Tuesday, May 29, 2018

ABA Membership in Decline - "No One Saw It Coming" Edition

The ungrateful wretches refuse to join us!  Exterminate!  Exterminate!
For some reason, the ABA is experiencing a decline in membership and that is hurting operational funds:
Forty years ago, 50 percent of the lawyers in the United States were members of the ABA. The ABA currently has a 22 percent market share.
Speaking at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, [ABA Executive Director] Rives said the ABA’s membership currently stands at 412,499 members, 70 percent of whom are lawyers. Another 26 percent are students and 4 percent including paralegals and international lawyers—are associates.
What is the near-term solution?
In the current version of the new membership model, there is a focus on bundling benefits and significantly simplifying ABA dues categories. Rives noted there are currently 157 dues categories at the ABA, depending on the types of work members do, their length of service and other considerations.
The model would reduce the dues categories down to three. Bundled benefits would include two sections, access to a CLE library and access to content that will be organized behind a member-only paywall.
Rives said the changes, which will require an investment in products and resources, are necessary in order for the ABA to remain a robust professional association and maintain its status as the voice of the legal profession.
Sounds good, simplification could indeed lead to cost-savings.  But this addresses the "how," not the "why."  The question remains - why do new lawyers not join the ABA? 
Wait, OTLSS has a couple of ideas.  Could it be due to:
*  The "ethics" opinion that opened the door to overseas Legal Process Outsourcing?
Protecting LawPrawf tenure?
Making it easier for less-capable students to enter the Law School Gristmill?
Failure to audit and gaming of employment results?
More below the fold:

Monday, May 21, 2018

JD Advantage, Part IX : Bulls**t Jobs Edition

Remember when how late last year, that new era of JD Advantage Jobs had finally arrived?  You know, the time the flood-gates had finally opened and thousands upon thousands of JD grads were snapped up by private industry, once and for all silencing all critics of the Law School Cartel?  It was all over the newspapers.
Wait, no one has seen that or experienced this?  Oh.  Maybe because the story never happened:
For ’17, there were 2,227 fewer graduates than in 2016, a decline of 6.1 percent. Three employment statuses accounted for nearly 90 percent of the difference between the two classes: Employed JD Advantage (51.2%) (!), Unemployed – Seeking (23.7%), and Employed – Professional Position (13.4%). This pretty much tells you what you need to know about this year’s employment report.
This year’s employment report showcased many of the similar trends from last year: Good outcomes substituting for worse ones. It differs in that JD advantage jobs took a big hit while bar-passage-required jobs grew slightly. What’s interesting here is that overall, law-firm jobs fell nonetheless. Somewhere in the employment type outcomes are compositional changes where grads found law jobs and not JD advantage jobs.
Yep.  "Employed - JD Advantage" was down 22.1%, "Employed - Professional Position" was down 21.5%, and "Employed - Non-Professional Opinion" was down 7.8%.  A lot of people apparently didn't get the Cartel memo, or just because a bunch of people get together and say "x is the case" doesn't necessarily mean that it is so.  Unfortunately, it appears actual law jobs took a small hit, also, for what it is worth.
So, what is going on, especially as regards JD-Advantage jobs that apparently everyone says that so many people want to hire...?  I'm increasingly a fan of the current theory advocated by Anthropology Professor David Graber:
Are you a telemarketer? Compliance officer? Middle manager? Corporate lawyer? Do you feel like you contribute nothing concrete or meaningful, day in and day out, as you toil away at a job you believe is essentially pointless?
Then you’re in a ‘bulls**t job,’ according to one professor – who’s just written a new book about the millions of people whose jobs could ‘vanish in a puff of smoke’ with no real consequences for the world...

Rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the "service" sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources and public relations,’ he writes in a 2013 essay which laid the foundation for the book.

The story of one miserable corporate lawyer came from one of Graeber’s own former schoolmates. He got in touch with a friend he hadn’t seen since the age of 12, and was ‘amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band,’ he wrote.
‘I’d heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world.  Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he’d lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, “taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.”
‘Now he’s a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.’

Whoops.  Compliance officer?  Middle Manager?  Banking?  All solidly "JD-Advantage".  And all solidly what the market is increasingly not looking for.  And some would say their job is pointless and soon to be automated, anyway.
But ignore all that.  The Law School Cartel has analyzed the situation and says that JD-Advantage jobs, let alone JD-required jobs sought after by "directionless folk," are in demand and on the rise.  Because the Cartel has your best interests at heart.

