of Illinois College of Law. For a detailed background, read the official investigative report, available here.

What supposedly happened is this. An assistant dean of admissions, Paul Pless, had been fudging the numbers for years. LSAT scores and GPA data for its incoming classes had been consistently inflated, with the effect being that it would artificially boost the school’s USNWR ranking. In the summer of 2011, something happened and the school was forced to go public about it.

The first firm date we know is this: August 26, 2011, when the university ethics office received information about these inaccuracies from the law school.  But we can be fairly sure that there was much internal investigation prior to this date within the law school itself – it’s not as if the dean would have learned that the numbers were fudged and the next phone call he made was to the ethics office. So some time before August 26, 2011, the administration of the law school "found out" about Pless’s activities. A couple of months, perhaps?

The official investigative report dragged Pless through the mud, as did news reporting and commentary of this event afterwards, even investigating whether or not he stole money from scholarships for his own use. Amazingly (or literally unbelievably), nobody else was implicated in this immense scheme. According to the official report, this was Pless’s idea, his alone, and nobody else in the entire school – no professors, deans, administrators, nobody – had any idea what Pless was up to. The ABA sanctioned the school with a slap on the wrist, everyone agreed that it was just a lone wolf and nobody else was involved, and life returned to normal.

Now, you and I know that Pless was not acting alone. Plenty of law schools do this with their stats – they just haven’t been caught, or the fudging is too well hidden or subtle. Pless, who joined the admissions team right out of law school, was just too junior to start fudging the stats of his own accord right off the bat. No school would ever let a new law grad, unguided, simply report whatever stats he wanted to USNWR and the ABA. His work would have been supervised, he would have received advice from above in his early years in the job at least, and his would have been – unofficially, if not officially – approved by someone higher up the food chain. Fudging the stats is an order that comes down from on high, not from down below.  To a law school, these stats mean everything.

Pless was used as a scapegoat by the law school, and Pless took the heat for the entire scheme. But for some reason – and I didn’t know what (until now) – he’s protecting those above him, keeping his mouth shut, tossing away his own law school career, and taking a massive hit for the team. Why?

Put yourself in his shoes. You screwed up by reporting false stats, and it’s gone public. But you were told to do it by higher-ups. You have the emails, the facts and figures, the who-did-what-and-when. And they’re making you take the entire blame? I’d be like, “Hellz no! (Ring ring) New York Times?  Have I got a story for you!”

So here we are. False stats, reported August 26, 2013 to the university ethics office, and Pless took all the blame without complaint or excuse.  Something's wrong.

A few weeks ago, someone in the scamblogosphere mentioned Pless – I forget why. But I decided to do some checking around. Pless is a realtor, as we all know, but on one site, he gives away a little too much information – one word too much, in fact. On his Trulia profile, he posts the following as his interests, and gives away a little piece of information that connects all the dots:
Interests: When not helping clients buy or sell their home I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife, Stacey Tutt, is a Professor and very active in the community as a Board Member of United Way. We have a wonderful daughter and 300 pounds of dog in the energetic Duke and Ramsey.

Married to a professor? Hmmm. I looked up Professor Stacey Tutt. Guess where she works. Yup, Stacey Tutt is a professor at Illinois University College of Law, the very same place that ruined her husband’s career.  That alone is odd.

Stacey Tutt

But look at those dates. She was hired in June 2011, right before the school went public with the stats scandal. Right at the time where Pless would have been in the dean’s office trying to work out a solution. The dean is worried sick because he knows he told Pless to fudge the stats. Pless is crying, perhaps, because how will he look after his baby daughter with no job and a wife who makes around $55K (as per the current vacancy for a managing attorney, her prior job at Prairie State Legal Services, which is hardly going to compensate for the loss of Pless's $130K salary at the law school)?  The family relied on Paul's healthy salary, and a drop from a combined income of almost $200K to just over $50K would have been devastating.

So the dean – or Pless – has a great idea. Fire Pless and he’ll take the hit willingly. After all, Pless was involved in the scandal and will lose his job anyway. But in return for his silence, the school will hire Pless’s wife, Stacey Tutt, as an assistant clinical professor of some new clinic (i.e. the lowest kind of full time professor, more of a perk offered to attract a big name professor - the school throws in an assistant clinical professor job for the big name prof's useless JD spouse to boost up their combined compensation by a hundred grand or so, and the spouse gets a vacant little office to set up a clinic in and a meaningless title.) A nice salary and a fine replacement for Pless’s lost income.  And she’ll be hired under her maiden name so nobody will guess that she’s married to Paul. Just don't expect a "plus one" invitation to the faculty Christmas party though.  Perfect! Everyone’s happy. The dean keeps his job, and the Pless/Tutt family gets to avoid bankruptcy.

And all was well and good, with Paul selling houses and Stacey doing whatever she did as director of the Community Preservation Clinic, until Paul posted that he was married to Professor Stacey Tutt in an obscure online profile. Had the word “Professor” been omitted, nobody would know.

The dots connect rather well. The school needed Pless to keep quiet, and they bought his silence with a job for his wife. That’s the payoff that nobody figured out. That’s why Paul has kept his mouth shut.

Paul and Stacey - a charming couple

Interestingly, Stacey Tutt, back in 2010, was profiled in a little piece in Central Illinois Business, where she is quoted as follows:

I admire: My husband, Paul Pless. He has a quiet influence and can find a practical solution to what appears to be an unmanageable situation.
How right you are, Stacey. How right you are.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Scam Boat: Southwestern Law School's Two Week-Long Intersession Law School Course aboard an Island-Hopping Cruise Ship.

Hey, law students, it is never too early to plan your vacation getaway for winter break. And definitely you should splurge, because following graduation you will probably have a hard time scrounging up enough money and credit to afford a modest rental apartment, let alone a fancy trip.

May I suggest a Hawaiian cruise? Much less hassle than flying overseas somewhere, and no need to wander around a strange foreign land, feeling and looking like a ridiculous tourist. Just relax, swim and eat, gaze at the ocean, chuckle through the preposterous shipboard entertainment, and let the galley slaves tend to your whims and clean up after you.

But to get the most out of your cruise experience, you should definitely take along a bunch of law professors to yap at you. Fortunately, Southwestern Law School meets this need, for its own students and those at other ABA-accredited law schools, via its annual "Hawaii Winter Intersession Program." As described in its brochure:

"Southwestern Law School presents an exciting 15-day winter intersession program in Entertainment Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution. The program will take place on the Star Princess cruise ship, leaving from San Pedro, California on December 20, 2013, stopping at four (4) Hawaiian Islands and returning to San Pedro on January 4, 2014." The brochure promises that "[t]his groundbreaking program will offer a variety of academic, cultural, and social experiences" through:

* Courses on entertainment law;
* Courses on negotiation, mediation and dispute resolution;
* Instruction by recognized U.S. and international experts;
* All the amenities of a luxury cruise ship;
* Four days on four different Hawaiian islands;
* Social events onboard.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Obama Weighs In and Loyola "Decides" To Admit Fewer Students

Obama Says Law School Should Be Two, Not Three Years
Money Quote: “In the first two years, young people are learning in the classroom,” Mr. Obama said. “The third year, they’d be better off clerking or practicing in a firm even if they weren’t getting paid that much, but that step alone would reduce the costs for the student.”

Faced with job complaints, Loyola Law School accepting fewer studentsMoney Quote: "some administrators are trying to accept fewer students with low entrance exam scores and grade-point averages who could drag down schools' important rankings in U.S. News & World Report."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Indiana Tech vs. the Scamblogs

I find your lack of ethics and professionalism...disturbing.

The self-aggrandizement is strong in this one, and we are not fooled.

I spoke about this before.  To be fair, it's easy to pick on Indiana Tech, just as it's easy to pick on Cooley (home of the "objectively untrue" employment stats, McDonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 6th Cir.).  This is not about the fact that Indiana Tech is unaccredited, although that is an issue.  That can be easily fixed, what with the ABA all but rubber-stamping any school that wants to get into the business.

What cannot be easily fixed is graduating JDs with few to no prospects.  This is about irresponsible shilling.  This is about enticing people to do something they ought not to do, yet smiling and waving as they take a trip over the cliff.

 First of all, Risk:

"...I think we just thought there would be more people willing to take that chance. In this climate, applications are down overall and people are probably not into taking that much of a risk...I think the fact that there are 30 or more students willing to take a chance on this type of education even before we are accredited suggests we have a product that has some interest."

Well, I certainly want to pay tons of money for a highly-risky proposition, don't you?  Yes, that's right, all thirty of you, step right up, ladies and gents!  Spin the roulette wheel!  Come on, 32 Red!  You miss every swing you don't take!  Only $100k+ to play!  Are you man or woman enough to have the "guts" to make it in law school? 

Ignore the fact that this decision will follow you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, many with non-dischargable debt...honey, I'm still free, take a chance on me!

 Second of all, Career-changers:

"NLJ: If your median age is 33, I assume you’re getting quite a few career-changers.

Alexander: Career-changers and people from northeast Indiana or northwest Ohio who always wanted to go to law school but were looking for the right opportunity nearby. We fulfill that niche for them."

Non-trads....please...I beg of you....don't ruin your lives.  Look at my handle.  There are plenty of disillusioned non-trads out there who were "too old" when they graduated at 34+; their stories are not difficult to find.  Maybe these thirty-somethings are independently wealthy and have money to burn or have fantastic connections, but somehow I doubt it.  Don't go to law school at all; I don't care which school strikes your fancy.

Third of all, hypocrisy:

" have to have a thick skin. There are people in the blogosphere who are vicious with their comments. It allows them to be anonymous and it shows the darker side of our profession. I use them as Exhibit A for the need for more professionalism and ethics training.  There’s no doubt that it’s hurtful to read things that suggest the faculty members are just trying to steal student’s money and that the school has no soul."

No, Mr. Alexander, this is not about professionalism and ethics training.  This has to do with the economic concept of "moral hazard".   As for "ethics", the ABA thought it was "ethical" to outsource doc review, obtained via formal discovery, to overseas non-U.S.-licensed reviewer-mills for peanuts at BigLaw's request.  Would that we were all spared the discussion of these so-called lawyerly "ethics".

Back to Moral Hazard - Indiana needs another law school like Texas needs another law school like New York needs another law school like Illinois needs another law school like California needs another law school (that was sarcasm, ScamDeans, don't get any bright ideas).  Period.  Indiana Tech's own "research" stands behind the opening of this institution.  It is Indiana Tech that is shilling students from California to Africa with visions of Indiana sugar plums while consigning them to a lifetime of debt servitude.  This is about empire-building aspirations, not your students.  Indiana Tech students get stuck with the consequences while Indiana Tech cashes the checks. 

Also, Mr. Alexander, you are putting yourself out there and trying to drum up sales.  Why then, are we besmirched with "oh, those darn anonymous unprofessional bloggers" as if no one is allowed to disagree with your enterprise?  Further, there would be no free speech on this topic without anonymity, as well-positioned individuals such as yourself well know and have exploited in the past - God bless the internet.  Non-anonymity is not some mystical Red Badge of Courage.  Perhaps if Indiana Tech would take the log out of its own eye first, regarding ruining people's lives for fun and profit, THEN one could cast aspersions upon the mean, uncouth scambloggers - who are law school graduates living out the grim consequences of their own choices, I might add.

Oh well.  This isn't the first time Mr. Alexander has had his feelings hurt after getting called out for ScamDean-ery.  Maybe it's because he advocates for an inherently bad idea that wounds other people for individual gain, like other ScamDeans.  As if 200 some-odd law schools were not making the problem worse already, so hey, let's get a piece of the action!  Who needs a thick skin when you can get away from it all at the SEALS conference?

