Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pace Law School Asst. Dean of Career and Professional Development Jill Backer asserts that 25 U.S. Presidents will vouch for JD versatility.

Pace Law School has recently imposed some cutbacks in an effort to address its five million dollar deficit. These cutbacks reportedly include the elimination of all sabbaticals and all research stipends, a 5% salary cut for senior staff, and a 10% salary cut for all faculty. Perhaps more detailed information would be available but for Dean David Yassky’s decision to place a secret watermark on material distributed to faculty.
Yassky may be trying to discourage public discussions of Pace’s weak financial position, but really, these cutbacks are nothing to be ashamed of. I think that Pace Law’s website ought to feature banner articles describing, with pride, each and every defunded professorial perk. Pace could say that with the profession in crisis, the school has higher priorities than indulging its faculty with research stipends (aka well-funded summer staycations) or sending them off to expense-paid conferences in exotic resort locales (aka vacations).
What Pace Law should be ashamed of, however, is the recent editorial in the New York Law Journal by Jill Backer, Pace’s Assistant Dean of Career and Professional Development, criticizing the "sharp delineation" between law jobs and JD-Advantage jobs in the mandatory annual job placement survey. Here is the most remarkable quote from the article: 
"[I]t has long been acknowledged that practicing law is only one way to utilize a law degree. Indeed, a J.D. is a versatile degree, just ask 25 of 44 U.S. Presidents how they used theirs. So, why are the various regulators and reviewers of law schools making a sharp delineation between those graduates that are practicing law in the traditional sense which requires the Bar exam and those graduates using their degree in other ways?"
Is the annual 10-month-after-graduation employment survey of law grads misleading due to the segmentation of law and non-law jobs? Wouldn't it be better instead to do a 239-year-after-independence survey of Electoral College (I mean, Electoral Law School) victors? Skeptical of authority I may be, but if 25 U.S. Presidents are prepared to vouch for JD Advantage I just might have to do a rethink. So, with the assistance of google and a book by Robert Stevens called Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s, here is a Presidential legal education survey-- OTLSS’s contribution to employment transparency in the manner recommended by Pace.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Briefer News Update : Charleston SOL to Enroll 1Ls for 2015...

"Ignore the fact that we took $25 million dollars out of the school.  Our graduates will be well-prepared to be the lawyers of the new, post-apocalyptic millennium."

...because pushing harder in the same direction always works.

What else is there to say here?  OTLSS welcomes your comments.  H/T to the Faculty Lounge.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Brief News Update: There are too many lawyers? Say it ain't so!

As we all know, the lawyer job recovery is right around the corner, if you listen to Freedman, Diamond, Barros, Seto, et al.  

Apparently Bloomberg and several major law firms didn't get the scholarly memo:

But what about the 73% of associates that are "busy?"  That's good news, right?  Not so fast.  Of the firms surveyed, 61% are using part-time lawyers and 56% are using contract lawyers.  When asked if this trend was going to continue and be permanent, 73% of firms said "Yes" on both counts.  Outsourcing legal work will be a permanent trend for 52% of surveyed work going forward.  So much for the equity partnership track. 

As the Law School Cartel continues to bang the table, remember, folks, the scambloggers are disgruntled losers who don't want to work hard for a living, and are Koch-Brothers-backed haters of academic freedom and student-loans-setting-people-free on top of it.  You heard it here first!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Today's Lesson from Charleston School of Law: Law Students are Creditors

Things continue to happen at Charleston Law School, and the Post and Courier continues to earn my respect by actually reporting them fairly well (seriously, Charleston appears to have a solid smaller-market paper).

The latest plan is that a group of local lawyers are petitioning the state's supreme court to put the school into a bankruptcy-dodging receivership to formulate a debt settlement plan.  They would file this on behalf of the students still enrolled, and their standing argument I find intriguing:
The students have standing because they are “creditors” who have invested thousands in tuitions, much of it in student loans paid up front to the school.
Wait...what?  Current students are creditors?  Can anyone explain this adequately?

We just spent a multi-year period in the courts and concluded that law students are atypical consumers (atypical because they're assumed to be sophisticated beyond what they objectively can be and told that it's impossible for them to rely on things the seller regularly intends its customers to rely upon).  You don't have a right to a financial benefit of any kind at any point, and surely the school doesn't have a legally cognizable contract obligation to give you a degree if it closes in the meantime.  And surely they aren't admitting that the students have a common unliquidated claim against the school, right?  One has to wonder exactly how these students are "creditors" in the same universe where it's apparently impossible to prove a graduate school committed run-of-the-mill fraud.  Does the South Carolina Supreme Court want to set that precedent?

