Thursday, October 31, 2013


Happy Halloween y'all!

I wanted to ponder the ghostliness of the scamblogger movement because it is a frequent point of contention for boomers and a point of attack for deans and professors.  As we all know, a few professors have tried to "out" scambloggers in an effort to silence them.

The boomer/professor argument generally seems to go something like this: "If you can't sign your name to something, your argument is not legitimate."  They stand by this no matter how excellent the writing and analysis posted by a scamblogger.  It is the classic ad hominem attack of "you're too yellow for me to bother listening to."  It also allows the scammers to avoid direct discussion of the overwhelming facts that have now exposed the law school scam.

Furthermore, stories of "outing" a scamblogger always surface online, and it serves as a warning shot to anyone else who may dare to cast a stone at the ivory tower.  The parallels to other protest movements and battles between the classes throughout history cannot be clearer.  The rich professors desperately try to cling to their wealth and power and to snuff out any prole who gets out of line.

Of course, it also turns those professors into some of the most know and most hated people on the law school scam circuit (see Prof. Leiter).  For some, it becomes the most defining characteristic of their online presence.

Needless to say, when a professor values knowing the identity of a critic over the content of his criticism, this obsession exposes the shallowness of her understanding of the problems facing law schools and the legal profession.  The idea that the identity of a writer is more important than what he writes has long plagued academia.  Whether it be a liberal arts paper or a work of literary fiction -- or a law review article -- most professors judge quality based on the CV of the author and not based on what she says.  So, it makes sense that this logic translates to the online discussions about the major problems associated with law schools and the legal profession.

Interestingly, these professors seem to have total ignorance (or feigned ignorance) toward the role that anonymous dissent has played in the development of democracies around the world, including here in America.  They also discount the reasons behind the anonymity of the majority of scambloggers, again feigning ignorance toward the risks that many of us take by perpetuating the message that law school is a scam.

Those scambloggers who are not lucky enough to be self-employed or protected by tenure face other retribution by old-school boomers and plain old nasty bosses who have financial ties to the law school industrial complex.  Also, scambloggers may face retribution by judges, bar association members, and a number of other people who just want to maintain the status quo.  While I often think that many people over-estimate the fear of retribution -- it is a legitimate fear.  (Then again, I say, "fear not!"  There isn't much more that the powers-that-be can do to screw us further.)

So, on this Halloween, I wish to acknowledge all of the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins of the scamblog movement by saying, well, "trick-or-treat!"  The free-falling applications and the zombie-schools -- those that should be dead already but still lumber along -- are attributable in large part to scambloggers and the plaintiffs and lawyers associated with the highly-publicized scam-suits.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Confucius say: Odds long, debt high

Did you hear the Story of the Greedy PigLaw partners who cannibalized their own firm until it was yesterday's dinner?

It may seem of academic interest only to inquire about one particular firm's demise, but it reflects what the legal profession is, at both its best (as in money) and worst (as in behavior). At one point, while facing disaster and bankruptcy, the firm signed a golden parachute contract with one rainmaking partner to give him 8 million (USD) in salary a year and 60 million dollars in case of default (i.e. the firm removes him or falls to pay his salary). 60 as in sixty, you IBR-debt slave suckers who are happy if you get a 0.25% discount on your student loan interest rates if you sign up for auto-debit.

What strikes me is not just a problem with the "bifurcated distribution", where successful law grads make millions but others cannot get a job selling apples for a nickle in Times Square, but that even those successful dudes face failure (although the 60 mill guy will be fine: he landed another big firm gig). Dewey brutalized its non-rainmaking partners and associates--they were the last to get paid (or not paid). Many lost their jobs and not all managed to stay employed in PigLaw.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Have it "Your Way" at Chicago-Kent

OK, here's your order!  Would you like to Super-size your JD with a Specialization in Entertainment Law or Space Law?

Sigh.  What to say, what to say.  Let's just launch right in, shall we?

Chicago-Kent's new 1L Your Way program, debuting next fall, permits new students to defer selected first-year course work to a subsequent year in favor of taking an upper-division elective, such as patent law or business organizations. This option is designed for first-year students with defined practice goals. For example, students who plan to practice intellectual property law or corporate law often begin law school with that goal in mind.

"We're providing new opportunities for students who want to hit the ground running," said Dean Harold J. Krent. "Those of our students who know that they want to concentrate in a particular practice area are eager to start specializing in the first year, and the summer job market often rewards them for doing so."

"Your Way?"  Ah, the fast-food drive-thru analogies abound.  This has been touched on before:

We all knew it would come to this eventually. The legal profession — once reserved for studious minds who diligently ponder the most complex moral, ethical, and legal issues of the day — has been reduced to a collection of short-order cooks, who whip up documents instead of eggs and toast. Actually, that change probably happened many years ago. Generations ago, even. But there is something visual striking about the new Connecticut offices of the Kocian Law Firm. The firm is operating out of an old Kenny Rogers Roasters building. The Kocian lawyers are keeping the drive-thru window — and they’re using it as an easy and efficient way to exchange documents and quick advice with their clients.

Our own Law School Truth Center has a thing or two to say about this as well:

Ah, metro east St. Louis: drive by shootings AND drive by criminal defending. If there's one thing the thugs of East St. Louis need, it's to shout about their sexual assault case into a static-heavy mic. If only someone would come up with some sort of portable communication device that could allow people to set appointments more conveniently; until then, he's got the market for convenience covered. Clients will no doubt take you seriously running a law practice out of an abandoned bank.,-The-Places-Lemmings-Can-Go-Drive-Thru-Law-Practice.html

Anyway, back to having it "Your Way."  Sounds great in principle, but the proposed pay-off (specialization translates to 1L summer opportunity and eventual jobs) remains to be seen.

To begin with, law schools have offered "specializations" for quite some time now, and I think most graduates would say that they fall flat. Many, many JDs have "IP Specialization" or "Business Law Specialization" or "ADR Specialization" or "Environmental Law Specialization" gold stars on their diplomas, and, well, the flood gates of opportunity did not exactly throw themselves open. Look at the dismal employment stats and skewed, bi-modal income distributions, for example. 

Additionally, law schools have had 2L/3L clinics for years, which are touted as the experiential "workhorse" compared to the typical 1L core class or 2L upper-level class.  While some practical experience is certainly a good idea, many JDs have complained about how little time they actually get to do substantive work through the clinics. The fact that 90 credit hours get in the way of practical experience is certainly a part of this difficulty, but also the sheer volume of students seeking these opportunities (*cough* *cough* JD overproduction *cough* *cough* open enrollment *cough* *cough*) naturally limits what any one student gets to do. Here's hoping the law schools have spent some time reviewing and seriously updating this angle. 