Monday, May 14, 2018

University of Minnesota heavily subsidizes law school

Often we at Outside the Law School Scam discuss the über-toilets, those laughable schools that make the generality look good. And the generality is poor indeed: a clear majority of law schools—107, to be exact—draw at least a quarter of their entering students from the bottom half on the LSAT.

But not all is well even in such pseudo-exalted circles as the upper fourth tier. The University of Minnesota has been subsidizing its law school to the tune of $39.9M for the past five years. That's $8M per year. And it's already planning to kick in $12M two years from now. That's almost $22k for each student in the law school.

The U of Minnesota's law school has heavily reduced its faculty and staff, yet it goes on sponging off the university "to the point where it's too painful for other elements of the university to continue to bear", according to regent David McMillan.

Financial considerations are forcing a discussion of the classic toilet strategy of increasing enrollment by lowering standards. "We need to go out and earn these ['more marginal'] students to balance our budget", insists regent Darrin Rosha. Others, however, fear "a drop in the school's ranking, further reducing applications".

Of course, "the school's ranking" refers to the one published for profit by defunct magazine US News and World Report. Falling a notch or two according to the silly criteria of You Ass News is universally viewed as a calamity. By Old Guy's superior ranking, however, the U of Minnesota is unlikely to move in the coming years: it will remain a fourth-tier institution even if it becomes considerably more or less selective. And its fourth-tier status makes it a poor choice for all but the wealthy and the well-connected.

But note the usual scamsters' infatuation with prestige: "ranking" relative to other law schools trumps other considerations. Marginal students, we are told, should be kept out not because they are marginal, not for their own sake, but because they would harm "the reputation of the school", suggests provost Karen Hanson. Apparently the school's narrow interests, and by extension those of its faculty, push everything else out of the frame.

Why exactly should the university, using money from other students and the public, go on lavishly subsidizing a law school that puts its overpaid faculty and administrators first? Shut the school down and apply the savings to some public purpose.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Cooley: Non-Profit or Inflilaw Contender?

Continuing on the heels of the prior discussion on Cooley:
Cooley may be, by some measurements, the worst law school in America. And its standing has not been enhanced by a flood of publicity about the quality of the legal work of its best known and, increasingly, most notorious alum: Michael D. Cohen, class of 1991, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and the target of a federal criminal investigation in New York that has clearly rattled Trump."
The school accepts almost anyone who can pay the $51,000 annual tuition bill—more than 85 percent of its applicants were admitted last year. Fewer than half of its graduates manage to pass a bar exam on their first try; among all law school graduates in the country, about 75 percent pass on their first attempt. The 46-year-old school has had to go to court over the past year to fight for its accreditation from the American Bar Association, which found that the school was out of compliance on basic admission standards for a time. Last year, the National Advisory Council for Law School Transparency gave Cooley a ranking no school wants: It was No. 1 on the group’s list of “the 10 least selective law schools in the country.
Well, nothing says "inspiring" like being one of the least selective law schools in the country.  While scamblogs have a long history of mocking Cooley and it's exploits, it's interesting to see a third-party come in hard and strong against this fine institution of higher learning.
Oh yeah, what about that bit about Cooley and non-compliant admission standards?  Did Cooley change its practices in light of the ABA's findings?  Ha, ha - no, it filed suit against the ABA:
Thus, on November 13, 2017, the ABA Council notified Cooley that the school was out of compliance with Standard 501(b) and Interpretation 501-1.  The Council was affirming a decision of the Accreditation Committee made in September 2017 which Cooley had appealed.  The school was ordered to submit a report by February 1, 2018 with additional details.   The next day, Cooley sued the ABA, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the ABA from posting the letter of noncompliance on its website.   Cooley’s injunction request was denied, but Cooley continued to pursue the lawsuit against the ABA, disputing the ABA’s findings of non-compliance with the Admissions Standards, and the ABA’s denial of their request to open a new location. 
The ABA filed two summary judgment motions, most recently on March 2, 2018, defending their actions and arguing that the lawsuit was without merit...So how does the ABA explain its about- face on Cooley?  The Council doesn’t provide much of an explanation. Here is what the ABA’s letter announcing the decision says:
Following consideration of the record in the matter, the Committee concluded that the further report and concrete steps taken by the Law School with respect to its admissions policy and practices demonstrated the Law School’s compliance with Standard 501(b) and Interpretation 501-1.
The “further report” refers to the February 1, 2018 submission to the Council.  But it is hard to believe that report could have caused the Council to change its mind, given that Cooley provided very extensive data to the Council just a few months ago, which the Council found singularly unpersuasive. 
Because nothing says "non-profit" like filing a lawsuit in response to the data-driven truth from an accrediting agency, and wringing a settlement out of them by making it too much trouble to hold the school accountable.  Other law schools, while not liking or necessarily agreeing with the ABA's similar findings of non-compliance, at least are willing to acknowledge the concerns and take a minimum of token steps to make changes.  Not Cooley - you mess with that income stream, the gloves come off.  Because...think of the children!
Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover. 
 UPDATE:  Thanks to LSTC's coverage, it appears that Florida Costal has also filed suit against the ABA for the same reasons, i.e. having the temerity to enforce regulations. 
“I’ve been working with the ABA for 40 years. At one time, the ABA helped schools deal with issues. The helping part has disappeared,” he said.  “The ABA has shifted to an antagonistic model,” DeVito said.  “The best way to protect our students and alumni is to file suit,” he said.
Again...think of the children!  What happened to those halcyon scamming days when the ABA would "help schools deal with issues" by quietly looking the other way...?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cooley: diversity or bigotry?

