Saturday, December 30, 2017

Recapitulating 2017

The great Giordano Bruno wrote that in England "regna una costellazione di pedantesca ostinatissima ignoranza et presunzione: mista con una rustica incivilità che farebbe prevaricar la pazienza di Giobbe": "there reigns a constellation of pedantic and most stubborn ignorance and presumption, blended with a sort of boorish incivility that would try the patience of Job".

Imagine what he would have said about legal hackademia in the era of Leong, Dougie Fresh, Lamparello, McElroy, Adelson, Franzese, and Leiter.

The year 2017 may mark a turning point in the law-school scam. For the first time we have seen not just mergers and closures of single campuses, but outright and even immediate closures of entire law schools: Indiana Tech, Whittier, Charlotte. The ABA has finally set its rubber stamp of approval down long enough to take initial steps towards disciplinary proceedings against various toilets. The InfiLaw duo appear to be slated for collapse within the year, and other law schools too may not be long for this world.

Before moving into 2018, we should all thank Nando, whose important blog Third Tier Reality has offered important anti-scam commentary and agitation for more than eight years. This week Nando announced that he will no longer develop his blog. We wish him well and thank him again for his yeoman service to the noble cause of demolishing the law-school scam.

Also worthy of everyone's appreciation are authors such as Dybbuk, Duped Non-Traditional, Law School Truth Center, and OTLSS Team, as well as the many other commentators who regularly post here.

Unfortunately, the law-school scam may be experiencing a recrudescence. Lemmings, it seems, are taking a renewed interest in law school, and they're going for the toilety end. The failure of über-toilets Indiana Tech, Whittier, and Charlotte does not necessarily spell doom for the 190 or so other well-deserving candidates for closure; on the contrary, it may breathe new life into some of them. We shall therefore keep the anti-scam movement going, albeit perhaps at a lower pitch.

Happy new year to everyone (scamsters excepted).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Can scammers truly empathize with their dupes? A few skeptical thoughts about Seton Hall Law Prof. Paula Franzese's law review article, "The Power of Empathy in the Classroom."

Every kindergartener and first-grader should have a teacher like Paula Franzese— a hyper-engaging Pollyanna who fosters social skills and self-confidence in the classroom through her own cheery solicitude, plus sing-alongs, affirmations, and fun games, perhaps games loosely based on the format of her favorite televised game shows and reality shows. A facilitator who inspires ethical behavior via morally uplifting stories with happily-ever-after endings and platitudes about goodness and hope. A role model who expresses such confidence in each child’s profound abilities that they start to believe it, but who scrupulously reminds these nascent superheroes that their powers must be used for good. 

However, this pedagogical approach surely has an early use-by date, perhaps at around the age that a child stops believing in Santa Claus and magical ponies and wishing upon a star. When it shows up in a law school classroom, one has to wonder whether the students are receiving competent and effective professional education and training—even if it comes attractively packaged as "empathic teaching" and even if it is touted by its chief proponent in a law review article with 92 footnotes and god-knows-how-many uses of the trendy phrase "emotional intelligence" and close rewordings of same. See e.g. Franzese, Paula (2017) "The Power of Empathy in the Classroom," Seton Hall Law Review: Vol. 47 : Iss. 3, Article 2. (For more on Franzese’s remarkable approach to legal education, see this OTLSS profile of her book on positive thinking for law students.  See also this shameless recent editorial by Franzese, in which she encourages readers to defy the "naysayers and outliers" by attending law school and using the precious "aptitudes" provided there to become "justice's emissaries").    

In her new law review article, Franzese provides the following examples of how she practices "empathy in the classroom":
  • "On the way from my office to my classroom I summon up the reverence that I have for the law and the capacity of its practitioners to be givers of hope. I want my students, as lawyers-to-be, to appreciate the power that their emerging expertise will soon afford them to wrest people from cynicism and despair. I would like them to see that the relentless commitment to the good of others will make their own lives good. As a lawyer, I have had the privilege to watch as hope has sprung from the most desolate places. My life has never been the same. I want my students to know that soon, they too will get to be witnesses to the birth of hope."
  • "Once at the classroom door I pause, and before entering the room I summon gratitude for the privilege to teach and for the sacrifices of all who came before me to make this moment possible. I then ask that I be used to do whatever good needs to be done and to say whatever needs to be said. I ask for the guidance to see what needs to be seen. I remember that there is no day but this day and no moment but this moment."
  • "I remain mindful that my students’ perceptions of our profession, and of themselves as its fledgling members, will be formed in considerable measure by watching me and listening to my cues and feedback. . . [O]ur students rise (or fall) to our level of expectation for them. I give each of my students the benefit of every doubt and believe that each contains seeds of excellence waiting to be cultivated."
  • "Empathic pathways are activated when students re-enact or reimagine cases. For example, to enhance the capacity of the antiquated Pierson v. Post (the venerable Property case on the rule of capture) to resonate with the class, I ask a team of students to place that case into the more contemporary context of the popular television show The Amazing Race. On other occasions, I ask students to put cases into more journalistic settings, where for example one class member is assigned the role of reporter, another the role of producer, and others the roles of various litigants and litigators to elicit and recount what happened in the given dispute and their reactions to its resolution for an imagined CBS 60 Minutes segment. That exercise allows students to become the people behind the story, and the range of emotions typically displayed is vast and genuine, as the opportunity is presented for the "as if" to feel real."
  • "Play, through the use of in-class games such as Jeopardy (which readily lends itself to substantive review) and Family Feud (which fosters teamwork), and challenges aimed at helping students solve the puzzle of a given problem or contextual dilemma, brings an immediacy to the need to know the relevant material."
Again: Law school or kindergarten?  Well, no, it is not kindergarten. Kindergarteners do not typically commit themselves to hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-dischargeable debt.  Kindergarten teachers do not purport to offer technical training at the doctoral level. 

Can a vulnerable person be conspicuously empathized-with and heartlessly scammed by the very same party and at the very same time? Might a scammer’s empathetic mush and gush, and even her professions of humility, be a self-serving psychological device in disguise, meant to elevate the scammer's self-image to that of noble and generous benefactor? Could the practice of "empathic teaching" be cynically employed by a mercenary institutional scammer (for instance a second-tier law school that charges tuition of $53,046 per year and has a 25th percentile LSAT of 152) to appear innovative while dumbing down its instruction and making its ever-less sophisticated dupes feel cherished?

Why do consumers of motivational speeches and positive thinking literature fail to see the vicious Social Darwinist downside of all that can-do inspiration—namely, that if positive thinking leads to success and happiness, then their own failures, frustrations, and unhappiness are most readily explained by their own bad attitudes, and not by objective facts tending to prove that they have been exploited, misled, or scammed?

Remember the comical Walrus, in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, who wept with sympathy and understanding for the very oysters whom he had deceptively befriended, entertained, and then systematically devoured? Alice judgmentally calls the Walrus an unpleasant character, but perhaps the Walrus’s main fault was in failing to gift the world of scholarship with a law review article entitled "The Power of Empathy in Devouring Your Prey."

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The ABA 509 reports are out

By last Friday, the law skules had to file their 509 reports for the year 2017–18 with the ABA. The reports can be found here.

While waiting for our friends at Law School Transparency to tabulate the key data in a more approachable form, I have read the reports from a few über-toilets. Some of these odious establishments cashed in, quite literally, on the closure of Indiana Tech, Whittier, and Charlotte: Appalachian grabbed up 16 transfer students from Charlotte and one from Indiana Tech, and Western State took one from Charlotte and 22 from Whittier. Even Cooley, still widely considered the poster child of shittiness despite hot competition and the notorious Cooley rankings (which several years ago placed the toilet second only to Harvard), managed to snatch up four dumb bunnies from Charlotte.

True to their word (for a change), the two remaining InfiLaw toilets managed to improve their LSAT scores considerably, from 141 to a still horrific 145 at the 25th percentile. This feat, however, accompanied a collapse in enrollment: Florida Coastal's entering class fell from 245 last year to 106, and Arizona Summit's fell from 143 to 49. Methinks InfiLaw's days are numbered. To my great disappointment, Appalachian nearly doubled its enrollment, from 38 students to 73. It would have grown even without the influx from Charlotte.

Failing out remains commonplace at the über-toilets. Rates of attrition of 1Ls for reasons other than transferring run well into the double-digit percentages at most of these institutions. Of the ones that I checked, Thomas Jefferson wins the—er, prize with a shocking rate of 37.2%. Remember the old commencement speaker's joke that either you or your neighbor to the right or the left will not be there in a year's time? At Thomas Jefferson, that's an understatement.

More news will follow. In the meantime, feel free to review the 509 reports yourself and post your own comments.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Reality is Incoming

What is everyone freaking out about...?  We'll just increase tuition another 4%, just like we've done for last couple of decades...

