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.


  1. The Univershitty of South Carolina just blew $45 million on renovations to its toilet law school's building. That staggering sum—about $75k per law student—pales in comparison to $50 million for "a football operations center", whatever that means, and $125 million for renovations to an arena.

    Like many other US "universities", the U of South Carolina is essentially a commercial football team with a minor academic function tacked on for the sake of respectability. Despite the institution's academic shabbiness, however, tuition there is among "the country's most expensive". Indeed, the law school now charges non-residents $51k per year ($26k for residents), a sum that, if fully financed with student loans, would produce debt of $262k ($166k for residents) at the time of graduation—all for scarcely a 10% chance of getting Big Law or a federal clerkship, the sorts of positions that might conceivably enable one to reimburse that debt (and the interest constantly accruing at a high rate).

    But at least the lemmings at this Dixieland outhouse can go to a freshly renovated arena and watch some functionally illiterate undergraduate "students" toss a pigskin around. If they can afford tickets, of course.

  2. Ok, but the football team isn't that good, so taxpayers should get their money back.

  3. Don't forget that their men's basketball team made the Final Four. I'm sure those home tickets go at a premium now. Poor suckers.

  4. I'm inclined to think that any "university" with a reputable men's football or basketball team should be avoided.

  5. With low LSAT scores, a high school drop out with a two year training in the health care field, Western State University accepted me into their law school granted that I got student loans in time to pay their tuition. This was in 1983. Needless to say, I lasted only two semesters. While I was there, I sat in same classrooms with persons who had washed out of more reputable, less expensive law schools. Routinely, my evening law classes were disrupted by call in bomb threats from disgruntled and rightfully so graduates of this law school. After my experience at this law school, I crossed the street to the legitimate university across the street and eventually earned a bachelor and master's degree from there.