In any event, now we're faced with a situation where law school proponents are advocating for expanded student legal rights in order to defeat more vile law school proponents.  Of course, all this effort, all this nostalgia and savior complexing, is about a decade-old 4th-tier for-profit crap hole.

In addition to the receivership to basically settle debts to InfiLaw (which I'm sure InfiLaw won't fight at all), the plan calls for million-dollar gifts from each of the five founders to set up a non-profit foundation.

If you think such an idea is rooted in the same type of fantasy that clings to the idea of a fourth-tier law school being an essential community institution, you're about to get a cherry on top of the ridiculousness sundae:
And the success of the endeavor would be national news, thus generating more financial support funneled through the non-profit foundation.
Exactly what would be "national news" here?  "Greedy Old Dudes Give Up Pirate Treasure"?!  "Lawyers Use Trickery to Continue Pumping Out Lawyers"?!  "Fourth-Tier School Robs 2Ls of School Closure Discharge"?! 

If current 1Ls and 2Ls - particularly those in the bottom half of the class - have any notable legal interest in CSOL's fate, it's actually that CSOL goes under before they graduate, which gives them the special mulligan right of a closed school discharge.  That a group is filing on behalf of the current students to keep the place open is almost as sad as banking on a plan involving largess from the people who drove the place into the ground.

The worst possible outcome for the current students is that they find a way to keep the school open for two years so these classes can graduate and then it closes.  I would bet that's precisely what happens, and I would bet all too many of the students don't understand what a terrible deal that is for most of them.

But the students likely know better.  They're creditors in an educational-financial transaction so mysterious, it's almost like someone is just making it up.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Is Univ. of North Dakota Law Prof. Margaret Moore Jackson embarrassed by the quality of her students?

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, December 8, 2004.

"The facts cited in this article could spur faculty to hold discussions about building a curriculum for the students we have – not the students we used to have, or the students we wished we had."  Prof. Margaret Moore Jackson, "Teaching the Students We Have--The Changing Student Body." Blog post. Best Practices for Legal Education, April 16, 2015.

After Donald Rumsfeld made the comment quoted above, he was criticized for being a trifle glib, what with the bloody carnage and all. I don’t accept the premise, one could respond, you should not go to war until you are ready, and probably not even then. 
However, Rumsfeld, in his heartlessly pithy style, managed to convey something that I have noticed about scammers, especially those whose scamming is more or less lawful, such as politicians, corporate CEOs, too-big-to-fail bank executives, and law professors. They are often forthright in acknowledging the inadequacy of their tactics and resources, and their failure to anticipate changing conditions. It is only when you question the morality of their operation that they become defensive, if not outright uncomprehending.

I do not want to be unfair here. Prof Jackson, to her credit, does identify the moral objection to accepting law students with mediocre or sub-mediocre academic records and standardized test scores, as law schools are doing now with increasing and embarrassing frequency. (For instance, at Jackson's own school, the University of North Dakota School of Law, the 25th percentile LSAT score for entering law students dropped from 148 in 2011 to 143 in 2014). The following two sentences from her short blog post at "Best Practices in Legal Education" had my attention: "Why string along students whom we can predict will have difficulty achieving mandatory milestones like bar passage? An honest response would include the obvious conflict of interest – law schools need students in order to survive."  

But Jackson has nothing further to say about the "obvious conflict of interest" and her very next sentence is an evasive bromide. "But society continues to need well-educated lawyers too." I suppose the Rumsfeld equivalent would be if he had articulated a fleeting moment of distress over the casualties, but then perked up and said something like "But the world continues to need freedom too."

Prof. Jackson then offers the following instructive remark, or shall I say, delusion:
"By re-envisioning both teaching methods and programmatic structures, schools can both adapt to changing conditions and help students learn and perform well. Re-focusing a program of legal education to teach the students who are there, not the students who might have attended a decade ago, could invigorate the profession, opening doors that allow less-privileged, more diverse, and otherwise nontraditional students to succeed and excel."   
I strongly suspect that what Jackson means by reinvigorated teaching methods and programatic structures is more remedial reading and writing instruction in law schools, indeed a lot more. ("Even schools who have long administered healthy academic assistance programs may need to consider whether changes should be made"). And then hoping for the best.  