Cross-posted from PrawfsBlawg:
[As] a recent article from Inside Higher Ed points out, a more immediate problem for educational institutions and their students may be the Prosper Act's proposed annual lending limits. The bill would limit federal loans for non-medical graduate and professional students to $28,500 per academic year...
The GradPlus program does one thing really well--it makes graduate school accessible to students regardless of their family wealth. The federal government offers loans up to the full cost of attendance (defined to include both tuition and reasonably living expenses) for graduate and professional programs. Parents do not have to co-sign the loans. Combined with income-driven repayment plans that cap repayments at 10% to 15% percent of a graduate's income, it makes attending graduate school a low-risk proposition...
The Prosper Act would change all of that immediately...there would be an immediate crisis in funding law school--after all, the federal loans would barely cover the cost of living[.]  There would be little to nothing left over to cover tuition. Certainly, some students could rely on family contributions, and some may be able to lessen living expenses by living at home while attending law schools. But not all families are in a position to help, and the legal profession would suffer greatly if only the very privileged could join.  Private loans may step in to fill some of the gap...[but] private loans have decreased so much (declining by more than half) in the years after the introduction of GradPlus that I doubt private lenders could ramp up fast enough to avoid massive disruption in the short term. Finally, any such private loans would probably have more onerous terms[...]
We can sit here and debate where the various forms of concern-trolling are coming from - some say the Prosper Act is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt by conservatives to stab at the Heart of Darkness that is American Liberal Education and try to kill the beast.  Others will say that limousine-liberals are merely crying champagne tears for the underrepresented, when in reality all they care about is gettin' that next helping of thick-cut pork with extra gravy.  I don't doubt that some mix of both is going on, as human psychology is rarely, if ever, purely altruistic or unburdened by ulterior motives.
The practical, Aristotelian reality, however, is that if something can't go on forever, it will stop.   Long before the "law school scam," many have warned, argued and decried against the unbridled escalation of educational costs, of which law schools have become the poster-child.  Much hand-wringing took place, summits were held, people shook their heads sadly - but nothing substantive was done.
Well, folks, if you are unwilling to clean up your own mess, then you force someone else to clean it up for you.  See, for example, the Financial Crisis.  And you may not like how the cleaner-uppers choose to handle it, but by then it's Too Late.  And, as per usual, the brunt of it falls on the folks currently mired in the system - yet one way or another, it's coming.
All in all, this is why we can't have Nice Things.  Heckuvajob, lol skool cartel!  Mission Accomplished! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Off to the Races with a New Year of Applications

It's that time of year again, where LSAC starts reporting the application and applicant tally for 2017-2018!  I, your humble wanna-be data wonk, have been diligently hitting the F5 key for the last several days, and LSAC has updated their website on  December 5, 2017.  Let's see what is going on:

As of 11/24/17, there are 81,877 applications submitted by 15,083 applicants for the 2018–2019 academic year. Applicants are up 14.2% and applications are up 17.1% from 2017–2018.
Strangely enough, there appears to be at least two data points on the graph, not one.  Comparing the new data to the older data I have been recording as LSAC publishes it, this time last year the first data point was 14,892 applicants, so I show an increase this year of 1.24%, not 14.2%.   Maybe they are representing a point with a small line, but this would indicate another data point we are not privy to, regardless.
Another small anomaly - for the past four years by my reckoning, LSAC always produces their first data point from "Week 48" of the calendar year.  This year, they produced it from "Week 47", which leads me to believe there is another data point out there.  "Who cares?" one may ask, but in the past it has been notoriously difficult to line up yearly data in an apples-to-apples fashion, so I personally believe that the 14.2% increase has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Perhaps it's correct, perhaps not.
In any event, expect the Diamonds and Simkovics of the world to declare Mission Accomplished, Problem Solved in the legal education arena.  What more evidence do you need, other than more dupes flooding through the doors?  Although, I do want to make special mention of Matt Leichter's analysis (who is already on our blogroll) - back in 2012-2013, when the Cartel was declaring that by 2016 "things would be different," it appears it is yet still more of the same on the job front. 
Happy Days are most decidedly not here again, but now that a handful of law schools have decided to call it quits, everyone must think all of the slack is out of the market.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Does anyone want to buy Florida Coastal?

InfiLaw is trying to sell Florida Coastal. If it did so, it would be left with only one law school, namely Arizona Summit, since Charlotte closed down several months ago after losing its license. But Arizona Summit is also in trouble with the ABA and must be suffering financial pressure from rapidly shrinking enrollment.

Measured by the LSAT scores of their entering classes, the InfiLaw toilets (including defunct Charlotte) are among the bottom ten of the 200 or so ABA-accredited law schools. Their median LSAT scores of 143 and 144 represent the 21st and 23d percentiles, respectively—down in the bottom quarter of the pool of people taking the LSAT. Graduates of these über-toilets also face perfectly dreadful prospects of employment. Of last year's graduates, 22% from Arizona Summit and 40% from Florida Coastal were unemployed ten months after graduation, and many others were in short-term, part-time, or non-legal (very likely low-paying) positions. Only 1% from Arizona Summit, and none at all from Florida Coastal, got Big Law. No graduate from either school got a federal clerkship.