Finally, the proposal stands to create some "odd duck" 1Ls compared to the rest of the herd. Firms already know students don't know anything - they don't hire you based on your "knowledge" anyway. They hire your for (1) pedigree, (2) connections, and (3) grades, among other things. Shifting classes around, like rearranging chairs on the Titanic, does not do much to affect an outcome that really has nothing to do with straight-up academics or practice-readiness in the first place. Plus, the hiring lawyers already went through the "classical" legal education process themselves, and now you as the Your-Way student come to the table with a different set of credentials. I can hear it now - "Wait, you've taken a class on Business Organizations, but not on Contracts or Property? How does that work?" As a 2L, when "real" summer associate opportunities "open up," (or so I was told but never saw, personally), the classes and experiences that students have obtained have equalized out, anyway.

Plus, who got legal jobs their 1L summer, anyway?  I mean, connected people, yes, but your average Joe rising 2L?  The 1Ls I knew took summer classes, studied abroad, or did something else to fill their time.  No one I contacted, be they paying gigs or even externships, even wanted to look at you unless your were a 2L, and this was the going advice at the time. 

As a side note, it will be interesting to see what classic 1L classes get pushed back to later years in favor of more "practical" classes under Your-Way-type programs (my personal prediction is Con Law - sorry, all you civil-rights and free-speech lovin' LawProfs, but those are the breaks when it comes to what the majority of firms deal with and bill for). 

Overall, while "Having it Your Way" may be a nice idea, it comes (1) too, too late, and (2) can't do enough on its own. The issue is JOBS, folks, and no amount of "practice readiness" changes the legal market or undos decades of JD overproduction. A related issue is PRICE, folks, as these JDs need to service huge amounts of debt thanks to this so-called practice-readiness that has been bestowed upon them. If half as many practice-ready JDs were produced at half the cost, for example, then graduates could afford to pursue less-remunerative but more available opportunities early on in their careers. It's a balance. 

Oh, but wait, IBR, say the ScamDeans. Right. I'm sure the American Taxpayer just loves the idea of bailing out billions of dollars worth of student loans that are going essentially unpaid, to produce more practice-ready JDs than the market needs. I see what you did there with your "ethics" and "professionalism." 

This practice-ready canard is perhaps well-meant, but it is certainly well-played, make no mistake. False hope will draw many students (and their sweet, sweet federal student loan dollars) into the fold. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Law School Scam is Like a Highway to Dreamland: An annotated fictional tribute to Law Prof. Nancy Leong's scholarshit article: "The Open Road and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream," 64 Fla L.Rev. 305 (2012).

Nancy Leong, JD 2006, is a Professor of Law at the University of Denver School of Law, where she teaches Criminal Procedure, in spite of having zero background as a criminal law practitioner and near-zero experience in legal practice of any sort. Last year, Leong stunned the criminal bar with her watershed law review article: "The Open Road and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream," 64 Fla L.Rev. 305 (2012), asserting, in 48 closely reasoned pages, that caselaw analyzing the constitutionality of traffic stops is boring compared to movies and songs that reflect the "American dream" via an open road motif.


Scene: A dorm room or an off-campus apartment. Snowflake and Lemming, two procrastinating and stoned-out-of-their-minds 1Ls of a particularly stupid and egotistical variety are pondering the boringness of the law and what it all means.

Snowflake: Dude, reading this caselaw is, like, sooooooo boring. [1]

Lemming: Yeah, I would much rather, you know, watch movies. [2]

Snowflake: What kind of movies?

Lemming: I don’t know. Maybe Zombieland. [3]

Snowflake: That is exactly what I am saying. Caselaw is boring. [4] Compared to movies like Zombieland or The Good Girl. [5] You watch those movies, you groove on the transcendent motif of the open road. But you read caselaw and all you get is a bunch of old judges writing mundane stuff about some traffic stop. [6] Road movies are enjoyable, but Fourth Amendment caselaw is dull. Just like how the open road is cool, but traffic stops are a drag. [7]

Lemming: The Good Girl? Dude, that was a chick flick.

Snowflake: I found it very touching. Not just movies. I’d rather listen to songs by musicians such as Jon Bon Jovi, [8] Springsteen, LL Cool J, and Ice Cube. Music makes me dream extravagant dreams. [9] Dreams about the American dream. [10]

Lemming: What we just said, I think it is very insightful.

Snowflake: Yeah. They should pay us to teach law, not charge us to study it. We could, you know, write down what we just said and they could publish it in a law review or something. Our insights. They are scholarly. Doing scholarship is why law professors make all that money. [11] Also, it is what makes them such great teachers. [12] Of course, we would have to make our article sound, you know, professorial or something.

Lemming (giggling): Pompously professorial.

Snowflake: Yeah, we would have to use words like "narrative" and "counternarrative."

Lemming: How many times would we say "narrative"?

Snowflake (thinking grandly, the psychoactive effects of the drug really kicking in): I bet we could use the word "narrative" 164 times in a single 48 page article! [13] And, of course, we couldn’t just say that caselaw is boring, we would have to refer to it as "sterile texts,"" "that dry medium," "banal," "narrow," "mundane," "focused on minutiae," "a rude awakening from the sweet American dream" "no poetry in these narratives," "notable for [its] depressing sameness," "stark," "a dystopian counter-narrative to the joyous parable of the open road," "a sober counter-narrative to the alluring saga of the open road," and "read[s] like the documentation of an audit." [14]

And let’s refer to movies and songs featuring the open road as "iconic cultural texts" and "our most exalted cultural texts" and "fables of freedom" and "joyful liberated narrative[s] and "alluring saga[s]" at the "heart of the American dream," occupying "a revered place in our collective imagination," and conveying "cultural meaning. . .etched into our deepest consciousness"--a "soundtrack for our obsession with the road," "standing for the "possibility of possibility itself." [15] Also our readers will appreciate it if we use Jack Kerouac to ask some ironically rhetorical question-- you know, like, would he have written On the Road if some cop had pulled him over for an obstructed windshield? [16]

Lemming (sadly): You have to use footnotes in academic writing. Footnotes are a drag.

Snowflake: But we could cite ourselves in the footnotes. You know, cite to what we think of the movie Crash or something.

Lemming: I found it didactic and full of itself.

Snowflake: Then we could say that in a footnote! [17]

Lemming: It will be great to be a law professor. All that money. Plenty of free time to get high.

Snowflake: And they would pay us to present our findings to scholarly conferences. Scholarly conferences in posh seaside resorts in Hawaii, Amelia Island, and Hampton Head. [18]

Lemming: That will be sweet. All that talk about a crisis in legal education is baloney. A JD is surely the open road to the American dream. [19]


[1] Nancy Leong, "The Open Road and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream," 64 Fla L.Rev. 305, 328 (2012) ("These dry judicial narratives contrast starkly with the joyful, liberated narrative of the open road that we find in our most exalted cultural texts.")

[2] Open Road at 324-325 ("In addition to the sort of cultural texts in which we find the narrative of the open road, another highly influential chronicle of the traffic stop is the judicial opinion—a cultural text antithetical to our literary and cinematic staples. That dry medium has nothing of the poetry or magic of our best novels and our favorite movies. Rather, the sterile chronology of a typical judicial opinion examining a traffic stop represents a rude awakening from the sweet American dream of the open road.")

[3] Open Road at 314-315 ("Zombieland likewise pays a dark homage to the road’s power to forge human relationships. Set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies, the four remaining humans band together and gradually shed their disagreements, united by their road journey as much as by their determination to survive in the face of a common foe.")

[4] Open Road at 328 ("Judicial narratives that begin with a traffic stop are notable for their depressing sameness. There is no poetry in these narratives. They read like the documentation of an audit.")

[5] Open Road at 313 ("Dreams of escape inevitably involve the road—in a literal sense, almost necessarily so. But the road also becomes an inextricable component of the dream itself. In The Good Girl, Jennifer Aniston’s character Justine. . . agonizes over whether to leave her husband. . . Her decision—already weighing on her emotionally—becomes vividly physical as she waits at a traffic light.")

[6] Open Road at 330 ("This clinical evaluation of the content of the traffic stop effectively punctures the uplifting fantasy of the open road. The symbolism of the road as a route to a better life—one free and unencumbered—dissipates in the face of bickering over whether a host of minutiae means that a police officer saw enough or heard enough or knew enough to establish "reasonable suspicion." The American dream has no time for such details; put another way, someone whose fate hangs on those details has no time to chase the American dream.")

[7] Open Road at 334-335 ("The traffic stop, then, disrupts or simply precludes the close interpersonal bonds that the open road facilitates. By interposing the force of the law, the traffic stop tears at the fragile fabric of human relationships and precludes the deep connection so often found in long road journeys.")

[8] Open Road at 317 ("The road leads to the American dream, and it is the American dream. We may choose to reject the mythology, of course, but the cultural meaning remains etched in our deepest consciousness. The most jaded among us still understands exactly what Jon Bon Jovi means when he proclaims, "My heart is like an open highway.")

[9] Open Road at 346 ("Hip-hop texts communicate the imaginative costs imposed by the traffic stop narrative. One such cost is the lowering of standards for what constitutes a good life: those trapped in the traffic stop narrative lose the ability to dream extravagant dreams that transcend the mundane worries of daily existence.")

[10] Open Road at 349 ("Of course, no one—black, white, or otherwise—can ever truly and fully claim the American dream. The infinite potential represented by the open road is truly both infinite and potential. Indeed, part of its appeal is its intractable status as fantasy.")

[11] See Society of Law Teachers 2012-2013 survey of law faculty salaries, Note that the salaries listed exclude health care benefits, retirement benefits, dependents’ tuition benefits, domestic partner benefits, travel funding, book allowance, research assistant funding, and summer research and teaching stipends.

[12] See Nancy Leong's comment on this Workplace Prof Blog thread, at Aug 11, 2012 8:14:41 PM: "It seems obvious to me that scholarship contributes in important ways to the quality of teaching. Scholarship requires us to stay current on cutting edge legal issues. It requires us to remain curious, excited about the material that we teach, and intellectually nimble -- and if we ourselves lack these qualities, we stand very little change of inculcating them in our students. . . .Without that broader frame, our students become narrow-minded legal technicians who never pause to think about the normative implications of what they're doing."

[13] Open Road, passim.

[14] Open Road at 307, 324, 325, 328, 329, 341.

[15] Open Road at 307, 312, 317, 328, 341

[16] See Open Road at 331 ("Did Jack Kerouac pause to count how many air fresheners he had? Was he concerned whether his travel plans might appear "consistent" to the reasonable, objective observer? These questions answer themselves.")

[17] Open Road at 133, n123 ("I feel compelled to mention here that I really did not like Crash. I thought it was didactic and full of itself, and obviously Brokeback Mountain (Alberta Film Entertainment et al. 2005) should have won the Academy Award instead...")

[18] Nancy's CV.

[19] Nancy Leong's slop-- or to use her precious language, her "medley" or mélange" (Open Road at 309)-- uses the phrase "American dream" no less than 50 times. George Carlin used it only once, to better effect, in the following quote: "The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wait, who are the Scambloggers, again?