Maybe it would work, and this army of 143 LSAT-scorers would thrive in our swamped profession, thanks to the programmatic structural innovation and manifest goodwill of law faculty. Doors would swing open, entrenched privileges would topple like statues of enemy dictators, and law professors would be hailed as liberators. I mean, look at Elle Woods, who was cruelly stereotyped as a frivolous dim bulb simply because she constantly spoke and behaved like one, until law school unleashed her hidden potential. Of course, it is just possible that the Elle Woods experience does not generalize in that Elle: (1) got a perfect LSAT score; (2) attended Harvard; (3) came from a rich and indulgent family; and (4) is a fictional movie character.

So let’s say present trends continue, and lower-tier law grads fail the bar in increasing numbers, and that many or even most are unable to carve out a place for themselves in our swamped profession. Will lawprofs then assume responsibility? Or will they instead sigh about unknown unknowns, declare that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and then reenvision themselves some new programmatic structures, collecting their big salaries and perks galore all the while?

I actually endorse Johnson’s call for more diversity among law students, but assert that it must be pursued in a way that is not tainted by exploitation. Do law schools want to recruit more kids from multicultural or economically disadvantaged backgrounds? Fine, I want that too, 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: Law schools should offer full-ride scholarships to their "less-privileged, more diverse, and otherwise nontraditional" recruits. That way, these students will not be forced to subsidize the legal educations of their more privileged fellow law students and the cushy jobs and elegant lifestyles of law school professors and top administrators, or be burdened by massive educational debt after they graduate and pursue justice for all.

Because otherwise law school faculty are simply enriching themselves by gambling with other people’s lives--in fact, with the lives of very vulnerable kids who trusted them. The noble motives and goals that they profess will then be perceived as something cheap and obscene, like Donald Rumsfeld talking about freedom.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Bidding War for CSOL

We'll have fresh, non-CSOL content tomorrow, but for today, I wanted to direct everyone's attention to Law School Lemmings.  Our friends at LSL have reached deep in their generous hearts and have decided to make an offer to purchase the Charleston School of Law.
We will consider purchasing the assets of Charleston School of Law for 2 bitcoins (2 BTC, about $474.26) set to BTC value at time of this publication [2]. We may also consider offering possible buyouts of tenured faculty for a flat fee of 1 bitcoin (1 BTC) each, approved at our sole discretion and contingent on recording a video formally apologizing to their students and alumni...
Of course, you need to go to LSL and read the other conditions and disclaimers.

Inspired by (and shamelessly ripping off) their post, I would like to publicly make a legitimate and binding offer for my own personal LLC to purchase Charleston School of Law for $3.50 (a/k/a tree fiddy).  Such a sale would be contingent on formally changing the name to Charleston Faculté de Droit, instituting my own personal bare-bones legal education plan (for full details, send an email), the authorities acquiescing, and my LLC having the right to all future profits without any exposure to current CSOL debts.

If accepted by midnight eastern time, I will draft the sale documents free of charge.

Does anyone else want to enter the bidding war for CSOL?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Charleston Saga: The Embodiment of Lucre and Malice (Updated)

UPDATE (5/13):  jackiechiles on JD Underground found this link from a recent faculty meeting.

In case you missed it, Charleston School of Law is the rectum of its existence, well-poised to be law school number two to be flushed into oblivion as the law school bubble collapses (unless, I guess, Indiana Tech beats it?) barring a salvation thrust by InfiLaw or some other angel investor.

What follows is a proposed timeline of what went wrong followed by some straightforward analysis.

For those of who take a tl;dr approach to this blog, I'll provide the bullet point up front:  this school is the most blatant public example of a reverse Robin Hood generational wealth transfer seen in recent times.