Florida Coastal recently had to answer allegations from the ABA of non-compliance with various standards for accreditation. Scam-dean Scott DeVito has claimed that his toilet school is "fully compliant, based on [its] data". Elsewhere we have discussed the accuracy of that claim.

A change of ownership could hold up any disciplinary action against Florida Coastal, but the ABA has the power to prevent any "major change in" Florida Coastal's "organizational structure"—presumably by withdrawing accreditation or imposing other sanctions if the change goes through without the ABA's consent.

I doubt, however, whether Florida Coastal will change hands as a going concern (rather than as a package of land and other assets). Who, after all, would want to buy a failed toilet that has seen its first-year enrollment shrink by more than 70% in six years? that struggles to keep the middle half of its class within the 140s on the LSAT? where a minority of students hold long-term, full-time jobs of any kind ten months after graduation? that faces disciplinary action on multiple grounds from its accrediting authority?

Perhaps some readers of this article will assist the InfiLaw scamsters by posting bids below. Would anyone like to start with 1¢?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

John Marshall to merge with the U of Illinois?

The University of Illinois at Chicago is proposing to absorb the John Marshall Law School) (only the one in Chicago, not the one in Atlanta), thereby forming what someone with a poor sense of grammar, style, and concision would call the University of Illinois at Chicago's John Marshall Law School. Officials ju$tify this proposal on the grounds that UI Chicago somehow needs a law school—everybody else has one, you know—and that John Marshall would benefit from the resources and facilities of a large university backed by the (nearly insolvent) state of Illinois.

In decades past, John Marshall offered working-class people reasonable and affordable access to the legal profession. Today, however, it is a toilet par excellence (so to speak). Its LSAT scores have fallen from a shameful 151/154/157 in 2010 to an utterly contemptible 145/148/151 in 2016. Enrollment, too, has plummeted, from 539 first-year students in 2010 to 282 in 2016. Seventeen percent of last year's graduates were unemployed ten months after graduation, and 15% were in short-term or part-time jobs; only 4% were in Big Law, and none got a federal clerkship. The cost of attendance, $75k per year, would run up a bill exceeding $280k if fully financed with student loans. A third of the class gets no discount on tuition; most others get only a slight discount.

UI Chicago seems to be proud of its reputation. Why, then, is it so eager to take over one of the US's most toilety law schools? Can the putative benefits from this proposed take-over really offset the reputational harm?

Bear in mind that John Marshall does have one thing going for it: land. It was established in 1899, when Chicago was much smaller and land was much cheaper. Perhaps the idea here is to grab the assets (especially the valuable urban land), ship the remaining students down to Urbana–Champaign (home to a formerly faux-prestigious, now plainly toilety, law school shaken by scandal in 2011), and then shut John Marshall down. Just imagine the excuse proffered for public consumption: "Enrollment had fallen by 50% in the few years before we acquired John Marshall, and economic conditions in legal education remain poor. Our feasibility study"—yes, one of these has already been produced, à la Indiana Tech—"convinced us that this project would succeed, but circumstances conspired against us. At least we have a great building, though, which we are going to convert to cozy administrative offices just as soon as we can get rid of the little bast—er, I mean, once the law students have left."

Is this merely an asset-stripping ploy? Could UI Chicago seriously have in mind to sustain a bottom-of-the-barrel law school? I'm eager to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Profiles in shittiness: La Verne, Western State University, Appalachian

To get an idea of the shitty depths to which the law-school scam has fallen, consider three toilet law schools: the University of La Verne, Western State University, and Appalachian School of Law. The data presented below come from Law School Transparency, a valuable resource.


Denied ABA accreditation in 2011, La Verne finally achieved it in 2016. Yet its already abysmal standards have been plummeting: for instance, the LSAT score at the 75th percentile in 2016 (149) is below the LSAT at the 25th percentile in 2011 (150).

Less than 10% of the class gets any discount at all on tuition, and in most cases the discounts are well under 50%. The cost of attendance, when fully financed with student loans, stands just shy of $200k.

What does one get for that price? Nearly half of last year's graduates (47.1%) were unemployed ten months after graduation, and 11.8% were in short-term or part-time positions. Not a single graduate worked in public service or as clerk to a court. The minority that were employed full time, at least by a loose definition of "employment", worked in law firms (almost invariably small ones), "business", or non-academic positions in "education". La Verne provides no information on salaries, but it's clear that very few people coming out of La Verne make enough money to justify the cost of attendance. And of course the half of the class that is unemployed has done poorly indeed.