Law Schools like to publish how many of their graduates find employment in "law firms." Thanks to improved information transparency, the truth is that many, many of these "firms" are small shops of just a handful of attorneys, or even less. Yet small-firms and solo practice are often touted as a realistic option for new graduates. We've all heard the old canard, "Well, if things don't work out like you planned, you can always hang a shingle."
Of course, the majority of recent graduates don't have the skills and experience (and thanks to tuition, the finances) necessary to just open up a shop, especially in this increasingly competitive market. Thus the flurry of "Practice Ready" activity the law schools have been advancing in the last five minutes. Many ScamDeans and LawProfs, who often have barely seven years of practical legal experience amongst themselves at any one institution (and BigLaw at that, not solo practice), whole-heartedly endorse solo practice as a legitimate option for the newly-minted lawyer.
Let's consult the experts, shall we?
New lawyers have this bizarre belief in their exceptionalism, that they are special, that their experience will be different from that of the thousands who came before them. How many times can old lawyers say that the practice of law is hard work, a tough business? It can be soul-crushing. It goes from high-flying to crash and burn in a blink of an eye. Marcus assumes that by getting out there, doing all the things that let the world know he’s available for purchase, would get him back on track. Even that isn’t reliable, though he will never find out.
• If you’re thinking about becoming a lawyer in any of the top ten growth states, you might want to reconsider. These states likely have their fill of lawyers.
• If you’ve never considered of going to any of the states with low growth and practicing law there, maybe you should.
• Massachusetts was seemingly hurt the hardest by the economic decline of the past few years (go figure). It’s actually the only state to have a decrease in the percentage of lawyers over the past ten years.
• While US Territories are included in main chart, I disqualified them from being in the running for the two breakout charts.
• UPDATE: Was going back through the data today and somehow I totally missed Rhode Island’s precipitous decline in lawyers (they are the smallest state in my defense). They’ve seen a -19% change in the number of lawyers over the past ten years. Yikes.
So why would a good, experienced trial lawyer like Charlie get out of practice? No clients, apparently. Despite what you may have read on Solo Practice University, solo practice is hard. Real hard. Not everyone makes it. There are only so many paying clients, and lawyers to serve them.
But increasingly, [Law Schools,] I am finding that many of your students are, quite frankly, useless to me; lacking the basic skill set necessary to incorporate them quickly and seamlessly into a busy and frequently resource-constrained practice like mine. Sure, I can understand having unformed research and analytic skills right out of law school. Over twenty years in, I still improve my skills with every brief or motion that I write.
Yet what I can’t fathom or tolerate is the utter lack of curiosity that many (but not all) new grads bring (or don’t bring) to the table when they hit the job market. I know that times are tough and it’s hard to be optimistic and proactive about the future when hope is dim. And certainly law school squeezes a lot of the natural inquisitiveness out of even the most hearty of students. Even so, how can today’s students not be excited about the cornucopia of riches at their fingertips — from free caselaw, free online legal briefs and memos by top attorneys, substantive analytic blogs galore, and an endless stream of news items on Twitter curated by experts in every field? Back in the day, I’d have been all over these tools, and yet like monks at a peep show, many law students simply avert their eyes and continue on their way. Nothing to see here — or so, they’re taught.
Field is a solo practitioner in Austin, Texas, who advises no one to follow his path, at least not right out of law school. In the Texas Lawyer, Field writes:
I have practiced in firms of all sizes, from 700-plus attorneys to four attorneys to one. The solo practice . . . is not a practice for those with a low tolerance for stress or a weak constitution. And, in my view, it is not the optimal form of practice for a recent law school graduate. . . . [M]y first suggestion for recent law school graduates considering going solo is: don’t.
But Field, seemingly a reasonable fellow, understands that in light of the job market more recent graduates will try the solo life than might otherwise. For those, uh, lucky souls, Field offers a handful of tips.
Critics try to dismiss the Scambloggers and their going on about the half-truths and false claims of the Law School cartel. We are often lambasted for trying to tell people that they should think long and hard about law school, that we discourage people from "following their dreams", how we need to be more positive and less negative and more "ethical" and "professional", clearly we're bitter and couldn't cut it, we're just downright mean, blah blah blah.
But look! The quotes above are from strong advocates for solo practice! You mean people who actually do the job, who are 100% behind the idea yet have fought the hard fight of making it on their own and have built a practice, say "don't do this lightly - while I love what I do, it's a lot of hard work and you might fail anyway" to folks who want to get in on the business? You mean the Law School cartel isn't telling you the whole story? Say it ain't so!
Friends, who are you going to believe? People who are actually doing it and have the battle scars to prove it, or a bunch of ScamDeans who say their ever-increasingly-costly programs makes you "Practice Ready," when No One Cared about that for decades prior?
These solos, like the scambloggers, don't get a dime for giving you honest warnings. The Law School cartel, on the other hand, is more than happy to tell you more about their "new" programs, and the implication that these programs will set you on the path to success for a paltry $150-200k.
For those who are fully INFORMED and want to be in private practice more than anything, God bless. For everyone else, think twice. Or three times. When evaluating the claims of the Law School cartel, always follow the money.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Will Thomas Jefferson Law Prof Kaimipono Wenger figure out that scamming is a form of oppression?

Brian Tamanaha recently wrote a great piece criticizing self-styled leftists on law school faculties. He admonished the famous "Crits" for hypocrisy. He also called out SALT (Society of Law Teachers) for vigorously defending law school tenure practices on the basis of "academic freedom," while ignoring the blindingly obvious reality that the costs associated with tenure impose considerable hardship on debt-ridden students.
And I am leftist myself, I guess. I have read lots of Chomsky and Nader and find their critiques of corporate power and imperialism to be persuasive. I would probably even endorse the substance of Tamara Piety’s writing about the corporate personhood doctrine if I could tolerate her style or persona for the span of a single paragraph.  
But having good principles and ideals does not excuse callous and immoral behavior, and does not excuse scamming. Does a law professor worry about oppression or bigotry, in the U.S. or abroad? Good. Is the professor’s critique of oppression rendered into pompous sounding jargon for purposes of careerism? Less good. And does the professor, with all those high-minded principles and concerns, ignore or participate in scamming those who should be at or near the center of his or her moral concern– his or her own students? Not good, not good at all.
Take Thomas Jefferson law Professor Kaimipono Wenger, a man who clearly hates injustice. Though male and white, he was the Lead Faculty Organizer of the 2010 Women and Law Conference at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which focused on "Women of Color and Intersectionality." He has also written law review articles supporting reparations for the descendants of slaves. Wenger’s experience as a practicing lawyer is modest--a one year district court clerkship and just under three years as a litigation associate with Cravath--but he more than compensates for that in nobility of soul.
So how does this injustice-hating man react to the suffering of  graduates of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, i.e. the kids who borrowed a fortune and dumped it into the pockets of Wegner and his colleagues in the belief that they would receive a professional education that would allow them to make a living? What does he have to say about a school that graduates kids with the highest debt load of any of the 201 ABA accredited schools-- an incredible $168,800, not counting undergraduate debt? What does he have to say when that same school has one of the lowest placement rates among the law schools, with a mere 23.8% of 2012 grads obtaining full-time bar-required jobs within nine months of graduation? He says this:
"I have my own biases on the matter, of course, but I think there are a lot of reasons someone might want to be part of the TJSL community 
Thomas Jefferson Law School has an excellent faculty, including some real stars. Alfred Brophy wrote in the Connecticut Law Review a few years ago that outside observers "might not be familiar with Thomas Jefferson's strong hiring patterns of recent years, which has included such strong scholars as Julie D. Cromer, Deven Desai, Kevin J. Greene, Linda M. Keller, Sandra L. Rierson, and Kaimipono David Wenger.". . . .The school has continued this trend with recent hires like Rodney Smith, a nationally recognized sports law expert and the former Dean at Memphis, the University of Arkansas, and other schools. The most recent report from Roger Williams lists Thomas Jefferson Law School in the category of "Schools 41-80" in terms of faculty productivity. . . .Within the past five years, the faculty has published books with Cambridge (Susan Bisom-Rapp), NYU (Julie Greenberg, Marjorie Cohn), Oxford (Susan Tiefenbrun, Kenneth Vandevelde), and Thompson, Carolina, West, and other publishers (too many authors to list). . . . Not to mention hundreds of law review articles, one of which by Bryan Wildenthal was recently cited multiple times by the U.S. Supreme Court in the McDonald case[.] 
Oh, and there's also an annual Women and Law series which brings star scholars to campus every year -- people like Kimberle Crenshaw, Vicki Schultz, and Martha Fineman -- and which has featured Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg twice in the past ten years. . .  
On top of that, the school has a nationally ranked externship program; a student body that is among the most racially and ethnically diverse of any law school; a spectacular and award-winning building; and a trail-blazing incubator program (recently highlighted by Time [M]agazine and the New York Times) that supports some of our recent graduates as they build up their practices.  
We've certainly got our challenges, like everyone else. But I think we've got the pieces in place to address concerns and move forward, and I look forward to working with Dean Guernsey in this process."
  (comment by Kaimipono Wenger, April 08, 2013 at 06:55 PM).
You, Wenger, are a professor at a scam school. Yes, a scam that takes place in a 90 million dollar award-winning building is still a scam. Even if Mr. Alfred Brophy approves of the scam's hiring patterns, it is still a scam. The conferences, the law review articles, the name-dropping, the celebrity cameos, the, uh, "nationally recognized sports law expert"-- how does all that change the fact that almost nobody in the legal profession respects a Thomas Jefferson law degree? Your pride in Thomas Jefferson's racially and ethnically diverse student body is as preposterous as some con-artist boasting that his victims came from many diverse cultures.And, while everybody has their challenges as you say, your moral challenge is recognizing your moral responsibilities towards the kids whose misplaced trust made you rich and cozy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Glossy Propaganda

Ah, the unsolicited new-academic-year glossy brochure in the mail.  Pages and pages of full-color splats about my alma mater - how great the program is now, and how great it will continue to be in the future.

I wish I could read all this and be excited about it.  I really do.  The pages are full of smiling LawProfs lecturing and hopeful students beaming.  The pages almost drip with that joie de vivre that comes from righting the wrongs of society and all that jazz.  I don't know, personally- it certainly looks very different from my vantage point.

According to the text, approximately 50% of the student body in 2012 went to "law firms."  20% went to "business and industry" (woohoo, "JD-Advantage" graduates, represent!).  Another 20% went to "government and public interest."  No mention of salaries, of course.  No mention of debt loads.  No additional "real" information beyond that - I guess I'll have to go to Law School Transparency for a more detailed analysis.

There is all kinds of discussion about "experiential learning" and "practice readiness" and major changes in the curriculum.  Oh, how I indeed remember all the letters from the Dean a scant two to four years ago that often dismissed the need for crass, vulgar, pedestrian vocational training, and questioned why people were tying long-term gain to the pure intellectual reward of a JD from my alma mater.  My, my my, how the tides have changed.

I count approximately ten exposes on current students and alumni.  They are certainly doing interesting things and have obtained some amazing opportunities.  The featured alumni range quite a bit in graduation dates but seem to be doing quite well for themselves.  Then the cynic in me says, "Yes, but what about the other 200 or so 3Ls?  How are they doing?  What about the thousand or so alumni from the past, say, 5 - 8 years?  Are they doing well for themselves?"

And then there are the professors, some recognizable and some new.  Various papers have been written, various awards have been won, various conferences have been held.  Great.  I suspect they are living quite comfortable lives and funding their own children's educations quite well, compared to most.  Enjoy that blood money.

Again, I wish I could be more proud.  I wish could look back and say, "Yeah, me too!"  It's hard for me not to look at the brochure and think about hundreds of students, severely indebted, with no clear place to go.  It's hard to think back to recent, random alumni whom I didn't know, contacting me out of the blue, scared, looking for advice and hope, and me being unable to help them in any meaningful way.  It's hard for me to not look back at the past ten years and think "Wow, I should have done something completely different with my career rather than having gone to law school.  I was scammed, and my student debt will continue to follow me for the next ten to 15 years." 

This is why I blog.  Instead of supporting my alma mater, I join my voice to the thousands who, every year, across the country, are dumped out on the market with crushing debt and few to no real prospects.  The handful that are chronicled will do just fine and don't need any help - being well-connected tends to do that for a person.  For everyone else there is MasterCard, and all I can do is salute you and wish you good luck. 

My alma mater does not need to be turning out the current level of new graduates.  They should cut the numbers in half.  Period.

For the vast majority of those considering the plunge, I can only sincerely hope that you have been or will be persuaded to choose some other path.  The machine will grind on, perhaps more slowly than in the past; but there is no need to add additional fuel to that fire.  Enough damage has been done already.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Missing the obvious in American higher education

Many on the elite Left, such as opinion-spinsters on the New York Times, wring their hands over the focus on measuring the value of a college degree by the job outcomes of college graduates.  This includes many deans of the 180 low-tier law schools (one of whom was allowed to write a NYT editorial). 

Frank Bruni worries that

the inclusion of graduates’ earnings as one yardstick of effectiveness belongs to a broader trend of seeing college in pecuniary terms that could easily go too far. 
Dean Laurence Mitchell of Case Western Law School agrees.  He downplays the job market woes by noting that the previous job market downturn for law graduates, in 1998, saw 55% of law graduates starting in law firms, while 50% found similar jobs in 2011:

a 9 percent decline from a previous low during the worst economic conditions in decades hardly seems catastrophic.
Perhaps Bruni would disagree with Mitchell's analysis of the job market for lawyers, but it is strange that they complain about using career and income outcomes as a metric to assess the quality of American higher education while consistently pointing to surveys and statistics showing that those with college degrees have lower rates of unemployment and higher incomes of those without college degrees.  In fact, it reminds me very much of law school deans who complain about the US News' law school rankings while simultaneously claiming credit for improvements in the rankings.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Indiana Tech Law School's Most Important Innovation.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about the upcoming Indiana Tech Law School "Oath of Professionalism" ceremony. The Indiana Tech class apparently spent the first several weeks of their One-L Professionalism course collectively drafting the oath. On October 10th, the whole Charter class [1]  assembled in the moot courtroom, where the oath was administered by a federal District Court judge, William C. Lee. As a token of this, uh, achievement, the students received scales of justice pins.

My initial take was that this was a silly gimmick-- a time-wasting exercise by lazy professors, or a half-baked brainstorm by some administrator or professor, maybe based on a childhood memory of a ceremony at a Cub Scout jamboree. Just some official nonsense that was implemented only because it was not thought through, and to be remembered afterwards with an embarrassed smile.

But I will say this for Indiana Tech Law: they are quite serious about their ridiculous posturing-and-pinning ceremony. According to an Indiana Tech Law press release: "Law School Dean Peter C. Alexander said the Oath Ceremony is one of the most important innovations in Tech’s law program. "It reflects an earnest decision by the students to become not only lawyers, but also great examples of professionalism and ethics," he explained."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Law Professors' letter to the ABA regarding the proposals limiting tenure

A few days ago I caught, via Faculty Lounge, a letter being circulated among law professors, written by the AALS Section on Minority Groups, opposing the ABA's draft recommendations which support dropping law school tenure requirements.