May 12, 2003:  CSOL is founded.
  • Problem 1:  Despite the warm words of pseudo-elites who should know better, South Carolina did not need a second law school.  Really, this should be problems 1-10 by itself.
  • Problem 2:  The school is founded as a for-profit institution.  Not that non-profit law schools behave substantially better, but there are special pitfalls with for-profit institutions, one of which bites them in the ass about a decade later.  And this wasn't some honest mistake by business people who didn't think through the LLC vs. 501(c)(3) debate, or a cold profit calculation by a nasty corporation.  The school was founded by three judges and two prominent lawyers.
  • Problem 3:  The five founders of the school should have easily anticipated a succession crisis of some kind.  Hon. Alex Sanders (B.S. '60), Ralph McCullough (B.A. '62), Ed Westbrook (B.E. '74), Hon. George Kosko (B.S. '66), and Hon. Robert Carr (B.S. '67) were almost certainly all over 55 when the school's first class graduated.  With the (hopefully) perpetual life of a law school, they needed to have a stronger plan in place for transitioning the school to new shareholders or some non-profit foundation or something.
Fall 2004:  CSOL begins accepting students.  Operating capital for CSOL in the start-up phase comes primarily from Westbrook.  Kosko and Carr each sign $400,000 notes to Westbrook that they plan to repay over a five-year period.  Instead of projected incoming classes having 125 members (all full time), they now have 135 full time students and 65 evening students.  Kosko and Carr's notes are paid off in two years and the gravy train is rolling.
  • Problem 4:  Judges of all people are taking on sizable personal debt to be repaid through the school's profits, which will be derived from student tuition revenue, much of which comes from federal student loan dollars.  In theory, literally anyone could have borrowed a ton of cash, started a law school, siphoned off profits to repay the loan, and then enjoy the income stream from the equity.  But let's not kid ourselves.
 December 2 2006:  After delaying its decision, the relevant ABA committee grants provisional accreditation to CSOL.
  • Problem 5:  The ABA seems to accredit anyone with a big league law library and a "commitment to diversity."  
May 19, 2007:  CSOL graduates its first class.  "'These are our pioneers,' Charleston School of Law Dean Richard Gershon said."  The keynote speaker "invoked names like Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt."
  • Problem 6:  Not really a problem problem, but who the shit are we kidding?  Also, 75% of those guys never went to law school, and the one of did went to Columbia.  75% were also wealthy.
 2010 - 2013:  The five owners of CSOL withdraw ~$25 million in profits according to an attorney for InfiLaw.  (Note: this fact is corroborated by numerous other sources).  The founding dean refers to at least two of the founders/board members (Kosko and Carr) as "embodiment of lucre and malice."
  • Problem 7:  Because it's for-profit, apparently there is little transparency and oversight to this sort of thing.  Doesn't is seem like the ABA is asleep at the wheel on the HMS Justice?  It seems the ABA could require financial transparency as a condition of accreditation, or that they could simply make stringent financial review an annual rite for operating law schools.

  • Problem 8:  Sucking $25 million out of a business during a downturn shows there is no serious intent to keep the business afloat.  By 2011, literally everyone in legal education could foresee the coming tumult, while everyone outside of legal education was poised for economic recovery.  Profits should have been stowed in a rainy day fund, not withdrawn for His Honor's retirement account.  If a quick sale to InfiLaw was always the exit strategy, they'd see the money eventually, and the school would appear much healthier to other potential bidders if the InfiLaw deal fell through.
  • 2010(?) - 2013:  According to Carr, the school has two private colleges approach it regarding a sale/merger, and they also consider a plan to turn it into a non-profit.  These plans fail for undisclosed reasons.
    •  Problem 9:  Again, a lack of transparency.  What were these deals?  What colleges?  Were the founders turning down deals that were good for the business but not good for their personal piggy banks?
    <October 2012:  Talks with InfiLaw begin.
    • Problem 10:  Possible misrepresentations to prospective students.  During this entire time period, CSOL continued enrolling students and accepting tuition payments on 3/4-year degrees without any public disclosures that they were looking to sell the school to outside parties.  If serious talks began in summer 2012, is it not fraud by omission to take tuition payments when you know those students are going to have a problem with InfiLaw ownership of the school, or that it will be a radically different school than advertised?  (from the link:  At one point during the Q&A, an audience member stood to ask a question of his fellow students: "If you had known the school was going to be sold to InfiLaw, how many of you would have applied?" In a crowd of hundreds, nearly none of the students raised their hands.)
    • Problem 11:  I'm not going to argue that signing with InfiLaw is per se bad, but to not control discourse and address students' biggest concerns up front is a huge problem.  Any sale to InfiLaw should have been conditioned on limiting enrollment and other mechanisms to ensure the student body they weren't instantly being demoted to Arizona Summit status, but that's exactly what happened.
    July 25, 2013:  InfiLaw enters into a management agreement that is seen as the first step towards a sale.  Some time prior to this, Sanders and McCullough left the Board for medical reasonsStudents are furious, and at a town hall meeting, boo InfiLaw's PowerPoint presentation and send the dean "anatomically impossible" suggestions via email.  Months of controversy over InfiLaw's purchase of the school begin.

    May 19, 2014:  The South Carolina Committee on Academic Affairs and Licensing votes to reject InfiLaw's license.  Their pretense for vetoing what is supposed to be a rubber stamp is that InfiLaw has two big lawsuits pending against it.  The Attorney General actually issued a press release that more or less says they went outside the criteria.
    • Problem 12:  At this point, we're fudging on paint-by-numbers legal procedure to right the fact that CSOL's founders and the purchasing corporation have the shamelessness to run a law school as they do to maximize their own pocketbooks.  In short, the rule of law is undermined as a correction to the bad faith actors undermining the spirit of the law.  It's not the good faith actor who undermines the rule of law; it's the bad faith actor who thinking the existence of a strict interpretation loophole is the justification for exploiting one.
    June 4, 2014:  Before the Committee on Higher Education could deny its license, InfiLaw suspends its application.

    September 2014:  Westbrook - the guy who actually paid the initial start-up fees - forms a non-profit group to build a viable alternative to InfiLaw.  At this point in time, Kosko and Carr are still supporting the sale to InfiLaw and their defense is that CSOL has a "valid and binding contract" to sell to InfiLaw.
    • Problem 13:  The school's sale is almost certainly conditioned on its state license being active, so claiming there's a "valid and binding contract" after InfiLaw has withdrawn its application seems dubious on some level.  Absent some major stupidity, there's no way InfiLaw wouldn't rescind (and win a rescission case) in this circumstance.  At this point, the guy who actually put money into the school is working to set up a non-profit, while the two guys who didn't put a dime of earnest money in according to published reports are holding onto the InfiLaw sale despite virtually everyone who is not InfiLaw or the two of them being opposed to it.  Also, their failure at this point to seriously consider getting out of the InfiLaw deal and trying to work on a viable alternative seems like a breach of their various fiduciary duties.
    November 13, 2014:  Maryann Jones is hired as CSOL's new president.

    November 21, 2014:  Maryann Jones resignsShe cites Ed Westbrook snapping at her as a primary reason.  Also, students visibly protest budget cuts and furlough threats, demanding to see the budget.  They are apparently denied.

    • Problem 14:  This raises a point about non-owner leadership.  You hired someone who could clearly see what she was getting into, who walked away a week later?  It makes me question all of their hiring decisions, not the least of which would be who was advising these people that signing a deal with InfiLaw as they did and trying to then start strong-arming students out of the blue to accept the deal was a good idea.
    December 2014:  The ABA defers its decision on whether to acquiesce to the sale depending on what the state does.  InfiLaw lobbies heavily to the South Carolina legislature "consistent with what many other companies do in situations like this."  They try to stock the Committee on Higher Education. 

    March 17, 2015:  Buyouts are offered to faculty and staff. Westbrook cites both the $25 million in profit withdraws and an undisclosed amount in consulting management fees to Infilaw as cause of the school's woes.  (Note that C. Peter Goplerud of InfiLaw seems to disagree with the latter).

    March 26, 2015:   In a scathing blog post, former dean Richard Gershon states that faculty members have told him Carr and Kosko have said they would rather close the school than give in to Westbrook's plan.  Gershon claims they their original plan was to transition the school to nonprofit status.

    March 27, 2015:  Ed Westbrook resigns and withdraws from affiliation from CSOL.

    April 27, 2015:  InfiLaw states that has no plans to refile its application for a license.

    May 6, 2015:  CSOL announces it may suspend enrollment.


    Has there ever been a more blatant example of law-bubble-in-motion than how this school was operated?  Real people are currently paying 6+% interest on money that admittedly went directly into the pockets of elderly prestigious men.  It did not go to the school's operating costs or into the school's long-term investments for future use.  Three fucking years after the first class graduated, they started pulling big money out.  And $25 million over a 3 or 4-year period is significant money for a law school with 150-200 graduates (my back of the envelope estimated operating costs annually would be around $15-20 million or so by other law schools' standards; their actual costs were likely lower).

    I don't care what their intent was.  They started a ridiculous school that had no business existing, siphoned easy money out, and severely damaged the financial future of the enterprise.  By the former dean's account, two owners accelerated their own personal debt payments while saddling their students with increasingly-higher tuition that did not go to the benefit of the school.

    I have more respect for weed dealers.

    Frankly, that's where the take home lesson of Charleston Law should be.  It'd be easy to review the situation and conclude that CSOL's problems stem from its for-profit status.  If we were to do so - as many political elites have - the solution would be easy.

    But it's not that simple.  These men were judges and prestigious attorneys.  They are the same class of men who run law schools nationwide, serving as their administrators, taking board positions, and patting each other on the back or ass, as the situation may call.

    What happened at CSOL can happen anywhere, and it does.  Maybe not $25 million in seeped "profits," but escalating salaries, frivolous expenses, benefits, junkets to God-knows-where places, absurd programs of God-knows-what Law, you name it.

    For as much as CSOL charged, it was far from an abnormal price for a private law school.  Was CSOL simply more efficient that it was able to suck that much profit out in such a short time?  Should other schools get a pass simply because they find other places to put the money?

    If the CSOL profiteers truly believed in social justice and having a law school in Charleston, they would deposit $25 million dollars in a fund to be paid to students who attended CSOL, or, at worst, donate it to a foundation to keep the school running.  But at the same time, true justice would also require budget transparency for all law schools.  Paying 7% interest on money that went straight to The Honorable Somethingorother or his beneficiaries is no better than paying 7% interest on John O'Brien's ridiculous salary or to sweeten already-sweet savings accounts or buying new high-tech gadgets for the entire faculty every year.  And no, this sort of transparency doesn't always come out in Form 990 disclosures.

    Because at some point long before it came out that CSOL's founders behaved like Cookie Monster in a gingerbread house, this shit crossed the thin line from isolated incident to industry trend.

    Someone at the ABA should be looking at this shit way more closely than they apparently do at library offerings or diversity quotas.

    As CSOL swirls, remember that real working attorneys paid for and/or are paying for this shit.  Real fucking people, in the ABA's target demographic.

    Thursday, May 7, 2015

    Freedman's Freehold

    EDIT:  It's a double-packed Freedman news update here at OTLSS!

    Very recently in a discussion concerning Law School denialism, a debate raged over whether hyperbole can be properly utilized as humor to drive home a point, on the one hand, and Godwin's law, on the other, where certain subjects are so taboo that they can never be referenced, ever, and it all becomes a game of "You Can't Say That on Television."  Predictably, the philosophical stance varied by which side of the fence you were on, and I admit to my own bias in the debate as a scamblogger.  During the back-and-forth discussion of what is allowed to be said is not "as bad as" what, and who is or isn't a monster, however, an actual important issue rose to the top:

    Steven Freedman and AnotherSeniorLawProf - this is a posting from the website "outside the law school scam." I think you should both read this and consider what the real life consequences are a very high proportion of the students recruited to law schools. This posting was made partly in response to the debate where Freedman is feigning outrage at Campos' comments and AnotherSeniorLawProf thinks is just a source of amusement. Perhaps before either of you trivialise what has happened to so many graduates you will read this. Better still you will show it to your children and say - "this is what daddy does to some people" and ask, is the outrage misplaced? I have replaced some of the profanities to make it past the filter, but they seem appropriate:

    "Law school destroyed my life. The debt just grows, because I cannot pay it down. My situation is so untenable, I cannot even bring myself to speak about it any detail anonymously. It has not yet taken my life, but I expect it to at some point when I simply do not have yet another monumental effort left in me. What has not yet killed you does not make you stronger, it makes you tired.

    A history of monumental efforts is the shared history of any poor student who has had to fight to get an education in shit public schools, fight to afford undergrad, working the whole time, and survive through all the attendant social difficulties that lands families in poverty in the first place.

    These "professors" and the principals of these "schools" are F******G. SC*MB*GS.

    The now-relentless targeting of the poor - because that's the common theme, not skin color, poverty - with promises of good jobs, economic safety, and power in society by these f******g evil, lying, predatory mother f*****rs, in combination with a set of carefully designed, fully intentional federal laws that are 100% punitive in the treatment of debt (that allegedly exists for the benefit of students) makes me want to see this country end.

    How in god's name did we get the point of government-assisted fraud that lures POOR students with a ***hope of rising out of poverty*** through their own efforts that is guaranteed to keep the poor in poverty for the rest of their lives?