Only a real schlemiel or schlimazel, the intellectual peer of a Lenny or a Squiggy, would consider attending this dump. Unaccountably, however, first-year enrollment has soared from 44 in 2012 to 116 in 2016.


Don't be fooled by the name: this "State University" is a private institution. (It has lately changed its name to Western State College of Law at Argosy University.) It was a profit-seeking institution until its sale last month to an entity controlled by a big Bible-thumping church.

More than a fifth of the class pays full fare, and most of the others receive only modest discounts. If fully financed with student loans, a JD from Western State will run up a bill exceeding $284k upon graduation. That's more than the University of Michigan or Berkeley, and only a few thousand dollars less than Yale.

Worth the cost? Ask the 37.4% of last year's graduates who were unemployed ten months after graduation, or the 11.0% that found only short-term or part-time work. Of the rest, all were in small law firms (not a single graduate worked for a firm with more than 50 lawyers), public service, or "business". No graduate had a clerkship. The mean salary, for the relatively few that were employed, was about $59k.

Notwithstanding the manifest shittiness of Western State, first-year enrollment rose by half between 2014 and 2016.


Located in remote Grundy, Virginia, Appalachian seems likely to close its doors, thanks to high costs and low enrollment. Only Cooley posts lower LSAT scores: Appalachian's last year were 140, 143, and 147 at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles, respectively. Only defunct Charlotte had lower undergraduate GPAs.

All but 3.6% of the students get discounts, which exceed 50% for almost half of the class, although many of those discounts were conditional (and 21.2% of the class saw a reduction or a loss of discounts after the first year). Attendance, fully financed by student loans, leaves a bill of $185k upon graduation.

Last year's graduates fared quite poorly: 31% were unemployed ten months after graduation, and more than 14% were in short-term or part-time positions. No graduate worked for a law firm with more than 10 lawyers. There were a few state and local clerkships, and two graduates reportedly found academic positions. The law school provides no information on salaries, but graduates of an über-toilet deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains can hardly be pulling in princely sums.

Appalachian enrolled only 38 first-year students last year. Maintaining its imposing brick building with so few people, almost all of whom are getting large discounts off tuition, is threatening to sink the law school financially. Proposals to move it to Tennessee or elsewhere are likely to be thwarted by a contract with the county. Closure appears to be in the cards. Students seeking to transfer out of the toilet find themselves obstructed by the non-standard grading system used in first year, which other law schools are reluctant to recognize. Citing its "academic standards" (!), Appalachian refuses to issue conventional letter grades even to people wanting out.


All three of these toilets, and many others, are fully accredited by the ABA, which seems not to mind dreadful outcomes for students and the absence of meaningful standards of admission.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Valparaiso Exploring Alternatives to its Continued Existence

Let's be clear.  Valpo Law is not closing.  Not yet.  Folding such a great hand would be silly, particularly where Indiana Tech just closed a mere one hundred miles away and after Valpo's  most recent blessing from the ABA should give them incentive to hang on the cliff a bit longer.

No, Valpo Law is just taking an admissions year off, looking for alternatives:
Valparaiso University announced Thursday that is [sic] suspending admissions to its law school and exploring alternative possibilities related to the "severe financial challenges" it's been facing for a number of years.
The school mentioned several other options: It could affiliate Valparaiso's law school with another law school or relocate it to a place where the demand for a law education is higher. The school also is preparing plans to allow its current law students to complete their degrees.
It's a Chapter 11, not a Chapter 7.  Sure, Chapter 11 is often a gateway drug to Chapter 7, but hold your cheers, sadists; these law schools are going to hang on for dear life as long as they possibly can.

We could have all sorts of fun with this, like picking new affiliations (Cooley? Infilaw?  Yale-West?) or locations (Alaska? Florida? Fort Wayne?).  We could also ask how and why anyone would merge with Valpo.

But let's think of the students a second.  The school mentions fairness and plans to allow current students to complete their degrees.  But a school clinging dearly to life while facing "severe financial difficulties" and imminent closure isn't doing its students any favors.

What on Earth is the advantage of graduating from a low-tier law school that's closing?  The alumni network moving forward will be disadvantaged, they'll be no career services support, and lawyers everywhere - hiring or otherwise - will mark you as one who went to that school that shuttered.

Wouldn't it be a better service to all but administrative egos to shutter outright?  You can help your better students - the ones who are capable of passing a bar exam - transfer to decent schools where they'll have a better alumni network with future support.  Plus, you might give the bottom rung a shot at a closed school discharge.

This Hail Mary, hoping that the dead parrot flies again, that grandma comes off life support, that your kid actually goes back to college after taking a year off, this failing to throw in the cards when the operation is a sinkhole not assisting in meeting any public demand, isn't just institutional egoism, it's harmful to the very people this "non-profit" has historically claimed to assist.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Whataboutism" and Double-Secret Probation

See if you guys can guess what I am now...I'm a Law School Dean explaining declining admission standards and bar passage rates!  Get it?