Friends, don't go to law school.  This isn't about what they can do for you.  It's about THEM and their pocketbooks.  Never forget it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dean Peter Alexander just doesn't care!

In a recent interview with Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Dean Peter Alexander of Indiana Tech "Law School" gave some revealing insight into how the school is progressing. If you haven't already read it, please do.

Here's my personal favorite answer:

NLJ: What is the profile of your students?
Alexander: I don’t know the demographics per se, but I know the students coming in are older. I know the national average age for law schools is in the mid-20s, and our median age will be 33, which is significantly higher than most law schools. I think we are more from outside of Indiana than inside Indiana, though it is pretty close to 50/50. We have a student from California and one from New York City. We have at least three students from Chicago and one from Ghana, in Africa. We are more male than female, and between 10 and 20 percent of this group are students of color.
Ignoring the rest of this disastrous interview, and especially ignoring (against my better judgment) the fact that Dean Alexander seems to be setting up this school on the backs of nontraditional law students, let’s examine what this particular answer tells us about Indiana Tech Law School’s concern for its incoming class.
Dean Alexander knows next to nothing about it. He doesn’t know the most basic demographics, he doesn’t know where these students are coming from, and he can’t even give the interviewer any information about the student breakdown beyond some broad generalizations. And he has just over thirty students in his care. Even spending five minutes per student file before the interview, that’s well under three hours of actual work. You can learn a lot about someone in five minutes.
Let me put this into perspective. When I showed up on my first day of class in law school back in the day, the admissions dean knew everyone. Not just names, but information about every single person there – where they were from, what they did beforehand, what they wrote about in their personal statements, everything about each of the approximately 150 students. Ask the admissions dean to profile the students and you would have been given a half hour breakdown of the class in extreme detail. This was five times as many students as Dean Alexander has under his care.
Dean Alexander, in an important interview with a national publication, can’t even reel off the first thing about any of his students, other than the fact that one is from Ghana, a place he assumes we’re as unfamiliar with as he is since he feels it necessary to tell us that it’s in Africa. (We know.)
Where is his pride in his incoming class? Where are his boasts and brags about the fine students he’s managed to attract? Where did he explain that perhaps he’s attracted a thirty year old female former police officer from Chicago who wants to become a drug task force prosecutor after being shot in a raid five years earlier? Where did he explain that he might have recruited a guy from California who won teacher of the year twice in his school district, who chose Indiana Tech Law School over UCLA, and who has an LSAT of 165? Where did he detail how he perhaps had taken a chance on a motivated mother of four who spent the ten years homeless and who has worked her ass off to put herself through college and maintain a 4.0? (Those students don’t exist, by the way, but that’s the kind of information I would expect – at a minimum – from someone who has merely thirty students to learn about, and who should be hand-picking students, not simply bottom trawling the applicant pool and bringing aboard anything and everything.)
Instead, we’re treated to some insight into how he views his incoming class: compiled numbers, and numbers he really can’t even be bothered to pin down with any accuracy. He doesn’t care about who his students are. To him, it’s a business, a spreadsheet of income versus expenditures, just statistics, and the individuals who he is responsible for educating really don’t matter at all in terms of who they really are.  How else can the generalities and vagueness and gaps in his knowledge be explained?  Has he even seen the application forms for these students, or looked over their files in any detail? His inaugural class? The class that will make or break his law school and his reputation, and he can’t even tell Karen Sloan who they are or take the opportunity to throw out a few prime nuggets about his top notch students that make him especially proud of the "school" he's about to lead? He served on the admissions committee and can’t tell her who he admitted beyond some fudging and stalling?
Elsewhere in the interview, he stated that he would admit a student late in the day whose application was complete, yet he had not even seen the student's application at the time – all he had was a note from the admissions office that the application was complete! Clearly, the review process for application at the desk of Dean Alexander is non-existent. Got a pulse and some student loan money? You’re in!
I would place money on the fact that Indiana Tech Law School admitted thirty-three students because it received only thirty-three applications. And I would place money on the fact that Dean Alexander has no desire to know anything about his students other than how many he has. They sound like more of an inconvenience.
Like I said, you can learn a lot about someone in five minutes. And after reading Karen Sloan’s interview with Dean Alexander, I think we all know a lot more about who he is.

In my prior post about ITLS, I offered accepted students a copy of "Con Law", a book that they should all be reading before attending, particularly as they are at the bottom end of the law school machine where costs are high and opportunities are low, and where advantage is taken.  Nobody claimed their book, so I can only assume that those students are either (1) not doing their due diligence and failing to read this site, or (2) just ignoring the warnings we're giving.  So let me double that offer.  Seeing as Dean Alexander is taking advantage of the nontraditional law student population in getting his "ego project" off the ground (and let's be realistic - it's an ego project that has zero merit, because Indiana does not need a new law school), I'm offering every single accepted student at this "law school" a free copy of not only "Con Law", but also "Later in Life Lawyers", the second edition with the forty page addendum dealing with the poor economy, fewer jobs, and higher debt.  Just email me and I'll send them both over.

And for any student who gets to Indiana Tech Law School and realizes that it's really the worst investment in legal education today and decides to quit, please email - I'd appreciate the opportunity to interview you.

Charles Cooper is the author, along with Thane Messinger, of “Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Professio)”, in addition to being the moderator at and the author of “Later in Life Lawyers”.  He can be contacted at

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Coverage of Scam at "American Thinker"

Over at American Thinker, Thane Messinger and I have just published an article entitled The Law School Con, our response to a very pro law school article, The Law School Crisis, published there recently by Ben Taylor.

Have a read of Ben's article first, then the response.  Also, read the comments to the articles, as they give some good insight into the pulse of the general public on this issue.