    I watched the very same thing happen to my friends who were not from wealthy or even stable families, some of whom had no living parents get fucking scammed by one of the schools featured above. It destroyed their lives too.


    Of course I'm on IBR, but I wonder why I even bother be on it as opposed to defaulting. I cannot keep the interest from growing the balance - an interest rate which per the government is negatively subsidized at 6% (meaning 6% is the profit margin).

    The terms of wage garnishment in event of a default are identical to IBR - exclude poverty level from the gross, sliding, income-based scale up to 15%. Why bother anymore?

    IBR is semantics. It exists to keep money flowing to schools that should not be receiving it because the default rate among their recent graduating classes is too high.

    I will never be credit-worthy carrying this balance, although I have no other debt. I had a car loan once that I paid off. I never used credit cards. I've worked since I was 12 years old. My paper route was feeding my family. I have always been the working poor.

    Move on to what?

    A combined, state, federal, IBR tax rate of 50% which ensures I will always be the working poor? I cannot get married, because of the government moving to consider a non-debtor spouse's income in IBR. I will never be able to afford to have children. I will never own a major asset.

    What am I living for?

    Am I living for the consent financial stress that I have no reasonable basis to believe will ever abate? I'm unable to afford the doctor when I get sick. The government promises to garnish my SSDI should I become disabled, and my SSI should I ever retire.

    So, why keep doing this?

    To pay back money that flowed to a fraud outfit, at a price that was inflated and inflated under me massively over 3 years because of uncapped GradPLUS loans? To pay interest that was never lent to me that is7%+ in excess of the risk-free rate when I cannot declare bankruptcy or even default?
    This is insane. Sooner or later, it's enough and you just quit."

    Posted by: Lurker | April 25, 2015 at 05:45 AM

    One of the constant messages of the scamblog movement is how the scam impacts real people.  It is easy to get lost in discussions of how many graduates are too many, whether or not the legal market is improving, what the true "premium" of the JD degree is, should law schools reduce costs, is student debt "as bad as" everyone says it is, etc. etc. etc.  Notice that all of these discussions are, at some level, high-flying and impersonal.  Yes, the outcome of these discussions have real-world, practical implications, but it is easy to ignore the actual human impacts like those above when discussing things from a "policy" perspective.  Such is the Ivory Tower, though, and its general insulation heretofore from real-world effects and externalities.

    All of this makes the "academy" response from Steve Freedman all the more troubling:

    Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    Breaking News: New York Suddenly Decides to Make the Bar Exam Easier

    Today, Chief Judge Lippman, the dictator of the bar admission process in New York, decided to adopt a much easier bar exam.  This is the same Lippman who recently required all new attorneys to work for 50-hours for free to gain admission to the state bar (perhaps recognizing that attorneys today should get used to doing work for no pay).  During the pro bono fiasco, Lippman blithely swept away the complaints of actual practicing attorneys in the bar associations, and he seems poised to start extorting the rest of us New York attorneys into working for free by posting our pro bono hours online each year (so far, the bar has fought those efforts...Lippman's 70th birthday, the age of mandatory retirement, cannot come fast enough).

    Lippman's edict to adopt an easier test called the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) comes within weeks of New York's February bar exam results, which showed some of the worst pass rates for first-time test-takers ever.  Only 43% of first-time test-takers passed the February exam, which usually has a lower pass rate than July's exam...but not that much lower.

    After those miserable results, Scamdean Nick Allard of Brooklyn Law School attacked those who administered the Multistate Bar Exam and the New York Bar Exam, claiming that the test-makers wrote overly difficult questions and graded unfairly.  He did not complain about this alleged problem in previous years, when passage rates were higher.

    The obvious answer to this crisis in bar passage is infuriatingly absent from the attempts at misdirection by scamdeans and, um, scamchiefjudges.  Obviously, far fewer students passed the most recent bar exams because this group of test-takers came from the first graduating classes of less-qualified students.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    Does Univ. of Kansas Asst. Dean for Admissions Steven Freedman believe that Law School Transparency dissed the Great Emancipator?

    Steven Freedman, Assistant Dean for Admissions at the University of Kansas School of Law, is a frequent poster at the Faculty Louse, online hub of the pro-scam law professoriate. There are two distinct tones to Freedman's writing, like the sweet sounds of an airhorn: (1) Righteous fury when he feels the honor of law school admissions professionals such as himself has been vilely traduced, for instance by Paul Campos’s post noting the similarity in ways that scam-deniers and atrocity-deniers dismiss or minimize irrefutable evidence; and (2) enthusiastic shilling of a sort that would embarrass a carny-barker. 