According to Florida Costal School of Law Dean DeVito's letter to current law students (h/t to David Frakt for keeping the heat on this issue):

The first major misconception I have heard is that Florida Coastal must have engaged in highly questionable conduct because Florida Coastal is one of just four schools noted on the ABA website.
The facts are:
1.     The ABA has only just started publicly posting this information[...]
2.     There are approximately 23 other law schools listed on the Department of Education website that received an ABA letter relating to non-compliance since 2016 [...]
             a. Schools listed as subject to “Heightened Monitoring or Focused Review”
                    1. Ave Maria School of Law.
                    2. Thurgood Marshall School of Law (Texas Southern University), and
                    3. Valparaiso University School of Law.
            b. Schools listed as subject to “Probation or Equivalent or More Severe Status: Show Cause”
                    4. Appalachian School of Law,
                    5. Arizona Summit School of Law,
                    6.  Florida Coastal,
                        a.  Florida Coastal falls under the “show cause” designation
                    7. John Marshall School of Law (Atlanta),
                    8. Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and
                    9. SUNY Buffalo Law School.
            c.  Schools Listed as “Removal of Show Cause Status[...]”
Well!  Like any good politician, the first move in dealing with embarrassing facts is to reframe and redirect.  "Yeah, we may suck, but what about these OTHER guys, amirite????  They are WAY worse than us...!!!"  I'm not sure of the wisdom of identifying yourself as being in the same company as Valpo, Appalachian, John Marshall or TJSL is the best argument to your current students.  But hey, I'm not a high-priced Law Dean so I dare not question their hard-won Promethean Wisdom.  Those who can, do, and those who can't hang around scamblogs, or something to that effect.
Also, look at these categories:  "Heightened Monitoring or Focused Review,"  "Probation or Equivalent or More Severe Status," etc.  Hilarious.  There is more wiggle room here than a greased eel has in a mud wrestling pit, or something.  How about "Compliant" vs. "Non-compliant" vs. "Sanctioned"?  I mean, I came up with that in under two minutes, but it must be too rigid a definition.  While I guess I am glad the ABA is finally paying attention, I hope the regulators don't develop a hangnail while applying their exacting standards.
By the way, let's not forget that Florida Costal in merely in the "show cause" category, as highlighted by Dean DeVito.  Charleston, George Mason, Hofstra and Loyola also had show cause designations, and those were eventually lifted.  Whew, pressure's off!  Take that, you T14 snobs!
Although LSAT-takers are again on the rise, I think it will take some more Deansplainin' to get over this hump and convince them to apply.  Can't wait for the next round of "it's somebody else's fault" argumentation from the Law School Cartel.  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Toilets Я Us, Part II: InfiLaw's Florida Coastal not complying with ABA standards

Is InfiLaw striking out?

Arizona Summit was placed on probation in March. Strike one.

Charlotte closed down in August. Strike two.

Now Florida Coastal has received a letter from the ABA advising of non-compliance with standards requiring "a rigorous program of legal education", sufficient "academic support", and "sound admissions policies and practices". Florida Coastal had to answer these charges in writing by November 1 and has been called to appear before the ABA's Accreditation Committee next March.

Will this be the last pitch in InfiLaw's ninth inning? Time for a little music:

Take me out of the law school,
Take me out of the scam.
JDs from boxes of Cracker Jack;
Student loans that will ne'er be paid back.
Down the chute, chute, chute go the test scores;
Deans and shareholders don't give a damn.
But it's one, two, three strikes, you're out
Of the law-school scam.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Rooster Can Only Crow so Many Times...

Grisham's 25th legal thriller, "The Rooster Bar," explores the world of for-profit law schools through a group of students who learn their school is owned by a shady hedge fund operator.
Grisham told "CBS This Morning" he was inspired to write the novel after reading an investigative article in The Atlantic about for-profit law schools and the crisis of student debt in the U.S.
"It was an investigative piece by Paul Campos published three years ago in The Atlantic and I somehow stumbled across it. I was not familiar with for-profit law schools and I was not really familiar with the student debt crisis. And the article really opened my eyes. It was a great piece but also a troubling issue and I started researching and the novel was quickly born from that."
"Not all the schools are shady. There are a lot of success stories from these schools, but the levels of debt that these students incur, and then they pass it off in the form of high tuition to people who are making a profit. That just struck me as being wrong."
Strangely, even a well-known author is able to look through the information and distinguish the nuance of the law school scam.  Too bad many ScamDeans, LawProfs, the ABA, and even some Judges, who are much more familiar with the details, are not able to do the same...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

JD Disadvantage, Part VIII - No Conference for You!

UPDATE:  The link to the course materials is gone, but it's website holding location is here, at the bottom of the page.
Hello folks, I wanted to get this post in early in case anyone happened to be near the GWULS this Friday, October 6!  NALP is having its first-ever "Summit on emerging Careers", with a specific focus on "JD Advantage" jobs!  Let's take a look:
The JD Advantage job market has more than doubled in the period since 2005. This event will focus on understanding a number of specific employment opportunities that have developed quickly in the period following the recession, including jobs for law school graduates in compliance, legal process outsourcing, and data privacy and security, among others.
The Summit will provide education about how to advise students and graduates who are examining these new career opportunities and will feature innovative career services professionals and deans who have capitalized on these opportunities for their graduates, as well as recruiters and others from some of these new law grad employer organizations. The entire conference will feature experts on 21st century legal careers.

Sounds great!  I'm sure lots of job-searching law grads would like to get in on the ground floor with all this new information!  I mean, why hold it all close to the vest, let's get that info out there!  Open the doors!
Hmmm, wait...the conference is for law school administrators and staff. costs $475 to attend.  Hmmm..."NALP Members only."  Hmmm... the speakers appear to be mostly law school professors and deans.  There are executives from CapitalOne, Facebook, Senior Counsel from FirstNet, a couple of law firms, Spotify, USDOJ, Assistant General Counsel from JP Morgan Chase, SunTrust Bank, and Kroger, however.   So, go!  Here are nine entities who are looking to hire thousands of JDs for compliance, legal process outsourcing, and data security!  Maybe the uninvited should barge in anyway with some Boomer-moxie and distribute resumes, because hey, they must be hiring!  Why else would they show up and wax poetic on this "emerging" subject?  This "new" information should be trumpeted from the rooftops!  Salvation for the beleaguered is at hand! 
Snark aside, here is the fundamental problem.  The market for JD Advantage jobs has more than doubled, not because market demand has increased, but because graduates and down-sized practitioners are desperate for work.  Here, let's look at NALP's own data:
-more below the fold-

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pay No Attention to the Correlations Behind the Curtain

Dean Allard Prepares to Formulate an Explanation Regarding Bar Passage Rates, One that Does Not Require Increasing Standards...

UPDATE:  David Frakt just weighed in on Florida Coastal SOL, here, with similar conclusions.

Every so often, the debate comes up as to whether the bar exam is "too hard."  The obvious concern being that being too strict will lower the number of lawyers available to engage the need for low-cost, effective services, and it has nothing at all to do with, say, the financial viability of law schools themselves.  It was almost a year ago that we discussed that topic, and I'm sure it won't be the last time.
However, an interesting data point has occurred recently regarding Bar Exam results in North Carolina
This year, the results of most recent North Carolina bar exam were not only obtained and published by state law schools humbling bragging about their graduates’ success rates, but they were also obtained and published by the Triangle Business Journal. The data has revealed that the state’s overall passage rate is the highest that it’s been in the past three years.   
One has to ask what the change was!  Better-qualified students?  Practice-ready teaching?  Anomalous statistics?  Easier bar exams?  The intersectionality of Law and Nietzschean Philosophy?

-more below the break-

Monday, September 11, 2017

The future's so bright, but the legal industry refuses to wear shades

The law's fierce resistance to change and technological advances are soon going to collide. Over the past two years, there have been advances made in natural language processing and machine learning that could take drudge work like doc review out of the purview of human workers. Companies that normally subsidized the training of BigLaw associates and the doc review industry are turning to other avenues. This is not good news for the thousands of law graduates kicked out into the real world every year.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Toilets Я Us: The InfiLaw chain of scam-schools

As long-standing readers of Outside the Law School Scam will know, the privately owned "InfiLaw System" operates law schools for profit. InfiLaw claims that its "schools have a demonstrated ability to achieve superior outcomes that are a function of admission processes (which probe beyond traditional quality indicators and factor otherwise overlooked predictors of success) and programmatic innovation, academic support processes, and faculty focus on student success". Let's evaluate this "demonstrated ability".

InfiLaw's three schools are (or were) the following:

Charlotte School of Law: Defunct since August 2017, when the state yanked its license. The LSAT scores of the last entering class were 141, 144, and 148 (at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles, respectively). In November 2016, the ABA put Charlotte on probation for failure to meet even the ABA's dreadfully low standards of admission. One student "there was no application process" and that the school would call "two and three times a day" to badger prospective students with "aggressive predatory sales tactics". A federal criminal investigation of Charlotte has been under way for more than a year. Forty percent of last year's graduates are unemployed, and only one-third of last year's graduates have long-term, full-time jobs.