The message is getting out there to a wider audience, and they are listening.

Charles Cooper is the author, along with Thane Messinger, of “Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession)”, in addition to being the moderator at and the author of “Later in Life Lawyers”.  He can be contacted at

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ABA moves goalposts - in favor of law schools, of course!

Breaking from format for this post, we’re trying something new.  Rather than have one writer comment on one issue, we’ve picked a story that a few of us have written a short comment about.  See what you think.

The story this week is the ABA’s decision to push back reporting of graduate employment levels from 9 months following graduation until 10 months.  Story is here:

Adam B:

This "controversy" reminds me of every other discussion about reforms for law schools and the legal profession -- at least, those discussions that take place among the officials, elites, and mainstream media.  As most of us agree, these discussions are nothing more than a red herring designed to distract from the real problems and to keep the gravy train running for as long as possible.  We will see years of distractions before anyone in power starts to deal with the central problems: 1) unlimited student loans for everyone with no underwriting standards and 2) no bankruptcy protection.  If something as simple and irrelevant as a one-month change in the employment statistics reporting date causes these idiots to devolve into a deadlocked cage-fight, we will not see real change anytime soon.

Too bad...I guess that the same volatile "market forces," which are sinking the law profession, will cause us all to stumble from crisis to crisis.  By squandering the present opportunities for enacting real regulation and reform, these market forces will increase the intensity of the current pain most of us feel (more debt, less relief, more glut, less jobs).  Also, it will increase the number of young people in pain.  No solution is the worst possible solution.

Law School Truth Center:

Some law schools likely think that this is a great development, having an extra month to land graduates jobs.  But others surely see the pitfall - the further out you move from graduation, the more likely it is that the graduate has already been shitcanned.  As law schools wade into the murkier parts of the applicant pool, you can expect them to be turning out lower quality, where holding a job suddenly becomes a challenge in addition to the already-shaky legal market.  Let's face it: no matter where we set the timeline, it's going to be terribly, terribly unfair to law schools.  I can see the narrative developing now, and the good deans already clearing their throats for soundbites next spring.


I don’t think this change matters much, even though it is the result of lobbying by law schools. I doubt that significant numbers of new lawyers are obtaining plum legal jobs during that allegedly golden 28-day period between mid-February (nine months out) and the Ides of March (ten months out). The jobs simply are not there. (See Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of 21,880 lawyer job openings per year through the rest of the decade, which includes both growth and replacement needs). Some law school honchos in New York and California apparently think otherwise, and I am happy to call them on their wishful thinking.

Of course, what with having to eat and pay the rent, grads will be ever more desperate to accept jobs of any sort with every day that passes after taking the bar. So maybe the extra month allotted to the law schools will result in a boost in the fraudulent category of "JD Advantage," as well as the categories and subcategories of "Professional," "Bar Passage Required, Part-Time," "Bar Passage Required, Short-Term" and "Law Firms: Solo" We should continue to advise others to disregard jobs in those categories and focus on the only segment that could possibly justify the expense of a JD: bar-required nonsolo jobs that are full-time, long-term (which includes one year long clerkships and fellowships), and non-school funded.


Deborah Merritt nailed it.  “Moving the collection date back one month would make it difficult to compile and release the statistics before would-be law students must put down deposits to secure their place in a school.”

As I read the article, all I could think of was the core motivation of any law school when delaying the release of pertinent data: How to trap students.  Think back to releasing grades so late into the following semester, so that poorly-performing students have already paid their tuition and have little time to decide whether to stay or quit.  Grades should be released within two weeks of taking the exam, not two weeks after the beginning of the following semester.

These new employment reporting dates are the same thing, just a statistical trap.  Push out the date so incoming students have less time to make an informed decision.  There’s nothing more to it than that.  Law schools have little to fight the scam movement with.  We’re winning – slowly, but we’re winning.  And these little tricks are all they have to play with.  What can they do to fudge the stats more so that law school looks better?  Oh, I know, delay reporting of critical information.  If they can’t beat us in a fair fight fact-to-fact, they can just play their old game of lie, lie and lie some more in order to manipulate statistics and produce a brighter picture than the one which actually exists.


The shamelessness of law school and state bar administrators continues to get more craven and brazen by the minute. They think that putting a Band Aid over the job numbers will help address the myriad issues facing the legal profession today. Nowhere do they talk about holding schools accountable for positive outcomes. They just want more time to massage the numbers because “California and New York schools took a beating in U.S. News this year because of their placement data.” The law deans care more about preserving their rankings in the desiccated husk of a magazine that has not been relevant in a meaningful way since the last millennium. The business of running a profitable operation has given way to any pretense about wanting to preserve the integrity of the profession.

The ScamDeans think that they can make it all better by putting Band Aids on the massive head wound that is legal education. If your law school is not producing decent job outcomes within nine months, why is an extra month going to help? It's not like there are thousands of jobs that open up to new grads at the ten month mark. The ABA and law school administrators don't get it. They think that students will keep buying their lies and not do any research into the phony numbers that litter law school admission materials. Like an unpaid bill, the day of reckoning is long past due.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rising Bar Tabs and An End To Tenure?

Rising bar tab draining law school grads
Money Quote: "How would you feel if you spent well over $100,000 on law school, only to have to spend an extra couple of thousand dollars on a course to get you to pass the bar?"

Cooley Law School weathering decline in enrollment
Money Quote: “We set aside a fair amount of money to weather what we thought the storm would be. Our only concern is how long this lasts.”

An end to tenure at law schools?
Money Quote:  “The demand for legal education ebbs and flows. Sometimes we get more customers, sometimes less ... As a manager with a budget, I want the ability to respond.”

Two Law School Administrators Disciplined For Fudging Job Numbers
Money Quote: "Some administrators likely will view Pless and Sargent as isolated cases. Others might see the disciplinary actions as ground  to increase oversight of the reporting process..."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

War Chests and About Faces

LSAC reports another drop in law applications
Money Quote: Applicants are down 12.3% and applications are down 17.9% from 2012.

33rd student gets into Indiana Tech the day before the school opens
Money Quote: "We’ll take him."

Case Western curriculum undergoes sweeping changes
Months after his shameful New York Times editorial, Lawrence Mitchell is boasting of "radical" changes in the curriculum.
Money Quote: "I have to admit I stole shamelessly..." Oh wait, that whole quote is "“I have to admit I stole shamelessly from the medical school because it puts students in the role as soon as they can." So close, Larry.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The "Brain Drain" in American Legal Education continues

For good or ill, the "quality" of an applicant to American law schools is almost completely based on two numbers: their LSAC-adjusted undergraduate GPA, and their LSAT score.  Combined, those numbers predict future success in law school and bar passage.  (Whether or not UGPA, LSAT score, law school grades, or bar passage rates have ANYTHING to do with the quality of someone as a lawyer will not be addressed here, but it is what it is.  You are what your numbers are when it comes into which law schools are likely to accept you).

The decline of applications and applicants to law schools over the past few years is well-documented and known.  Some of the latest raw numbers from LSAC can be found here.  Total applicants this year number just below 60,000, which I believe are 5-6 thousand higher than some estimates done by Paul Campos a few months ago (but don't quote me on that, if someone has some estimates post them in the comments and I will update this post to reflect that).   The distribution of those who have stopped applying to law schools are not spread evenly throughout those on the LSAT spectrum.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Attack of Wikipedia!

I have an easy suggestion for anyone that wants to take two minutes to "do something."  I know this is anathema to the general tone of this blog and the law school scam movement, such as it is.  I know that most people feel that the moneyed interests are too powerful to oppose, and so we should just keep the word alive about the law school scam through comments and blogs.  Fair enough.

I have a suggestion that is pretty much in line with that stated purpose.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Reader's Personal Story

(This was sent via email, and is posted anonymously at the author's request.  These stories are always welcome, and are one of the most effective ways of making law school applicants realize that there are real faces and ruined lives behind our message.)
The following is a rite of passage for thousands and thousands of Lemmings. It is intended as a road map for the challenges facing young law school graduates.

As a fresh law school graduate, you may be fairly optimistic, sending out resumes and cover letters, going to networking events, contacting your former law school classmates who found jobs, etc. You’ve attended your law school graduation and your parents may have even sprung for a vacation as a present. You have moved back in with your parents but it's a temporary thing until you get full-time attorney job. Or maybe you have a girlfriend with a job and you two are starting to get serious. "Things will be much better once you can show you've passed the bar," gushes the nice lady from the Career Services Office in an e-mail. You are kind of annoyed that you don’t have a job lined up, but you know a lot of people graduated without jobs, so you’re doing ok for now. You spend a lot of time studying for the bar, then take it and pass. Whoo-hoo! You’re a real lawyer!

After a few months of doing the same thing (sending resumes, researching companies, seeking contacts at companies and law firms), a vague unease seeps in. You’re unemployed, and all the resumes you send out disappear into a black hole. Your high school and college buddies commiserate, but they are pretty busy with their own jobs. And besides, who wants to be around someone who has no money and mopes about trying to get a job? A law degree is versatile, you tell yourself. I need to think about expanding my job search. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll start to consider flyover country.

Your parents start inquiring gently about the format of your resume or maybe at the possibility of stooping to temporary work. After all, an able-bodied adult should be able to get some kind of work, shouldn’t they? Work instills a sense of dignity and self-worth. You spent $120,000 on this degree and were taught by the brightest minds in the nation, so there must be a place in society for you? Your Dad suggest you highlight your high school babysitting gigs as proof you would be a good fit for family law. You start really stretching the truth on your resume, and every resume is tailored specifically to the job description. You spend hours honing your LinkedIn profile and making connections.

Maybe you notice or maybe you don't, but you've started drinking more and getting up later and later. You're cutting back on social engagements because you are simply running out of money. If you live with your girlfriend you might notice a certain distance has opened up between you. It’s not enough that you notice it every day, just that she seems distant at times and wants to go to the gym more. (You can’t afford that gym membership!) The loans are coming due soon and the lack of interviews or even contact from potential employers has become an uneasy feeling at the back of your stomach. A few months ago you started responding to Craigslist legal job ads, but you haven’t even gotten an acknowledgment.

You are still attending local bar events, but you notice a wary look in peoples’ eyes as you approach them. Deep down you know they can immediately see right through you. You know they get nervous about your flattery and attention, and really just want to get out of any conversation as fast as possible. After all, they are clinging on to their $50K/year jobs and don’t need another potential competitor at the firm.

The special snowflake melts

At about the 6 month mark the fear starts to take hold. You know from the news that many companies and law firms won’t even take a second look at someone who has been out of work for 6 months. Your confidence is coming under serious attack. You say to yourself: “I took the Criminal Law clinic in law school and got an A in Civil Procedure, so I know how to write a complaint. I can add value if they would just give me a shot. Why aren’t they giving me interviews?” You schedule a few more mock interviews with the people at the Career Services office, but find them useless.

If you were a non-traditional student, you start thinking about getting back into your previous line of work. You quickly discover that no one will take a second look at you because of the 3-4 year unexplained gap on your resume. You feel like you have been shut out of your previous career and have zero opportunity going forward. It’s like being stranded in a long dark hall with a lot of locked doors. By now your girlfriend has dumped you or your relationship is on the rocks. Either way, you are now solidly in your parents’ basement.

And now the loans are coming due. You sporadically check the “exclusive” job board on Simplicity, but there’s never anything new and all the jobs require years of experience you don’t have. Entry-level attorney jobs just don’t seem to exist. You might have wandered into the career services office again, but that turned out to be a mistake. After all, they only exist as a dating service for the top 5%, and they have fresh students to worry about. Your e-mail account at your law school has expired and you start getting e-mails from the alumni board asking for money. After all, you went to the 61st top ranked Toilet, so you must be making $160K, right?