    This post is about Tone Two Freedman. Only last year, Freedman published a post at the Louse entitled "Enroll Today!," which hurled the following pitch: "Enroll today or you will miss out on what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." (Kids, do not let the sun set on your decision to gamble three years  of your lives and six-figures of borrowed money). However, somewhat more reasonably, Freedman recently indicated that he applauds the work of the transparency movement. 
    "This may shock you, but I have said numerous times publicly and privately before prospective students that prior to 2012 law schools did a poor job with transparency for employment statistics. I have said publicly I think the transparency movement should be applauded for pushing for greater transparency. The good news is that law schools responded to this pressure. . . "
    Posted by: Steven Freedman | April 23, 2015 at 02:59 PM 
    So let us dial back to mid-2012, shortly after the very first employment survey data was published pursuant to modified ABA Standard 509. At that time, Freedman was hosting an online forum at a website called Top Law Schools, where prospective law students congregate. Was Freedman then applauding the groundbreaking efforts of the nonprofit Law School Transparency [LST], leader of the transparency movement, in helping bring about this major ABA reform and for disseminating employment information on its website? Was he then telling the kids that law schools such as his own had done a poor job with transparency for employment statistics? 

    Or, rather, was Freedman accusing LST of having an undeclared agenda of painting "as bleak a picture of law schools as possible"? Did Freedman assert that its alleged bleak-picture-painting "agenda" caused LST to create a "slanted" presentation of employment data that failed to account for many successful outcomes of recent law grads, such as FBI agents and compliance officers for athletic departments? Did he declare LST to be "inaccurate" based on a beyond-inconsequential alleged error in Kansas's number of funded jobs? Did Freedman even mock LST’s employment score in that it would have failed to count Abraham Lincoln as an employed lawyer because Lincoln was a solo practitioner?

    "Everyone has an agenda and LST clearly has an agenda to paint as bleak a picture as possible. The way they present the data is slanted. Why aren't solo practitioners counted in their employment score? Under that method Abraham Lincoln would not count. Why aren't FBI agents counted towards the score? Why aren't folks doing compliance in athletics departments counted? We have a student with a permanent job offer from a big firm, that firm is paying for him to get an LL.M. at NYU. Why is he not counted? Why do they list the non-discounted cost, but not the average debt at graduation? I could go on, but I think you get the point.  
    LST is also inaccurate. LST states that the KU Law Class of 2011 had a 2.4% school funded rate, which comes out to four school funded students. In fact, we only had two school funded positions, both of which were full-time, at least year long positions (one is a funded fellowship, the other is a permanent position in the library). So the correct number is 1.2%. 
    So what do we do? We put all the data on our web site, both the top line data and the underlying data that makes it up. We're honest with our students letting them know it has a been a difficult market. But we're also honest with our students when we tell them that most of our students are finding the types of jobs they expected to get when they started law school. And we're also honest with our students that our students find a broad range of positions, from foot-in-the-door part-time positions with small firms, to employment at some of the largest law firms in the world."
    Steven Freedman, Top Law Schools, Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:42 am

    Readers can judge for themselves whether these are words one would normally associate with a transparency fan. Because to me they sound like the bullshitting of a committed obfuscater trying to get others to discount irrefutable evidence, somewhat like-- no, I won't say it.

    But I will say that Freedman was incorrect in one respect. Contra Freedman, Abraham Lincoln was not a solo practitioner. After being admitted to practice in 1837, Lincoln became a junior partner in the firm of a militia friend, John Todd Stuart, one of the most important lawyers in Springfield, Illinois. This set Lincoln apart from most beginning lawyers of the milieu "who had to hunt around for business or accept cases that no one else would take." See Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Kindle Locations 1310-1311). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. After his partnership with Stuart ended, Lincoln went into practice with Stephen Logan, a very well-established local lawyer, and then, famously, with William Herndon.

    As a non-solo, Lincoln would have been included in LST’s employment score, contrary to what Freedman told the kids at the Top Law Schools forum. So perhaps a supporter of LST could say, echoing Tone One Freedman: "There are no printable words I can summon that would adequately express my disgust at Steven Freedman’s accusations that LST has dissed the Great Emancipator."