Arizona Summit Law School: On probation since March 2017 for falling short of the ABA's abysmally low academic and admissions standards. LSAT scores: 140, 143, 148. More than 20% of last year's graduates were unemployed, and more than a third of that class did not find long-term, full-time work. Only a quarter of first-time candidates passed the Arizona bar exam in July 2016.

Florida Coastal School of Law: At risk of losing eligibility for federally guaranteed student loans. LSAT scores: 141, 144, 149. Only a third of those taking the bar exam last year passed. Forty percent of last year's graduates are unemployed, and less than half of that class found long-term, full-time jobs. Not a single graduate got a federal clerkship or a job in Big Law.

InfiLaw also made an unsuccessful bid to buy the for-profit Charleston School of Law (LSAT scores 141, 145, 149), the only other school that currently fails the "gainful employment" standard of eligibility for student loans.

Where have the InfiLaw schools "achieve[d] superior outcomes"? Not in the department of employment for their graduates. The unemployment rates listed above are reminiscent of the Great Depression. And even the most happily employed InfiLaw graduates can hardly be called smashing successes, concentrated as they overwhelmingly are in tiny firms, "government", and "business". Of the many adjectives with which one might describe those outcomes, inferior would be an understatement; superior, a whopping lie.

How about "admission processes"? The disaffected student reported above suggests that her toilet had no meaningful admissions process, just an aggressive telemarketing campaign. How exactly does an InfiLaw toilet, with "no application process", ferret out "otherwise overlooked predictors of success"?

In the running of scam schools, however, InfiLaw has "demonstrated ability" in spades. All three InfiLaw toilets rank in the top third by cost of attendance. Until recently, they ranked among the top few in enrollment, with four-figure student bodies: as recently as 2012, Charlotte alone enrolled 626 first-year students. Roughly a third of InfiLaw's students pay full fare, and only 2% or so get free tuition. While it lasts, therefore, InfiLaw milks about a hundred million dollars per year out of the public—thanks largely to the arbitrage scheme known as federally guaranteed student loans. Small wonder that InfiLaw "probe[s] beyond traditional quality indicators" to take in just about anyone who can arrange payment of InfiLaw's obscene fees.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Will Valparaiso be the next to close?

Valparaiso, which unaccountably prefers the ugly name Valpo, will have only 28 students in this year's entering class. As recently as four years ago, it had 208.

The good news, from the Valponian scamsters' perspective, is that the quality of the class has gone up significantly: "Students just starting their legal studies this semester have a median LSAT of 151 and a median GPA of 3.23." Last year's median score was 147, so Valpo has risen from the 33d percentile to the 48th. It's still drawing the bulk of its class from the bottom half of people taking the LSAT.

Scam-dean Andrea Lyon "feel[s] optimistic about the school", which appears to have changed its approach to admissions in response to last year's censure from the ABA. She could hardly be expected to say anything else. But the university's administration cannot feel optimistic about a micro-sized toilet school that, after the closure of Indiana Tech, has earned a reputation as the biggest laughing-stock in the region.

With only 28 new students, the law school must be draining money from the university, even while it tarnishes the university's image. If the new students all paid full fare (primarily with federally guaranteed student loans), they would bring in scarcely a million dollars. But Valpo must have had to slash its fancy tuition in order to attract students of substantially higher (albeit still dreadful) quality. Who with a score above 150 would pay full price at risible sixth-tier Valpo, slapped last year with a censure and exposed in The New York Times for its graduates' failure to find proper jobs, when any number of fifth-tier institutions and even some fourth-tier institutions would offer a discount?

Valpo, therefore, is beginning to look like Indiana Tech redux. It cannot have taken in much money from the entering class, nor is it likely to see meaningful growth in the coming years. The parent university will not want to go on subsidizing the failed law school forever. I estimate that Valpo will announce its closure within a year or two.

But Valpo is only one toilet among many. To see just how far legal "education" in the US has fallen, consider a hypothetical requirement that at least three-quarters of the class at each ABA-accredited law school score in the top half on the LSAT. Many people might deem that a modest requirement for access to an influential profession that claims to uphold a standard of excellence. It would entail a minimum LSAT score of 152 at the 25th percentile for each school's entering class. How many schools today fall short of that level? Wait for it: 107. That's the majority of ABA-accredited law schools.

In less than a year we have seen three law schools close. Valpo may well be next, although Appalachian, Florida Coastal, Arizona Summit, and various others seem to be competing for that honor. It will be interesting to see how far the wave of closures progresses. I don't think that it will swallow up 107 law schools, although that would be a good start.