Wrong. You have been reduced to taking on odd jobs for your parents. You can’t even take unemployment. The other young people you see in your neighborhood all seem to be getting on with their lives.  You look up the bios of your classmates and are disappointed that a number of them seem to be at law firms. You sink deeper into depression. After all, these people didn’t do much better than you and had abhorrent personalities. Or maybe it’s you? Maybe you interview badly? Maybe you’re not attractive enough, or young enough, or articulate enough? You have definitely lost confidence and it shows. The stench of failure clings to you and you often feel like you’re being choked. That uneasy feeling in your stomach from a few months back has become a constant pain. If you can afford a doctor, you are put on antidepressants and maybe the occasional benzo.

From 6 months out, things just keep getting worse. Your grooming habits keep slipping. You have cancelled your mobile phone service. You now think it’s OK to wear sweatpants to the local coffee shop and idly sit there all day. Months ago you “expanded your job hunt” to include anywhere in the country pretty much doing anything, but you get the same results; zero callbacks, zero interviews, not even an acknowledgement that they received your resume. You start becoming bitter and increasingly estranged from your friends and family. You can’t even enjoy having the time to do whatever you want. You see no way out.

I wish I could say it gets better but it doesn’t. This is the reality for hundreds of thousands.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Law Professors in Luxury: The SEALS Shindig at the Breakers in Palm Beach.

(Thank you, law students, for treating 800 of your most cherished law professors to a week of galas and fun-in-the-sun at one of America's poshest oceanfront resorts).

You may be one of those tender-hearted JDs who worries about injustice and inequality in our profession. Perhaps it troubles you that law professors are underpaid with their meager six-figure starting salaries. Or perhaps you can't stop fretting about how law professors are cruelly overworked with their burdensome six-to-nine hour per week teaching loads, plus the expectation that they publish an article every other year or so that nobody will ever read. Fortunately, I can offer you this bit of comfort-- these worthy educators do, sometimes, obtain tiny little perks and treats to compensate them for their immense sacrifices, such as routine five-figure summer research stipends, and such as free week-long summer vacations at the Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Florida. 
As described on its website, the Breakers is a "spectacular resort destination on Florida’s Atlantic coast." The site adds that "The Breakers Palm Beach, has lured generations of discerning travelers to its idyllic, Italian-Renaissance setting. Experience the irresistible charm and storied history of this legendary oceanfront resort, which seamlessly blends with an amazing range of modern amenities. Feel the allure of its glamorous yet classic ambiance, the warmth and care of its devoted will quickly discover why The Breakers is a peerless destination, well beyond what you would expect of the finest luxury hotels and beachfront resorts in North America."  According to the hotel review site, "the sprawling 140-acre resort feels more like a Renaissance palace than a hotel."
From August 4th through August 10th, approximately 800 law professors and law deans from all over the country assembled for the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference at the Breakers. According to the conference program, the professors held many fascinating panels, workshops, colloquia, and discussion groups. The overwhelming majority of these two to three hour sessions involved ten to twenty moderators and discussants, so it is unlikely that the participating law professors found their scholarly preparation to be too onerous.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Without Comment - Chapman gets $55M donation, renames school

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Christo Lassiter and Sharlene Boltz have had a divorce more protracted than most. Their marriage commenced in 1986 and ended in 1996. Since then, they have each used the court system as their personal attack dog. The divorce case now exceeds 1400 docket entries, with two lawsuits remaining to be decided.

Our concern however, is with law school and its diminishing value to students and society. To that end, let's see whether they were able to keep their end of the bargain as law professors: producing "scholarship" and teaching. Both of these fine individuals became law professors in 1991.

Christo Lassiter:
His complete index of publications can be found here. Since 1991, Mr. Lassiter created 10 articles and gave 4 presentations. Make note, however, that after 2000, all he has done in the way of "scholarship" is publishing two articles in 2007.

Does he make it up with an increased teaching load? To some extent. He teaches the following courses:
  • Antitrust
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure I
  • Criminal Procedure II
  • White Collar Crime
Of these five, my experience indicates that the only courses that are taught with any regularity are Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. Antitrust and White Collar Crime are likely seminar courses offered when Mr. Lassiter feels like it.

I'm using Brian Tamanaha's estimate that a single class takes 5 hours per week of a professor's time during the semester.

So, Mr. Lassiter is probably working 10 hours, maximum 20, per week regularly.

Sharlene Boltz:
Ms. Boltz's body of "scholarship" is short enough that I can list it as follows:

I HAVE A TESTIMONY, WinePress Publ'g (2002)
From Hoof To Hamburger: The fiction of a safe meat supply, 33 Willamette L. Rev. 411 (1997)
Hein   LexisNexis   Westlaw
What Is A Lawyer Really Worth? An examination into the true value of attorney labor, 25 Cumb. L. Rev. 23 (1994)
Hein   LexisNexis

Notice that she hasn't produced any scholarship since 2002, and only three articles since 1994.

Does her teaching load make up for it? She teaches the following courses.  
  • Contracts I
  • Contracts II
  • Domestic Violence Prosecution & Trial
  • Domestic Violence Seminar
  • Introduction to Legal Studies
  • UCC: Payment Systems
  • UCC: Sales & Secured Transactions
Well, she's a little more of a hard worker in the classroom than her ex. I'm assuming that she teaches Contracts, the UCC classes, and Introduction to Legal Studies regularly. The Domestic Violence courses are probably seminars.

Again using Tamanaha's estimate, she's working 15 hours, maximum 20, in the semesters she teaches three courses. Otherwise, she's working as much as Mr. Lassiter.

Finally, here are the costs to attend each school for three years, courtesy of Law School Transparency:
University of Cincinnati: For non residents, $213,606; for residents: $150,797
Northern Kentucky: For non residents: $185,919; for residents: $118,379

So, these two role models for budding legal minds have spent parts of three decades attacking each other in court, while being paid handsomely to work part time. I have been an attorney on divorce cases, and know how time intensive they are. So, while their students take on astronomical amounts of debt at each of these mediocre schools, these two see fit to spend the majority of their time over the last seventeen years on a divorce proceeding that has now outlasted the original marriage by seven years. How much lower could tuition have been at their respective schools if these two wastes of space actually held up their end of the bargain instead of treating their law professor careers as a way to fund their personal animus against each other? Honestly, I'd be less angry if they had students drafting all the motions, because then at least a few of them would be somewhat practice ready.

At this point, reading about law schools is like reading about third world countries where all the money is pocketed by government officials while the citizens starve.

Note: I made some minor grammatical edits to this post after it went up.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yet More Unsolicited LLM Programs in the Mail (Tax Edition)...

Two things are guaranteed after you graduate from our LLM program...and one of them does indeed involve taxation...!

Ah, yes, another LLM program. This time, in taxation.

Tax is touted as the "most useful" LLM program, and it certainly seems to be at face value. When contrasting this with Space Law or International Civil Sports Environmental Justice Rights Law, one would think that they would get more bang-for-the-buck with an LLM that deals with something so "certain", along with other well-known verities of life.

"Degree and non-degree seeking students are encouraged to apply." Wait, what? Why would "non-degree seeking" students or auditing students even attend in the first place? Boredom? The facinating intricacies of Federal and State taxation? Beats rearranging the sock drawer or drying one's hair? No need to be gainfully employed or otherwise generate income?

"CLE/CPE Credit for the courses is available." At $1,625.00 per credit hour ($3,250 for each two-hour class, 7 classes per semester), one would hope that those who need educational requirements for licensure could get their CLEs/CEs/CPEs/whatever elsewhere for less, as opposed to $3k per class. But no worries, full-time students are eligible for partial-tuition scholarships! And I should certainly hope so, because the full-time program costs $37,000.00 ($45,500.00 on a part-time basis, and no scholarship help there). This is basically the same price as a "4L" year, if there was such a thing (hmmm...waitaminute...).

For that money you get partner-level practicing attorneys as instructors, along with the Director/Senior lecturer of the program. That's at least something for the "practical" side of the endeavour.

What does one receive for this effort and hard-earned cash? A "Dynamic view of the big picture," "learn[ing] theory and keep[ing] pace with important current issues," "theory and practice," and don't forget "command of the tax issues involved in today's sophisticated business and financial transactions." So, in reality...I'm not sure what you get. What speaks volumes to me is that this program is for people already well-involved in the field and looking for another (employee sponsored) credential, not for those wanting to break into the field in the first place. Only BigLaw, BigCorp, or BigFed would be willing to fork over this cost, and then again only for their "rising stars." In my oh-so-lauded JD-Advantage position, do you know how much value I would receive, career-wise, for undertaking this program? That's right, zero, thanks for playing. And my employer certainly wouldn't spend $40k in the process, even if it was "valuable".

This program may be mutually beneficial and worthwhile for a select, select few, but overall the LLM-advocates have no business marketing their programs to a broader audience. Period.

You know, this pattern starts to sound vaguely familiar...high tuition, open-door policy, allegedly sexy (but hopelessly vague and undocumented) outcomes for graduates, hmmm....what is it...?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Law Schools Have Been Gaming Income Based Repayment Programs All Along

How Georgetown Law gets Uncle Sam to pay its students' bills
Money Quote: The tuition paid by new students — tuition they’re often paying with federal loans — includes the cost of covering the previous students’ loan payments.

ABA Changes Graduate Data Collection Timeline
Law schools now get a whole extra month to game report jobs data.

Law School Professors Face Less Job Security
Money Quote: "I understand the need for academic freedom…. But as an industry we have a need for flexibility that we just don't have right now."

Counterpoint #4: Reasons you SHOULD go to law school (World's Worst Advice)

Today, free of charge, your local career services gives you the world's worst advice. Let's flat out list all reasons left that you should attend law school:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Southern California Institute of Law: Where Bar Passage Has Gone Out Of Style

Over the past four years, I have conquered the timidity and embarrassment that I had failed because I hated the close to useless legal degree I was paying a handsome sum for. The ways in which law schools and professors obfuscate the truth is appalling. It has caused some of our nation's best and brightest to ruin their lives chasing the alleged prestige that society places on lawyers.

I thought that the recent "Million Dollar Law Degree" study by Michael Simkovic was the point at which the law school scam had hit rock bottom. But then, I read this article about a suit being brought by the Southern California Institute of Law (SCIL). The school is arguing that being required to publish its student bar passage rate infringes upon the school's free speech rights. The utter shamelessness and self-seeking attitude of the school's administration caused me to fly into a deep rage from which I may never emerge. If any of you didn't think that the law school scam existed, the proof is right here.

Let's look at the points brought up in the article:

"A California law school is claiming that it has a First Amendment right not to help students find out how many of its graduates are passing the state’s bar exam."

We have reached the point where any pretense of providing an education has been thrown out the window. To the fine folks at SCIL, a law school's main purpose is to line the pockets of its dean and professors. Why would students expect that law school would teach them (perhaps, poorly) the central concepts that lead to admission into the tarnished fraternity that is the law? Much better that the school operates as a reverse Robin Hood, leaving professors free to produce "scholarship".

"It claims that [the bar passage statistics] forces them to endorse the notion that a school’s exam passage rate reflects the quality of its legal education. SCIL thinks one has nothing to do with the other.

