Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Pied Pipeline of Scamlin.

Initiatives designed to market law school to children are often referred to as "pipeline programs." I approve of this term. It sounds appropriately impersonal and industrial, in contrast to the moralistic rhetoric used by many of the advocates of these programs. Children are the raw material designated for future transport by pipeline to factories, aka law school, where they can be processed and packaged for the financial benefit of the factory management, aka law deans and professors.

As explained by CUNY Law Dean Michelle Anderson, "Law school pipeline programs across the country attempt to make interventions early along this stream on the theory that these interventions will widen the flow of students later in the application stage." Michelle J. Anderson, Legal Education Reform, Diversity, and Access to Justice, 61 Rutgers Law Review 1011, 1029 (2009). One format is to send law students into high schools and middle schools to stage "law related educational programming," such as mock trials and "know your rights" events, with the agenda of "excit[ing] youngsters about the practice of law and interest[ing] them in becoming lawyers themselves one day." Legal Education, at 1030. For instance, "St. John’s University School of Law engages in a service day in which law students go into area elementary schools to teach fourth graders about the practice of law by staging a trial of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."" Legal Education, at 1029-1030. Other pipeline programs are based on a "mentor model." See Legal Education, at 1030.

It makes sense for the law school industry to cultivate children. An increasing number of adults dismiss the story that law school offers a path to personal fulfillment and/ or social justice as a fairy tale told by scammers. But kids, being naive and impressionable, tend to believe fairy tales. And marketing specialists have long realized that aspirations and sensibilities formed in childhood tend to carry over into adulthood. As the "King of Advertising" Irwin Gotlieb stated: "If the first time that you saw an ad for [an expensive consumer item] was when you could finally afford it, then it is too late. You have to create aspiration. . . by the age of 12 or they won't be buying one at 35."

These pipeline programs seem to target kids from vulnerable or victimized or historically excluded communities, i.e., kids who may be especially receptive to the pitch that a law degree offers empowerment or upward mobility. I challenge the schools that participate in or host pipeline programs, especially lower tier schools with poor employment rates: You say you want to diversify the profession by recruiting kids from multicultural or economically disadvantaged backgrounds? Fine, so do I, but I do not want these kids to be scammed out of hundreds of thousands of borrowed dollars in the process.

The answer is simple: Offer full-ride scholarships to your pipeline recruits so that they will not be burdened by massive educational debt as they pursue justice for all. Otherwise your vaunted pipeline is simply an instrument of greedy deception dressed up as idealism, as exploitative and brutally ironic as Madoff earnestly promising to serve society by expanding his pool of investors to include young people of every race, color, and creed.

A Few Recent Examples of the Pipeline: 

1. From Pacific McGeorge's website: "In 2014, Pacific McGeorge hosted two Discover Law [1] programs — one in February and one in March — for local high school students. More than 250 local high school students visited McGeorge, between the two dates, for a day-long law exposure and exploration program. Participants were introduced to the law as a career option and to the law school process. During a highly interactive day, students also participated in mock law classes and a simulated mock trial. The day culminated in a very personal conversation with a McGeorge alumnus about his journey to a career in law."

2. From John Marshall Law School's website: "To further expand the pipeline of traditionally under-represented students in law school, the Office of Diversity Affairs conducts mock trial programs for high school, junior high and elementary schools during the year. The John Marshall Law School will award $80,000 in tuition waivers to outstanding high school students who participate in the law school's 6th Annual High School Mock Trial Competition Nov. 4, 2011, at the law school."

3. From Discover Law's website: "Arizona State University. . . 2013 Mock Trial Workshops and Mentoring Dinner. . .: Approximately 50 middle school and 50 high school students arrived for lunch, were introduced to, and attended three hour-long workshops that helped them prepare for their interschool mock trial competitions. The middle school students attended an hour-long panel discussion on higher education and careers in law, followed by dinner with 70 participants from [a] mentoring program (consisting of high school, college, and law students, as well as attorney mentors)."


[1] Discover Law is a Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) funded initiative. It apparently plays a key role in formulating and coordinating pipeline programs. Readers here may recall that Discover Law developed a presentation, which it made available to law schools, urging kids to attend law school to satisfy their highest ideals and goals, such as saving the dolphins. Here is the extensive list of pipeline programs that Discover Law sponsored in 2014.


  1. Hilarious. Compare the DiscoverLaw pipeline program at University of Chicago:

    "Academically gifted students from local high schools visited the law school and experienced various aspects of the legal curriculum. The high school students had the opportunity to discuss these experiences with current law students throughout the day."

    to Thomas Jefferson:

    "Thomas Jefferson School of Law hosted minority students from e³ Civic High School to learn about law school and careers in the law. The all-day program included a law panel with lawyers and current BLSA and La Raza law students, a presentation about law school and application requirements, and a tour of the law school campus. The attendees also met and talked to administrators, law professors, and law students.

    We also invited attorneys from the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (an organization that represents the interests of the African American legal community in San Diego County) and the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association to participate on our law student/lawyer panel."

    or Widener:

    "Widener University School of Law's admission personnel, Multicultural Affairs Officer, and Latin American Law Students' Association sponsored this multicultural outreach program. This forum was designed to cultivate early interest in attending law school among community college students of diverse backgrounds.

    Widener Law representatives met with community college students from historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession to inform them of the resources and tools available, including, to assist them in applying to law school.

    The Widener Law Early Interest Forum concluded with an invitation to register with and apply to Widener's prelaw diversity pipeline program, JURIST Academy, for a tuition-free, two-week campus experience.

    Each community college student had an opportunity to engage in personal, in-depth, and confidential discussions with a Widener Law administrator concerning their academic credentials, prospects for law school admission, and interest in the legal profession."

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Some folks apparently have to do quite the sales job. Some don't. I think we all know why.

    1. Great illustration!

      "We're number 165. We try harder."

    2. Community College students, that's really sad. I mean, there is a reason those kids aren't in a 4 year college. You would think they would be bright enough not to fall for this nonsense.

    3. I bet there are some slight evidences of scamming even at Chicago. Did any of these students sit in for a section taught by Leiter? I'm guessing probably not.

    4. Probably not, 10:50. Leiter is the only embarrassment for on an otherwise respectible institution. I imagine they gave all the kids the "shush" sign and tip-toed past his office, lest anyone have to actually talk to him.

      I'm not implicitly anti-tenure, but talk about Exhibit A as to why tenure is a bad idea...

    5. @9:01, just to be fair, in my state community college credits are 100% transferable to the state university system and the tuition is dirt cheap. There are thus some pretty bright kids in the CC's.

    6. @10:50, if you've ever been to the area around U of Chicago you'd know what some of those local high schools are like and what the standards are to get you qualified as "gifted."

    7. I'd guess that most of Leiter's students do very well, but he's permanently damaged the reputation of law graduates, like himself, who don't want to be lawyers. He's also permanently damaged the reputation of law professors, like himself, who imagine themselves to be philosophers. And I have no idea how he came to the conclusion that pretending to be a lawyer was an effective way to punish philosophy professors who failed to parrot his own ill-informed opinions.

      Leiter is a unique psychological artifact, a natural phenomenon that can never be repeated and must be studied on its own terms. Our best opportunity to understand the depths of his soul would be for some very insightful psychologist to devise a very clever variant of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Leiter, of course, would be best equipped to play one of the guards.

    8. I've got a question about Professor Leiter's culpability in the ongoing scam. It's not just rhetorical, either. I attended a world-class lecture on moral philosophy yesterday. I'm fired up and ready to do some serious reasoning in pursuit of answers.

      Do you think ignorance or malice best explains Leiter's pugilistic defense of the law school scam? And not him alone, but anyone who attacks decent people for defending the interests of young and gullible students? On the one hand, it would be easy for Leiter, or any other professor, to hide behind the admissions office. "We don't bring in the students, we just teach them. It's their own business if they want to attend law school." And for any professor who's libertarian, that might make some moral sense. Leiter, however, is not a libertarian. Neither are the racial capitalists who dropped into their tenured posts just a bit too effortlessly. Also, such a position would require genuine ignorance of student outcomes. Has Leiter simply shielded himself from that information by relying on dishonest secondary sources? And is there a moral issue involved when he assumes certain facts for debate while maintaining his own ignorance?

      Or is ignorance a less efficient explanation than malice? Leiter, after all, does enjoy attacking people. His compulsive overuse of the judgmental words he considers devastating borders on the comical at times. He also appears drawn to controversy of any kind. For example, he intrudes himself into arguments within the philosophy community--while not a philosophy professor himself! Surely this is anomalous, a freakish situation that almost appears to have been invented as a thought experiment. That's how important distinctions originate that often lead to deep insights into human thought and action.

      Countering the theory of inherent malice are some realities of the law school scam. While Leiter may hate anyone who disagrees with him about politics, or philosophy, or his own fantasized version of the legal process, it's hard to believe that he actually hates the students at third-tier law schools enough to wish upon them a lifetime of debt and poverty. His own students do well on the job market, and I think that's a clue. He may be emotionally invested in his own students to such a degree that he cannot conceive that other students exist. If this were his attitude, it could be an extension of his obvious narcissism, but far less harmful. If he actually cares about someone else, that could be the breakthrough he needs to become an authentic moral being.

      As a tentative conclusion, I would state that malice explains the viciousness of Leiter's attacks on people better than himself, but not the attacks themselves. The victims often appear to be selected at random, or at least for reasons that are so trivial as to be ludicrous. A far better explanation would be ignorance of a sort, created by Leiter himself to continue a series of pleasant emotional states, or at least non-threatening states. This involves considerable denial on his part, in which he conveniently forgets indisputable facts. It also involves careful selection of extremely biased sources. However, it doesn't interfere with his everyday activities at the law school, or with that tiny fraction of his public interactions that are cordial, professional, and rational. So this is ignorance with a twist. It doesn't in any way falsify his intellect or scholarship, but it does exclude him from any reasonable discussion of lower-tier law schools. And if claims against him were limited to the fact that he is extraordinarily sheltered and narrow in his outlook, I'd hope he could forget about it and pop another cheeseburger past his curling lips. And reflect on the magnificent reality that he lives in a diverse and somewhat free society.

  2. Got to get them young otherwise they will find out in college that lawl schools b scummin.

  3. Every year. I go into local middle schools and teach about the Bill of Rights through a florida justice teaching program promoted by our Supreme Court. Nothing to do with scamming. People really do have good intentions out there.

    1. That may be true about you personally, 7:14, and if so, God bless you for it. It's the Law School Cartel that we are calling out, with its sugar-plum fairy career pitches, cozy relationship with false employment statistics and oppressive non-dischargeable debt.

    2. 7:14, what you're describing is quite a bit different than the "go to law school and save the dolphins" type nonsense peddled by Discover Law, et al.

    3. @ Anon 8:08:

      I refuse to believe that my school has lied to me. I will continue to pursue my dream of practicing international environmental space animal law with an emphasis in tax.

      - Concerned Indiana Tech 2L

    4. 9:05, that dream will never become a reality...unless you cap off your resume with an LLM in Hip-Hop law. Fortunately, you're at the right institution!

    5. I thought Hip Hop law was just equal parts contract, intellectual property, and criminal defense?

    6. Hip Hop Law is mostly a state of state of mind. It's all about tripping into court with a mountain of evidence against you--and hopping out with a multi-million dollar judgment against the cops.

  4. "As the 'King of Advertising' Irwin Gotlieb stated: 'If the first time that you saw an ad for [an expensive consumer item] was when you could finally afford it, then it is too late. You have to create aspiration. . . by the age of 12 or they won't be buying one at 35.'"

    That quote is so on-point it's scary.

    Pipeline programs are like cigarette ads. They're selling you on coolness, glamor, & class. But the product you actually buy is just a coffin nail.

  5. "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" is all is.

  6. See

    Money quote:

    "Stocks, meanwhile, collapsed during the crisis, but came back soon thereafter. The middle class, in other words, missed out on the big bull market in stocks, but not on the even bigger bear one in housing. That's why the recovery has restored so little of the wealth that the recession destroyed. In fact, the bottom 90 percent have actually kept losing net worth the past few years, in large part, due to rising student loan debt.

    It's been a lost 25 years for the bottom 90 percent, but a lost 15 for the next 9 percent, too. That's right: altogether, the bottom 99 percent are worth less today than they were in 1998."

    1. Someone gets it.

      This post nails the situation. The top 1% have gained, gained, gained. Everyone else was a loser.

      Eh, but take heart kids! There has never been a better time to go to law school and take out $150K in non-dischargeable loans to do it!

      It's not like you'll be fighting uphill in a sinking overall, and especially legal, economy.



  7. Realistically, these "mock trial programs" should be where you are mocked for wanting to be a trial lawyer.

  8. 2012–2013 25,223 -5.9% 37,780 -16.4% 30,226 -15.6% 19,286 -12.9% 112,515 -13.4%
    2013–2014 23,997 -4.9% 33,673 -10.9% 28,363 -6.2% 19,499 1.1% 105,532 -6.2%
    2014–2015 21,803 -9.1% 30,943 -8.1%

    Hey everyone, the new LSAT stats are in. There's an 8.1 decrease from the September 2013 LSAT.

    This means that comparing 2014 with 2013 for the June and September LSATs, there were 4,924 fewer students.

    1. Still waiting for the 1L matriculation numbers.... like a kid on Christmas Eve!

    2. By February, the total for the year will probably be well under 100k, of whom many will not apply to law schools in the US.

      Old Guy

    3. Those are some beautiful numbers. The fraudsters were crowing about that tiny little uptick in early 2014, but the overall trend is strongly against them. Cheers!

    4. They are getting so desperate that you can take the June LSAT and the t3/4s will still trip over themselves to admit you to the fall 1L class.

    5. Hell, even skules in the so-called "Tier 1" (more than half of which is in the fourth tier by my pragmatic definition) still admit people in July and beyond.

      Old Guy

    6. You're absolutely right, Old Guy. Even one school in the Top 5 was found accepting late applications on the basis of LSAT scores. Apparently they had a median to maintain. In today's environment, that isn't easy even for the best schools.

  9. ""St. John’s University School of Law engages in a service day in which law students go into area elementary schools to teach fourth graders about the practice of law by staging a trial of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.""

    They need to get them a cool anthropomorphic Discovery Dolphin Lawyer cartoon mascot.

    Hey, it worked for RJR with Joe Camel.

    1. We could display our own mascot. For example, a dolphin that's $200,000 in debt and can't afford to eat tuna.

    2. What about "Lemmy the Law School Lemming"?

      "Oh, that gullible Lemmy. He'll *fall* for anything!"

  10. This shit about "saving dolphins" is an obscene—and calculated—misrepresentation of what lawyers do. The authors of those ads—yes, ads: they're nothing but commercial solicitations—know damn well that lawyers are almost never involved in defending cute and cuddly animals.

    Old Guy

  11. That was another well-conceived and informative post by Dybbuk. I don't know how he does it. For a practicing attorney, he shows a great deal of curiosity and creativity. And for a public intellectual, he's unusually well-grounded in legal practice and everyday reality.

    I mean this only as a compliment, not an insult, but Dybbuk would make a great law professor. Given the current realities of legal education, the only problem would be finding a law school worthy of his talents. With good enough student inputs and career networks, some unusually perceptive law school could employ him to advance the opposite of the law school scam, namely law as a noble calling and a rewarding profession.

    I'm not about to write plays, movies, or other assorted narratives about him, but Dybbuk makes me feel good about the future.

    1. Wow, thanks! :)

      Even I don't feel good about the future.

    2. I think history will record that the fabricated bar complaint against Dybbuk was the high-water mark of the law school scam. Like the Turks at Vienna, the Germans at Stalingrad, and the Soviets in Afghanistan, a weakened tyranny seriously overextended itself to try to recreate the appearance of power. Given the strategic naivete and miniscule legal skills of Dybbuk's accusers, their defeat was inevitable from the start, yet they felt emboldened for a time by having taken any action at all.

      As the artificial tide quickly receded, Professor Leiter found himself reduced to threatening hapless philosophy professors in private emails, and then claiming confidentiality for his threats. The rats are scurrying for cover. Things are vastly different now than they were even as recently as June, thanks to the common sense of the Illinois Bar. Additional thanks to Dybbuk for standing firm and continuing to practice law. His accusers may find that strange and repugnant, underpaid and academically irrelevant, but it happens to be the only sound reason for the existence of law schools.

  12. Question. Does anybody know if there is a law school out there that does NOT require the LSAT?

    I know they got the ABA to approve it, but are any schools actually matriculating students without the LSAT?

    1. Wasn't the approval you mentioned for a maximum of 10% admitted without LSAT scores? That's for ABA accredited schools, of course. As far as the other 90% of students go, the law schools are required to ask for LSAT scores, but not to consider them. That's the big loophole. "Holistic admissions" or "opportunity admissions" are far more scary than letting a few stray cats submit GMAT scores.

    2. To answer the question at 10:15: yes, there are state-accredited or unaccredited law schools that don't require the LSAT. A school accredited by the ABA can admit up to 10% of its students without LSAT scores.

    3. I think there's a real question whether law schools have to report how many students they admit without LSAT scores. I think they just have to report the actual LSAT scores, mostly medians unless they get audited. It's kind of like saying that well, of course our unemployed students don't have jobs, so how can we report the salaries? It's just another way to institutionalize sampling bias while trying to hide it.

    4. 12:52, exactly. If the average T3 is going to use the $160k salaries of the 3 kids in their graduating class that got biglaw jobs to raise their reported median salary, it's only fair that kids who are unemployed count as a salary of $0. Just one more way the scamsters still manipulate their employment numbers.

    5. I tried to look into this in order to find a law school that was admitting to admitting 10% of their class without having taken the LSAT. I was able to find several unaccredited and state accredited places that would let you in without taking the LSAT.

      I also found the ABA's pdf outlining a bunch of changes they wished to propagate for schools they accredit here -->

      On pages 4 and 5 the document explains that a school has to use a test to determine law school ability and the test either has to be the LSAT or the law school has to demonstrate that the test is a valid measure of law school ability. They propose the rule change and on page 6 they give actual text.
      Basically 10% can be admitted without the LSAT; but all students admitted in such a fashion must either be undergrads from the same school or admitted to a J.D. program and some other program at the same time. They must be top 15% on the ACT, SAT, GRE, or GMAT and either top 10% in undergrad or have a GPA of 3.5. Their preliminary explanation says that there should be auditing. I imagine to make sure the law schools aren't ignoring the stipulations and just letting in bums to boost their class sizes by 10 percent.

      Even with the stipulations though a good scamdean can find a way to run his scam. The bar sounds high but probably is not. People too dumb to be involved in reputable law schools can have 3.5 GPA's in easy majors. And out of the 4 tests (and maybe also including the 7 GRE subject tests) there has to be one a lemming is good at.
      All a scamdean needs is a bullshit JD/MBA program or a college full of lemmings with easy majors to be attached too.

  13. The Pied Piper

    By Maurice Leiter

    Doorbell rings.
    My stomach sings.
    I lust for my thick crust
    Hawaiian. (So racist!)
    Four thousand calories?
    Yes please!
    I likes me some pie.

    Copious stomach stuffed,
    I lean back and fart.

    Now time for crack.
    Lighter underneath rocks resting in pipe.
    Inhale deep, hold it . . . hold it . . .
    Leiter awakes
    and he be smokin’!

    The Pied Piper must play.
    Hand on skin flute, I tickle a tune.
    Join me, my orchestra of online puppets!
    Dance with me naked around the room.
    Glissando, pizza-greased right hand up and down,
    left hand vibrato on balls.
    I crescendo, about to blow
    my milky melody.
    Salty ditty spurts up to my titties.

    Hand still on cock,
    I look at the clock. Eight thirty in the morning.
    A productive start to the day, but
    time for work, no time
    for an encore.
    I wipe myself, then
    head for the Open Road.

    Faculty office.
    Leiter underneath rocks of ideas resting
    behind the glass of the computer monitor.
    I ignite them.
    I igLeit them.
    Take a hit, assistant professor.
    Trust me, i’ll make you feel like you’ve got tenure.
    Inhale the intoxicating, toxic fumes,
    now addicted to the brief high and a
    life of crime, stealing from students
    to fund your academic crack lie.

    Or did I just fart again?

    1. Such a gluttonous genius! For those initiated to Nietzsche, life is a Dionysian revel in perpetual ecstasy.

    2. I really don't care for the subject matter of Maurice's poetry. The thought of obese law professors doing anything sexual just makes me sick. However, law and philosophy tell us that we can learn even from those with whom we disagree. And Maurice's use of verse and imagery to express the absurdity of academic life draws on the highest of human values. This blog is a liberal arts education in itself, at no cost to the reader.

      Compare that to the outrageous cost of a law degree at Columbia or Chicago, currently running anywhere from 250K to 300K. What's the difference? No profiteering deans, no overpaid professors, and no required textbooks. Just well-informed people telling the truth as they see it.

  14. Expect more outreach and events in the future. This will occur not because of any real plan to reel in these lemmings, but rather as a justification for administrator's jobs in increasingly empty law schools.