The basis of their arguments in favor of tenure is that "lack of tenure protection for professors will cause a negative impact on academic freedom, the creation of safe space for dissenting voices, and recruitment and retention of minority law professors . . . Notably, tenure facilitation meaningful academic freedom by protecting a law professor's ability to engage freely in the teaching and writing of groundbreaking subjects."

I would disagree that many law professor's "engage freely in the teaching and writing of groundbreaking subjects."  Most law professors teach the same subjects from the same books based on the same old appellate court opinions, regurgitated from the teacher's outline.  Most scholarship, bluntly, is non-peer reviewed garbage, read by a handful of people.  Just like there has been a glut of JD's for decades, the glut of legal scholarship reduces the value of the average article.

Tenure for law professors is a sweet deal.  Who wouldn't want comfortable, low-stress jobs, complete with six figure salaries in a never-ending contract?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Students scamming students???

You've heard of Lawyers Helping Lawyers, where substance-abusing lawyers can avoid getting real treatment and avoid being disciplined get help from other lawyers?  Well, now there's Students Scamming Students.

I guess they learn quickly from their professors.  Forget making money from the law.  Make money from scamming other people.  That's the professors' area of expertise.  And one in particular has put this into action while barely out of his 1L diapers.

I was alerted to this subscam the other day: inGenius prep.  Much like CommonBond, the discredited private student loan lender with the business model that was literally "Suckers Luv Prestige!" scribbled on a sheet of paper (and sadly a business model that actually works time and time and time again), inGenuis prep offers much of the same thing we've seen from private law school admissions consultants over and over, except with More Prestige!

What this prep company needs is more prestige.  Give me more prestige.

Sick bags at the ready?  Here's a little info from their site:

You are worthy of your dream school. Is your application? Like standardized tests, applying to competitive programs is a hard-earned skill. At inGenius prep, we've mastered the art of the application. Our extensive team of admissions officers work hand-in-hand with student coaches from top schools to provide the most thorough and effective admissions counseling. Wherever you want to go, we can help get you there.

Our directors of admissions hail from the top-ranked schools: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and more. Our student coaches are at the top of their class in the most competitive programs. Name the school, we have the acceptance letter framed, the admissions T-shirt in our closet, and a former admissions officer standing by to help you. Work with those who understand the process from the bottom up, and from the inside out.

And the site itself is littered with the latin-mottoed crests of Harvard and Yale and Stanford and every other school that oozes prestige.  (Sidenote: perhaps I should give myself a latin motto so people throw money at me for no good reason...)

Admissions consultants are a waste of time and always have been.  If you're smart enough to get into Harvard, you're smart enough to write well, have a high GPA and LSAT (which no admissions consultant can help you with), and be able to figure out the application procedure yourself from the instructions on school web sites and from the countless good resources available for free online (such as this site.)

Admissions consultants are a trap for the stupid.  They try to sell prestige to people who have no business trying to obtain it.  Like law schools which sell a dream of being a fancy high class international space environmental lawyer, but fail to deliver and you don't know it until it's too late, the money has changed hands, and you're the sucker who fell for the scam.  Like many expensive private schools in general which fail to mention that it's family connections that are the leading indicator of potential success, not expensive school names on a resume.  Like admissions consultants, who will gladly take your money and sell you a dream of Harvard, but who rarely deliver.  (Rather like the lottery, except countless times more expensive, and countless times more stupid.  At least with the lottery, you know your slim odds of success up front, and you don't incur $200,000 of nondischargeable lottery debt by playing.)

No prices on the web site though.  Hmmm.  So I wrote to them and here's what I got in reply:

Thanks for contacting inGenius prep! We are excited to help you with your admission to the Ivy League law schools that you wish to gain admission to!

I'm David, a second-year student at Harvard Law School and the head of the JD Division. I am just one of the great inGenius prep team who will be working with you.

I would love to set up a time to chat with you by phone about your aspirations and the services we offer at inGenius. We do have a soup-to-nuts package for application counseling and anything else you might need. This package would pair you with a student coach (who has years of counseling experience and has succeeded in this process himself/herself and a former admissions officer from a top 4 law school (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford). The package costs $3,749. We also have our typical hourly "full-curriculum," which is the same as the aforementioned, but would involve paying for packages of hours. The baseline price is $150/hr, but we have discounts for buying hours in advance (the discounts become larger the more hours you purchase). Normally, our students use around 15-20 hours throughout the process.

We are not an LSAT prep company, so that package would not include LSAT tutoring. Our counselors have all scored well over 172 on the LSAT though and would certainly be able to answer any emergency questions you might have and definitely will be terrific at providing strategic advice about preparing for the LSAT, when to take the test, and setting out an ideal study schedule that suits your needs. Also, we have several LSAT preparation companies that we partner with that through which we could provide you a large discount on their services. Despite all of that, if you were interested, we could get one of our counselors to work with you on the LSAT as your LSAT tutor and create a truly global package for you.

My only concern is the timeline you have slated for you enrollment in law school. It looks like you said you wanted to enroll next falI, which would mean you would have to take the December LSAT. This already puts you at a minor disadvantage because most schools work on a rolling admissions basis. We should talk ASAP in order to make sure that we can meet that rushed timeline if that is indeed your goal. Please let me know when a good time to talk would be. I am available anytime after 7 p.m. tomorrow and after 3 p.m. any other day this week. I look forward to speaking with you! 

The sender was David Mainiero.

Let's just hit the high points of this insanity:

1 - David is "head of the JD division".  He's a 2L at Harvard Law.  So he has, in reality, no experience other than having gone through the admissions process once himself.  Sounds familiar...where have I heard something like that before...oh, I remember now, it's like law professors, with no experience other than having gone through law school, trying to teach law!  Oh my, David is a fast learner.  Go through the process once and you're an expert.

2 - $3,749?  That's crazy.  That includes no guarantees, no LSAT prep, no nothing other than probably some personal statement guidance (again, not needed for those actually smart enough to get into Harvard in the first place), plus some bullshit resume advice, putting a rather expensive spin on things that are out of the hands of inGenius prep in the first place.  Who is foolish enough to pay for this?

3 - $150 per hour?  There are lawyers who would kill for $150 per hour.  There are lawyers who would kill for $50 per hour.  Who on earth would pay $150 per hour for what amounts to nothing more than proofreading?

Interestingly, it appears that David learned to scam people long before he set foot in law school.  Let me introduce you to David Manero, a former restaurateur from Florida.  According to news reports, Manero has been sued by his former business partners for embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, stealing about $1,000,000 from the group to fund his family and their lavish lifestyle, and is being investigated for theft by the FBI.

His son?  One David Mainiero:

. . . David Manero, whose restaurant wonderland in Delray Beach has turned into a nightmare. Oh sure, the restaurants he ran — Vic & Angelo’s, The Office and Burger Fi — seem to be doing fine, but David is nowhere in sight. Which had the Atlantic Avenue rumor mill working overtime with claims that his partners had him banned from the premises and that the FBI wanted him for illegalities . . .

. . . By the way, out in Laguna Beach, Calif., on the Pacific Coast Highway, a former KFC restaurant (on land previously occupied by a used car lot) is set to reopen in June as BurgerFi. The developer? A 2012 graduate of Dartmouth College, who has family ties to Southern California but also spent summers working in his family’s Florida restaurants, beginning as a server. His name: David Mainiero. (Yes, father and son spell their names differently.) Young Dave told the left coast media he thought it would be a good way to earn money for law school.

Like father, like son.  Obtain money through deceit, just another generation of Ivy League scammers treating everyone else like cattle, pieces of meat to be used and taken advantage of.  But that's our David Jr., now happily at Harvard and heading up an admissions consulting company.

He'll make a great lawyer.

The square-jawed David Mainiero

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why law students should pin their hopes on Indiana Tech.

Recently-opened Indiana Tech University School of Law  is not bashful about deeming itself a "better" kind of law school, in spite of its open enrollment policies and its lack of ABA accreditation. Better because of its emphasis on "legal ethics, professionalism, and civility." Until recently I was inclined to treat such claims with skepticism. However, unlike other law schools, which offer empty verbiage about professionalism, Indiana Tech's claims have substance, actual physical substance, in the form of a professionalism pin that will be awarded to Indiana Tech law students by their proud professors. Indiana Tech Law's website explains:
"As part of their first semester Professionalism class, students will, collectively, draft an Oath of Professionalism that captures and reflects their understanding of what it means to be part of the legal profession. After the Oath is administered, faculty present each student with a “scales of justice” pin to welcome them to the profession." 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When the scam affects Baby Boomers

Many Baby Boomers look at people who blog about the law school scam as "whiners" and "not hard working enough". Plus, if the job market doesn't pan out, then the option to hang out a shingle is always there. But what happens when the scam comes to the Boomers?

Tom Nutter is a 67 year old attorney. He graduated law school in 1980 and worked his way up the chain until he was a partner at a firm in 2008. The financial crisis hit, and Tom was let go. In the next five years, Tom has been unable to find a legal job. Can we say that Tom was lazy? The article only states that he engaged in a "frantic" job search, after which he tried to go solo. Perhaps he didn't network enough or was overly choosy, but the fact of the matter is that he was unable to find a job, even with over twenty eight years of experience.

Boomers' callous attitude is indicative of how out of touch they are with today's legal job market. With law schools pumping out twice as many graduates as there are jobs available, there simply isn't enough work out there. Just look at Tom. If he was unable to find even an entry level job with his wealth of experience, then what chance does a new grad who has not been taught anything have? It is not a coincidence that the majority of the judges (Gordon Quist, Mary Mikva, Melvin Schweitzer, Jr.) who dismiss the suits brought against law schools are Boomers. What if there were many more people like Tom Nutter; unable to find work even though they are working hard to try and get a job? Would these judges toss aside these lawsuits with such flippancy?

Again, the way to effect change is not to keep preaching to law grads (the choir) or the legal education establishment (the enemy). Instead, we need to continue showing what a cesspool the legal profession has become. Ordinary people need to be disabused of the idea that a law degree automatically confers an upper middle class life upon its recipient. The day that a mother cries uncontrollably when her son tells her he's decided to become the first person in the family to go to law school is the day we can claim victory against the scam.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Infilaw: A New JDHOPE

Those were NOT the Law Schools I was looking for...
UPDATE (10/11/2013):  Paul Campos was kind enough to provide some clarification - JDHOPE27 was admitted to the AAMPLE programs at the Infilaw schools.  While this does not change the basic argument here, in an effort to be as factually correct as possible I make this amendment here.  Discussion on the AAMPLE program can be found here.
Much has been said about the Infilaw system already.  In short, it represents a possible "future," of sorts, for the law school education industry: as enrollment declines due to skyrocketing costs and grim prospects, organizations like Infilaw swoop in to consolidate individual schools into its member consortium (currently three, possibly four very soon).  Presumably they all gain access to shared resources and management, which in turn makes them more efficient and effective in their mission, or something.  I'm not entirely certain about the so-called benefits.
What is disturbing about Infilaw is that it is a for-profit enterprise, as detailed in the links above.  Not "for-profit" in the standard public/private law school way (as in "no, really, we're non-profit, see, really, just ignore the fact that we pay ourselves outrageous salaries and are exempt from income taxes and build new, giant buildings to attract new students and pay tithes to the larger university"), but "for-profit" as in "no, seriously, we're here to generate shareholder value, damn the student outcomes" sort of way.  While some for-profit schools in other disciplines have been vilified for charging high tuition and leaving their graduates with few to no prospects, nothing quite approaches the debt load of law school, for-profit or not.
Exhibit A of this brave, new world would be the case of JDHOPE27, which was brought up by a commenter previously and was, in my opinion, worthy of a separate post.   
A huge disclaimer up front: I'm not knocking JDHOPE27.  When looking at his background he appears to be a non-trad, which if anything only makes me more sympathetic to his plight, as I too, once, was in similar shoes.  I wish him and others like him nothing but the best.  But, he does serve as an example as to what Infilaw is all about.  Below is a screen capture from Law School Numbers, as I wanted to preserve this particular case should anything be changed or deleted post October 1 2013.
My point is a simple one: note that JDHOPE27 applied to twelve law schools.  His acceptances came from Florida Coastal, Phoenix, and Charlotte.  For those keeping score at home, these are the three Infilaw-affiliated law schools.  If you observe the profile for yourself, you will find that JDHOPE27 is now attending Charlotte School of Law.
There is really no way to comment on this further without it sounding like I am taking a swipe at JDHOPE27, which is not my purpose here.  I am, however, taking a swipe at Infilaw, in that the "non-profit" sector clearly made one decision, while the "for-profit" sector clearly made another.
If JDHOPE27 graduates, I hope he or she makes the best damn lawyer possible.  At the same time, 0Ls, beware.  As fewer and fewer students choose law school, realize that the law school cartel will begin to take on anyone who has a social security number, whether it is in the student's actual best interest or not. 