Über-toilet Cooley has lashed out against critics who have reasonably called it the worst law school in the US. James Robb, general counsel to Cooley, waxes bitter about "incivility and bullying by people who truly know little about … our fine law school". Critics, in his view, are "elitists who do not appreciate, or do not care about, the opportunity to succeed", especially for the 35% of recent graduates who, according to the author of the article, "identify themselves as members of minority groups".

Ordinarily I wouldn't bother to respond to this defense of the indefensible. What caught my eye was a discussion of the school's founder, 88-year-old Thomas Brennan. Although Brennan resigned as Cooley's president 16 years ago, he "has continued to be paid more than $329,000 a year as an emeritus professor even though he works only five hours a week. An audit released last year revealed that under his contract, Brennan is entitled to receive a salary 'based on two times the salary of a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, plus certain other benefits, until his death.'" I wonder what one of those judges would say about his getting twice the salary, "plus certain other benefits", for five hours of work per week. And what do the students think—if they think at all—about spending several hundred dollars per year each to maintain this hanger-on?

With a third of a million a year for doing fuck all, Brennan has ample time and resources to show how he feels about "minority groups". On his blog, Brennan celebrates the jolly old days of minstrel shows, when he and his brother performed with "faces blacked to the teeth" in Detroit, a hotbed of racial segregation and monstrous inequality. Today's "political correctness", says Brennan, suppresses "the truth … that minstrelsy was fun" (so were lynchings, one presumes, for those on the dispensing end), just as it detracts attention from the many "good people" of the Confederacy who deserve to be memorialized in statues of Robert E. Lee. He makes the obligatory attack on Islam, of course, and rips into the US Supreme Court for the "evil" recognition of the right to same-sex marriage, which will spell "Armageddon" for "our beloved nation".

Cooley, I admit, is not necessarily responsible for the statements of its founder. But surely the self-styled champion of "opportunity" for disadvantaged minorities should distance itself from the bigot whom it maintains on a lavish life-long "salary".

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

SMH, LSAC Applicants 2018 Edition

We are now at the 90% point for applicant count in this particular cycle, and for those looking to see a reduction in the applicant numbers, the news is not good. It appears that the cycle for 2018 is lining-up to be virtually identical to the 2013 cycle, which we have not seen in, well...five years. Applicants are up approximately 8% compared to 2017, and as of this date are at approximately 54,000 total.

One last quibble - LSAC has been consistently over-predicting the percentage increase by several percent over the course of this cycle. As has been detailed previously, and has happened again this year, the explanation can be tied to matching up data from cycle to cycle. If LSAC chooses to go two weeks without reporting data (which sometimes happens), that's fine...but then, when you do report data, you need to make sure you "skip a week" to do the apples-to-apples comparison properly with the prior cycle. That can be the difference between saying applications are up 8% on one particular week, when in reality, it is closer to 2% for that same time last year.


But enough of that, because (1) it has been documented, and (2) ironically, the "misreported" percentage differences are proving to be correct now that we are late in the cycle. That is, an actual 8% increase over last year currently (the following charts also predict the rest of the cycle after Week 22.  In addition, these curves are the fitted data curves, and the data points themselves are not shown so as to see the trends more clearly). Why is this happening?   More below the fold: