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".

14 comments:

  1. There's no point in quibbling about whether or not Cooley is a "fine" law school. The simple, irreducible point is this: Cooley, like all the TTTTs, exists for one reason only: to make money for its founders/deans/profs. It's not about social justice, or equality, or opportunity. It's about money, and money only.
    If these schools were concerned about access to legal services, equality, etc etc they'd be run on a shoestring, with profs being paid very little-or, heaven forbid, donating their time-so the students would finish law school with little or no debt and then be able to go out into the world and offer legal services at low, low rates.
    But that's not happening anywhere; instead these deans and fellow scammers always speak of justice and opportunity and equality while they take home their grossly inflated paychecks. And it's you and me paying for this.
    So how about this for Cooley: this year's entering class pays no tuition, at all, for their three year journey. Let the scammers show they aren't scammers, and show they want to make legal services affordable and accessible to all.
    And I've got some prime real estate on Mars I'd like to sell you.

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  2. As many scamblogs have said over the years - law schools toot the diversity and URM horn for their own "self-sacrificing" yet positive publicity, while simultaneously counting the money and stripping scholarships behind the scenes...can't expect "Coolio" to be all that different, I guess.

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  3. I wonder how much longer this can all go one, insanely high student loans to pay insanely high salaries. . . over $300,000 a year to work 5 hours a week? Sooner or later, the party has to end. The whole thing really does sound like a scam, and the students aren't students at all, they are merely student-loan-conduits (a phrase I did not come up with myself, don't credit me for it). I mean, logically, financially, the "tution" can't just shoot up forever, the "students" can't borrow a million. . .to finance college and law school. . . yet. . .does anyone know what the actual limits on all this are? I have already read disturbing stories about college students boozing through Spring Break with student loans, something just seems fundamentally wrong about this whole picture, like a financial bubble due to burst.

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    1. As long the government provides loans, schools will take advantage...all schools, not just law school. Is this surprising given the society in which we live?

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    2. Regrettably, this scam could go on for a long, long time. While millions of dollars per year get wasted on (never to be repaid) law school student loans, the amount is a drop in the fiscal bucket compared to what's spent-and what's wasted-in the federal budget.
      Only two things will stop the scam:
      1. Prospective students wise-up and stop applying, leading to the closure of the TTTTs. Not likely to happen, at least not anytime soon, as we're past the Special Snowflake phase are at a more realistic, if nihilistic, stage: the I Don't Have Anything Better to Do and Wasn't Going to Repay my Undergrad Loans Back Anyway, so What's Another 250K in Debt and Being a Lawyer Sounds Respectable? stage. There are thousands of new grads annually with worthless BAs, and going to law school is better than working at Starbucks or The GAP. Or
      2. Some powerful politician-say chairman of the appropriate Senate committee-gets tired of seeing scammers get fat. Not likely to occur, because s/he doesn't really care. On the surface, the only victims appear to be the law students, and just like nobody likes lawyers, nobody likes law students, either. So it would take a general taxpayer revolt, as they are the ones actually footing the bill, but that's not going to happen, either. So much taxpayer money is wasted, these loan amounts are relatively insignificant.
      So unless 1 or 2 occur, the scam goes on for a long time, as in ten or 20 years from now we'll still be talking about it. The scammers are just making too much money to give up without a tremendous fight, and conversely there is no real organized, equally powerful resistance to the scam. The bloggers are doing their best, but that only goes so far.

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  4. I don't think you guys realize that all this ranking stuff is still very important. Law school applications continue to increase and the rankings still matter. Consider this post on JDUnderground.

    My theory.

    For those of you who read the links I previously provided in the "why is this sniveling knave hell-bent on 'outting' somebody with whom his disagrees" thread, you will know that Leiter repeatedly (obsessively) does this to those who challenge his authority in some way and he does it so out of proportion to the perceived slight, one has to suspect he is suffering from some form of narcisstic disorder.

    More to the point. Leiter has long published a blog that attempts to "rank" the faculty at various law schools. To the ordinary lawyer, this is a lot of preening nonsence. However, to the deans of the various law schools, the effect that this has on academic reputation is huge because 25% of US News Ranking is bound up in the (utterly meaningless) metric labeled "peer assessment." This is comprised of law school deans ranking law schools, whose faculty teaching and scholarship they are entirely unfamiliar with. Even worse, another 15% of the ranking is bound up in a metric called "assessment score of lawyers and judges." Because they cannot meaningfully assess 95% of their peer schools, the people who perform this ceremony instead look to Leiter, who "ranks" the faculty at various law schools based on their "scholarship." Consider for a moment the absurdity of trying to determine which school has better faculty -- Wilamette or New England School of Law -- having no idea at all what scholarship the faculty are producing or whether either school has good teachers. Consider also that this comprises nearly half of the "rank" that the school is awarded from U.S. News. Leiter has wedged himself under the bridge of the preposterous rankings process by ranking the faculty at the known and many unknown law schools, and this has earned him a reputation as being a "king maker" to the faculty at many lowly schools that he ranks. Coincidentally, the schools he has taught at perform very well in these rankings. I have nothing to say for Leither's scholarship, of which I have not read (nor intend to read) a single word, but I am convinced that he has made an important place for himself in influencing the less measurable, but none-the-less measured U.S. News peer ranking categories. I suspect deans, lawyers, and judges spare themselves the masochistic displeasure of familiarizing themselves with the "scholarship" at 200 law schools, by simply relying on Brian. As for those who would challenge the importance of the peer assessment metrics, they do so at the risk of stepping into some very precious territorial pissing grounds and slaying Brian Leiter's most sacred calf in front of his very eyes. Proponents of legal reform (i.e. those who would force our wayward profession to adhere to the single principle of integrity) have, it turns out, become the "enemies" of those whose self-interest is most tightly bound on perpetuating the rankings charade and its puppet-master in chief.

    All of this ranking obsession, particularly the ridiculous "peer assessment," will sound petty (perhaps corrupt) to a casual observer. Should Chicago be embarrassed that they are possibly using a very yucky individual to be a player in this game? It certainly sounds like something that would fall below the institutional values of such a school, but at this point, little of this nonsence surprises me.

    Needless to say, Leiter's adverse influence would disappear the moment students looked to a useful metric comprised entirely of inputs (LSAT / GPA) and outputs (job results), which is what they should do, and schould have done a long time ago. But that's another story.

    http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2013/03/11/methodology-best-law-schools-rankings

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    1. There is a ranking obsession because Lawyers are such status, prestige conscious people. If anything, that is why I tell my daughters not to go to law school..not because there is no opportunity, but because you have only one life to live and living it among the lawyer mindset is not a good way to go imho. You guys are always talking about how going solo is not an option, but if you can make it as a solo, that imho is the only option (that or a small firm with other lawyers you really like). I started out as a mid sized firm lawyer and I learned that its all about the money you make, the car you drive, the size of the house you own, and in the end, how much money you bring into the firm to enrich the partners. That is all that matters at most law firms. Its always about the money, and when law firms break apart as most firms eventually do, its always about the money. Nobody ever seems to be satisfied with what they have...they always want and demand more, and they are willing to work sixty hour weeks to get what they want. Its not that many of my peers in the mid sized firm were not decent people... its just that in the end I thought their priorities were totally screwed up. Lawyers are really fuked up people, and many of them (not the majority though) are really totally aholes.

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    2. The money and prestige obsession isn't just limited to law.

      I come from a family of doctors and engineers, all they ever care about is money and bragging to each other about income and status. The irony is it's under a veneer of religious/spiritual superiority, which is of course ironic because there is no major religion I know of that adulates wealth and materialism, pride and arrogance. Religious texts advocate the very opposite lifestyle while condemning the former mentality.

      Maybe law is the worst of it, but the real issue with law is the lack of stability, lack of work-life balance, high stress, and for many the low incomes that just do not justify the education, debt, and previous work history.

      The issues you identify are perhaps a cultural problem, especially in large cities, albeit I can't say I have lived in rural areas and if it is any better. I would speculate it's just general human nature, and it's hard to find good people to surround yourself with.

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  5. This is a for profit entity. Is common for founders to get consideration on sale of a business. The lifetime salary for doing not so much is part of it. Unfortunately, this is paid for by taxpayers.

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    1. Cooley is a non profit (I kind you not).

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    2. Yep, just like all the other "non-profit" schools...

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    3. "Non-profit" doesn't mean much in the context of the law-school scam. A scam-school can easily post no profit by spending its ill-gotten gains on shitheels like Brennan.

      The fact remains that Cooley, "non-profit" or otherwise, charges more than $51k per year for attending its shitty program.

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  6. Why does everyone disrespect Cooley? This fine institution produced Michael Cohen - the President’s personal lawyer. The uber toilet that I graduated unemployed from has produced zero Presidential lawyers. Cohen put the knowledge he learned at Cooley to use managing a slush fund to pay off mistresses and porn stars. Fortune 500 companies like AT&T paid Cohen a combined $4 million for “strategic guidance” into the new administration. The only check I get from AT&T is a dividend check every quarter. They ain’t ever payin me for the insight I gained with my toilet law degree.

    You may think, that’s just one lucky grad. But there are more great Cooley grads. Jon Cooper, the coach of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and a Cooley grad, is 4 wins away from leading the team to another Stanley Cup Final. When law profs say law degrees are versatile, that’s not Trumpian hyperbole. They are serious. You can coach a hockey team with a law degree.

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  7. Awaiting the second coming of Law Professor Paul Campos who is responsible for the very Premise/ existence of this blog. The rest is a lot of people riding in the saddle with a grouch. Campos even got Johnny Grisham all hot and bothered and excited. Still....no Campos on horizon. If the venerable sweetheart does show up one day to vouch for this online what do you call it I am sure the event will be GLORIOUS :)

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