I certainly count myself in among the "shouldn't have gone" crowd, and that was long before the for-profit law schools came to town.  Watch out.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Fantasy of the Socratic Boredroom

From the way-before time (2010):
Business leaders and corporate headhunters agree that the JD is once again an alternative to the MBA as the degree of choice for CEO candidates, and that the trend is very likely to increase over the next decade.
If this happens some time soon, please let me know.  I've got me one of them JDs in a waterlogged cardboard frame and I'd like to nab one of these CEO positions.  I hear they pay well.

Meanwhile, today the good folks at JDUnderground pointed me to this windbag:
Look at the CEOs of all successful companies and you will see most have law degrees.... 
Guess what degree your boss' boss has? A law degree. He doesn't have one you say? Look further up the pyramid and I guarantee you will see one up there.
You guarantee, eh?  Like that 97% employed guaranteed non-guarantee?

Because, apparently, mental children like to opine about these issues online, I'll refrain from saying what I'm thinking, which is "holy mother of titty-fucking juniper berries pouring out your ass," which makes much more sense than that comment about JD CEOs.

I decided to take "InflatedSnake's" advice and actually look at the CEOs of successful companies. I just started scrolling down the Fortune 500 list and marking down the CEOs I could quickly find educational information on, and occasionally skipping around or over companies that don't make drugs, bombs, or food.  I got bored fairly quickly, but got enough to make some general observations.  And by general observations, I mean "duh, derpity, duh tiddly tum."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Close Encounters of the Third Tier: Cleveland-Marshall Law Prof. Mark J. Sundahl touts career opportunities in Space Law.

(The green alien looks friendly, but it is about to say that the galaxy is glutted with JDs, and that no reputable Space Law firm in the Universe would hire out of a black hole like Cleveland-Marshall).

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law includes among its faculty a smarty-pants named Mark J. Sundahl. As noted on his CV, Sundahl has a Ph.D. in Classics from Brown (2000), and a JD from UC-Hastings (2001). Sundahl became a law professor in 2004, following a couple of years in Big Law, and is now Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. When he is not professoring, Sundahl serves on various important-sounding advisory boards and is "of counsel" for a small local firm that represents aerospace and defense clients.
In general, I deplore the routine practice of law schools in offering law professorships to persons with extremely limited practice experience-- to persons who were, in fact, law students only a couple of years earlier. But I have to admit that Sundahl's combo of specialties--space law and ancient Athens--is pretty freaking cool. That is why it is a shame that Sundahl is a scammer.
In a promotional video for Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Sundahl states that there is a "great deal of opportunity for employment in the law of out outer space." He also asserts that the study of space law provides practical "skills that are transferable." Here is a link to the video, and a transcription of the most obnoxious of his comments:
"The job opportunities [in space law] can be found both in governmental organizations, you could work for governmental organizations, agencies within the US government, you could work for nonprofit organizations that, for example, set best standards, best  practices, for companies that are active in space, and governments that are active in space, you could work for any number of companies that manufacture space assets, for example manufacture satellites or launch vehicles or any of the many components that are integrated into these launch vehicles and satellites. And so there is a great deal of opportunity to find employment in the law of outer space and that is exactly what we’re are trying to prepare our students for. Because suddenly there are far more opportunities than there had been in the past. And we want to make sure that our students are trained in the field of space law so they can take advantage of these opportunities." 
(Video at 2:46-3:42) 
"The study of space law provides students with skills that are transferable. It seems like a very exotic, esoteric area of the law and many students might think it doesn’t have a practical application to their future career as lawyers, but that’s not the case. There are a number of transferable skills. Because in the course of the class students have the opportunity to read treaties and interpret international treaties and also navigate complex domestic regulations... but the ability to read, interpret, and apply those regulations can serve a student well regardless of what field they go into."

(Video at 4:17-4:57) 
Throughout much of the video, Sundahl maintains a weird half-smile. So enigmatic, like a Mona Lisa of law school scam. Is he trying to be ingratiating? Is he just that pleased with himself? Is it an unconscious signal not to take him seriously? 

Sundahl knows perfectly well that very few, if any, Cleveland-Marshall law graduates are going to "find employment in the law of outer space." In fact, Cleveland-Marshall's abysmal placement record establishes that most will not obtain any sort of full-time legal employment. A mere 76 out of 176 total graduates of the class of 2012 (43.2%) obtained bar-required full-time long-term nonsolo jobs within nine months of graduation--only 16 of whom joined firms with more than 25 lawyers, and none of whom obtained an Article III clerkship. [1] And though Sundahl yaps about job opportunities with "agencies within the US government, "it does not appear that Cleveland-Marshall's renown for training space law regulators, or regulators of any sort, has reached our nation's capital. Of the class 2011, only three graduates got jobs in DC, as opposed to 143 who remained in Ohio. [2] In 2012, fewer than three graduates landed jobs in DC. [3]

Would it be so terrible for Sundahl to tout his elective course in Space Law without suggesting that it leads to lucrative jobs or constitutes practical skills training? You know, just say that space law is an interesting thing to study and learn about, and that it involves international and administrative law, areas with which a law student should gain a certain familiarity. 

There are a lot of deep, and perhaps insoluble, structural problems with our system of legal education. But there is one thing law professors could do right now, on their own, that would make an important difference: they could respect their students enough to address them in an honest and straightforward manner about career prospects. Or if that is too tall an order, just keep quiet and don't affirmatively deceive them.

notes and additional links.

(Cleveland-Marshall's 43.2% is way below the ABA average of 53.9%. However, there are no fewer than three law schools in Ohio with even worse placement numbers (Capital University, University of Akron, and University of Toledo) and one (Case Western) that is about the same.  Even the best of Ohio's nine law schools-- Ohio State-- did not crack 59% in either 2011 or 2012. So the advice that scambloggers provide to most college kids-- Don't go to law school-- should probably include the addendum "especially in Ohio").



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10-1-13, News Roundup

-Campos' third post about specific law schools antics in response to the crash of applications.  This time Hofstra is under the cross hairs.

-TaxProf blog posts fresh 1L enrollment figures for 20 California law schools.  Best tidbit?  La Verne went from 165 in 2010, to 44 in 2012, up a tick to 54 in 2013.

-Cooley's suit against bloggers and the law firm Kurzon Strauss failed as the court gave summary judgement to the defendants.  In the opinion, Judge Jonker (I love that name) wrote that "the statement that 'Cooley grossly inflates its graduates’ reported mean salaries' may not merely be protected hyperbole, but actually substantially true."

-Finally, some good news from Matt Leichter at Law School Tuition Bubble.  He found that the amount of educational debt taken out by students from the government has dipped from the 2011-2012 school year to the 2012-2013 school year.