“[D]efendants have no right to foist their ideology onto SCIL and compel it to refer or disclose bar passage rates of its graduates,” the school stated in a legal brief last week. "

To analogize: Should people pass their driving tests even if they hit several cars while out on the road and don't know how to reverse the car? Sure! Why not? Acquiring the skills to pass a driver's test has nothing to do with driving. If you see the logic in this, please replace the large spike that must be lodged in your frontal cortex. Or apply to be a professor at SCIL.

“There are good years, and there are bad years when it comes to bar passage,” said SCIL’s attorney, George Shohet. “It’s not something that the school can control.” He said going to law school and passing the bar require “different skill sets.”
Mr. Shohet says about a quarter of SCIL’s students ultimately pass the exam — a statistic he views as more meaningful."

I sincerely hope that the attorneys for the bar examiners plan on filing Rule 11 sanctions against Mr. Shohet. The legal theory the school is hoping to ride to victory is a farce. The fact that this suit was even filed shows us that many attorneys are content to completely abdicate any and all professional judgment in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Would Mr. Shohet allow his child to attend SCIL and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege? Shohet is just as disgusting as the thieves and scoundrels running this abomination of a law "school".

"In the original complaint, SCIL also objected to a new requirement that California-accredited law schools maintain a pass rate of at least 40%."

If an institution is unable to maintain even a minimal standard of competence, it needs to be shut down immediately. The veneration of universities as ivory towers far above the mundane every day world must stop. These institutions are now being allowed to rob the taxpayers in the guise of providing "access" to a legal education to everyone. The scam has officially crossed the bounds of all decency and morality. We must put a stop to it before an entire new generation of students is forced into a life of debt slavery.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Interesting deleted comments on Prof. Seval Yildirim's Faculty Lounge thread.

The Faculty Lounge recently published a series of posts by tenured Whittier Law Professor Seval Yildirim, in which she described some of the adventures she had on a recent summer trip to Istanbul.

In Prof. Yildirim's first post, she recalled that she held an "interesting conversation on gender with my female taxi driver." She also recalled that she spoke to two friends who had been active in the protest movement, and stayed at a hotel near where, two month earlier, protestors clashed with the police. In her second post, she described attending a small demonstration and, later, attending a communal meal, where she listened to her tablemates' "stories of vulnerability" and then gave up her seat to a homeless child.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An Open Letter to Indiana Tech Law School

Dear Indiana Tech:


I realize that it must seem like an exciting time right now, what with twenty-some-odd students enrolling for your first class.  I know you are already looking ahead to accreditation, to expanding the roster, and producing freshly-minted JD graduates in the next three years.  There is a lot to do, and the thought of the tasks ahead in becoming a Practicing Law School can be exciting and invigorating.
It reminds me of when I, as a student, applied to Law School several years ago.  There was so much to consider.  So much to plan for.  I bet it is similar with you right now - you researched the market for potential law students, talked to other Law Schools about their careers, and everything seemed promising and bright for joining the ranks of Practicing Law Schools.  However, when I as a student researched the market, went to Law School open houses, and talked to the attorneys I knew, there are some frank things I wish I had known and some things I wish I had been told, and I want you to have the advantage of the general insight I didn't have access to.
First, have you considered market saturation?  There are already four other established Law Schools in your jurisdiction that have been in business for some time now.  There are scores of such Law Schools across the country.  Let’s be honest: there has been overproduction of Law Schools for a long time this really the best use of your talents and abilities?  I don't say this to say you "can't cut it" (I really don't want you to try to "prove yourself"), I say it because the market is tough out there.  Do you want to be part of a scholastic profession that already has so many Schools scrambling for so few entry-level students?  Based on merely a pre-packaged and almost mythical idea of how cool it would be to be a practicing Law School?  Have you considered looking at an underserved market, like Nebraska, instead of doubling down on Indiana?
Second, do you realize that becoming a Law School has very little to do with being an actual, practicing, established Law School?  Yes, I realize that per the ABA you have to have a large library with print materials, a fax machine, and impressive facilities among other things.  Certainly you will produce many, many law reviews and scholarly journals.  Certainly you will open clinics and give symposia on various academic legal matters.  But have you considered that fact that scholarly work-product and a large building doesn't remove you from the hard work of actually have to drum up students?  That you have to produce actual, real results for your graduates (i.e. the ability to get jobs), otherwise future students would be foolish to apply to your program?
Third, consider the statistics.  Other Law Schools may say that "now is a great time to become a Law School," but have you looked at the actual law student application data?  Many schools like to tout how many applicants they get, but rest assured that there is a bimodal distribution of students when you look at LSAT scores and GPAs.  Are you banking on getting hypothetical "median" law students that don't actually exist, as there are actually very few high LSAT/high GPA candidates but many, many low LSAT/low GPA candidates?  Perhaps you should consider some sort of "Law School-Advantage" position - maybe retool the facilities into a Graduate School that is more in demand.  While it may take some time to garner the credibility necessary to move away from being a Law School, that would be better, long-term, than trying to force something to happen that doesn't want to happen.
Please, don't take this as an insult.  This is really intended to make you think before you commit.  Theory-vs.-practice is worlds apart in this case.  It's possible to change gears now, and end up in a place you would actually like to be.   Becoming a Graduate School where the students have actual career prospects, instead of being known as a money-sink that sucks students dry and tosses their carcasses away in a large heap, is much more rewarding.  Yes, you many have one or two students who are the children of judges or partners at large law firms, but do you realistically think you can get access to that clientele all the time?  Moving into an area in actual need is not a failure, unless you choose to perceive it that way.
I sense, however, that you are a "special snowflake" Law School and won't give real credence to the points I have brought up.  That you are going to "beat the odds."  That you are "better than the rest and will be in the top 10% of Law Schools," even though that's not really what this is all about.  Again, I tried to give you fair, honest warnings about your career choices, something I never had in my own right when contemplating Law School. 
Oh well.  If nothing else, at least your debt will be dischargeable in bankruptcy.  That's something.